Lefty Think Tank Sells Itself on eBay

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I’ve never even sold so much as a lamp on eBay, but the owners of a Bay Area think tank are taking the idea of peddling wares online to a whole new level: They’re selling the whole damn tank. Their ad reads: “Own This Think Tank: BACVR for Sale on eBay – Perfect Holiday Gift for Political Junkies.”

Allegedly the first to do so (eBay did not return my call or email), the Bay Area Center for Voting Research (BACVR) has garnered a few bids, one at approximately $5,100, according to co-founder Jason Alderman.

“You don’t need to be an Ivy League professor or a former administration official to run a think tank. There’s an enormous number of smart Americans out there that can do this, and this is a great way to solicit their help,” Alderman told me at the end of last week.

Since its inception in 2004, The BACVR has produced nearly a dozen research reports with titles like “The Most Conservative (Provo, Utah) and Liberal (Detroit) Cities in the United States,” and “New Study Finds Bay Area Most Liberal Region in America.” While the group claims to be non-partisan, all of its research seems determined to prove the Bay Area’s progressive prowess. But I digress.

When I asked Alderman what qualifications he was looking for in a buyer, he said, “We believe in the democratization of think tanks. The person who can put their money where their mouth is can meet those qualifications. If you are inherently not qualified to do this, I can’t understand why would you would do this.” The group’s move has elicited responses from a few media outlets about instant political pundits, and the novelty of what their auctioning.

I’m all for the blue-collarization of think tanks, or in this case, free-marketization. But I can just imagine the look on my editor’s face if I tried to pass off documents from a think tank—sold arbitrarily on eBay—as primary source documentation.

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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