When Think Tanks Attack

Think tanks vs Open Source

The Alexis de Tocqueville Institute’s attack on Linux is just the latest in a series of attacks on Open Source by think tanks:

Date Think Tank Author/Title Extracts
Sep 19, 2002 Competitive Enterprise Institute James DeLong
Software Wars: Open Source And The New York Times
Writing aps without incorporating some operating system code is difficult, and those who want to engraft proprietary aps onto Linux are taking a legal risk.
Jan 31, 2003 Washington Legal Foundation David S. Evans
Open-Source Software Poses Challenges for Legal and Public Policy
the terms of licenses under which most open-source software is being distributed create a legal wall between for-profit and non-profit software, threatening to reduce innovation on both sides.
Feb 5, 2003 Small Business Survival Committee Raymond Keating
Is Open Source Software Equivalent to the Borg?
In the software universe, something similar to the Borg from “Star Trek” seems to be at work. It’s called open source software distributed under an agreement known as General Public License (GPL).
If you recall, the Borg are “Star Trek” bad guys. They’re basically evil bureaucrats with skin problems, who assimilate every species they come in contact with throughout the universe. Societies are wiped out. Individual thought and creativity are extinguished as individuals are absorbed into a collective.
Something similar could be said of GPL-based open source software.
April 8, 2003 Defenders of Property Rights Is Open Source Software a Threat to the Future of Intellectual Property Rights? As unlikely as this might seem to the skeptic, the National Security Agency (NSA), that coordinates, directs, and performs highly specialized activities to protect U.S. information systems and produce foreign intelligence information, made the folly of developing GPL-licensed code to improve the Linux operating system. After reading the terms of the Linux GPL, the NSA realized they needed to post this enhancement to the Internet in source code form for the world to see. Unbelievably, any person with a PC and an Internet connection can now logon to the NSA’s website and print out the blueprint for NSA s Security Enhanced Linux software.
May 20, 2003 Pacific Research Institute \* Sonia Arrison
Is the Penguin Contaminated?
After all, in scanning the online petition, one can’t help but be struck by the many comments such as “get your hands of my linux you damn, dirty, corpo-apes!!” and worse. These words suggest we can expect defiance, not cooperation, on serious issues like intellectual property from the open-source community, at least in the near future.
June 24, 2003 Association For Competitive Technology Richard Wilder
Open source’s moment of truth
Regardless of the case’s outcome, however, the specter of liability has already been raised among the notoriously risk-averse ranks of corporate information officers. Already, industry analysts from Gartner have advised corporations to reconsider implementing Linux, especially on “mission critical” systems.
Aug 27, 2003 Citizens for a sound economy \* Wayne T. Brough
New Protectionism: Mandates for Open Source Software
there may be more incompatibility problems among open source programs than proprietary programs
Sep 24, 2003 Americans for Technology Leadership Jim Prendergast CCIA Engages in Shameless Exploitation of Cyber-Security Fears In a recent CNET article, Dan Ingevaldson, engineering manager for Internet Security Systems in Atlanta said ‘In any given year there have been just as many vulnerabilities in the open-source community as there have been with Microsoft.’
Oct 29, 2003 Citizens Against Government Waste \* Tom Finnigan
Massachusetts Not So Open For Business
Yet while the software itself is free, the cost to maintain and upgrade it can become very expensive. Acquisition costs commonly represent only a small percentage of the total cost of ownership. Maintenance, training and support are often more expensive with open source than proprietary software.
Imagine the state DMV being responsible for programming the software that runs its computers. Every little problem would require an outside consultant, racking up fees and slowing down services.
Mar 2004 Progress and Freedom Foundation James DeLong
The Enigma of Open Source Software
In my opinion, open source looks like an idiosyncratic quirk that piggybacks on the billions of dollars that were spent on Unix rather than as a product of a real economic model. My view is that the open source advocates are pushing hard for preferences precisely because they doubt the sustainability of their model, and think that legal favoritism is necessary to keep it alive.
Mar 4, 2004 Institute for Policy Innovation Tony Healy
Has Open Source Reached Its Limits?
The reality is that open source can trap a customer into an outsourcer relationship more readily than commercial software. This is because commercial platforms expose standard API’s for third party applications and any consultant can develop for them. … open source will go the way of other IT industry fads that were once trumpeted as the way of the future, like Macintosh computers, business AI, 4GL programming languages and Y2K.
Mar 11, 2004 Small Business Survival Committee Raymond Keating
Intellectual Property: The Open Source Challenge
Risk of Lost Property. … If GPL-covered code were to find its way into a proprietary system or application, it would become public and free to use by anyone. …
Security Issues. … relying on nameless volunteers in cyberspace for security purposes would seem to be a dicey proposition, at best. …
Innovation. Much of the questions about open source software and applications come back to basic economic incentives. What incentives exist among volunteers to do their best, most innovative work? There is little.
Mar 17, 2004 Small Business Survival Committee Raymond Keating
Open Source, Open Questions
Indeed, open source has now moved into the courts over the issue of intellectual property. The burning question comes down to: How do those providing and using open source applications know that someone’s intellectual property wasn’t stolen and inserted?
Consider that SCO Group, which owns the license for Unix software, accused IBM in a lawsuit filed in March 2003 of allegedly shifting Unix intellectual property into Linux. Additional lawsuits swirl around SCO, Unix and Linux. After long threatening to sue some high-profile Linux users, earlier this month, SCO brought a lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone.
Apr 29, 2004 International Policy Network \* Bibek Debroy and Julian Morris
Open to development: Open source software and economic development
The pure open-source model is not capable of supporting for-profit firms. While the service-support model can provide sustainable profits, as the U.S. experience has demonstrated this model can only support a handful of firms at best.
June 4, 2004 Alexis de Tocqueville Institute \* Ken Brown
Samizdat’s critics… Brown replies
Linux is a leprosy; and is having a deleterious effect on the U.S. IT industry because it is steadily depreciating the value of the software industry sector.

