Libertarian History/Philosophy

Koch/Cato Update: Charles G. Koch Speaks, Bob Levy Responds

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Those were happier times for Dennis Wilson….

There have been two substantial developments in the Cato Institute's bitter ownership dispute (which I previously blogged about here and here). The first is that on Thursday Cato co-founder Charles G. Koch, who initiated the suit against Cato, Cato President Ed Crane, and the widow of former Cato shareholder William Niskanen, issued a statement about his position and intent. The second came this morning–Cato Board Chair Bob Levy has issued a response.

Excerpt from Charles Koch:

We did not want to address this shareholder issue at this time. Although our legal filing has accelerated media coverage of this issue, this was not our desire. For months we made every effort to resolve, avoid, or delay this issue. We proposed a standstill agreement to delay for one year or longer any discussion on the shareholders agreement. We asked to delay any shareholders meeting, which would have left the pre-March 1 board of directors in place during this period. We proposed third-party mediation. We proposed alternative corporate structures. We made every effort to avoid this dispute –finally requesting just an additional four days to negotiate a potential resolution – but all of our proposals were rejected. Every counterproposal we received required we forfeit our shareholder rights and act contrary to the corporate governance documents.

The third Cato shareholder, Ed Crane, insisted that we have a shareholder meeting on March 1 to vote on new directors. At this meeting, a new shareholder was to be recognized in violation of our long-standing written agreement and the Institute's bylaws and articles of incorporation. We warned Cato's leaders about the negative consequences of forcing a shareholder meeting. They scheduled the meeting anyway. Faced with this intransigence, we did not seek damages or make claims of misconduct by individuals. Rather, we merely filed a declaratory relief action asking the court to confirm the meaning of the relevant corporate documents.

The actions of Cato's leadership since the filing have provided evidence of their strategy. They thought we would back down rather than risk additional criticism from them and others on top of the many attacks we already face from opponents of a free society. They thought wrong. We will not capitulate to these threats and mistruths any more than we have bowed to other threats.

We have been asked why we did not choose to simply walk away from this dispute. Principle is not a matter of convenience. We firmly believe this is a pivotal moment in Cato's history. We want to ensure Cato remains consistent with the principles upon which it was founded. The furtherance of this vision is possible only if Cato fosters a culture that adheres to core principles such as integrity, humility, and treating others with dignity and respect. We view recent events as evidence that Cato's leadership has turned its back on these core principles. As we see it, we would not be acting honorably if we failed to stand up for these principles.

There is a great deal of speculation as to what direction we would take Cato if we were to be in a position to elect a majority of the board. Some have speculated that we would micro-manage the enterprise. Others have suggested we would turn Cato into a partisan Republican organization. These rumors are absolutely false.

Excerpt from Bob Levy:

It should have been obvious to Charles Koch that filing this suit would necessarily result in a public battle that would threaten the Cato Institute's credibility – wounding allied organizations and scholars in the process.  You be the judge.  Imagine that Charles Koch prevails in his lawsuit against Cato, and that he and his brother then "own" two-thirds of Cato's stock.  Would an Institute whose board of directors is appointed by the Kochs be viewed as a credible source of non-partisan, non-aligned, independent commentary on vital public policy questions?  Or would the think tank now known as Cato cease to exist because its 35-year unimpeachable reputation is critically damaged by the (unfortunately accurate) perception that Cato is literally "owned by the Kochs"? […]

Yes, the Kochs proposed a standstill agreement that Cato rejected because the status quo could not be maintained.  Too many key people had learned of the looming problem.  Several of Cato's largest donors had announced they would discontinue their donations until it became clear that the Kochs would not control Cato.  A number of Cato benefactors said they would change their wills to eliminate Cato as a beneficiary if Koch dominance was an ongoing threat.  Essential employees had expressed their intent to leave Cato unless the governance issue could be resolved in a timely manner.  Cato's search for professional talent, including most particularly a successor to president Ed Crane, was frustrated by the obligation to disclose the impending shareholder conflict.

The purpose of the Kochs' disingenuous standstill proposal – confirmed in a meeting with me – was to "get past the election," after which the Kochs would be less anxious about alienating the army of Cato's libertarian loyalists.  Put bluntly, a standstill would have jeopardized Cato's day-to-day operations while resolving nothing. […]

Here is the bottom line:  Cato cannot function as an independent voice for liberty if it is thought to be under the thumb of Charles Koch or Rich Fink – indeed, literally owned by the Koch family.  Nor, if the lawsuit succeeds, will Cato be considered a reputable and credible source of "intellectual ammunition" by anyone outside the small circle of already committed libertarians.  Instead, the Kochs will control a shell think-tank that can be dismissed out of hand as a front for Koch Industries.  That's the clear consensus of nearly everyone who has seen this lamentable and unwelcome dispute unfold.

