A modest research proposal


November 10, 2016 12:35 PM


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Rummaging around the closet, ran across the old academic social scientist hat I once wore.  Put on the Magic Hat and immediately had an impish idea.

Researchers always have trouble plumbing the minds of subjects.  We look for ways for them to “reveal” their innermost thoughts and motives by their actions.  People can prevaricate, but when their own self-interest is at stake the actions they take seldom lie.  Never had this been more apparent than in the drawn out saga of the Clinton Family Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.

Remember the two competing hypotheses?  Hypothesis #1 (Call this the “Hillary Lover Thesis”):  The Foundation is a charity doing wonderful good works.  Those donations from foreign governments and interested business friends were merely to support the eleemosynary goals of the foundation.  All those Clinton political operatives on the Foundation’s payroll were appointed because of their demonstrated managerial excellence.   Nobody ever found any smoking gun evidence of any political favor quid pro quo, did they?  Hypothesis #2 (Call this the “Hillary Hater Alternative”):  Maybe we can’t prove it, but those people didn’t give all that money from the goodness of their black little hearts.  They expected something from a Secretary of State and laying bets on even more favors from a future POTUS.  See the uranium deal and preferential meetings with Secretary Hill and future First Husband Bill.

But which to believe?  All we observe is money flowing into the Foundation from unusual sources and some suggestion from leaked e-mails that Clinton face time went to friends of Hill and Bill.  No convincing evidence to disprove Hypothesis #1 or prove Hypothesis#2.

So herewith a modest research proposal.  We have here the makings of a controlled experiment.  We have (or can easily get) records of donations to the Clinton charities for the 5 years prior to November 8, 2016 when the Clinton political fortunes looked bright.  We can follow donations to the Clinton charities for the next five years.  It will be the same Foundation with the same noble charitable goals.  And presumably with Bill, Hill and Chelsea as the same leaders.  Nothing will have changed except Hillary Clinton will be a private citizen holding no office and with no political future.

This project should appeal to a broad swath of social scientists.  Political scientists, economists and sociologists all can chip in.  If donations to the Clinton Foundation dry up, Hypothesis #2 is confirmed.  They were buying Hillary-the-Powerful.

To those who think I write with tongue-in-cheek, I reply…yes, but only partly.  Styring doesn’t need this type of study to know that CF money is going to  melt like an ice cube in the July sun, or CF staffers will reveal their true political machine status by fleeing in droves, and Bill’s 6-figure speaking fees will be a thing of memory.   But it’s also true that there’s a great dissertation topic here for some needy graduate student.  Any takers?





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