These are terrible times in the world of Think Tanks. With the advent of Super PACs, rich folks who want to manipulate public opinion no longer have to launder their money through "education"- or "policy"-oriented think tanks. They can just do tens of millions of dollars of media buys on their own, skipping right past think and going straight to tank. Or, rich folks already funding think tanks can decide that they want their toy back from those they hired to pretend to do "education" or "policy," as in the Koch brothers lawsuit to regain total control of the CATO Institute. Or, most tragic, think tanks are actually going bankrupt, like Newt Gingrich's Center for Health Transformation. The thought of those poor Members of the Boards of Trustees or Directors going without their six-figure sinecures and luxury junkets just makes you want to weep, huh?
Well, it made the Trustees of the Institute of Fake Social Science weep, that's for sure. So much so that they called an emergency meeting to see if there was some Joe Paterno-type around that they could fire immediately so that they could look like they hadn't been sitting on their asses all along. Unfortunately for us, the principal scholars at the Institute, the Trustees seem to have heard from some disgruntled grad student about heated and increasing conflict among the top Fake Social Scientists. But fortunately for us, we heard from a disgruntled clerical employee, who slipped us the following confidential document memorializing the Board's plans. In the interests of transparency (or transparent self-interest), we now present that memo:
Board of Trustees of the Institute of Fake Social Science
Minutes of the Emergency Meeting
Do not circulate
Executive staff summarized the dire financial situation facing the Institute in the future. There's no need for alarm yet. Our endowment and annual fund-raising should easily be enough to maintain the Trustees current salary and benefits, including merit bonuses going forward indefinitely for all Trustees and Directors, except the dead ones, whose performances in most instances can be evaluated only as "satisfactory," therefore under our strict standards rendering them ineligible for merit bonuses. But a little cost-cutting couldn't hurt, the Board agreed.
Most of the Board had been entirely unaware that think tank bankruptcy was even possible, having believed the idea was "free money forever, and tax-free to boot," but executive staff patiently explained that the money they collect and disburse still has to balance out even if the Federal government is getting screwed out of its cut.
The Board was made aware, through a reliably disgruntled source, that the principal researchers had posted new polls before having analyzed their previous data collection, an unambiguous violation of their contract. So the Board immediately moved to terminate them, thereby cutting the expense of salary, data collection and overhead. But before the Board could vote, executive staff patiently explained that without scholars with high-falutin' credentials, fund-raising would be virtually impossible, and without somebody to actually do Fake Social Science, the Institute could lose it's tax exemption. Also, executive staff patiently reminded the Board, a large multi-national media corporation, NBC/Universal, had been tricked into paying the principal scholars' salaries as a tax shelter, so the Board didn't control that money anyway. In light of these facts, and after careful deliberation, the Board voted to table the motion to fire the principal Fellows and reserve the contract violation for later blackmail.
Executive staff reported a sudden spike in janitorial expenses, First Aid kit usage, and in office furniture and technology acquisition. When interviewed, Jose reported that the presence of increasing amounts of blood, pulled-out human hair and chunks of skin required not just the usual cleaning but disinfectant, and the cleaning up of smashed furniture, including glass, which is very tricky, and shattered cell phones, computers and televisions, required him to work overtime whenever the principal scholars met to discuss their work-in-progress. The reliably disgruntled source reported that it was pretty much whenever the presidential election came up that the @#%$ hit the fan. After voting to dock executive staff an hour's pay for saying "@#%$" at a Board of Trustees meeting, in light of these facts, and after careful deliberation, the Board voted to have a big line painted through the center of the principal Fellows' office, not to be crossed by either scholar when investigating the 2012 Elections, and to authorize either principal to publish separately on the topic, provided that such publication be approved by the Board in advance.
Other cost-cutting proposals were advanced by the Board, but most of them turned out to be of little value. Executive staff patiently explained that the disgruntled grad students work for free, hoping to make third author, and the interns worked for free too, hoping to make contacts for a real job someday. The only further motion passed by the Board was that clerical staff should henceforth requisition office supplies from the Real Social Science Institute, whose supply closet is at the end of the hall and somebody is always leaving it unlocked during the day.
The Board then adjourned to the next quarterly meeting in the Gstaad Palace, Switzerland.
Rebuttal deposition to above report:
Geez, it was a paper cut to your index finger and you nearly fainted at the sight of blood. When I tried to apply the Tigger bandage, you pulled away in a snit because we were out of the Eeyore bandages and knocked over your computer monitor.
Jose is full of barley and so are you. You lost the NCAA brackets to Jose and couldn't pay up, so Jose charged the 'overtime' hours to the Institute to get his 'winnings'.
Need I point out that some or all of this behavior may be actionable?
I suppose it's useless to remind you it's your turn to buy coffee and donuts.