Nothing good can come of this – not for Cato, not for the Kochs, and not for the libertarian movement.  It's time to restore common sense and adopt a governance structure for Cato that eliminates the prospect of Koch control.

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  1. CATO must reserve the right not to behave as a Koch industries propaganda outfit, if it should so choose someday.

    1. derp de derpity derp

      1. shorter tony ignored along with tony. yah.

        1. Don’t ignore, it’s sound advice. Reserve the “right” Cato, it’s that simple.

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  2. So the founders and owners want their corporate directive followed and the management finds that inconvenient, eh? I’m with the owners on this. No matter how much “good” the management intends to do, if they aren’t following their charter and the shareholder’s guidance they are doing wrong.

  3. It’s time to restore common sense and adopt a governance structure for Cato that eliminates the prospect of Koch control.

    Then why didn’t Levy and Crane agree to suspend the shareholder meeting until something could be worked out that worked for both donors, CATO and the Koch’s?

    And for a body that purports to want to remain “an independent voice of libertarian thought” then why do they care whether or not the Koch’s support them?

    1. Read the article before asking stupid questions, dipshit.

      1. I read the article, and it didn’t answer my questions.

        What’s your answer dipshit?

        1. The answer is in the article — do I really have to cut and paste a verbatim answer to your question? Are you that much of a dipshit, dipshit?

  4. What a mess. Nothing good is going to come out of this.

    1. KRAMER VS KRAMER

        1. KOCH TEASE!

        2. Obvious Horatio says: “It looks like Cato is being Koch blocked.”

          Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

    2. I don’t understand what CATO is afraid of, and more importantly why they feel the need to be cowered by the anti-Koch left in to attempting to scrub some of the founding members from the organization.

      So some donors will pull their money from CATO if the original contract is fulfilled, so what?

      Get new ones.

      1. It does sound a little like they’re saying, “Oooh, your Kochs”, which, of course, they’ve been all along.

        I’m sure there’s a lot more to this than what we’re hearing.

        1. “Oooh, you’re Kochs”, I mean.

          1. It was funny the first way, though.

          2. “Oooh, your Kochs”,

            Made me chuckle.

            1. RC’z Law looms large.

        2. Levy makes it pretty clear in his statement that he’s afraid CATO will somehow lose its prestige if the Koch’s go through with their attempts to exercise their legal shareholder rights.

          That’s an excuse, and a pathetic one at that. If you are so proud of your work at CATO you shouldn’t be forced in to scrubbing your shareholders and founders from the organization. That’s just an indication that you are beholden to the donors that hate the Kochs (see; Obama, the left.) and that certainly isn’t a giant vote of confidence in your independence.

          1. I’m having an extremely hard time figuring out who would hate the Kochs and support CATO. Not a very large intersection of those sets.

            1. Apparently everyone who works there and many people who worked there in the past.

            2. It’s the liberaltarians.

              1. Right. The problem is the Obama administration has been an epic disaster for liberaltarians (many of whom openly supported Obama in 2008).

                The repeal of DADT, is the sum total of Obama’s liberaltarian accomplishments and the stuff on the “con” side is too lengthy to list.

                1. And the Romney administration is going to be a smashing success for the yokeltarians? That’s basically what the Kochs want Cato to become. A think tank to provide some intellectual backing for the GOP to help defeat Obama. I guess if I was a yokeltarian like everyone else here I’d probably think this was a good thing, too.

                  1. See, this is why I jumped on you in the other thread. You know that not everyone here is a liberaltarian or a yokeltarian or even just a plain old libertarian. There are many different strains of us, but it’s like you willfully ignore that fact.

                    1. Who are you jumping on? The only real post from the usual Tony is the one at the top–there seems to be another one who’s not merely spoofing me, but he ought to change his handle.

                    2. Well, I’d say 90% of the posts so far seem to be excited about the prospect of Cato becoming a GOP advocacy group like AEI or Heritage and purging anyone with the slightest liberal leanings, so I’m just going by what I read. If it walks like a duck…

                  2. Don’t steal my word, you mendacious fucker.

            3. Maybe there is something they know that we don’t?

              Or maybe Bob Levy and Charles Koch just don’t like each other?

              1. The issue is pretty obvious, that Levy and Crane want to keep their liberal donors and they know they will lose them if the Kochs exercise their shareholder rights.

