Around the public policy horn …

Around the public policy horn …

It was French economist Frederic Bastiat who offered a great truism in the introduction to his seminal 19th-century work “Economic Sophisms.”

“We must admit that our opponents … have a marked advantage over us. They need only a few words to set forth a half-truth; whereas, in order to show that it is a half-truth, we have to resort to long and arid dissertations.”

Welcome to the tactic employed in last week’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by two organized labor officials, attempting to defend “prevailing wages” – an artificially high wage set not by the open and free marketplace by union-dictated and government-acquiescing fiat.

Write these union officials in a letter to the editor:

“Prevailing wages do not increase the cost of publicly funded construction projects. … Casually concluding that eliminating prevailing wage requirements will automatically reduce construction costs is an out-of-touch misconception of today’s economic environment.”

To the first sentence, it’s a bald-faced misrepresentation of the facts. Study after study has shown “prevailing wages” are not true “market wages” and increase public works costs and by, at last estimate, an average of 22 percent above true market rates.

To the second sentence, it long has been the union-istas and their government toadies who have so perverted “today’s economic environment” that they should be charged with felonious assault on fundamental economics, if not the wallets of every taxpayer forced to pay tribute to organized labor.

Government-backed cartel preservation that punishes contractors who reject such a racket should not be tolerated by the public that foots the bill for such perversion.

A number of efforts are underway in Pennsylvania to promote greater milk consumption. But the promoters would be wise to take a history tutorial.

Often cited in the new efforts is the “Got Milk?” campaign that ran for nearly 20 years beginning in the mid-1990s.

The word “famous” often is applied to that marketing campaign. So, too, has been the phrase “highly successful.” Another phrase regularly employed was “highly effective.”

But the truth of the matter is the “Got Milk?” campaign was an utter (or is that udder?) failure. Per-person milk consumption declined during the ad campaign’s run.

As of late, in Pennsylvania and nationwide, there has been all manner of renewed efforts to bolster milk consumption, many underwritten by public dollars.

Never mind that such government interventionism has only enabled milk producers to continue to produce too much product. Which only begets more government interventionism to cover the lies of past government interventions in the dairy markets.

And, don’t forget, milk consumption continues to slide.

Just as sound public policy demands transparency, it demands honesty. But a sad tale of alleged dishonesty is unfolding in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Post-Gazette reports that lobbyist Joseph Kuklis of Upper St. Clair is charged with one count of running a corrupt organization, six counts of deceptive or fraudulent business practices, six counts of forgery and four counts of theft by deception.

He is accused, through his company, Wellington Strategies, of charging several businesses a consulting fee in exchange for obtaining grant funding through the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

But the P-G says no funding applications were ever submitted and that Kuklis is alleged to have produced fraudulent documents claiming otherwise and that grant money had been awarded.

In an irony of ironies, this is the same Joseph Kuklis featured in an August 2013 “Newsmaker you should know” story in the P-G.

Said Kuklis at the time:

“Of course, there are bad or shady lobbyists, just like anything else, but 99 percent of us are good and can really assist,” he said then.


Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (