Here’s a question for you!
Q: Why would corporate CEOs — whose number one priority is boosting profit and bonuses — spend a lot of time, energy, and money on a policy that allegedly helps middle class workers?
Earlier this week, Steve Buckstein, co-founder of the corporate-backed Cascade Policy Institute, submitted an op-ed to the Oregonian, touting the “benefits” of a “Right to Work” policy in Oregon. He cited dozens of statistics showing just how much better off Oregon workers would be if we were to pass such a law. He alleged that we’d have more jobs! Higher wages! And so forth!!
Sounds great, right? Except we couldn’t help but giggle when we saw where he got his “facts.”
In his column, Buckstein boasts about the “ground-breaking research on the economic benefits of allowing Oregon workers to opt out of union membership and ‘fair share’ dues,” commissioned by his very own right-leaning, libertarian think tank.
Ground-breaking research? He’s referring to a report by Eric Fruits and Randall Pozdena, two Oregon economists that are so discredited in the field of economics that they served as the main subject of Oregon State University Professor of Applied Economics William Jaeger’s analysis titled “Which Economic Analyses Can Oregonians Trust.” (Hint: Not Fruits and Pozdena!)
There are so many red flags with Fruits and Pozdena’s methodology and economics, it’s hard to know where to begin. But here are some of the lowlightts:
In 2009, senior researchers from the Tax Policy Center, Dr. Rosanne Altshuler and Dr. Kim Rueben (both also professors of Economics,) reviewed analyses on Measure 66 and 67 by Pozdena and William Conerly (another of Buckstein’s favorite economists.) They found it “without merit,” as it is “fraught with a host of serious problems.” They point to inaccuracies with the analysis’ application of irrelevant cross-country studies to Oregon’s unique situation, including the use of a Lee and Gordon study that aggregates both industrialized and non-industrialized nations into one finding — even though, “in fact, [the researchers] Lee and Gordon report that the tax effect is near zero for OECD countries which are, presumably, the ones that are most directly comparable to the U.S. states.”
Dr. Jaeger (of the aforementioned “Which Economic Analyses Can Oregonians Trust“) found additional examples where Fruits and Pozdena misrepresented, misquoted, and at times appeared to flat out lie about other economists’ findings. For example, “Fruits and Pozdena (2009) claim that taxing the incomes of the wealthy will cause entrepreneurial households to leave the state. To support these claims they cite a California study (Kolko 2009). However, that study actually arrives at the opposite conclusion: Kolko concluded that high income households are less likely to move.” Further, “these economists disseminated their own analysis without following professional standards for transparency and peer-review.”
And Fruits and Pozdena’s analysis wasn’t debunked only in academia. Oregon’s economic reality proved their analysis completely wrong. After measures 66 and 67 passed, we got a first-hand look at how their assertions played out. Not only did corporations and the wealthy not leave the state, businesses expanded and new businesses moved into Oregon. And while Fruits and Pozdena estimated that the state would lose 70,000 jobs, we actually gained about 72,700. (Seasonally adjusted figures between Jan 2010 and May 2013.) As for the claims that Oregon’s overall economy would suffer? Oregon had the second-fastest growing Gross State Product in the nation last year, and the third-fastest this year.
Yet Buckstein’s defense of “Right to Work” policy this week rests on analysis from those same economists, despite the very thorough and complete discrediting of their economic analyses and methodology. (And the fact that many reputable economists‘ studies actually show that “right to work” policies do not improve wages or jobs,but actually decrease wages and protections.) Why? Because their flawed economics perpetuate the political agenda pushed by Oregon Cascade Policy Institute and other right-wing, corporate-funded organizations.
You see, this op-ed was part of a well-coordinated, national attack supported by Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and other far-right, anti-union, anti-worker organizations.
The corporate support of “Right to Work” policies is actually based on their goal to take power and freedom away from all workers, so they can continue to pad their bottom line. In reality, the policy would limit workers’ rights and freedoms, by allowing employers to roll back wages, repeal worker’s comp policies, and revoke collective bargaining rights.
Oof. Hate to leave the post on such a downer, especially after promising a joke. So, here’s a completely unrelated (and completely HILARIOUS) real joke:
Q: What did the fish say when it swam into a wall?