Why should regular people care about think tanks?

A viewer asked this question on 6/1/2000:

Just a question... What good do the think tanks and all the experts in all the government agencies and private corporate board rooms do for the average Johnny Lunchbucket in Mississippi or in Minnesota? What is the real purpose for the great minds who dictate what all of "us" out here have to live and die by daily? We don't get much say in what you fella say but damned if we got to carry it out..
In other words, is it's really for our best interest or for some corporation's best interest?
I know this seems like an uneducated shot from the sticks, but I am not convinced that the interest of the nation as a whole is the true concern of ANY branch of the gov't. Convince me otherwise... please...

JesseGordon gave this response on 6/1/2000:

Well, you're right on a lot of counts, that many think tanks and experts advocate for the interests of big business and against the average person. I'd say it's a more accurate statement to say that many (or most) LOBBYISTS do so -- think tanks and experts, and government officials for that matter -- usually know what benefits the average citizen. Of course, KNOWING what benefits the average citizen is often very different than DOING something for the average citizen; but let me present an argument that they at least KNOW.

1) There are three serious presidential candidates who agree with your basic premise:
-- Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan both base their campaigns on the same theme as your argument of a world of "business-based government" versus "us, the citizens".
-- Harry Browne also is strongly against "corporate welfare", from a perspective of being against government in general.
-- You can read all three of their views on the subject at

2) Bush & Gore also pay lip service to the idea that Johnny Lunchbucket (I do like that name much better than "Joe Sixpack") does indeed matter. Admittedly, it's only lip service, but lip service from these guys, one of whom will become president, is pretty significant.

3) The latest hot political movement, since the Seattle WTO protests, is the "anti-globalization movement." Nader & Buchanan both support it heavily. Its theme resonate pretty well with your theme -- that business, government, and big thinkers all are in cahoots against the interest of the typical citizen. Where movements lead, politicians follow -- so you can be sure this will be a hot political topic for years to come. Details on that issue are at n.htm

4) I guess I fall into your category of "think tanks and experts", so I'll try to demonstrate how I advocate for Johnny Lunchbucket. At worst, I think you'll conclude that I too at least pay lip service: I wrote a "think tank" study about a river in northern Arkansas, in which Johnny Cowbucket (they have farms, not factories) is the dominant point of view for deciding what government policy we recommended. We interviewed many farmers to get their opinions into this report, which was read by numerous government agency officials. Here's a web link for Chapter 5, which describes the results of our investigating the typical person's outlook and opinions:

Tell me what you think in a follow-up....

JesseGordon gave this follow-up answer on 6/1/2000:

Oops, wrong URL. That one was the definition of the area's social statistics. Here's the Chapter 5 reference:

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