Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Friedman Returns $75K Fee Charged to Taxpayers for Speaking to a Bunch of Climate Bureaucrats

The idea of charging California taxpayers $75,000 so a bunch of bureaucrats could listen to Tom Friedman reuse a speech seems to epitomize the attitude of California government.
They think they are rulers rather than servants. I've commented on the European Parliament having the same mindset:
...They know that if they told the populace the truth they might be treated rougher than Louis XVI was.

When MEP's dream, are they Capetian or Carolingian?
Capetian, methinks.

I've always liked the Carolingians better,
they seemed more human-

Charles II, the Bald
Louis II, the Stammerer
Charles, the Fat
Charles III, the Simple
Along the lines of the Brit's Aethelred II, the Unready
(my fav. royal nickname)

Anyhoo, from the Economic Times (India):...
Here's the Friedman story from the Columbia Journalism Review:

The LA Times’s James Rainey, upon learning that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman received $75,000 for speaking recently to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, called the Times with some questions. To justify the fee, Rainey reports, a Times spokesperson “noted that the columnist ‘flew across the country at their request’ to make the appearance…conducted ‘a lengthy Q and A…so they were getting not only the presentation but a chance to talk with him and ask him questions’,” that Friedman often waives his fee, makes his speeches available free on his web site, and “gives generously to charity.”

Rainey reports that “Times ethics guidelines allow staffers to take speaking fees only from ‘educational and other nonprofit groups for which lobbying and political activity are not a major focus,’” and that this group “hardly fits that bill.” Late yesterday, the Times spokesperson called Rainey to say that Friedman would be returning the money.

Suggests Rainey:

Public disclosure of large outside payments, say of $1,000 or more, would allow us to keep better tabs on what’s driving the press.
Got that? The money was returned, not because a bunch of public servants were wasting the taxpayers money but rather, because it might violate the New York Times' ethics guidelines.
Good grief. Here's a song that reflects Thomas Jefferson's idea that "Every generation needs a new revolution"*

*I don't have a source for that one but I do for the quote below, from a school Jefferson founded:
"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure."
Source: November 13, 1787, letter to William S. Smith, quoted in Padover's Jefferson On Democracy, ed., 1939
From the University of Virgina
Here's their Quotations from the Writings of Thomas Jefferson.