                Skip Oliva – http://www.underpenaltyofcatap…..nd-motives

                More importantly, we don’t really know why the current donors are threatening to revolt?because we don’t know who those donors are. I asked Levy point-blank last Friday to identify the “largest donor” who threatened to cut off support if there was a Koch takeover. He declined to do so.

                1. I asked Levy point-blank last Friday to identify the “largest donor” who threatened to cut off support if there was a Koch takeover. He declined to do so.

                  Sounds like the discovery phase will be interesting. Dollars to donuts Levy is totally fabricating the “donor withdrawal” issue.

                  1. Dollars to donuts Levy is totally fabricating the “donor withdrawal” issue.

                    I don’t think he is, but I do think he knows that once the donor list comes out he won’t be able to make the claim that CATO is a non-partisan operation, judging by the political leanings of said list. It’s hard to accuse the Koch’s of attempting to influence CATO when the left is already succeeding at doing so.

              2. “Maybe there is something they know that we don’t?”

                Doubt it. There’s no such thing in Washington as an unaired grievance.

        3. Well, see they had only seen it written and thought it was pronounced Cock. So when these guys came around and said they were the “Cokes” the mgmt didn’t realize who they were. Luckily the New Yorker et al came along and told them what horrible people they were so now they can properly denounce them. If only the Kochs would stop trying to enforce property and contract law.

      2. It seems at least some members of Cato, past and present, are “the anti-Koch left”.

    3. Nothing good? Julian Sanchez has promised to quit!

      Go Kochs!

        1. “I write a lot about civil liberties issues where I’m often in agreement with Democrats and progressives.”

          Since when? Granted it works the same way with Republicans and spending, but the Democrats are absolutely lousy on Civil Liberties, indeed probably not even a hair better than the Republicans.

          Sanchez has long wanted to believe there’s some sort of significant intersection between the progressive movement and the libertarian one, but there just isn’t. At least not in any way that progressives choose to practice their beliefs.

          1. They’re better on gay stuff, and that’s about it.

            1. That hardly qualifies as “often.” And they aren’t particularly good on gay issues, just better than Republicans (a low bar to clear).

            2. Also you get a lot more cocktail party tail as a left-leaner.

      1. Time to purge anyone at CATO who won’t toe the GOP line.

        1. I’ll make an exception to my “Tony”-ignoring policy:

          Cato has a long way to go reach the hyper-partisan TEAM RED-cheerleading right wing arcch-conservative GOP-shilling hacks at the Mercatus Center.

      2. So you’re anxiously anticipating the soaring libertarian writing of Hindrocket?

        1. Hinderocker isn’t going to be a Cato “scholar”.

    4. The sun never sets on the Kochtopussesses.

      1. Well, it certainly never sets on the Kochto-pussies.

  5. I’m sympathetic I guess to Cato’s position here but I think they go to far when suggesting the libertarian movement is at risk. Their egos are too big.

    1. Would you trust a think-tanke entirely owned by George Soros?

      1. Does cato=libertarian movement? God I hope not. Eggs and baskets and whqt not

        1. I’m not sure if that’s what Levy is saying. I think that Levy is just saying that Cato itself will be damaged if it’s owned by the Kochtopuss. I’m not getting that Levy is saying that only Cato stands between the 24 or so libertarians in the country and destruction.

          I mean, there’s still Hit&Run;!

          1. I think he is saying Cato and the libertarian movement will be damaged. If cato went away or what4ever the same writers and thinkers would still be able to publish their ideas. I don’t see how the movement would suffer much.

            Nothing good can come of this ? not for Cato, not for the Kochs, and not for the libertarian movement.

            1. Well, I mean it’s not like they’re an insignificant voice for the libertarian movement. Heck, I was told in an earlier thread that Charles Murray was an “adamant” libertarian who has “taken shits which did more for libertarianism” blah blah.

              So the Union remains sound, rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed.

              But if Cato just got written off as part of the Kochtopuss, it’s not going to help libertarianism.

              1. It’s already written off as a Koch mouthpiece by the people Levy is trying to pacify. Even if the Kochs are squeezed out, progressive liberals will just assume that it’s some kind of charade by the evil, manipulative Kochs…they’re idiots and conspiracy theorists, they don’t care about facts or appearances. All they care about is that everyone who disagrees with them shuts up.

          2. H&R is owned by Kochtopus already!

      2. Why would I care who owns the think tank so long as they get their facts straight?

        That’s the thing with this ad hominem mentality that the Cato board seems to have. Basically, “We can’t have the Kochs appear to be running the place because we’ll lose credibility”. Seriously? THAT’S your fucking defense!?! It’s not that libertarians tend to take nuanced positions on issues based on studying economics or considering long-term effects that most conservatives are too chickenshit to think about and that most progressives are too fucking stupid and full of themselves to think about. No, clearly if we have someone that the idiots dislike in a position of power, THAT’LL undermine libertarian credibility with people too stupid and lazy to pay attention to the issues.

