POLICY: PRI has a blog, almost.

Sometimes you just wonder how these press release lists get put together. The Pacific Research Institute, which with its fellow traveler organization the Fraser Institute, has been issuing nutty and just plain wrong "research" about Canadian health care for years, decided to start sending me press releases today. They now have their own blog (well it’s not alive yet but a press release is as good as, dontcha think?). The blog will explain why importing drugs from Canada is a bad idea and why paying more for drugs is a good idea.

Well as they’re nice enough to send me the release I went and looked at their annual report, and if you like pictures of Maggie Thatcher you should go look there too. It does worry me a little when Sally Pipes can only find Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum to quote effusive things about her health care work, but I guess you get praise where you can.

However, their press release also says that they solicit corporate contributions from the health care industry. No biggie, as I do that too (although I call it consulting work!), but you might get the impression that the "research" PRI conducts probably fits the views of certain parts of the health care industry very well. So well that I’m a little surprised PRI only manages to get 15% of its $4.1m budget out of the corporate sector–although it gets another $2m odd from "foundations" which may well be corporate-controlled ones too. But they’re not honest enough in the report to say who it is who’s coughing up.

What you really see from reading the report is that PRI has been somewhat effective in turning a small amount of money into either effective policy interventions or totally muddying the policy waters (take your pick). The end result is that whenever Canadian health care comes up, there is a loony cry from the right that manages to obscure a few basic facts, and makes sure that no rational conversation can be had here about real health reform. Even though the genuinely independent Lewin group showed that single payer would save money in California–a report that sank without trace. So to that extent, this little corner of the vast right wing conspiracy (in San Francisco no less!) is doing its job. Pity that PRI’s claim about individual freedom being the be-all and end-all don’t appear to have transmuted over to a stated position on the drug war or medical marijuana.  Perhaps they don’t notice where they are. The Independent Institute, a more intellectually honest libertarian think tank across the Bay has no such qualms.

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