Many of these pieces were disseminated by townhall.com \* which is a project of the Heritage Foundation \*. Many more attacks on Open Source have been drafted by Tech Central Station \*.

It would take far too much space to rebut all their arguments. For example, here are extensive critiques of just the first one. I did mark with an asterisk all the think tanks that use Open Source software to power their web sites.

What the think tanks have in common

Why are all these think tanks so down on Open Source? Well, the Small Business Survival Committee is concerned that using open source will expose small business to the risk of lawsuits. Citizens Against Government Waste is concerned that the Government might waste money on Open Source. Defenders of Property Rights is concerned that Open Source might be a threat to intellectual property rights. However, I was able to detect a common theme to all their criticism. They all seem to be funded by Microsoft.

Oliver Burkeman, writing in The Guardian, 20 July 2000:

They have a word in Washington for the corporate-sponsored outcry, the grassroots movement that isn’t: AstroTurf. By far the most comical example of this is to be found at the Freedom to Innovate Network (Fin), a “non-partisan, grassroots network of citizens and businesses who have a stake in the success of Microsoft and the high-tech industry”. Fin doesn’t try particularly hard to appear independent—its website, after all, is housed on Microsoft’s own—but it has as its online centrepiece a lengthy collection of testimonials from activist groups with vaguely alarming names: the Centre for the Moral Defence of Capitalism, Frontiers of Freedom, Defenders of Property Rights. Their comments appear unsolicited and independent: it certainly looks like there is a groundswell of support for the beleaguered computer giant. Though it isn’t mentioned on the site, the vast majority get funding from Microsoft, a company source confirms. There are swathes of them—the National Taxpayers Union, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Small Business Survival Committee, Americans for Tax Reform, and many more.

And the Albion Monitor writes:

[Citizens for a Sound Economy] is just one of several tax-exempt orgs that have divided over $750,000 from Microsoft and waxed in outrage over the proposed breakup of the software giant. Other beneficiaries include the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, National Taxpayers Union, and about a dozen more obscure names such as Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Small Business Survival Committee, the Independent Institute, Americans for Technology Leadership, and the Association for Competitive Technology.