        Bob Levy needs to go…he’s lost perspective.

        1. And it’s not like progressive liberals don’t already believe Cato is just a mouthpiece for the Kochs, even though the Koch family no longer donates money to them. They don’t care about facts or appearance…anyone who disagrees with them is suspect and a pawn of corporations, whether there’s any evidence to support that belief or not. Levy is basically attempting to appease the lowest common denominator by squeezing the Kochs out and ignoring the rules of the corporation and it’s a short-sighted and futile move designed to cater to people who aren’t going to care or respect it.

      3. Would you trust a think-tank entirely owned by George Soros?

        I would trust them to push his position and positions that parallel his.

        I do not think the Cato of last 5 years is really all that different then what the Kochs are pushing.

        If it is then those at Cato who don’t like it can take their donors and start anew.

        Why the dust up?

        Either there is a shit load of money on the table to start over or it is only hand waving in which case there is no worry.

        Cato is just a name and some real estate…the people behind it will not evaporate if there is a divorce.

        1. I think there are some pretty massive egos involved. Based on what I’ve read from such non-biased sources as LRC.

  6. Seems pretty obvious to me and the other commentators that the Kochs are in the right and management is wrong. Ownership is ownership, even if you don’t like it.

    1. Except it’s ownership vs. ownership in this case.

      1. Not according to the by-laws of the organization. Kochs are in line for ownership.

        1. So Ed Crane doesn’t own his share of Cato?

          1. He owns a share.

            He doesn’t own CATO and won’t so long as the charter documents are followed.

          2. That’s not the issue. The issue is the proper order of events with regard to the shares of the recently deceased shareholder.

            1. I know, I was trying to point out, as T did below, that it’s not simply ownership vs management.

  7. Cato learns why you should refrain from commenting on an open lawsuit. Schadenfreude, it’s what’s for dinner.

  8. Tu Quoque, bitchez.

  9. If Bob Levy and Ed Crane don’t like the rules that Cato was founded on, no one’s stopping them from starting their own think tank.

    Oh wait. That would require money and time spent developing their brand. It’s much easier to hijack an existing organization that others have put time and money into.

    1. That would require money and time spent developing their brand.

      This fact makes me think that the donor exit is small…if it was as big as Ed has been claiming he would have taken the money and started new.

  10. It is entertaining to see the Lew Rockwell crowd throw their hissy fits about ‘real libertarians’ though.

    1. It’s entertaining to watch the hissy fits and tantrums of the Birchers, regardless of the issue.

      1. shit. what does the john birch society have to do with lew rockwell? ?? Do they co-mingle? Don’t pay attention enough myself to know.

        1. shit. what does the john birch society have to do with lew rockwell?

          http://www.lewrockwell.com/grigg/grigg-arch.html

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W…..ch_Society

          1. Ah, yes, one of the other Pro Libertates.

            1. Whenever I see his webpage, I think of you. And I’m truly sorry.

  11. Will David Koch be filling out a D3 Final Four bracket Obama-style with his old team in it?

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/…..-four.html

  12. “The Kochs are making me root for that asshole Ed Crane,” tweeted Will Wilkinson

    Go Kochs!

    1. I wonder what Kerry Howley and David Weigal think.

      Actually, no I don’t.

    2. 12:16 PM – 2 Mar 12 via web
      @KerryHowley: I thought cato was just a place where smart people took free money from rich people. The Kochs think it’s influential?

      and Weigal

      1. Cato has been, at times, quite influential. Not enough, of course, but, as most of us here can appreciate, DC isn’t the healthiest environment for libertarian ideas.

        I suppose the real issue may be that some major donors don’t like the Kochs. Whether that’s personal, because the donors are liberaltarians, or something else altogether I have no idea.

        1. Cato has been, at times, quite influential.

          and those times seem to correspond with times in which the Kochs are most active with their involvement with Cato….funny how that works.

          Koch control will probably be a good thing for Cato’s influence….cuz the last 10 years they have been nowhere…hell they completely missed the teaparty and even advocated that libertarians avoid it and instead should work on a making alliances with the left.

          Perhaps i have stumbled on the differences. Kochs want an influential effective think tank that can guide policy and Ed wants a dream-ape colony.

          1. I should note i agree with making alliance with the left no matter how futile…what i disagree with is intentionally avoiding the same opportunities with the right which was what the Cato “libreltarians” were doing.

