This site deals only with the corporate corruption of science, and makes no inference about the motives or activities of individuals involved.
There are many reasons why individuals become embroiled in corporate corruption activities - from political zealotry to over-enthusiastic activism; from gullibility to greed.
Please read the OVERVIEW carefully, and make up your own mind.
— A minor cash-for-comments economist from Miami University. —
Professor Mark Toma was a minor cash-for-comments economist working on a commission basis for the Tobacco Institute via James Savarese & Associates. Behind the scenes was Robert Tollison and the Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University, which supplied administration and recruiting services.
The 1985 Tobacco Institute document, "Federal Markets", which was sent to the Tobacco Institute's Regional and State Directors, provided a long list of the likely allies the industry had among academic economists in opposing the earmarking of cigarette excises for healthcare and for other purposes. The industry was particularly interested in attacking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which it always feared would attempt to regulate cigarettes as a drug.
The Tobacco Institute's contractors kept a registry of those academics available to write articles or letters on demand, provide witness services at legislative or local ordinance hearings, etc. or give lectures to various influential bodies — or have one-to-one meetings with legislators. They were never required to divulge the industry connections, and they were never required to make any outright statement in support of smoking ... in fact, the complete opposite. Those who could maintain proudly that they were non-smokers were seen to be more sensible, and to have more credibility with the gullible readers who thought that political influence involved brass-bands and flag waving zealots.
Writing economic and political op-ed pieces and letters to the editor were the easiest way for these academics to earn some quick cash without sticking their neck out enough to be noticed. In their articles they attacked the principle of cigarette taxes, not the taxes themselves. They attacked the idea of the FDA extending its mandate, rather than the question of whether nicotine was a drug.
Payments were laundered through a couple of channels linked to the George Mason University's Center for the Study of Public Choice and its director Robert Tollison, and also through a labor/economics lobbyist named James Savarese.
The purpose of the network was to provide propaganda and lobbying services to the tobacco industry in all 50 US States, utilizing trusted and prominent academics at the local universities, and the scam ran very successfully for a couple of decades. It was considered influential enough for the Tobacco Institute to continue its funding when other projects suffered budget cuts. As a result, hundreds of op-ed articles appeared in many dozens of influential newspapers across America.
|Content vs. Purpose?|
|The question is not what was said in these articles, but rather the reasons why they were written. |
If your vision of economics is merely that it is a form of commercial bookkeeping which can be considered in isolation (a view that almost universally prevailed in academia until the global financial crisis), then ethics, morality, and human well-being doesn't figure strongly in your calculations outside the value of humans as production and consumption units.
Clearly the early deaths of many older and disabled people [those who have passed their social usefulness and are a burden on the tax system] is of benefit to the survivors and therefore to the national economy as a whole. Smokers who are taxed during their smoking lives and then die young, in this calculus therefore benefit their communities by not becoming a burden.
It then follows that cigarette manufacture cannot be considered a social burden, but rather as pure economic benefit.
This sort of superficial analysis digs no deeper into the complexities of life, living and society than you would find in the preface of a Chicago University Economics 101 textbook written by the supply-sides and neo-cons.
Of course the same arguments can apply to euthenasia of the disabled and the elderly ... and perhaps to the hanging of all academic economists who propound this sort of simplistic nonsense.
Some key documents
• Professor Mark Toma, Department of Economics, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. [Also an economist Eugenia F Toma, Uni of Kentucky]
1986: This is the Tollison/Saverese network list for 1986. It has 64 names, but it still doesn't cover all 50 States. Some States have two or three network members, so newspapers [and sometimes Congressmen] need to be specified for each member to ensure there is no accidental duplication.
Telephone numbers (office and home) are often included in case an urgent op-ed or ordinance hearing is needed. These are grouped by State:
Professor Mark Toma
Department of Economics, Miami University ,Oxford, Ohio 45056, 513-529-2836
Professor Richard Vedder
Department of Economics, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, 614-593-2037
1987 June 9: The Tobacco Institute's Phase II - Excise Tax Op-Ed project involved an article-writing campaign by cash-for-comment economists was run by James Savarese & Associates. It was secretly directed by Robert Tollison from George Mason University with Savarese as the organiser and front.
In the mid 1987 period, the project was controlled by Jeff Rose [under Peter Sparber] at the Tobacco Institute and it focussed on defeating cigarette excise tax increases — and especially the threat of such taxes being 'earmarked' to bolster health care budgets.
Saverese and Tollison appear to have been in some form of loose partnership, because Anna Tollison, the wife of Bob Tollison, was employed by James Savarese & Associates to keep a record of the articles generated by their large contingent of academic economists and to organise payment.