Together the groups wage a disinformation campaign almost identical to the attempt to debunk global warming waged by Big Oil that we described in a 404 report two years ago. The strategy requires discrediting Microsoft critics while building a sham “grassroots” movement in support of the corporation.

The Pacific Research Institute’s annual report shows that it received more than $10,000 from Microsoft in 2003. The Progress and Freedom Foundation is supported by Microsoft. Declan McCullagh states: “CEI received a small-to-moderate amount of money from Microsoft during the antitrust trial days”. Tech Central Station is drafted by the DCI Group, a PR firm with Microsoft as a client. And, of course, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute is funded by Microsoft.

Let’s see, that leaves the Washingtonian Legal Foundation, the International Policy Network and the Institute for Policy Innovation. I asked each of them if they were funded by Microsoft, but not one of them replied. The article drafted by the Washingtonian Legal Foundation is similar to this one drafted by Microsoft. That’s not surprising since they were both written by the same person, who is, in fact, a consultant to Microsoft. The International Policy Network shares staff and its US address with the Microsoft-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute. As for the IPI, it seems that Microsoft hired one of the directors of the IPI as its chief lobbyist. And when Leon Brooks accused the IPI of shilling for Microsoft, the IPI responded:

Mr Brooks attacked a 17-year-old, well-respected public policy research organisation in the US about which he knows absolutely nothing, and to which he made not a single inquiry before dashing off his screed. He impugned our motives and questioned our integrity without a shred of information and without enough interest to bother to ask us.

This is your basic non-denial denial. IPI is upset that their integrity was questioned, but they did not actually deny the charge. I pointed this out in my email to them, but they did not reply.

Several leaked Microsoft memos (known as the Halloween documents) provide some insight into Microsoft’s plans to combat Open Source. Comparing their research, into the best messages to use against Open Source with the arguments used by the think tanks is rather interesting.

Lack of disclosure

Not one of these think tanks mentioned that they were funded by Microsoft when they attacked Open Source. Chris Mooney explains what is wrong with this:

My argument is not that the work of any of these authors was bought and paid for by a particular company. That is both impossible to prove and probably untrue anyway. Still, had the relevant corporate connections been disclosed to readers in each of these cases, the op-eds would undoubtedly have seemed suspect. That’s the whole point of disclosure: It lets readers judge for themselves whether a particular connection may bias an argument or analysis. It shines sunlight on debates in which advocates may attempt to hide their ulterior motives to advance self-interested propagandistic arguments.

Funded by Philip Morris and pro-tobacco

This is not the only time that these think tanks have been pushing the agenda of their funders without disclosing their connection. In 1995, several of them mounted vitriolic attacks on the FDA using expensive radio, television and print ads. In an article in the Los Angeles Times Myron Levin wrote:

Although the attacks do not mention tobacco, the industry is a major beneficiary. By arguing that the FDA has neglected its basic mission, the critics have made a case against the agency embarking on new initiatives, such as tobacco control…

Some of the FDA attackers—including the Washington Legal Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Competitive Enterprise Institute—have received financial support from tobacco interests. And that has prompted industry foes to question if the companies are just lucky bystanders or have played a behind-the-scenes role…

Officials of Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, the two biggest tobacco companies, declined to discuss corporate donations to such groups…

Tobacco companies “have increased their support of CEI,” but not to fund any specific campaign, said spokesman Jason Taylor. “We make it quite clear that support of CEI is support of the whole organization and … . our principles.”

However, now that the tobacco companies’ documents are publicly available we can find out what was really going on.

Levin’s inquiries while he was working on his story generated quite a few concerned emails within Philip Morris. Executives were worried about what Levin might find out and wanted to make sure that no-one told him anything. For example:

Of course Marsha should not respond to Levin. We never had any leaks with Decision Quest. … This is disturbing and may mean that we are using too many outside consultants.

What was Philip Morris trying to hide? Well, in December 1994, a Philip Morris executive came up with a plan to deal with the FDA:

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about how the tobacco industry should deal with the threat of FDA regulation of nicotine. Even with the favorable outcome of the November elections, I doubt if it will be politically feasible to get Congress to direct the FDA not to regulate tobacco.

