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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Maggie Gallagher

In all fairness, Maggie Gallagher was not "on the take" or if she was, so is Paul Krugman and every economist I know, including myself. I will guarantee you that almost every academic economist who writes an op-ed gets National Science Foundation grants. I wrote a letter to the editor on Social Security a few days ago. I did not disclose that several years ago I had received an NSF grant to research how much Social Security affects when people retire. It never occurred to me that this would be a conflict of interest. Because it isn't, for one thing. I wasn't being paid to write the op-ed, but to conduct research. Likewise, unlike Armstrong Williams, Gallagher was not being paid to write op-eds. She was paid to do work for the Bush Administration. That shouldn't preclude her ability to write op-eds. As for "she should have disclosed it," then that is holding her to a standard that no one is ever held to. As Gallagher writes
My first instinct is to say, no, Howard, I had no special obligation to disclose this information. I'm a marriage expert. I get paid to write, edit, research and educate on marriage. If a scholar or expert gets paid to do some work for the government, should he or she disclose that if he writes a paper, essay or op-ed on the same or similar subject? If this is the ethical standard, it is an entirely new standard.

I was not paid to promote marriage. I was paid to produce particular research and writing products (articles, brochures, presentations), which I produced. My lifelong experience in marriage research, public education and advocacy is the reason HHS hired me.

But the real truth is that it never occurred to me. On reflection, I think Howard is right. I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers.
This seems right on to me, except for the apology part. I just don't see the need to apologize.

Blogger festivus said...

Chris, you'll notice that I linked to Ms. Gallagher's post that you quoted so readers could decide for themselves. Clearly, there's a huge difference between her case and Armstrong's, but her name is in the news associated with the issue. Agreed, 'on the take' might be a little over the top in her case. FESTIVUS

5:44 PM, January 26, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Festivus, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply you personally did anything wrong. But the reaction of everyone (not just you) was to think this was another Armstrong Williams case. And I think this was somewhat logical. Most people don't know that almost every good researcher is suckling at the goverment teat (so to speak) at some point, usually for years on end. Paul Krugman was almost certainly getting his "2/9ths" from the National Science Foundation for years. (By "2/9ths", the standard grant from the NSF is for them to pay you to do research for 2 months in the summer and pay you, for each month, one ninth of your academic salary, which is presumably a nine month year.)

7:16 PM, January 26, 2005  
Blogger festivus said...

I didn't think any offense was meant, nor any taken. You made a good point, and it's clear from reading other bloggers about this tempest in a teapot, many (including myself) are not fully informed about how government grants work.

Kate O'Beirne had a great comment on this over at The Corner:

"HHS was not paying Maggie Gallagher to say she believed what they did, but rather to learn what she knows. Had we known and disclosed the work she did for HHS, she wouldn't have looked conflicted, she would have looked even more credentialed as a recognized expert on marriage. That's why we should disclose--to tell our readers 'listen up' Maggie Gallagher really knows what she's talking about."I think that sums up the difference between Ms. Gallagher and Mr. Williams nicely.

3:22 PM, January 27, 2005  

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