She reported that
"In sum, 41 economists were solicited to write editorials. We have publications in 20 states, 14 articles have been written and submitted, and 7 articles are still outstanding." [Others were in the offing] She included a long list of the economists who wrote the articles, the newspapers in which they were published, together with their circulation figures [eg. the potential number of readers they may have influenced] and the publication date. This economist is featured on her list.
OHIO, Toma, [no publication details]
1987 Aug 21: Jeff Ross at the Tobacco Institute has prepared a consolidated summary of "Field Staff Evaluation of Economists" for his superiors, William Kloepfer and Peter Sparber. They have been asked to look at 34 of these academics. This includes an outline of their recent achievements.
Professor Mark Toma Miami University Oxford, OH
Excise Tax Op Eds: None accepted for publication.
Field Staff Contact: None.
Gary Anderson (CA economist) prepared and submitted testimony opposing excise tax increase.
Field Staff Evaluation: None.
1987 Aug 31: Peter Sparber [Issues Manager] to Bill Kloepfer [PR head] at the Tobacco Institute:
Jeff [Rose] has done a good job of summarizing the economic consultant situation and I am attaching my copy of his report with some marginal notes. I think he should consider sending a collection of all of the published op-ed pieces to each of the consultants for the sake of inspiration.
[This memo leaves no room for doubt that these economists knew precisely who they were working for, and why they were being paid (about $1000 per article) by the tobacco industry.]
In the case of those who have not had an article accepted for publication I would like to know whether they submitted one.
The economists were visited by State [regional] tobacco staff, and subject to an evaluation of their work and their prospects. Not all measured up. Jeff Ross reported:
Two general comments from field staff warrant some consideration. Michael Brozak recommended a political orientation to prepare witnesses for potentially politicized hearings.
We agree and recommend that State Activities consider advising field staff to conduct such briefings as appropriate. Richard Scanlan suggested that an economist from the state capital city is much more valuable. We have asked Savarese and Tollison to see if they can identify a candidate.
1988 Feb 8: The Tobacco Institute to its Regional VPs and Directors.
Attached is an updated list of The Institute's cadre of excise tax economists. These economists are available for testimony, one-on-one meetings with legislators, writing letters and op-ed pieces in the states in which they teach, as well as in any state you deem appropriate. This economist is listed.
1989 Jan 11: The Tobacco Institute's Scientific Consultancy Activity 1988-89
This is an 80 page mixed bag of files dumped together [Well worth perusing]. The first document is from 1990 [ordered in reverse]
- Pages 3 to 23 begin with Witness Appearances in 1988 and 1989 involving both "Indoor Air Quality experts" who work for the Tobacco Institute, and three economists [Bob Tollison, Richard Wagner and Dwight Lee]
- Pages 24 to 31 Labor IAQ Presentations in 1988 and 1989 which involves key figures in the labor movement and a few "IAQ experts."
- Pages 32 to 39 IAQ/ETS conferences attended by tobacco industry disinformation experts in 1988 and 1989
- Pages 40 to 41 Academic and Unaffiliated Scientfic Witnesses
- Pages 43 to 53 Smokers Rights Legislation in various states.
- See page 54: Tobacco Institute "Confidential" memo on "Tax Hearing Readiness" which is their battle plan to counter earmaking of cigarette excise taxes to fund health programs. It lists a large number of organizations and a few congressmen who can be relied on to help. It also has both primary and secondary lists of economists from Tollison's "cash-for-comments" network willing to give testimony.
The Tobacco Institute's list of cash-for-comments professors and senior academics who were available to write op-eds and give evidence at Congressional hearings, etc. had grown extensively.
- Bill Orzechowski, Tobacco Institute
- Robert Tollison, George Mason University
- Richard Wagner, George Mason University
- Dwight Lee, University of Georgia, Athens
- Michael Davis, Southern Methodist University
- Gary Anderson, California State at Northridge
- William Prendergast (resource: Prendergast/Solmon papers)
- Other Network economists [see Secondary attached list below]
"Due by mid-year is a book examining earmarking and "user fees" from a public choice perspective. The treatise will contain 8-10 chapters written by respected economists, including, Henri LePage and Nobel laureate James Buchanan."
Prof Mark Toma, Miami University, Oxford
Prof Richard Vedder, Ohio Univ.
[TI budget papers show that each op-ed now earned the economists $3,000. Presentations to conferences earned them $5,000. Savarese was paid $70 to $100,000 pa for this project, and Ogilvy & Mather $250,000.].
