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.
Harlan D Platt
— An economics professor from Northeastern University (Mass) who signed up briefly to work for the tobacco industry. —
Professor Harlan Platt appears to be one of the early academics recruited to join the Tobacco Institute's clandestine network — and who then backed out. He is only on their list for a year.
Professor Harlan Platt was one of the original cabal of economists who became the nation-wide network working for the Tobacco Institute. It was put together by tobacco lobbyist James Savarese and Professor Robert Tollison of George Mason University who collaborated in the 1980s to provide the tobacco industry with academics willing to write propaganda material ... always provided their names were not linked to the industry or to any of the cigarette companies.
The idea was simply that the academic 'sleepers' would be available on a cash-for-services basis when needed to counter attempts to increase excise taxes, or to ban public smoking, or just to appear as independent experts at Congressional hearings and promote the industry causes.
Economist were by far the most useful academics to the tobacco industry because the distinction between economics and politics was never clear: so support of the cigarette companies could always be claimed as support for free-market economics ... the rights of individuals to make public choices ... small government ... or even the first Amendment to the Constitution.
The economist always claimed to be 'independent', 'professionals' and they wre recognised 'academics' from some credible university. They never revealed the source of their funding in their op-eds or letters-to-the-editor.
If ever put under cross-examination, they must be able to claim with weasel-word precision, that they had never received a penny from the tobacco industry. Therefore all payments were laundered, either through tobacco industry lawyers (usually Covington & Burling), the principle organisers, James Savarese & Associates, or through Bob Tollison's Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University.
The aim was to have, in each State, at least one academic economist, one academic lawyer, and one academic from a business management, business law, marketing or advertising discipline willing to jump into action and write op-ed articles for their local newspaper, or to appear at local ordinance or legislative hearings. Copies of these articles were always to be sent to a local Congressman who sat on some important (to the tobacco industry) committee.
The academics were always expected to wave their own and their university's credentials vigorously, and loudly proclaim their "independence' from any crass-commercial motives. And those who could boast of being 'non-smokers' were especially prized — since without this addiction, their non-dependent-on-tobacco status was thought to be proved beyond any doubt!
The foundation document for the network still in the tobacco industry archives is the Draft plan (below) dated 30 April 1984
This 109 page DRAFT Tobacco Institute "Cigarette Excise Tax Plan" was aimed at countering the Reagan Administration's "Packwood Tax Plan" and the list of economist involved includes Harlan Platt.
Don't confuse Professor Harlan Platt, with another network economist, Professor Michael Pratt from Virginia State Uni.
Some key documents
• Professor of Economics at the Northeastern University in Massachusetts.
Economists's Network Foundation Document.
This 109 page Draft April 1984 Tobacco Institute file includes the "Cigarette Excise Tax Plan" which was aimed at manipulating the Reagan Administration's tax policy through the use of academic lobbyists to promote disinformation.
It spells out an immediate requirement for the contracted services of:
It has draft copy and designs for a couple of different booklets aimed at different states, and at labor/union and racial groups. It also identifies the targetted Congress Committeemen and State Assemblymen most likely to be influenced, and adds an appendix which lists economists who can be enlisted to help.
- One public finance economist for 10 days @ $1,000, [Total $ 10,000 ] including meetings with coalition members and/or the Governor's staff; research and preparation; and testimony.
- One economist for a union workshop on the tax issue, [Total $5,000] including 3 or 4 training sessions over the course of a convention.
- Six economists @ $5,000 and one senior economist 53,000 @ $20,000 for a tax symposium, including publishing the proceedings at $3,000. [Total $53,000] The senior economist would play an oversight/organizational role and would be responsible for editing the proceedings. Such a symposium would be staged for regional or national impact.
- One economist provided to a public employee union to do original research on the need for adequate services to be funded by broad-based taxes; this would include the final report and testimony. [Total $ 25,000]
Potential Economic Consultants:
Following is a list of economists in key states who might assist us as consultants. We have begun contacting them to ensure their willingness and expertise. We are asking each about past experience; work with similar issues; previous work with the indusry; published articles or research; and speaking availability.
As discussed in the body of this program, our intent is to have a group of individuals who we can call upon regularly to testify, conduct special research projects, and discuss their research and/or views on excise taxes with the media.
