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WARNING: 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.



economists network




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Ronald X Groeber    

— An Assistant Professor of Business Law at Ball State University who was willing to write pro-tobacco advertising articles for his local newspaper. —  

An assistant professor at Indiana's Ball State University who freelanced writing pro-tobacco articles for the Tobacco Institute. They would be accepted on the bais of his university credentials, and promote the tobacco industry's position on the retention of tobacco advertising.

There is, of course, no mention in any of the articles that he was being paid by the tobacco industry for the writing.

Why were economists and statisticians so easy to recruit?

The discipline of economics allows multiple layers of social and economic interaction to be treated either superficially, or with increasing layers of complexity and interactivity. As with statistics, economics can be simply "measurement science" — or seen as the measurment component of much more complex disciplines of political and/or social sciences.

Statisticians were recruited by the tobacco industry to appear before Congress to promote the line used by the industry to attack epidemiological determinations ... "correlation doesn't prove causation." When chanting this mantra, they were correctly stating a rule that the mathematical association between the incidence of smoking and rising rates lung-cancer, don't necessarily prove that smoking CAUSED the lung-cancer.

Statisticians are able to retain academic 'face' in their profession because they are upholding the purity of the discipline: numbers of this kind are simply static measurements of distance ... they are not dynamic determinants of direction. They can show proximity or the distance between two items, but not which came first.

Only when statistical measurements are coupled with systematic research into molecular biology, or used with clinical observations, or with any of the other thousands of medical research techniques (where statistics are essential to determine patterns), is causation established. Statistics in isolation is simply a measurement device — it can only provide the one component of proximity or pertinance.

Economics does the same on a macro-scale. Economics statements can be presented at a superficial level — just as benefits and/or costs. So economists in the pay of the tobacco industry can quite correctly claim that smokers with their cigarette excise probably "pay their way because they die young, and aren't a burden on the health-care system." Of course this only has relevance if you see human society as simply an end-product of economics rather than economics as a tool of the society.

The more narrow-minded 'purist' economists — especially those with political views of "limited government, and unfettered free-enterprise" felt few qualms about supporting the tobacco industry's "social cost" and "ad ban" positions, when their personal financial well-being from making these simplistic pronouncements was made worth their while.

The stupidity of these pronouncements only becomes apparent when you question whether other considerations are of higher importance — such factors as tragic early deaths and disabilities, the need for welfare to support family survivors, the problems associated with passive-smoking by non-smokers. the high cost of unnecessary medical and drug research, smoking-caused death and disfigurement by fire, etc.

Add to this the secondary economic costs, such as the multibillion dollar annual tragedies of house-fires and forest-fires which are almost exclusively caused by cigarettes ... and the high cost of smoke alarm systems, local fire-departments, fire-proofing of home furnishings ... the clean up costs of street cigarette butts ... the increased energy costs in air-conditioned buildints...etc. The list can go on.

That's the point. Any economist can take tobacco's dollar to promote the industry's propaganda at this simplistic level without much professional disapproval,because he is chanting the mantra of free-enterprise zealotry. Alternately, a more liberal and socially involved economist will treat this as a serious political-social-economic problem, and observe that isolated numbers like excise charges and health-care costs, are only the tip of the monetary iceberg — and even this iceberg is only a transitory phenomenon. Social substance is elsewhere.

Some key documents

1987 April 13: Groeber has written a Tobacco Institute-inspired article "Tobacco Ad Ban" for the Muncie Star. [See page 15]

1987 June 16,: James Savarese (TI consultant) writes to his controller at the Tobacco Institute about their Tobacco ad ban op-ed project. He is seeking final clearance.

I have attached a copy of an ad ban editorial written for Indiana [by Groeber]. We have cleaned it up and will send it back to the author for newspaper submission at the end of the week unless otherwise notified by you.
The article is attached in draft form.

1988 Oct 17: Jim Savarese, a favoured consultant to the Tobacco Institute, writes to Fred Panzer about their new Ad-ban project.

I have attached a list of some of the lawyers who participated in the Ad Ban campaign in February 1987. These are the ones I would recommend to use again, but remember we haven't contacted these people since 1987 so I don't know if they are still available or still at the same schools. We should also try to find a couple for the Northeast Area.

    He lists 14 tame lawyers who wrote articles for them in 1987, and among the list was "Indiana, Ronald X Groeber, Muncie, IN Star — 4-13-87"

1988 Dec 8: Fred Panzer at the Tobacco Institute returns the corrected and processed op-ed articles opposing advertising restrictions to Jim Savarese.

Enclosed are Op-Ed pieces by [Allan] Parkman, [Henry] Butler, [Douglas] Whitman and [Lloyd] Cohen. They have been cleared by legal counsel with

    Our lawyer said the pieces by [Paul] Lansing and [Ronald] Groeber are unsalvagable. I'll have more on this tomorrow when he returns for out of town.

    Meantime go ahead with the four good ones.

1989 Jan 1: The Muncie Star carries an op-ed article opposed to restrictions on cigarette advertising by Groeber who is "administrative assistant in the Department of Finance at Ball State University, and an assistant professor or business law.

"For Congress to have the power to regulate commercial speech, it must first repeal the First Amendment. It is not an easy process. Repealing an amendment takes a vote of two-thirds of the House of Congress, plus ratification by three-fourths of the states. The framers made it hard because they did not want amendments thrown out lightly. Such an action can be taken only after extended debate and discussion. Congressmen who would ban tobacco advertising simply want to skip this step."

1989 Mar 14: Fred Panzer at the Tobacco Institute has authorised $19,000 as the "Final of three payments" for the Tobacco Advertising Ban Project of having economists from Tollison's economists network write op-ed articles for their long newspapers. This means that the total of, say, $57,000, spread out over the 16 economists listed in this document (although some would have been paid more than others) —- or roughly $4,000 for each article submitted and accepted.
    Groeber's payment was for the Munci Star article 1-1-89.