A better strategy is to launch a broad-based attack on the FDA. …

A public relations and advertising campaign should be mounted to publicize FDA‘s failings, and to generate public and congressional sentiment for reform. …

From the moment the plan is launched, FDA will have its hands full defending its record and its existing turf. FDA‘s efforts to claim new jurisdiction, including jurisdiction over tobacco would be curtailed. The tobacco industry could take a low—even invisible—profile if it so desires…

Citizens for a Sound Economy was Philip Morris’ major partner in the campaign. They presented a proposal to Philip Morris that included TV and radio ads, production of an “academic” study on the FDA‘s regulatory burden, and even astroturf letters:

CSE would encourage our 250,000 grassroots members to … sign and mail a pre-printed letter to the editor that has been personalized with their local newspapers’ names and addresses.

The proposed budget was over a million dollars for phases I and II and an additional $2,827,925 for phase III. Philip Morris paid CSE a mere one million dollars, so it looks like only phases I and II were implemented.

Philip Morris records show the following payments in 1995, as well as examples of pro-tobacco lobbying:

Think tank 1995 Payments Pro-tobacco lobbying
Competitive Enterprise Institute $200,000 Example
Heritage Foundation $50,000 Example
Defenders of Property Rights $30,000 Example
Small Business Survival Committee $40,000 Example
Citizens for a Sound Economy $985,000 Example
Alexis de Tocqueville Institute $75,000 Example
Citizens Against Government Waste $50,000 Example
Washington Legal Foundation $250,000 Example

All of these think tanks lobbied on behalf of Philip Morris without mentioning their connection, just as they attacked Open Source without mentioning that they were funded by Microsoft. More details on the behind-the-scenes efforts of the tobacco companies are in this Mother Jones article.

Funded by Exxon and anti-global warming

Some of these same think tanks have also received funding from Exxon, and by the strangest coincidence have been hard at work denying the existence of global warming and claiming that Kyoto will cause massive damage to the economy. Examples: Paul Georgia of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Alexis De Tocqueville Institute. Greenpeace has created an interactive web site on these groups. I used it to create a graph showing all the anti-Open Source think tanks that are also anti-global warming (Flash required).

Disclosure

I have not been paid by anybody to write this piece. I did use Open Source software including Xemacs, GNU/Linux, and Blosxom while writing it. My thanks to Lion Kuntz who prompted my investigation by leaving a comment listing some of the think tank attacks.

Update 25 Jun

There is discussion of this article at Slashdot and Linux World. I added the Progress and Freedom Foundation to the list. Eric Raymond has posted a new Halloween document.

Update 2 Jul

IPI replies here.

Comments

  1. #1 Laurens Pit
    June 23, 2004

    This seems like a great piece, but why pick on Microsoft?
    IBM, Oracle, and other large Linux supporers also play ‘back door politics’. Have you looked into any of these?

  2. #2 ciaran
    June 23, 2004

    OK, in the US there are lots of “think tanks” with funny names. Is it just the US? What other countries have such
    a rich collection of “just pay me” organisations? The entire
    concept has always struck me as being redicilous…

  3. #3 Anon
    June 23, 2004

    Nice work. A great place to start for anyone concerned about think tanks.

  4. #4 Mr Peach
    June 23, 2004

    I was disturbed to see the Heritage Foundation on your list of shills, but on review of the evidence, it is a legitimate attack on the questionable science of second hand smoke and not deserving of the accusation of bias you have made.

    Not that I am a fan of second hand smoke, it’s just the science doesn’t support the conclusions that everyone seems to be using with such confidence.

  5. #5 David
    June 23, 2004

    This would be a great source to lead those who would stick to their guns with Microsoft if it weren’t for your linking this to Greenpeace and Global warming. Global warming is completely unscientific and the Kyoto treaty would crush the economy (have you not kept up with the news following that piece of fiction The Day After Tomorrow?)

