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Ooh, this is delicious.

Salon has an article by the awesome Alex Pareene about the decline of the Heritage Foundation, which has gone from a semi-sane, practical conservative think tank (the one that invented Obamacare) to a right-wing nutjob one (the one that puts billboards on Times Square warning against the horrors of Obamacare).

Apparently, this shift has coincided with the arrival of some MBA-weilding Young Turks who basically think they have all the answers and don’t listen to people who are actually, you know, scholars. The real scholars are leaving, or at least quotably complaining, as the new leadership imposes business methods. In practice, “business methods” mean taking what’s most valuable right now (the Heritage email list) and exploiting it to the full.

And if the email list was only valuable because of Heritage’s reputation, and will lose its value if that reputation goes under, that’s more than a quarter into the future, so who cares?

Now: what Pareene rightly points out is that this is exactly what the Heritage Foundation demands we do to every other institution–universities, government departments, schools, whatever. Using “business methods” is supposed to unleash the magic of the market.

Here’s Pareene:

It’s just interesting how so many of them object to being at the mercy of some business school assholes with no respect for credentials or experience, though. I mean, take it from this inspiring Heritage Foundation ode to the wonderful work of private equity firms, which “make something busted luster again,” mostly by firing everyone: “Whatever the problems, if under the flaws remains something of real value, then with the right tools, that value can be brought to the surface again.” Your think tank just had to be destroyed in order to find what was of real value, which turned out to be, I guess, your email list.


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