Monday, April 06, 2015

Part III:The Rise and Fall of the Project Ezioni

In Part II, Project Ezioni, Extreme and Moderate Responses to Exercise of Individual Rights was funded for one year by the Tobacco Institute (TI) using the National Chamber Foundation (NCF) as a pass through.  By December 1990 the studies were well underway and Prof. Etzioni was writing familiarly to Suzanne Stuntz at the Tobacco Institute looking for dirt to put in his case studies and not finding any
. . .  hence am writing to you for any information, leads, clippings and other data you can share with me that would indicate undue pressures against smokers. We are particularly interested in reports, we have been unable so far to substantiate, that freedom of expression was violated. We heard that a conference of scholars on the subject was cancelled but cannot trace it. Also, information about reactions to ads drawing on the constitution would be of interest and any other data you may wish to point us to.
Things were not going according to plan.  This was not exactly what the Tobacco Institute wanted to hear, but they really did not have much either, so about a month later Etzioni writes again to Stuntz, offering the Tobacco Institute the opportunity of placing an article in a new communitarian quarterly The Responsive Community, Rights and Responsibilities
I am writing to you today in my capacity as the editor of a new quarterly that is aimed at intellectuals and opinion leaders, not academicians. I would like to publish an article in favor of the rights of Philip Morris to "use" the Bill of Rights the way they did. Such an article may cover matters such as commercial speech, the plurring between public service announcements and others, etc. Of course we need a serious trdatment (maybe a lawyer could write it?) and not a propagandist article. (You may find some additional use in reprints once it is published.) 
Read carefully this is an amazing example of implausibility.  We need a serious treatment, maybe one of your lawyers could write it, but no special pleading, and, of course Philip Morris can "use" the Bill of Rights to do what?  etc,  Although some possible writers were identified by the TI, nothing appears to have come of this.

In March of 1991, Ron Utt of the NCF provides a progress report to Susan Stuntz of the TI following a meeting with Prof. Etzioni.  Utt reports that
 Initial findings on smoking suggest that there are hostile reactions to smoking that must be addressed, but that individuals in general are not completely comfortable with these reactions. Profesor Etzioni believes that this finding suggests that a well-crafted response will not fall on deaf ears. 
End of September 1991, Prof. Etzioni submits his Phase II proposal, remember, the one with the six wise guys. There are notes that the TI will provide guidance on who the panelists will be and intends to use the panel discussions which would be taped for publicity

