Introducing The Cry Wolf Project

By Jake Blumgart

Big business has a long history of “crying wolf” to protect its own narrow interests at the expense of the wider public. Name a progressive achievement that seems sacrosanct today—clean air regulations, the minimum wage, child labor laws—and you’ll find that almost every attempt to achieve those goals was met by a storm of inflammatory and misleading rhetoric.
Today industry stakeholders and their political allies still capture the rhetorical high ground by alleging that progressive change will kill jobs or curtail economic growth. Every injustice and inefficiency that scars America’s policy landscape is guarded by powerful interests who profit from the status quo. They will not hesitate to employ underhanded tactics to preserve their domains. Anyone even passingly acquainted with the recent debate around health care reform should be familiar with this concept.

Progressives need to construct a counter-narrative that demonstrates that in many cases these claims have been, and continue to be, grossly exaggerated. The Cry Wolf Project’s wants media, opinion leaders, and policy makers to respond “There they go again!” when industry “cries wolf.”  Such a refrain will undermine the credibility and arguments of organizations and individuals that use these claims of economic disaster to undermine progressive reform.

When real reform is delayed, weakened, or defeated, there are real consequences for families, communities, and the environment. Workplaces remain unsafe, poverty increases, our natural environment is devastated, and public health is jeopardized.

The Cry Wolf Project identifies instances, in recent years as well as in the distant past, in which “cry wolf” scare tactics were used by industry executives, shilling politicians, and demagogic pundits before the adoption of laws or regulations that have since become overwhelmingly popular (Social Security, anyone?).

We identify reform opponents and find their exact historical “cry wolf” claims in newspaper and Congressional archives, and then we find existing research that demonstrates the real world outcomes of the policies they tried to sabotage. We’ve made all this information available and accessible to advocates, policymakers, and the media on our website, which you can find here:

If you have any questions about the website, suggestions for areas of research, or if you’d like our help crafting an article or blog post please send an email to

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Jake Blumgart is a researcher for the Cry Wolf Project and occasional freelance journalist. He lives in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter here.

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