Thomas Sowell

Nor will it do any good to let those agencies farm out these studies to "independent" researchers in academia or think tanks because they will obviously farm them out to people whose track record virtually guarantees that they will reach the conclusions that the agency wants.

Climate expert Richard S. Lindzen of M.I.T. has indicated that the vast amount of government research money available for studies of "global warming" can discourage skeptics from being vocal about their skepticism.

This is not peculiar to studies of "global warming." Many people who complain about the corrupting influence of money never seem to apply that to government money.

If high government officials were serious about wanting to know the facts, they could set up an independent statistical agency, along the lines of the General Accounting Office, to do studies of the effects of the policies of the operating agencies.

That would mean that the fox would no longer be in charge of the hen house, whether the fox was the Labor Department, the Commerce Department, or any of the other departments and agencies.

It would also mean that various bright ideas originating in Congress or the White House would now be exposed to the risk of being shown to be costly failures or even counterproductive. Whole careers could be ruined among both elected officials and bureaucrats.

Don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen. But do keep that in mind when someone says "studies prove . . . "

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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