            Get allies where you can.

            1. Alliances always mean restricting your own ability to act. That’s fine if the alliance bears fruit, but left-libertarian alliances haven’t done any such thing since ending the draft.

              So while I’m open to talking about alliances with the left, I’m very skeptical about the fine print. They don’t have much to gain from an alliance with us so there’s usually an ulterior motive.

  13. I do not understand this:

    “The first is that on Thursday Cato co-founder Charles G. Koch, who initiated the suit against Cato, Cato President Ed Crane, and the widow of former Cato shareholder William Niskanen,”

    Did Koch initiate a suit against Cato, Ed Crane, and Mrs. Niskanen?

    Or did Koch, Ed Crane and Niskanen inititate a suit?

    1. No, Koch initiated the suit against Cato, then Koch, Crane, and Niskanen did something else.

  14. Murray Rothbard seemed pretty bitter about how Ed Crane threw him under the bus and the disposition of his shares and Roger McBride’s shares seem relevant here.

    1. I wonder if anything will happen in that regard as a result of all this? Crane and the Kochs could get a little bit more than they bargained for…

      1. Now that would make all this worth following.

  15. It’s time to restore common sense and adopt a governance structure for Cato that eliminates the prospect of Koch control.

    There it is, right there. This is Crane trying to kick the founders out so he can take over the organization they founded.

    Koch initiated a declaratory judgment suit as a defenseive measure, which is a way of getting the courts to say exactly what the charter documents provide for in this situation before something irretrievable happens.

    Based on multiple runs of my De-Obfuscator, this isn’t an attempted coup by the Kochs, this is an attempted coup by Crane.

    1. Shorter Ed Crane/Bob Levy translation:”All the liberals who want to use CATO to bring more libertarians in to the fold will stop sending us money, so we decided to ignore all efforts to resolve this which ends up with us not getting our way.”

    2. Uh, just for the record here:

      1977 Original Shareholders Agreement Charles Koch ? 12 shares,
      George Pearson ? 12 shares
      Roger MacBride ? 12 shares
      Murray Rothbard ? 12 shares
      Ed Crane ? 12 shares

      Ed Crane is as much a founder as Charles Koch, okay? Saying Ed Crane is trying to kick the Kochs out of the organization the Kochs founded is not at all accurate. David Koch is not a shareholder until 1991, if you can believe the folks over at Rockwell.

      1. Interesting. I will adjust my rhetoric accordingly.

        Doesn’t change the results of my De-Obfuscator, though.

    3. Based on multiple runs of my De-Obfuscator, this isn’t an attempted coup by the Kochs, this is an attempted coup by Crane.

      so, I haven’t read all the background on this. Do the Kochs already own a significant portion of CATO and they’re just trying to exercise that ownership?

      1. Yeah, that’s what I get from the back-and-forth.

  16. Can’t say as I care much but “…on top of the many attacks we already face from opponents of a free society.” is pretty whiny for a billionaire.

    Chuckles, I’ve got news for you, people don’t dislike you because they’re “opponents of a free society”, they dislike you because you’re a self-important prick. It there were any real OPFS, they’d be burning down your estate, or riddling your car with bullets or passing laws to confiscate your wealth. None of those things are happening.

    1. The vast majority of people who screech about the Koch Brothers don’t even know their first names, let alone their personalities. It’s definitely an anti-free market thing.

      I don’t know the Kochs personally, so maybe they are pricks, but that ain’t why they’re so widely reviled.

      1. For the record, I don’t drink the blood of unicorns, nor do I engage in ritual infanticide. I am a hemophiliac though.

        1. Chuck, do you agree with your dad that the colored man looms large in the Communist plot to take over America?

        2. No infanticide? Hmm, I guess everyone eventually has to come to term with the fact that their heroes are merely fallible humans after all.

      2. It’s anti-free-market insofar as a free market is one in which Koch industries gets to pollute everyone’s environment for free, if not get subsidized by everyone to do it. They are rent seekers par excellence and if libertarianism wants to pretend to greatness beyond apologetics for the most egregious cases of rent seeking, then it ought to distance itself from such figures.

        1. Proof of said rent-seeking?

          1. Tony’s proof of “rent seeking” is the fact that industry has by-products, some of which is called “pollution”, however that’s defined.

            1. Ever been to Beijing?

        2. They’ve definitely done their fair share of rent seeking.

    2. What evidence could you possibly have that Charles Koch is a “self – important prick”?

      1. “…on top of the many attacks we already face from opponents of a free society.”

        Anyone who puts his name to that thinks he’s pretty damn important.

