I read with some interest the May 25 editorial in The Salem News, unhealthy “For fiscal health, seek Bay State ranks next to last.” The editorial noted Massachusetts’ poor standing in a recent survey of economic health conducted by an entity called The Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Curious to know more about this organization I had never heard of before and their “market-oriented approach to solving problems, order ” I did some quick Google searches. It was not long before I discovered the Mercatus Center obtains a significant portion of its funding and support from the Koch Brothers, the billionaires duo with a long history of supporting extreme right-wing policies.
Both the CEO and executive vice president of Koch Industries sit on the Mercatus board and the think tank moved there after a $30 million giveaway to George Mason University from the Koch family.
After reading the ratings of various states on the Mercatus Center website, one has to wonder what criteria this Koch funded think tank used to evaluate economic health. The survey gave low marks to Massachusetts (in 2015 the sixth-wealthiest state in America), Maryland (the wealthiest state in America), New Jersey (the second wealthiest state in America), California (the ninth wealthiest state in America and the eighth largest economy in the world), and New York (home to the wealthiest city in America).
At the same time the Koch-sponsored survey gave high marks to (get this) Alaska, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. While these states are all very nice, few outside of the Koch sphere of influence would regard them as economic or cultural powerhouses. Given the choice between living in Boston or Fargo, I know which one I, and many others, would choose.
When receiving criticism, it’s important to first consider the source. And when the source of an editorial in a local paper is from an out-of-state, Koch-sponsored think tank devoted to pushing an extreme right wing agenda, I think any rational person knows the proper response.