The Most Influential Think Tanks In The United States: A New Social Media Ranking

Por Alejandro Chafuen: Publicado el 16/12/15 en: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alejandrochafuen/2015/12/16/the-most-influential-think-tanks-in-the-united-states-a-new-social-media-ranking/

 

TheBestSchools.org, an online resource for campus and online education, has just released a ranking of the 50 most influential think tanks in the United States. I have written that the think tank and university worlds are beginning to overlap. Some universities are creating internal think tanks, some think tanks are offering university-type programs, and there is an increased number of efforts where think tanks and universities collaborate in educational products and services. It does not come as a surprise, at least for me, that this “school web portal” decided to devote some time to focus on U.S. think tanks.

Like other rankings, this new effort treats “think tanks as principally in the business of selling their ideas.” But it focuses on social media more than any other previous ranking. The authors reason that “in this age of the Internet, in which every think tank has a website,” we “can regard think tanks as in the business of search engine marketing, i.e., as attempting to market their ideas over the Internet and especially through their website.”

Early each year I compile statistics and write about the impact of conservative and libertarian think tanks in social media. Fourteen such groups appear in this list. Although my analysis of social media impact uses more measurements than TheBestSchools.org, some of the results are similar, especially the top four free market groups: Heritage Foundation, Cato, Mises Institute and American Enterprise Institute. Mises Institute is the one with the smaller budget ($4 to 5 million), and they can rightly claim that, at least in social media measurements, they provide more “bang for the buck.” In addition to the superb collection of scholarly books and studies in the Austrian tradition, especially by Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and their disciples, Mises Institute sometimes releases provocative articles, defying politically correctness and attracting wide readership. This increases its social media impact, but who is to say that think tanks were only created to influence the academic and policy elites?

Leading Conservatives Libertarian TT in TBS Ranking

Despite the claim in the title of the ranking that these are the 50 most influential US think tanks, the organization recognizes that they do not measure the “intrinsic merit of a think tank and its intellectual program” but its “cash value” measured by the popularity of a think tank’s official website, ranked against all other websites, as determined by the average number of monthly visitors (specifically, organic search traffic), number of keywords/phrases for which the site ranks, and the monetary value of the traffic as gauged by those keywords.” This is the key measurement ofSEMrush.com. TheBestSchools.org, uses that web tool to determine how well their portal was doing “in attracting and holding visitor traffic” so they decided to measure think tanks.

Although they state that in preparing the ranking they considered the average yearly revenue; the average number of printed media references per year by outside organizations; and the number of categories in which a think tank was ranked by the2014 Global GoTo Think-Tank Index, a simple analysis of their ranking shows that those elements were not weighed. They just relied on one SEMrush measurement. The top two groups in the list, the Belfer Center at Harvard, and the Earth Institute at Columbia, do not merit their ranking. Those who prepared the data took the entire traffic of Harvard and Columbia as the traffic for these centers. The Heritage Foundation, ranked third, should be really ranked first. In addition, the information for some of the think tanks is incomplete or wrong. Acton Institute, for example, appears on several categories in the 2014 GoTo Think Tank Index, but the analysis mentions none. Another issue of the rankings is that it does not provide information on when the data was compiled and does not include many think tanks, like Hudson Institute, which beats several on the list. TheBestSchools.org will be correcting its analysis.

Michael Rae, of Canadian based Lexicom, an expert on free-market social media efforts, has been using SEMrush.com for six months. The more that think tanks use paid advertising to promote their social media posting, the more useful the tool will become. Regarding the ranking, Rae says that the “disparity between the top and bottom of the rankings in terms of web traffic, seems to indicate that it really is a ‘winner takes all’ world online, at least for web pages.” Many on this new list are indeed some of the most influential US think tanks, but a more accurate ranking of the best ones is yet to be produced.

Adriana Peralta collaborated on this article.

 

Alejandro A. Chafuén es Dr. En Economía por el International College de California. Licenciado en Economía, (UCA), es miembro del comité de consejeros para The Center for Vision & Values, fideicomisario del Grove City College, y presidente de la Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Se ha desempeñado como fideicomisario del Fraser Institute desde 1991. Fue profesor de ESEADE.

 

Increible disminución de la pobreza en los últimos 40 años

Por Nicolás Cachanosky. Publicado el 7/1/14 en:  http://puntodevistaeconomico.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/increible-disminucion-de-la-pobreza-en-los-ultimos-40-anos/#more-6076

En AEI-ideas, el blog del American Enterprise Institute, Mark J. Perry muestra un gráfico con la disminución de la pobreza en los últimos 40 años. El gráfico lo toma de un trabajo de Martin Pinkovskiy y Xavier Xala-i-Martin en el NBER. Si la disminución de la pobreza es un fenómeno tan claro, ¿por qué se sigue insistiendo con que la pobreza es un problema cada vez más serio?

