What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 31, 2010

Braintrust And The Allegheny Institute

It's been a while. I wonder if they put these in some sort of rotation so as not to invite too much attention. I wonder.

Ok. This shouldn't take long. On today's Tribune-Review editorial page, Richard Mellon Scaife's braintrust tribs again:
It was six years ago that the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy created what it called "the Benchmark City," an amalgamation of four "regional hub cities" of varying populations and geographic locations. The purpose was to gauge how Pittsburgh competed.

But an updated version of that effort isn't very encouraging.
Any time the Trib publishes something (anything) from the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy we should all remember that the institute is more or less bought and paid for by Richard Mellon Scaife.

That there's no mention of the millions of dollars granted to it over the years by the foundations controlled by Scaife (87% of all its foundation grants since 1995 came from Scaife) is textbook conflict of interest. He pays the institute for the research and his editorial staff uses that research as some kind of independent data in an editorial - see?

The Circle Jerk continues.

I do have a few questions about the Institute's "Benchmark City." From the report:
In 2004 the Allegheny Institute undertook a benchmarking project in order to gauge the performance of the City of Pittsburgh on its spending and taxes. Four regional hub cities of varying population and geographic location (Salt Lake City, UT; Columbus, OH; Omaha, NE; Charlotte, NC) were selected. Their statistics were amalgamated into what is termed the Benchmark City. By expanding what we examined to not only include the city government’s practices but also other financial indicators related to debt, authorities, schools, and pensions, we aimed to present a broad and deep view of local government in other places and to see just how well Pittsburgh was able to compete.
Unless I am missing something, they don't really explain why they selected those four cities. Was it random? Once you take a look at the electoral history of those cities' states, it seems to me that there's the possibility that the "benchmark" data might be skewed right.

And once that's done, then of course the conclusion is skewed right.

Take a look at this site.

Utah and Nebraska are solidly "Red" states. McCain carried Utah with 63% of the vote and the state's Governor, both Senators and 2 of the 3 Representatives are Republicans. McCain carried Nebraska with 57% of the vote and of the Governor, Senators and House Members, only one, Senator Ben Nelson, is a Democrat.

And if you consider his behavior in the recent Health Care debate, he's hardly even a moderate Democrat. I think the term is Conservative Democrat.

North Carolina is a "Blue" state if only barely. Obama carried the state with 50% of the vote (to McCain's 49%) and the elected officials seems more or less evenly split. Ohio seems a little more blue - but not by much. Obama carried the state with 51% of the vote and the states elected officials while mixed, lean on the Democratic side.

Pennsylvania, by the way, is bluer than both.

In general the "Blue" states are barely or moderately blue while the "Red" states are firmly red.

What does this mean? It means that the "Benchmark" cities the Allegheny Institute selected are from states that would already tend to reflect conservative values. The same values the Institute would like to see in Pittsburgh. Very subtle framing, no?

Subtle framing OR they fixed the rules of the game to have a better chance at a foregone conclusion.

We report, you decide.


illyrias said...

I always wondered why the Allegheny Institute pissed me off. Thanks for clarifying.

Shane said...

FYI, Obama did win the single electoral vote in Nebraska for the congressional district that includes Omaha.