The Hightower Report

The flim flam of the Employment Policy Institute

Mothers everywhere warn children not to put any food in their mouths unless they know where it came from. The same should apply to putting information in our heads.

For instance, the Employment Policies Institute has recently run full-page newspaper ads alerting the public and policymakers that an impressive group of some 650 economists who are supporting an increase in America's minimum wage includes many who are "radical researchers." The institute's message is that no one should listen to, much less respect, this group of economists.

But wait – "many" in the group are radical? How many? The ads only list eight and offer only innuendo as "proof" of their radicalism.

And, by the way, what and who is the Employment Policies Institute? Sounds legit, but is it? Not at all. It's a nonprofit front group run by longtime corporate operative Richard Berman. It gets millions of dollars in tax-exempt donations from fast-food chains and other corporate interests trying to kill the wage increase, then funnels that money into Berman's for-profit PR firm, which also represents the restaurant industry.

To make its case, the institute has cited several "academic" reports that assail the wage increase on multiple fronts. But, just as Berman refuses to disclose the names of the corporate giants funding him, he also never mentions that more than half of the economists whose papers he cites are paid by him. One, Joseph Sabia, has been given a quarter-million dollars in eight grants from Berman's institute. In addition, an independent analysis of one of Sabia's reports found that the data was skewed to make it seem that a New York wage hike had a negative impact on employment, which simply was not true.

This phony institute is a scam and a scandal – so momma says don't put any of its stuff in your head.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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