Project Etzioni hits the fan on October 7 in a review meeting with the NCF, TI and Etzioni along with other worthies. Karen Doyne from Fleishman Hillard, the public relations giant puts her finger on why the whole exercise was a waste of money
My chief concern -- and I think it was Jim Savarese's as well -- is that the communitarian philosophy doesn't seem compatible with smokers' rights . . . . 
The liberals/radicals who built the modern anti-smoking movement have the r roots in '60s individualism, and initially tried to position the battle in terms of individual rights : the non-smoker versus the smoker, with non-smoker rights being paramount . They are learning they can't win on that battleground, as evidenced by the opposition of the ACLU and other traditional individual-rights allies . So, they are constantly redefining the debate, as evidenced by the rise of social cost as an anti-smoking weapon ; but even social cost smacks of individual rights by pitting "your habit versus my tax dollars." Communitarianism could elevate the debate to a higher level, clearly shifting the debate from "smoker vs . nonsmoker" to "smoker vs . society ." Not a bad approach.  
As we discussed the wild cards in the Etzioni project -- and they-are big ones -- are the review panel and the nature of the consensus that emerges from it .  
First, it is hard to anticipate a consensus that is broadly supportive of smokers' rights . Ultimately, the tobacco industry could benefit if the panel argues for some reasonable degree of moderation in society's response to controversial individual choices -- but the industry's official view of "moderation" may not be sufficiently broad to make involvement in the project worthwhile. 
Second, what.will be the factors in determining the legitimacy of individual choices versus societal rights? Two such fact,ffrs likely would be whether the activity poses a health hazard (to the individual or to others), and whether the activity has any positive benefit to society to outweigh its perceived negative effects . In both these cases (particularly given the prevalence of anti-smoking "science"), smokers' rights would be at a distinct disadvantage . Kay made a good point about this during the meeting . 
 In conclusion, let me say I'm not really as negative about this project as I sound . Over the long term, I think this type of examination will be beneficial to many controversial industries ; it's the first step in putting the brakes on encroaching nannyism by moving the debate beyond the emotional and by asking ourselves, "How far is too far?" and "Why?" But I fear the immediate benefits would not be real enough to make it a TI priority .  
Carol Hrycaj from the TI had additional concerns, chief among which was that Etzioni said that he was not going to deliver case studies but raw data (Eli asks what did he do with the money).  Hrycaj was not happy about this, especially in view of Etzioni's insisting that Phase I was useless without Phase II.
The exercise would attempt to "draw a line on the stigmatism of smokers," thereby "reframing the debate not through measurement but recognizing that different sides have rights."  
Etzioni argued that in its present state, the entire project would be useless without Phase II. He also said that using Phase I alone would make a second phase of the project impossible.  
Based on Etzionifs remarks, it appears that the anticipated Phase I product will differ substantially from the agreed upon deliverable. While promotion opportunities may be identified with a collection of case studies, a set of raw data would not lend itself easily to such activity. 
 Phase II represents a sizable investment of Institute resources. I recommend we review the results of Phase I before making any determination on funding the next phase of the CPR project. This is critical in light of Etzioni1s recent article on the subject, M,A Moral Reawakening Without Puritanism" (The Responsive Community Fall 1991).
The clear implication is that Etzioni was not going to give the TI what it wanted unless he got what he wanted, Phase II funding.  The entire project crashed to the ground with the submission of Ezioni's final report to Ron Utt in December 1991.  Utt reports to Susan Stuntz
Having reviewed Professor Etzioni's 623 page submission, it is my opinion that he fulfilled the requirements of the grant agreement in a timely fashion and at a level of quality commensurate with his high standing within the academic community. The report is comprehensive, well-written and well-organized, and provides a wealth of detail on the extreme and moderate responses to the exercise of individual rights in four controversial areas. 
Having said all this, nothing that he has submitted has dispelled my (and I suspect your) skepticism regarding the value of such an exercise for the industries involved. Indeed, it is my opinion, notwithstanding the quality of the product, that the publication of these findings will do more harm than good to those industries. Abstracting from Otto von Bismark's observation that the public, for its own good, should remain ignorant about the making of sausage and legislation, Professor Etzioni's paper, in describing in detail the issues surrounding the extreme and moderate responses, raises issues that, on balance, reflect negatively on the business activities involved. For example, my sense is that the public will tolerate animal testing as long as they have only vague notions about what goes on. Once these notions become graphic details, their innate squeamishness will likely predominate and leave them potentially more sympathetic to those who protest such activities, including those who take extreme measures. Likewise, the section on tobacco, in its lengthy litany of potential harm to users, will likely generate sympathy for those committed to eliminating or greatly proscribing its use. That, at least is my judgement from the impressions created by a careful reading of the report. 
In addition, I'm not at all convinced that the report has yielded any information and conclusions that could be of particular value to the affected industries if disseminated on a limited basis. For the most part, it provides nothing more than a summary of what they already know. 
This, of course, is no criticism of Professor Etzioni's work because he has submitted exactly what he promised, and from the beginning was insistent that we recognize that the key component of the study was phase II and that the Phase I report was something we forced upon him so that we would have an opportunity to make an interim judgement about whether the project should be done in its entirety. 
In this regard, it is my opinion that our doubts about Phase II have been deepened by the results of Phase I. If Phase I, which was accomplished under the close control of Professor Etzioni, yielded so much unfavorable facts and impressions, then Phase II, which will have few if any such direct controls, could yield an even more compelling case against the industries. Thus, our initial skepticism has been confirmed, as was the wisdom of breaking the project into two phases so as to allow for money-saving a go/no go decision.
As far as Eli can see, none of the results were ever published and the final report, well who knows in what file drawer it lies.  In the end, it appears (and this is speculation) that Prof. Etzioni, seeing that he was not going to get his Phase II proposal funded, poisoned the well by providing a monograph and case studies formulated in a way to be useless to the Tobacco Institute and the National Chamber Foundation.  Remember that he told Carol Hrycaj that only raw data would be provided.  Eli can speculate that someone pointed out to Erzioni that if he did so he would not get the final payment. On the other hand, because the National Chamber Foundation controlled the copyright, Etzioni was not free to publish.  It was a stalemate.  A waste of time and money on all sides.

CODA:  Still the tobacco industry did learn something from this.  In 1997, Philip Morris hired Prof. Etzioni as a consultant and speaker for $10,000
. . . , we would like your opinions on the smoking issues. As you said in our conversation, the secondhand smoke issue created a new dynamic. But where and how can a new social contract be created where the rights of non-smokers to non-exposure are balanced with the smokers' right to exercise his "right to smoke" somewhere other than in total isolation? Under an extremist view, walking past smokers on the street is a hazard to me — under what circumstances can a social contract make all the rights and responsibilities work on an issue like this?  
The September 26, 1997 letter had a vanilla confidentiality agreement, but somebunny perhaps put a note under the door so the following contract had an interesting clause
If at any time you are contacted by a third party, including the media, concerning your activities on behalf of Philip Morris, you will make no comment, immediately notify Philip Morris of the third party contact, and when requested by Philip Morris will refer the third party to Philip Morris, Vice President, Corporate Affairs. Your obligations in connection with any and all third party contacts will survive the termination of this Agreement. 


Russell Seitz said...

For that sort of money, the nation could be spared he moral risk of harboring books authored under the influence of tobacco in the Library of Congress.

At the going rate , 200k would pay for enough ThinkProgress intern-hours to abstract all 5 million offending volumes from the shelve and shovel them into the furnaces of the Congessional power station, saving untold tons of coal.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Defend those smokers, Russell! They are the most oppressed minority group in America, right alongside White Christian heterosexual males!

John Garland said...

Off topic here, but mentioned on the blog...

I see the draft APS statement is out for comment by members. Has anyone posted it outside the APS servers? I'd be curious what they came up with at the draft stage given the history cited here some months ago.

Jon said...

Not Eli's error, but Stadt means city, not state. Surprisingly basic error from anyone considered qualified, even if only by theirself, to translate the titles of German classical music in public.

EliRabett said...

John, no doubt somebunny will, but Eli feels a bit constrained because he has been peripherally involved criticizing the APS for their naive incompetence, so he will wait. Suffice it to say that it is sufficiently plain vanilla which was inevitable given the birth pangs.

Russell Seitz said...

Barton has identified another burning issue of the day, but charity begins abroad

John Garland said...

I see Judy published it, so I clicked on her blog for the first time in my life.

John Garland said...

She is not a happy camper.