        It’s overblown and it’s whining – “They’re picking on me!” – which I don’t particularly like, especially coming from someone who ought to know better.

        1. The White House has them on an “enemies list”. How much more under attack can one be?

          1. Is that enemies list called “The Republican Party”?

            1. They are on the top

              List goes:

              Republican party
              oil/coal/gas companies
              Blue Dog democrats (eliminated)
              libertarians
              Middle America (broken)
              Joe the Plumber
              The Clintons

        2. especially coming from someone who ought to know better.

          He is a rich dude who gives money to libertarians and is being attacked by the left….why should he know better? He gives think tanks money he is not a think tank himself.

      2. What evidence could you possibly have that Charles Koch is a “self – important prick”?

        I’d suggest that anyone who names foundations after himself or family is a self-important jerk. If the work done by the foundation is the thing, leave your name off it. Otherwise, isn’t the conclusion, look at me look at all the good I do?

        1. Maybe it’s called Koch Industries because they’re really good at producing new Kochs.

        2. maybe not jerk or prick maybe do-gooder, but still self-important imo.

          1. In any case, it’s pretty retarded to use “self-important” as an insult.

            1. If I had the will I would point you to that oh so annoying psa about retards. I don’t. You might be right though that calling the Koch’s or the Cato folks(the ones challenging the kochs) self-important is not much an insult; but I do think they think too much of themselves. Then again my opinion means nothing in the great scheme.

        3. I’d suggest that anyone who names foundations after himself or family is a self-important jerk.

          Charles Koch.

          Cato Foundation.

          Hmm. Not getting it.

          1. Is Cato the only foundation the Koch bros have founded?
            http://www.cgkfoundation.org/
            http://www.thekochfoundation.org/

            Google. It works pretty well.

            Do you get it now?

        4. I’d suggest that anyone who names foundations after himself or family is a self-important jerk.

          What an odd world-view you have.

  17. Good, good. *strokes cat*

  18. Does the “libertarian movement” really need to splinter any more than it already has? There are all sorts of thing you can criticize Ron Paul for, but at least he’s done a ton of hard work getting a large number of people to coalesce around a generally libertarian presidential candidate from a major party.

    Why spend most of your time fighting with people you generally agree with, when there’s plenty more out there who don’t?

    1. Bob Levy pretty much hits the nail on the head, though. What makes the Kochs think this is a good idea? They have to know how toxic their name is. Whether they honestly intend to let Cato do its own thing or they want more control over it, gaining majority control makes the Institute most of its credibility in the eyes of the public. Idiots.

      1. Sorry, meant this to be its own comment.

      2. I always thought that Niskanen was more right than left though? That at least looking through it from that lens, he was more aligned with the Kochs and so you’d assume the Kochs would be more the status quo folks?

        Or am I way off here?

      3. Cato is ALREADY seen as a tool of corporations and the Koch’s. You can’t damage credibility you don’t have.

      4. I would argue that anyone vulnerable to a guilt-by-association fallacy regarding the Koch name is already too far gone to be reasoned with. They’re mostly feared and hated by the political left, and the political left hates libertarians to begin with.

        1. The political left hates libertarians no more than the political right.

          Ron Paul could probably draw 8% running in a Democratic primary, just like he does as a Republican.

          Don’t think the neo-cons and Gingrichs and Santorums don’t hate you just as much as Obama does. Who knows about Romney?

          1. You are mistaken. There is significant (minority, but significant) support on the right for reducing the size and scope of government. There is no such support anywhere on the left. Paul’s support is as low as it is because Paul himself isn’t appealing — he comes across as extreme, nutty, and abrasive.

            Which is why your “Ron Paul would do as well as a Democrat” hypothetical will only ever be that — the only libertarian and semi-libertarian politicians, at the Congress/governorship level, are Republicans.

          2. What does Ron Paul(R-Texas) have to do with this?

            Despite ANYTHING you say, the face of libertarianism has an ‘R’ after his name.

            Because he’s a Republican. Not a Democrat. Not a Libertarian. A Republican.

    2. Does the “libertarian movement” really need to splinter any more than it already has?

      Yes.

      Economies of scale are bullshit. I like armies of autonomous cells myself.

      Anyone who has read the 7 pillars of Wisdom should know this is the best way to organize an insurgent opposition movement.

      1. One day i will correct the spelling of my own last name….and today is the day.

        1. I was wondering when you would notice.

  19. The story of how the Koch family made it’s fortune is pretty interesting. The father, Fred, made his money working for noted libertarian Joseph Stalin in the freeman’s paradise known as the Soviet Union. These are the kind of “free market” heroes worshiped around these parts.

