2009 Rider PR – “California’s bogus think tanks – and media bias”

Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters 5 Comments


San Diego Tax Fighters
10969 Red Cedar Dr.
San Diego, CA  92131
Voice:  (858) 530-3027
Email:  RRider@san.rr.com

Monday, 6 April, 2009
Press Release – Authored by Richard Rider

California’s bogus think tanks – and media bias

I guess I retain a special place in my heart for San Diego Union-Tribune reporter/columnist Dean Calbreath.   His poorly reasoned and misleadingly referenced liberal “business” commentaries seem to set me off – I guess because he’s perhaps the most prominent local big government columnist (with apologies to all the OTHER local big government columnists).

His latest commentary got me going again.  I’ve posted several rebuttal comments to his column online (at this same link), but it’s mostly a rehash of material I’ve distributed previously about the California economy.  However, here’s some fresh material:

To refute claims “by some business leaders” that California’s high tax and heavy regulatory policies are a problem, Calbreath in this column turns to Steven Levy, the head of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy (CCSCE).  Google this outfit, and you’ll find it’s a firmly left-of-center “think tank” that consistently favors ever higher taxes and fees.  Levy and presumably CCSCE are at least partially funded by the San Francisco Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, two liberal funding sources.

Of course, Calbreath – true to form – never mentions the liberal bias of CCSCE. We are supposed to conclude that this is an objective source of information.

It’s not.  Not even close.

Here’s more evidence of CCSCE’s bias.

Levy et al put together the clever but totally bogus online California Budget Challenge, in conjunction with “Next 10,” a far left outfit. Take the challenge propaganda test.

Now go a few pages in to vote your preference on the six May statewide props. Look at the pop-up window summarizing Prop 1A.  This supposedly objective summary does NOT mention the $16 BILLION tax increase tied to Prop 1A! That’s standard Democratic Party strategy — blatant deceit through omission of facts. Clearly Next 10 and CCSCE are owned by the Dems, and have zero credibility.

If you punch through the rest of the California Budget Challenge, you’ll find the state budget survey choices are…

A. Cut services.

B. Change nothing.

There is no option to reduce runaway government employee compensation, nor to privatize government services.  All innovative solutions are off the table in an effort to force people to conclude that the only option is to raise taxes.

CCSCE puts out detailed “analysis” of the state economy that totally ignores the adverse effects of our high taxes and crushing regulatory climate. Indeed, CCSCE is pushing for repeal of Prop 13, and the 2/3 voter approval requirement for passing new taxes.

Levy is up front about his preference for higher tax solutions. See his August 2008 article “A Tax Increase Will Help the California Economy.” Go back and look at previous CCSCE materials, and you’ll find that they are ALWAYS pushing for more taxes and fees.

Levy and Calbreath confuse the health of the California state and local GOVERNMENTS with the health of the California state ECONOMY. Obviously they are not the same — indeed, the case can be made that the bigger (healthier by Levy’s benchmark) these governments are, the less healthy is the economy.

My bottom line question is: Why do the San Diego U-T business page editors allow Calbreath (and reporters) to quote such biased liberal sources without insisting on full disclosure of the source’s bias? Let me assure you that, if Heritage, or Cato, or Reason, or any other low tax, limited government source were quoted, the bias of that source would be included in the article – as it rightfully should be.

U-T editors, let’s have a little parity here.


Here’s a letter to the editor to the editor I sent to the LA TIMES in 2009, exposing the biased “nonpartisan” think tank source (the California Budget Project) cited by liberal columnist Steve Lopez.  Oddly enough, they didn’t run it.  [written in 2009, so some stats are outdated]:

RE:   Steve Lopez column –  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lopez25-2009feb25,0,551764.column

Steve Lopez claims to “easily dispel tax myths” about high California tax rates.  His source?  The “nonpartisan” California Budget Project (CBP), a left wing think tank that supports higher taxes and more income redistribution to lower income families.  (SOURCE:  Their website  www.cbp.org    Note their board of directors.)  Lopez fully knows of CBP’s strong Big Government bias, but fails to identify the ideological slant of this outfit.

CBP wants us to think we don’t pay enough taxes.  They assert that we are only the 17th highest taxed state.

But not according to the D.C.-based Tax Foundation.  This conservative organization compares states’ tax burdens.  Unlike CBP, it has no reason to fudge the figures to make California tax rates look good or bad.

The Tax Foundation finds that California is the fourth worst taxed state in the country.  Moreover, we were 28th worst in 1994, but have been climbing ever since.  And their figures do not count the latest massive tax increases passed this month.  (SOURCE:  www.TaxFoundation.org )

Lopez also quotes CBP as saying California has low fuel taxes.  Absolute rubbish.  California has the third highest gasoline and diesel taxes on the nation.  (SOURCE:  American Petroleum Institute:  www.api.org/statistics/fueltaxes/  )

As a data source, uber-liberal CBP has zero credibility.  Now so does Steve Lopez.



Comments 5

  1. Post
  2. Your post carries a message reporters need to remember: All “non-partisan” means is that a group does not officially endorse or affiliate with a political party. Non-partisan does not mean non-political.

    Putatively non-partisan think tanks often advance a political agenda mirroring the beliefs of a party or opposed to those of another party. So in reality, these think tanks promote a partisan agenda.They are hiding under a legal fiction. Disclosing that agenda to readers is just basic good journalism.

  3. Richard Rider, I heard you with the garage guys, excellent like usual – I’m looking forward to going on again to learn about beer! Thanks for the article, enlightening for me.

  4. Post

    With most of the press, “nonpartisan” is a double standard. After all, CATO, REASON, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Heritage, Hoover and most other right of center groups are nonpartisan. Yet they are almost always labeled in articles as “conservative” or “libertarian” or (less accurately) “right wing.”

    And rightfully so!

    But left wing advocacy groups hide behind the “nonpartisan” label — concealing their blatant Big Government agenda — and the too often the press is a knowing accomplice in this subterfuge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *