Amitai Etzioni and Willie Soon are amongst the oddest of odd couples. Soon, of course, is eminently forgettable, noticeable only for his incompetence and self regard, who, to keep the wolf from the door went looking for funding from the fossil fuel industry and delivered what was required. Much of Soon's trouble arises from the conditions of his support, that he was to allow review by his funders and did not acknowledge their support in his publications.
Etzioni, one could argue, is one of the world's best known sociologists. Got his own institute. Got his own blog. Got his own theory, communitarianism, which looks to Eli like an attempt to graft good neighborliness onto libertarianism. Past president of the American Sociological Institute. H number in the mid 40s.
But Eli has come across a chapter in Etzioni's past which draws him close to Willie Soon. As the bunnies will see, Etzioni may, or may not have crossed the line to the dark side, but he certainly skated right on the line, if not over. Not surprisingly the dark side for Etzioni was the tobacco industry and the source of documents that Eli found in this most tangled of tales was the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (LTDL). Not surprisingly Etzioni was much more skillful than Soon at maintaining implausible deniability.
The LTDL is not complete, but it does lay out one particular interaction of Etzioni in detail, a grant for a project entitled "Extreme and Moderate Responses to Exercise of Individual Rights". This project appears to have grown from the Tobacco Institute Legislative meeting in early 1990. Etzioni was paid a fee of $10,000 and first class travel expenses to discuss
. . . the general topic of "social trends" would be a very timely area for you to address. We can talk in more detail over lunch after the first of the year. We will, of course, provide you with a room and meals and will reimburse round-trip first class airfare for you and your guest. We will also pay an honorarium in the amount of $10,000.It appears that one outcome of this meeting was a preliminary proposal that Prof. Etzioni submitted in February to the Tobacco Institute. The hook, was the purpose of the proposed study
To examine reactions of the public to adults exercising choices which some segments of the public strongly disapprove, such as the wearing of furs, smoking, obsenities on records. To study the continuum of reactions, from censorship to violence, and examine their moral standing from the viewpoint of widely held public philosophies, such as libertarians, conservatives, communitarians and others.Early on the tobacco industry was very concerned with efforts to move smoking out of buildings and businesses. One of their tactics was to claim that the rights of smokers were being ignored and that smokers were being persecuted. A memo from 1984 catches some of this,
Pointing out that it's time to question this unbridled hostility toward smokers, we will then present the American Cancer Society's defense of their practices, with emphasis on the "Great American Smoke-Out ." This necessarily narrow defense will be put into broader perspective by a noted member of the psychiatric community, a spokesperson for the American Jewish community, or social behavioralist . Names that fit this category arethe objectives were to
• Bruno BettleheimThis juxtaposition of opinions will reveal the underlying denial of rights practiced by anti-smoking zealots .
• Hyman Bookbinder
• Amitai Etzioni
- bring national attention to the abusive treatment of cigarette smokers instigated by the American Cancer Society;
- to heighten the public's awareness of the increasingly hostile treatment of the American Cancer Society adherents in relation to those who chose to smoke cigarettes ;
- to demonstrate to the American people that the segmentation, of smokers is parallel to, that of the Jews in Nazi Germany, or blacks before the Civil Rights movement; that the American Cancer Society's practices have lead!to acts of physical and psychological violence against smokers, and the potential for even more .
Deja vue all over again Eli knows, but the playbook was written by big tobacco and is being followed by big fossil. In Etzioni's preliminary proposal there was an interesting comment about funding
Funding. While the project will be conducted, as all others by the Center for Policy Research, as a completely autonomous undertaking, in view of the strong sensitivities involved, the project will not be undertaken until there is funding from several different (at least three) sources.showing that Etzioni was, shall Eli say it, quite sensitive to being funded by the smokey side, at least alone and displaying the sort of caution that would have served Willie Soon well.