- California, Thomas Borsherding, Claremont College
- Connecticut, William McEachern, University of Washington
- Florida, Richard Wagner, Florida State University
- Georgia, Fred McChesney, Emory University Law School
- Illinois, James Heins, University of Illinois
- Massachusetts, Harlan Platt, Northeastern University
- Minnesota, Thomas Stimson, University of Minnesota (St. Paul Campus)
- New York, Harold Hochman, City University of New York
- Ohio, David Klingaman, Ohio University
- Pennsylvania, Mark Pauly, University of Pennsylvania
- Texas, Charles Maurice, Texas A&M University
- Washington, Yoram Barazel, University of Washington
- Washington, D.C. Robert D. Tollison, George Mason University
- Wisconsin, Burton Weisbrod, University of Wisconsin
[Robert] Tollison is the most influential and prestigious on this list. He was hired to consult on federal tax situations, provide an administrative structure, and to oversee efforts of the others throughout the country.
See last page
[Yoram Barzel is the only name on this list who appears to have resisted the Institute's overtures entirely. However Mark Pauly resigned not long after and Harlan Platt within the year. The rest served the tobacco industry for decades.]
The Tobacco Institute's Cigarette Excise Tax Plan
The plan augments our basic lobbying efforts by relying on groups outside the industry — some not regularly associated with the industry — to argue against excise taxes for us.
It is an ambitious program, based on the notion that many of the most effective protests against tobacco taxes will come from groups philosophically distant from The Institute. Many such groups agree with us on the excise issue, even though they disagree with us on other matters.
At the federal level, supporting Congressional members from the tobacco states is essential to our lobbyists. The tobacco members consistently vote as a unified group — something that is rarely seen in Congress today. They are our lobbyists' most important resource.
The program recommends that economic and other consultants assist us in developing, "packaging," and presenting our anti-excise arguments in legislative testimony or meetings with coalition members.
Economic consultants with different areas of expertise will conduct research and act as spokespersons for The Institute and organizations supported by The Institute. Specific activities with economists are discussed throughout the tactics.
- Stimulate reputable public finance economists at key state universities to determine the validity of state revenue forecasts, perhaps on behalf of state business organizations and present arguments against excise taxes in various forums; e.g., meetings with potential coalition members or budget officials.
- Encourage economists to make the case against regressive taxation in meetings with potential coalition members and legislators.
- Retain public finance economists affiliated with non-profit organizations to research the subject and use their findings in forums such as:
- Private meetings with state legislators or staff ;
- formal testimony before government bodies ;
- targeted media appearances;
- speeches before business, civic, labor, and other groups ;
- tax symposia in key states where the proceedings could be published for use in other states ; and
- articles which raise the visibility of key arguments in the business, academic, and popular press.
- Presenting specific members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees with arguments prepared by economists with whom they share some common interest; e.g college affiliation, service on the same commission.
- Gaining the support of Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), the most influential labor/liberal tax reform group in the country, in opposition to excise taxes.
- Relying on the AFL-CIO — via The Bakery, Confectionery, and Tobacco Workers Union — to ensure that the labor/liberal tax package that emerges in the next session of Congress does not include tobacco.
Appendix: A list of economists in key states who may be willing to act as industry and third-party spokespersons on the tax issue.
Following is a list of economists in key states who might assist us as experts receiving honoraria. We have begun contacting them to ensure their willingness and expertise. We are asking each about past experience; work with similar issues; previous work with the industry; published articles or research; and availability.
|California|| Thomas Borsherding, Claremont College|
|Connecticut|| William McEachern, University of Washington |
|Florida|| Richard Wagner, Florida State University |
|Georgia|| Fred McChesney, Emory University Law School |
|Illinois|| James Heins, University of Illinois |
|Mass.|| Harlan Platt , Northeastern University |
|Minnesota|| Thomas Stimson, University of Minnesota (St.P)|
|New York|| Harold Hockman, City University of New York |
|Ohio|| David Klingaman, Ohio University|
|Penn.|| Mark Pauly, University of Pennsylvania|
|Texas|| Charles Maurice, Texas A&M University|
|Wash.DC.|| Robert D Tollison, George Mason University.|
|Wisconsin|| Burton Weisbord, University of Wisconsin |
|[This was the core group which established the cash-for-contents network. Over the years the numbers reached over 100.]|
Our intent is to have a group of individuals whom we can call upon as needed to testify, conduct special research and discuss their research projects and/or views on excise taxes with budget officials, potential coalition members, legislators and the media.
Harlan Platt doesn't appear to have provided any services to the tobacco industry, although he remains on the Tollison-Savarese list for a year.
This is probably because they were attempting to fool the Tobacco Institute into believing they had many more compliant academics eager to provide services than they actually had.
He is invluded here only for the sake of completeness.
2011 Jul 22: Platt is being quoted as a crusader against gambling, which suggests that he has modified his view... in contrast to the other network economists who are still firmly stuck in the Hayek-Randian-Friedman camp of the 1960s..