    Taking the angle you have leaves me questioning everything in this report since you seem to be an anti-capitalist looking for conspiracies in every corner.

    Thanks for nothing.

  6. #6 Anon
    June 24, 2004

    Nice work. A great place to start for anyone concerned about think tanks.

  7. #7 Alexis
    June 24, 2004

    I found your article quite questionable. First of all, you claim that they are funded by Microsoft, but when you look at the details you don’t see all organizations as funded by Microsoft. Second, you are talking about 10’000 as the fund which is not very much. Almost all non-profit organizations here in USA are funded by Microsoft, because Microsoft pays taxes. You had to do more than a simply monetary relation to prove that these organizations are not objective. Finally, at the end by giving a sarcastic disclosure that you are not paid by anybody for this article, you imply that these organizations are paid for their articles. That’s a Slashdot logic, you can find this only on Slashdot, because getting money from a company doesn’t mean that every action you take is for them. These organizations take money from all sorts of companies and people, right? If you were really honest with your readers, which I believe you will never be, you would do more and take a comprohensive look at what’s really going on, not just some 10’000# donation.

    Maybe your only goal was to be linked from Slashdot, which you accomplished, or maybe just to get some traffic to your site, but if you are really after the truth you did a terrible job by simply focusing on the things that seem to support your conclusion.

    Remember, everytime an organization publishes something favorable to Microsoft, many people attack those organizations no matter what and then they look for clues to somehow tie these organizations to Microsoft and falsely claim that everything these organizations said ought to be false. These personal attacks discredit those people, for example I couldn’t see the difference between you and an average Slashdotter.

  8. #8 Shane
    June 24, 2004

    So, evidence from Phillip Morris internal records provide a documented link between them and several “independant” think tanks that were slamming the FDA. Payments from Phillip Morris range from $30K to $985K. This is more than enough to establish that these think tanks are not much more than paid-for opinions.

    We don’t have internal memos from Microsoft to prove the connection in all cases; however many of the same think tanks appear in the list of “non-profit” organisations attacking Linux; and many of them do have known contributions from Microsoft.

    It’s quite clear, and it’s not rocket science. David: What exactly does your personal opinion about whether the Kyoto
    treaty is good have to do with the conclusions? Whether
    or not global warming is really happening, it is important
    to Exxon that people BELIEVE it isn’t – hence they pay for
    opinions.

    Alexis: $10K is a lot of money – certainly enough
    to pay for someone to spend a few hours writing about “how bad Linux is” and still make a killer profit. And the fact that these “think-tanks” have provably taken money to produce propoganda in the past is highly indicative that they are doing it now. It’s relatively unlikely, actually, that they would have reformed! (why bother? The money is better if other people pay for your opinions).

  9. #9 Tim Lambert
    June 24, 2004

    David, if you think that global warming is “completely unscientific” there is something very wrong with your sources of information. I suggest you read the NAS report if you want to find out what real scientists say.

    Alexis, the reports from the think tanks are rubbish. You don’t have to show that they are funded by Microsoft to see that. The funding by Microsoft just explains why they would publish such garbage.

  10. #10 Charles
    June 25, 2004

    Let me try that again…

    Tim, excellent post. You should get paid for this stuff.

  11. #11 Martin
    June 25, 2004

    I would guess that Tim is “picking on” Microsoft because their FUD is so outrageously awful as to draw his ire. People lie every day, but only a few lie with the energy, determination and hearfelt devotion of Brown, AdTI and Microsoft.

    If you feel IBM needs to be called to account, please do so yourself.

  12. #12 Ian Gould
    June 26, 2004

    Kyoto would not “crush the economy”.

    As an economist for the Queensland EPA I did considerable work on the economics of greenhouse.

    The Queensland economy is one of the most carbon-intensive in the world. Virtually all our power comes from coal. We have a massive energy-intensive aluminium industry (one of the largest in the world.) We’re the most decentralised state in the country with correspondingly high petrol use.

    The economic impact of Ausrtralia ratifying Kyoto woudl be to reduce the rate of growth of the Queensland economy by less than 0.1% per year.