    1. Way to point out half the story, fucktard. Koch also wrote a book “A Businessman Looks At Communism” that criticized Stalin and communism, so he was hardly an apologist for the regime.

      Why don’t go you buy a copy of that and read it before you criticize the man? Or cram it up your ass? I’m good with either.

      1. Tony will now pointedly ignore this comment and sub-thread since he is a disingenous douchebag.

        1. That’s the other Tony, but I’m considering letting him take over the brand.

          1. Am I unwelcome?

            1. I’ve never turned away a 3rd, though I usually prefer being the 3rd.

      2. Plus, he has friends who aren’t Communists.

      3. Funny he waited until after his fortune was secure to criticize isn’t it. Do you suppose his sons gave any money back to the families whose land was confiscated by Stalin to make his billions? Oh well he wrote a book so all is forgiven.

        1. What? How many college students do you know who’ve written & published books?

        2. Yeah, he should have just posted all of his gripes on the Internet instead, even though it wasn’t around. How cowardly of him to publish a book only after he had enough money, visibility and credibility to do so.

          Of course, here’s how fucking stupid and lazy you are…you could have chosen to go after Koch’s support for Mussolini or his founding of the John Birch Society if you wanted to attack his pro-freedom credentials. But no, you went after the low-hanging fruit and the weak argument…so not only did you make a stupid point, but also an intellectually cowardly and weak one.

          1. I didn’t think it would really surprise anyone to know that he was a Bircher or supported Mussolini. GOP and fascism go together like peanut butter and jelly.

            1. Well, his kids are libertarians, not Republicans, so whatever point you’re trying to make regarding Fred Koch is pretty much all around useless and irrelevant.

        3. Of course, Fred Koch’s beliefs don’t have anything to do with his son’s beliefs because they’re separate individuals. Just like your mom liking my cock doesn’t mean you too would like my cock…although I’m betting you totally would. 😉

          1. ah. good job till you went for the dick suck jokes. Try something new.

            This is kinda directed to all who make dick suck jokes. Yes they work, but jeez are they lazy. You can be better than that.

            If nothing else flip it and offer to suck their dick. /bored with internet

            1. Actually, fellatio was never mentioned…I went for the “your mom is a filthy whore” angle instead. And while it can be a bit cliche, I felt that using it to draw an analogy illustrating that we do not always share our parents’ preferences or beliefs was sufficiently accurate to justify it.

              Absent that analogy, I would share your sentiments on dick jokes and mother banging jokes. 🙂

              1. Indeed. There was no explicit reference to the sucking of cock. I apologize. But, what else would one do with a a cock you liked? Me, I suck all cocks I like.

                p.s. I must have misread liking as licking. That is my story!

                1. Fair enough, but we must never forget the main point of the analogy, which is that Tony’s mom is a filthy whore, which by his apparent logic regarding Fred Koch means that he too must be a filthy whore. 🙂

          2. a/s/l? 😉

        4. One would think trading goods with communists would be subversive in the opposite direction you are claiming Tony.

          Tony:
          “Communists Hate the free market!!! So we should not trade with them!!!”

          Everyone with a brain:
          “Wait….what?”

      4. Did he make his money working with Stalin? Seriously.

        The founder of Occidental Petroleum, Armand Hammer, got his start working with the Soviets.

        1. Depends on what you mean by “make his money”. The USSR was a major customer of his first company back in the late 20s and early 30s, but wasn’t a significant contributor to Koch’s overall business income during his life.

          It is true in the sense that “Steve Jobs made his money off public education” is true; schools bought a lot of the early Apple computers.

        2. Yep, Stalin gave him a $5 million contract to go to the Soviet Union and build oil refineries. He used that money to buy other business assets, which were going for bargain prices at the height of the Great Depression.

    2. Tony|3.12.12 @ 4:38PM|#
      “The story of how the Koch family made it’s fortune is pretty interesting. The father, Fred, made his money working for noted libertarian Joseph Stalin in the freeman’s paradise known as the Soviet Union.”

      Hey, shithead, tell us why we should keep the Cuban embargo.
      Or admit you’re a lying hypocrite.

      1. You trapped him Sevo.

        It is times like this i miss joe. He would have fallen in the same trap but at least Joe would have put on a show trying to get out of it.

        This probably went over Tony’s head…and if he even responds to it will be lackluster to watch.

  20. It may be the Koch’s contractual right to assume the ownership shares, but it would almost certainly irrevocably stain Cato. It seems that both sides are right.

    The most logical course of action is a mutually agreeable buyout. If the Koch’s elect not to go this route (which is their right), then that would be highly unfortunate.