See page 5
1989 April 18: Susan Stuntz (Issues Manager) at the Tobacco Institute memoes her boss Sam Chilcote. She is sending him material previously used for a two-day "Gerry Long" presentation. He wants to use it in a shorter one-day (unspecified) briefing session.
[Gerald H Long was the CEO of RJ Reynolds who in 1988 had just taken over as Chairman of the Tobacco Institute's Executive Committee and wanted to make changes.] This document has the speaker's powerpoints, including a list of network economists divided on a State-by-State basis. Note the document is 117 pages
The outline for the Powerpoint slides is here in full, together with the names of the politicians they were required to influence. It boasts that the..
Economists' Network 64 Strong [is] Targeted to Congressional Tax Writing Committees [and utilizing the] Production of Op-Eds on Federal Tax Policy.
[List of economists]
1994 March 16: A group of academic economists including almost all the members of the Tobacco Institute's cash-for-comments network sent an "An Open Letter to President Clinton on Healthcare Reform." This had been organised by David J Theroux, the founder and operator of the Independent Institute apparently with the assistance of an academic network member, Simon Rottenberg. [The institute was well-funded by the tobacco industry]. They say:
In The Open Letter to President Clinton, 565 economists and 76 other scholars from all 50 states and the District of Columbia state their firm opposition to any form of direct and indirect price controls in any healthcare program.
Rationing Health Care: The New Threat of Price Controls, by Simon Rottenberg and David J. Theroux
They use the old straw-man scare techniques of the sky-falling.
In countries that have imposed these types of regulations, patients face delays of months and years for surgery, government bureaucrats decide treatment options instead of doctors or patients, and innovations in medical techniques and pharmaceuticals are dramatically reduced. Which, as anyone who has lived in England, Canada, Australia, etc. knows, is pure rubbish.
Along with Toma and his associates, also on this list of signatories were a number of think-tank lobbyists [including most of the Hoover Institute] and others who worked for the tobacco industry, and the Research Director of the Independent Institute, Robert Higgs, who was also a fill-in network economist.
1990 May 7: The Tobacco Institute's "1991 Tax and Social Cost Plans" have sections on
- "Social Costs" Hearings Readiness (preparation for fielding witnesses at Congressional hearings.) They list here the arguments
What TI and Its Allies Must Cover
- "Social cost" arguments used to justify excise tax increases, smoking restrictions and ad bans are not valid.
- Independent economists state that "social cost" calculations used by anti-smokers do not withstand credible economic scrutiny.
- There is no convincing economic evidence that smokers impose costs on society. Any supposed costs are "private costs" and are borne by the smoker.
- Other industries are vulnerable to social cost attacks. A "slippery slope" may exist as anti-smokers, using "social costs" arguments, seek legislation restricting smoking or increasing taxes. These efforts may signal lawmakers to regulate other products as well.
- "Tax" Hearing Readiness (as above, but for excise tax increases, State and Federal)
What TI and Its Allies Must Cover
- Excise taxes are regressive and take away tax reform for low- and middle-income Americans. As a percentage of income, low income families pay as much as 27 times more in federal excises than high-income families.
- Cigarette excise taxes are discriminatory. They fall disproportionately on Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.
- Excise taxes are unfair. Tobacco consumers are forced to pay more than others for government services benefitting everyone. Why should smokers pay more for national defense than nonsmokers?
- List of cash-for-comment network economists in each State.
Professor Mark Toma
Department of Economics
Miami University Oxford, Ohio 45056 513-529-2836
Professor Richard Vedder
Department of Economics
Ohio University Athens, OH 45701 614-593-2037
1990 June: /E Excise Tax Letter-Writing Fact Sheet. This is a list of points that the Tobacco Institute wanted the economists to include in their op-ed articles.
This was followed by
- Excise taxes are regressive
- Excise taxes are fundamentally inequitable
- Excise taxes are an unfair burden on minorities
- Government data demonstrates the unfairness of excise taxes.
- Excise taxes are arbitrary
- Excise taxes are hidden taxes
- Excise taxes are an unfair burden on businesses
- Excise taxes are bad economic policy
- Excise taxes are historically controversial.
- pages of data so that the economists got their facts right,
- a series of quotes that could be incorporated into the article.
- pages of State-by-State data including the number of jobs that the Tobacco Institute estimated would be lost by higher cigarette excises
- lost revenues for each State, due, it was claimed, to cross-state bootlegging and smuggling.
- a list of Congressmen to be contacted in every region.
- Tollison's C/V