    That’s based on the economic modelling done the Australian Federal government – which opposes Kyoto.

  13. #13 Lars
    June 27, 2004

    Ian, could you give us some citations for these conclusions? The “economic disaster” argument is constantly being palmed off on us here, and some counter-artillery would be a help.

  14. #14 : Greenhouse references (1)
    June 27, 2004

    http://www.tai.org.au

    Regional Employment and Greenhouse Policies
    Discussion Paper 41 ISSN 1322-5421

    “Allen Consulting misinterpret the results of the model, stating that
    Australian compliance with the Kyoto Protocol would reduce GDP by ‘1.9 per cent a
    year’. This is incorrect. In fact, the model results show that overall GDP would be 1.9
    per cent lower in 2012 than it otherwise would be in the absence of greenhouse policy
    measures. This means that between 2000 and 2012 real GDP would increase by 39.1
    per cent instead of 41 per cent.”

    The summary of this paper is available on-line at the address above. The full text is only available if you buy a copy from the site. The Australia Institute also has several other papers on the economics of climate change.

    http://www.ccsa.asn.au/nic/SustDev/Economicsandgreenhouse.htm

    Critique of the various absurdly large costs claimed for Kyoto Compliance

  15. #15 : Greenhouse references (1)
    June 27, 2004

    http://www.tai.org.au

    Regional Employment and Greenhouse Policies
    Discussion Paper 41 ISSN 1322-5421

    “Allen Consulting misinterpret the results of the model, stating that
    Australian compliance with the Kyoto Protocol would reduce GDP by ‘1.9 per cent a
    year’. This is incorrect. In fact, the model results show that overall GDP would be 1.9
    per cent lower in 2012 than it otherwise would be in the absence of greenhouse policy
    measures. This means that between 2000 and 2012 real GDP would increase by 39.1
    per cent instead of 41 per cent.”

    The summary of this paper is available on-line at the address above. The full text is only available if you buy a copy from the site. The Australia Institute also has several other papers on the economics of climate change.

    http://www.ccsa.asn.au/nic/SustDev/Economicsandgreenhouse.htm

    Critique of the various absurdly large costs claimed for Kyoto Compliance

  16. #16 : Greenhouse references (1)
    June 27, 2004

    http://www.tai.org.au

    Regional Employment and Greenhouse Policies
    Discussion Paper 41 ISSN 1322-5421

    “Allen Consulting misinterpret the results of the model, stating that
    Australian compliance with the Kyoto Protocol would reduce GDP by ‘1.9 per cent a
    year’. This is incorrect. In fact, the model results show that overall GDP would be 1.9
    per cent lower in 2012 than it otherwise would be in the absence of greenhouse policy
    measures. This means that between 2000 and 2012 real GDP would increase by 39.1
    per cent instead of 41 per cent.”

    The summary of this paper is available on-line at the address above. The full text is only available if you buy a copy from the site. The Australia Institute also has several other papers on the economics of climate change.

    http://www.ccsa.asn.au/nic/SustDev/Economicsandgreenhouse.htm

    Critique of the various absurdly large costs claimed for Kyoto Compliance

  17. #17 : Greenhouse references (1)
    June 27, 2004

    http://www.tai.org.au

    Regional Employment and Greenhouse Policies
    Discussion Paper 41 ISSN 1322-5421

    “Allen Consulting misinterpret the results of the model, stating that
    Australian compliance with the Kyoto Protocol would reduce GDP by ‘1.9 per cent a
    year’. This is incorrect. In fact, the model results show that overall GDP would be 1.9
    per cent lower in 2012 than it otherwise would be in the absence of greenhouse policy
    measures. This means that between 2000 and 2012 real GDP would increase by 39.1
    per cent instead of 41 per cent.”