 

Veamos primero el gráfico que reproduce Perry.

El Banco Mundial define como pobreza vivir con 1USD o menos por día (obviamente ajustado por inflación.) Se ve una fuerte caída del 25% al 7.5% en 15 años y luego una consistente reducción hasta un 5% en el 2006.

Hay dos cuestiones importante a tener presente con el tema de la pobreza. En primer lugar su definición, que puede ser absoluta o relativa. La pobreza absoluta, que es la concepción tradicional, ha sido prácticamente eliminada como problema. La pobreza como concepción de problema de subsistencia es la concepción de pobreza en términos absolutos. Esto es lo que mediciones como la del Banco Mundial observa lo que se dice cuando se afirma que es el libre mercado el mejor arma para erradicar la “pobreza” de la tierra.

El segundo aspecto es la ambivalencia de la pobreza con una concepción relativa. Justamente porque la pobreza en términos absolutos fue desapareciendo junto con el desarrollo del mercado se pasó de una concepción absoluta a una relativa. Es lo que socialmente se considera mínimo de una vida decente lo que, en la concepción relativa, define la pobreza. Ya no es cuánto hace falta para subsistir, es cuánto hace falta para no sentirse demasiado diferente del ciudadano medio. Esto genera ambivalencia en dos sentidos.

En el primer caso, es importante identificar la fuente de la diferencia de ingresos. No es lo mismo que haya ricos por que hay personas como Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, o Jeff Bezos cuya riqueza, justamente, proviene de mejorarle la vida a los consumidores, a una sociedad donde los ricos son los gobernantes y capitalistas amigos que obtienen su fortuna de esquilmar al ciudadano con impuestos, regulaciones y mercados cautivos. El primer tipo de riqueza incentiva el esfuerzo y la creatividad en cuanto a mejora de calidad de vida. El segundo tipo de riqueza incentiva políticos oportunistas y capitalismo de amigos, no capitalismo de mercado. La desigual distribución del ingreso del primer tipo es “buena”, la segunda es “mala” y la que debe ser combatida. Tengo la impresión que los críticos del libre mercado ven los males del segundo tipo de desigualdad también en la primera. Esto es problemático. Eliminar el incentivo a producir eficientemente para el consumidor es eliminar el incentivo a mejorar el nivel de vida. Este es el motivo por el cual en las competencias deportivas se premian a los mejores en lugar de distribuir los premios “equitativamente” ni asignarlos a jugadores beneficiados por un árbitro corrupto. El mundo seria un lugar muy distinto si la vara con la que evaluamos la conducta de los deportistas y árbitros fuese la misma con la que evaluamos la conducta de políticos y empresarios.

La segunda ambivalencia tiene que ver con confundir los males asociados a la pobreza absoluta con la pobreza relativa. Los problemas que pueda tener la pobreza relativa no son los mismos que los problemas asociados a la pobreza absoluta. Un “pobre relativo” en Estados Unidos tiene un ingreso superior al 60% de la población mundial. La misma persona no puede ser pobre y no pobre a la vez. Esta persona es pobre si pensamos en términos relativos en Estados Unidos, pero lo deja de ser si seguimos pensando en términos relativos a nivel mundial.

Cierro con una transcripción que Perry hace una sección de un video en su blog:

It turns out that between 1970 and 2010 the worst poverty in the world – people who live on one dollar a day or less – that has decreased by 80 percent (see chart above). You never hear about that.

It’s the greatest achievement in human history, and you never hear about it.

80 percent of the world’s worst poverty has been eradicated in less than 40 years. That has never, ever happened before.

So what did that? What accounts for that? United Nations? US foreign aid? The International Monetary Fund? Central planning? No.

It was globalization, free trade, the boom in international entrepreneurship. In short, it was the free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world.

I will state, assert and defend the statement that if you love the poor, if you are a good Samaritan, you must stand for the free enterprise system, and you must defend it, not just for ourselves but for people around the world. It is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.

HT: Steve Horwitz

 

Nicolás Cachanosky es Doctor en Economía, (Suffolk University), Lic. en Economía, (UCA), Master en Economía y Ciencias Políticas, (ESEADE) y Assistant Professor of Economics en Metropolitan State University of Denver.