The Tobacco Institute Executive Committee met on April 5, 1990 to consider the preliminary proposal. After some scene setting
OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, THERE HAVE BEEN CASES OF SCIENTISTS CENSORED WITH THREATS OVER FUNDING OR TENURE IF THEY GOT INVOLVED WITH THE SMOKING ISSUE IN A DISPASSIONATE, OR OBJECTIVE WAY. THERE HAVE BEEN AIR TRAVELERS HARASSED OR ARRESTED IN DISPUTES OVER SMOKING ON AIRCRAFT. . .
ETZIONI HAS PROPOSED TO EXAMINE PUBLIC REACTION TO ADULTS EXERCISING CHOICES WHICH SOME SEGMENTS OF THE PUBLIC STRONGLY DISAPPROVE SUCH AS SMOKING OR THE WEARING OF FURS. HE WILL LOOK AT THE RANGE OF REACTIONS FROM CENSORSHIP TO VIOLENCE AND EXPLORE THE POLARIZATION NOW FACING THIS SOCIETY ON A NUMBER OF ISSUES.
THE GOAL OF THE FINAL PRODUCT IS TO DEMONSTRATE THE BREAKDOWN OF DIALOGUE IN THIS SOCIETY WHEN ANTI-GROUPS THREATEN AND ATTACK THOSE WHO MIGHT DISAGREE OR ENTERTAIN A CERTAIN LIFESTYLE. IT WILL SHOW THE ANTI-GROUPS CANNOT TOLERATE COMPROMISE AND THAT IT IMPACTS ON NUMEROUS ISSUES, NOT JUST SMOKING.
. . . WILL BE PUBLISHED BY THE CENTER AND WILL BE MARKETED TO OPINION LEADERS IN THE NEWS MEDIA, COLUMNISTS, LEGISLATORS AND OTHERS CONCERNED ABOUT INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND THE DIRECTION OF THIS SOCIETY.
The Center, which would publish the report was Etzioni's Center for Policy Research. The marketeers would be big tobacco. The Tobacco Institute was on board with Etzioni's suggestions for three of the wise guys, Robert Nozik a libertarian, Michael Walker a communitarian and Herbert Stein from AEI.
Etzoni submitted a budget for $516,186 for both phases, including $150,000 for the principal investigator, Etzioni. Susan Stuntz of the Tobacco Institute had an interesting comment on the later amount in an April 25, 1990 memo
Per our discussion, I asked several of the Public Affairs consultants for their advice on a fee for Etzioni. Their estimates ranged from $150,000 - $250,000. The high estimate would include publication of a book on the issue, which is not contemplated in this proposal. The estimates are based in part on fees that would be charged by an individual like Nobel Prize winning economist James Buchanan, for a similar project.Eli's friend Jules of the Klimaatblog has posted on the involvement of economists as paid help for the tobacco lobby and a longer article is in preparation.
The Tobacco Institute also saw the need for not having their fingerprints all over Etzioni's study. The Executive Committee presentation foresaw that Etzioni would take care of this
HOWEVER, WE CAN'T BE ALONE IN THIS. IT WILL ALSO HAVE TO INVOLVE THE COOPERATION OF OTHER INDUSTRIES IF IT IS TO BE CREDIBLE AND EFFECTIVE. PROFESSOR ETZIONI WOULD CONTACT OTHER INDUSTRIES ONCE THE THIRD ISSUE IS FINALIZED.While that appears not to have worked, the US. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying group that Etzioni had worked with before was pleased to wash the Tobacco Institute money. Stuntz continued
I have not yet shared this final budget with Etzioni, but am prepared to do so with your approval. At that point, I will return to the U.S. Chamber.Part II tomorrow will describe how the US Chamber of Commerce provided cover for the Tobacco Institute and Prof. Etzioni through its National Chamber Foundation. This must have been decided between the April 5 Executive Committee meeting and the April 25, 1990 Stuntz memo.
Having opened this box, allow Eli to post here an image of what passes for a smoking gun in this case