    The summary of this paper is available on-line at the address above. The full text is only available if you buy a copy from the site. The Australia Institute also has several other papers on the economics of climate change.

    http://www.ccsa.asn.au/nic/SustDev/Economicsandgreenhouse.htm

    Critique of the various absurdly large costs claimed for Kyoto Compliance

  18. #18 writeback
    June 27, 2004

    http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/international/kyoto/pubs/cop7.pdf. —-This is the largest and most authoritative report on the economic costs of Kyoto ever done for the Australian government. —- The principal author, Chris McKibbin is one of the most highly regarded economists in Australia. He’s also a critic of the Kyoto Protocol, mostly because he thinks there are cheaper ways of achieving the same or greater carbon reductions – go to page 8 of the report – look at table 6. I won’t try to copy it to here because tables are very hard to copy from pdf’s but I will quote the key findings….
    McKibbin did economic modelling on three possible scenarios in which Australia ratifies Kyoto…the dfference between the scenarios is the exact rules Australia signs up for and what greenhouse policies the US follows. The results are given in terms of deviations from the “reference case”. The reference case is a model of how the Asutralian economy is expected to develop in the absence of Kyoto. …In 2010, the WORST scenario shows that Kyoto will reduce GNP by only 0.17%. In one of the other scenarios GNP is actually HIGHER than the reference case. Note that this doesn’t mean economic growth in 2010 will be 0.17% less it means that in total economic growth over the period from 2002 when the mosel was prepared to 2010 economic growth will be reduced by 0.17%. In 2015, the results are similar. In the worst case the impact is a cumulative reduction in GNP of only 0.14% and the best case shows GNP will be slightly higher…in practice, its virtually impossible to predict economic outcomes this far into the future with any degree of certainty…the results simply show the likely order of magnitude of the change – which is extremely small….Kyoto would have little to no impact on the Australian economy. That’s because industries forced to buy reduction credits would mostly do so from other Australian companies which would invest that money in emission reduction projects … the economic benefits of those projects largely offset the economic costs to the polluting industries meaning the net economic impact is quite low…it’s also worth noting that the Kyoto scenarios run by McKibbin show the coal and aluminium industries would produce more and employ more people even if we ratified Kyoto….the job “losses” claimed are because the reference case shows growth in those industries would be even higher if we didn’t ratify.

  19. #19 writeback
    June 27, 2004

    Just to put soem context on the costs of Kyoto…The cost of reducing greenhouse emissions by the equivalent of one tonne of c02 is often assumed to be around US$20….There’s some evidence from existing carbon credit trading that it may be even lower…The McKibbin report I cited above estimates that to comply with Kyoto, Australia would need to reduce emissions by 60 million tonnes per year….Let’s ignore my earlier comments about how other Australian businesses will receive a large part of that money and assume its all a total loss to the Australian economy…. 60 million tonnes multiplied by US$20 is US$1.2 billion….The Australian GDP is worth something like US$400 billion a year and is growing by around 3.5-4% on average…That’s US$14-20 billion a year or at least 10 times the cost of Kyoto….See why Kyoto won’t have major impact on the Australian economy?….You can argue about whether that costs is justified or whether there are better cheaper ways to reduce emissions – but you CAN’T argue that the costs will cripple the economy.

  20. #20 Lars
    June 28, 2004

    Greatly obliged for the detailed response.

  21. #21 mumtaz
    June 30, 2004

    Quite useful, and extremely interesting. While the battle against FUD is being fought mainly in USA and Europe, developing countries (i understand that they don’t really matter in larger scheme of things!) are also witnessing a number of techniques by companies like Microsoft to discourage the use of open source software. I wish if Mr Tim Lambert or someone as knowledgeable as him could also write about it.

  22. #22 Aaron Swartz
    July 3, 2004

    Perhaps you could provide some tips on how to search the tobacco documents archive? You seem to routinely be able to turn up fascinating evidence. When I tried, I couldn’t find much more than public documents (press releases, reports, and such).

  23. #23 Tim Lambert
    July 3, 2004

    You have to figure out how to use the advanced search. That lets you search for documents that mention (say) CSE, then you can use the date searching option to get ones from 1995 and then look at lots of documents. Restricting the search to document types of letter and memo sometimes helps to get rid of the press releases.

  24. #24 Alex
    December 3, 2005

    I know this must be unusual for free-market think tanks, but at the GI we have been rather favourable to open source.

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