    At least for Cato. I’d simply reallocate (as would likely many others) my donations, likely to the benefit of the Reason Foundation…which makes them interested observers.

    Quite a sticky wicket here.

    1. The most logical course of action is a mutually agreeable buyout. If the Koch’s elect not to go this route (which is their right), then that would be highly unfortunate.

      From the reading above, its Crane who isn’t willing to talk terms. Still, who knows?

      The thing about governance is there are many, many moving parts to do a horse trade with.

      The thing about partners falling-out is that they can be every bit as bitter as divorcing spouses.

  21. The Cato response doesn’t seem very… responsive.

    The Koch position is, basically, “we own 2/3 of Cato now”. The Cato response seems to be “if you owned 2/3 of Cato that would be really bad and we would lose donors and respect”. Which may very well be true, but it ignores the claim the Kochs are making.

    1. In almost all legal disputes, you have one side that has “the law” and one side that has “equity”. No difference here. Just because Crane loses logically doesn’t mean he shouldn’t make the emotional appeal, especially when his concerns are based on reputational effect.

      1. Doesn’t mean Charlie isn’t retarded, either.

      2. I understand why Crane would want to do it, I just don’t have much respect for him FOR doing it. If libertarians don’t honor business agreements, who will?

  22. Once again, thanks for keeping us apprised of the status Matt.

  23. First thing’s first. Is it pronounced Coke or Cock?

    1. Coke. But feel free to use whatever gets the most laughs.

    2. Depends on the punchline.

    3. Pretty sure its Coke.

    4. Throatwobbler Mangrove

  24. Levy: Yeah, we are throwing out valid contracts and circumventing our rules, BUT WE HAVE A GOOD REASON!

    Sorry, it’s bullshit when Obama uses similar logic to advantage the UAW and it’s bullshit in this case.

    1. No, dude, not quite. Arguing about nebulous words is what 99% of legal disputes are about.

      1. Hence, my use of a fully-tweaked De-Obfuscator.

        Made by Koch Industries, of course.

        1. Did your De-Obfuscator come with a dragon tooth monocle and one Laotian child servant? I was considering buying one but wanted to get the best deal.

          1. If you act now, they send you a roadmap of Somalia as well.

      2. Why is it “not quite”? So one party can arbitrarily void a contract because they don’t like the outcome of the terms they negotiated and signed on to? I’m sorry, still bullshit.

  25. somewhat sympathetic to the Crane argument about perceived credibility of Cato when majority ownership is one shareholder (here Koch but it could be anyone.) On the other hand, contract is contract though you also have to ask why Koch is so interested in maintaining the additional shares? Cato does not add to the bottom line so why not just give them to a reputable third party and be done with it? Heck give them to Gillespie and shake the place up. Instead of casual Fridays it will be leather Fridays!

  26. Ratson just listen to the end of Nova sometime. It’s David H “Coke”.

  27. get a fraction of your support base to donate 500 each and you can have your 50 million+ a year without dealing with schmucks and snob attitudes of couple billionaires and avoid constantly having to deal with politics within the higher-ups, as it’s unlikely some billionaire will give tens of millions and not ask for any influence at all over the course of a decade. when political needs arise, nepotism surely will be within the calculation. these billionaires no doubt will have their political connection and friends. to say that an organization seen by these big donors as an extension of their political arm won’t become a collateral and be impacted during the process is ridiculous.

    take a page from ron paul and go grassroot. you might have the incentive to be closer to what ground level libertarians think for once in the movement’s history.

    1. Cato as currently constituted can’t survive as a grass roots organization. Left-libertarianism is sterile and has been for some time.

    2. Note that what got libertarianism relevant again was Ron Paul and the Tea Party, both of which CATO was inveighing against. Not championing gay marriage as the #1 liberty issue of our times as the Catobots were doing.

      Say what you will about Reason, which is another cosmo outfit, but at least they recognized RP and the TP as a boon for liberty even if they disagree on some things. Mad props for them.

  28. Does anyone know the ownership structure of the Reason Foundation? I know one of the Koch brothers sits on the board of directors. Is there any reason to believe this sort of dispute could affect Reason in the future?

  29. How stupid does Bob Levy think people are? Charles Koch has a well-thought out argument with a ethical and legal foundation. Levy’s response is “Oh he’s a Koch! The Kochs! The Kochs! You know what that means, guys!” You gotta be kidding me… Does this guy think this is a school yard showdown or something?

    Go work on your resume, pal. How arrogant of you to make a plea that libertarianism, which is much bigger than Cato, will somehow be affected by your whining office politics.

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