The Heritage Foundation
    and Mahathir Mohammed’s dirty money

The home of the plutotheocrats stands up for poor misunderstood Malaysia.

So Mahathir Mohammed manged to buy off the Heritage Foundation by funnelling money to a PR consulting firm run by the boss’s wife. The Washington Post has the dirty details. Judd Legum at Think Progress shows that the sell-out started before, not after, 9-11.

Matt Yglesias disapproves. And Brad DeLong thinks it’s time to shut the place down.

I, on the other hand, take a more nuanced policy analyst’s view of the issue. Admitedly “the Heritage Foundation selling out to a foreign anti-Semitic regime” sounds bad. But that’s only if you fail to ask the ever-important question, “Compared to what?”

Compared to other things the Heritage Foundation has done and might do, selling out to Mahathir Mohammed is pretty harmless. If this diverts the foundation’s attention from, e.g., helping the plutotheocrats gain and hold power, on balance it has to be counted A Good Thing.

Note to Jewish conservatives: Remember, you’re only honorary whites. Your right-wing friends will sell you out in a nanosecond.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: