Comments

  1. F.Bowdich says

    I am not so sure this is hypocritical on their part. They are fighting in the arena of public opinion and most likely in the legal system. That is all part of the market system. If they went to the executive or legislative branches and sought action from the government that would be hypocritical.

      • liberal says

        Of course, it’s only part of government when consumers or workers sue. When corporations sue, it’s part of the market.

      • F. Bowdich says

        Yes, you are right, of course; In my haste I conflated the two. Cato from what I can tell does not promote anarcho-capitalism like say, Hans-Herman Hoppe so the legal system would be a tool in their kit. If they have argued in the past with doing away with the constitutional system, I missed it. The most persuasive argument that it rises to hypocrisy is C.S’s comment below.

    • says

      No, they want special treatment that is contrary to their principles – that freedom comes from the market. If I’m recalling correctly, their panoplistic argument would look a little something like this: if you want to have your own organization, then buy it, leech.

  2. C.S. says

    “They are fighting in the arena of public opinion and most likely in the legal system. That is all part of the market system.”

    It may be part of the market system, but it’s a part of the market system they (Cato Fellows) regularly dismiss, if they consider it at all. At it’s heart, they’re fighting against the Koch’s free use of their property rights, and they’re arguing that just because one has a right, one doesn’t have to use it. Which . . . doesn’t sound too libertarian to me, since it’s an appeal to a morality that exists outside the market structure. From everything I’ve ever seen coming from Cato, with rare exceptions, seems to argue (or at least be based on the presumption that) the market creates its own morality.

    • Wonks Anonymous says

      A common example they give is that we all have the right to free speech, but they still criticize other’s use of speech to say things that they dislike. You’re right that there is an appeal to morality outside the market structure, or even “political liberalism” in Rawls’ (I believe) phrase. This relates to the “thick” vs “thin” conceptions of libertarianism, which left-libertarians like Roderick Long & Charles “Radgeek” Johnson often discuss*. A slightly-thick version of libertarianism encourages people to do things that lead to more liberty (rather than merely prohibiting them from violating the non-aggression maxim), and the folks at Cato are framing their position in that way (at least in this context). Of course, from the Koch’s perspective, getting more involved in partisan politics by tailoring “intellectual ammo” for AFP against Obama is more conducive to liberty.
      * http://radgeek.com/gt/2008/10/03/libertarianism_through/

  3. Ralph Hitchens says

    I, for one, am profoundly grateful to see a once-respectable conservative think tank fall into the hands of the wingnuts. The hypocrisy is icing on the cake.

  4. NCG says

    Interesting. I had no idea the Cato Institute had any independence to lose. I sort of thought that right wingie people more or less “owned” all those think tanks and I never gave their structure a thought. Or listened to them much.

    But this *is* kind of sad. Especially now that it turns out that people at Cato can at least imagine thinking differently on at least some issues than the Kochs, which increases their value to me immensely (though, starting from not much). Fascinating. So if they’re not a non-profit, and four people own it, is it a business? Are they under long-term contracts? Why don’t they leave and start their own thing?

  5. NCG says

    Aren’t most print publications more or less dependent upon rich eccentrics, of one stripe or another?

    At least now with the web publishing is cheaper. Things could be worse.

  6. says

    As Exzra Klein says, the Kochs don’t really need Cato to run a Republican ammo shop, they have plenty of them already. What they are trying to do here is use the the Cato brand, which has some intellectual credibility outside wingnutland, to improve the image of their partisan campaign operation. This strikes me as pointless. The Cato brand value will soon be gone.