Cato

Former Cato Chief Ed Crane Accused of Sexual Harassment

Of course a pundit is trying to blame libertarianism. Look around: The problem's a lot larger than that.

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Politico dropped an investigative article yesterday afternoon titled "Former Cato employees describe years of harassment: Libertarian leader and ex-Cato President Ed Crane repeatedly made inappropriate sexual comments, staffers say."

The paper reports on a 2012 settlement in a sexual harassment dispute with then–Director of External Affairs Carey Lafferty, and it includes multiple anonymous allegations of other incidents as well. As it happens, 2012 was the same year that Crane, after a bitter and very public ownership dispute with Cato co-founders Charles and David Koch (the latter of whom sits on the Reason Foundation's Board of Trustees), agreed to step down after 35 years as president.

Foes of libertarianism are predictably taking the opportunity to indict an entire political philosophy. "More broadly," tutted New York Magazine's Eric Levitz, "libertarians fail to grapple with the reality that, for most individuals in an advanced society, the most coercive force in day-to-day life isn't the state, but the boss."

That is a spectacular exercise in point-missing. Since the Roger Ailes debacle kickstarted things, one rather clear pattern of perpetrator has emerged: a retirement-age Baby Boomer male who exerts monarchal workplace authority at an institution within kissing distance of power and fame. Whatever Ailes had in common with Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill O'Reilly, and Leon Wieseltier, it certainly wasn't a belief in the optimal size of government. Not to mention retirements and resignations at NPR, hardly a libertarian stronghold.

Levitz tosses in a grudging to-be-sure at the end ("the cause of Crane's decades-long misbehavior was not his think-tank's ideology") but then doubles down ("libertarianism's refusal to grapple with the reality of workplace coercion—or accept the legitimacy of those remedies most likely to mitigate it—is so deeply misguided").

If anything, private sector remedies have been more effective at responding to the #MeToo moment. As Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote in The New York Times, "The modern American capitalist system is far from perfect. But for all its flaws, our system—and the digital communication channels it enabled—has delivered social justice more swiftly and effectively than supposedly more enlightened public bodies tend to. As we observe and adjust to the sociosexual storm we're all in, let's appreciate the powers and paradigms making it possible: feminism, but also free markets."

Politico quotes Cato's current president, Peter Goettler, underscoring that the organization has "a pretty explicit policy against sexual harassment" and a "robust complaint process." Also: "I expect and demand a working environment that's one of mutual respect….I also like to remind people that things that they believe are innocent, like jokes and personal comments, can make others uncomfortable." This is pretty much standard operating procedure for dealing with such allegations, especially when the alleged perpetrator has already been shown the door.

As in many other industries, this grappling with a legacy of sexual harassment by a powerful man in the libertarian movement comes too late. As in many other industries, it may not yet have gone far enough. But to claim there's something special about libertarianism that caused or magnified the Crane scandal is little more than disingenuous political posturing. Unfortunately, this problem is much much bigger than any one industry, ideology, or institution.

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  1. “libertarians fail to grapple with the reality that, for most individuals in an advanced society, the most coercive force in day-to-day life isn’t the state, but the boss.”

    Christ, what an asshole.

    1. Are these ideas really this fucking complicated or are these people just being obtuse?

      1. Is the confusion based on some perception that libertarianism is a form of utopianism? Thus, any failing shows it as completely false?

        1. Yep. Just ask Tony, whenever he wakes up and logs in.

          1. Oh god please don’t summon him.

            1. Fuck you.

              The sentiment is quite correct, even if inappropriately applied to this context.

              Most normal people spend much of their waking lives in the workplace. So to only be concerned about government oppression is to miss a huge portion of the freedom equation.

              But then you go on to actively endorse the absolute minimum freedom for workers. Leave no stone unturned to give their bosses power over them.

              And you wonder why you’re confused for shameless poodles for plutocrats.

              1. Tony, what if I told you you can find another job if your boss is an asshole? Why, I have heard some brave people have actually done that throughout history.

                1. What if I said I’m not actually for giving more power to the boss then those agreed upon by individuals?

                  1. What if I said I’m not actually for giving more power to the boss then those agreed upon by individuals?

                    Then he would know you are lying.

              2. Tony|2.9.18 @ 3:34PM|#
                “Fuck you.
                The sentiment is quite correct, even if inappropriately applied to this context.”

                Fuck you with turd’s dick, asshole.
                No, it is not correct whatsoever. You’re an ignoramus.

              3. Your boss does not have the legal authority to point a gun to your head and force you to do what he wants you to do.

                The state does.

                You can walk off your job and suffer no consequences other than your paycheck will stop coming in.

                You can’t walk away from the commandments of the state. They will work overtime to prevent you from leaving the country so they can lock you up in a rape cage for defiance.

                Is it any surprise that Tony falls on the retard side of this debate?

              4. Who is it that is promoting minimum freedom for workers???
                I guess Tony is not familiar with labor laws or has never hired people and had to supervise.
                Government oppression is hard to avoid, and you have no one to turn to easily.
                If you boss oppresses you unfairly , you have the gov’t labor commissioner and courts to turn to, they are all biased in favor of the employee, not the employer.
                We have one big government we cannot avoid us versus millions of employers you can work for if you do not like your boss.
                I guess you represent a shameless poodle for politicians and bureaucrats.

              5. You can quit your job; you can’t quit your government.

                Try using logic from time to time, it’ll help you grasp these things.

              6. Gawd help anyone that:

                1. Works for the Government
                2. In a department dealing with victim’s affairs*

                *Oops. . sorry, that is just about ANY government office.

                Damned bureaucrats!

        2. Is the confusion based on some perception that libertarianism is a form of utopianism? Thus, any failing shows it as completely false?

          This is exactly right. Progressives, whose fundamental premise is that society is perfectible through government policy, look at Libertarians, who advocate accepting reality’s limitations as givens, and dismiss them as Utopians.

          1. If you’re not utopians then that means you must accept some form of society that doesn’t perfectly align with your stated principles in order to bow to reality. Meaning, for example, a social welfare apparatus might be necessary since markets can never be as free as you’d need them to be to perform their magic.

            Or are you just telling us to shut up and be happy with the crumbs politicians throw us? Is that how you go through life?

            1. Make your own crumbs.

              1. You didn’t build that… loaf?

              2. Beware a paradigm many women believe is:

                Compliments=Crumbs
                Complaints=Crumbs

            2. If you’re not utopians then that means you must accept some form of society that doesn’t perfectly align with your stated principles in order to bow to reality.

              Exactly. That’s why Libertarians advocate an apparatus that maximizes the ability of individuals to align themselves with their own stated principles without requiring everyone to align themselves with everyone else’s stated principles, in contrast with your particular brand of Progressivism which demands that everyone in society conform to your stated principles.

              a social welfare apparatus might be necessary since markets can never be as free as you’d need them to be to perform their magic.

              What magic? The magic of allowing people to buy things they want? What does markets not being free have to do with government welfare programs? Do you scan things before you post them to make sure they make basic sense? Because it really doesn’t seem like you do.

              are you just telling us to shut up and be happy with the crumbs politicians throw us?

              No – I want politicians to stop taking my bread and returning crumbs while telling me to be happy about it.

              1. But then taking less of your bread is literally spending!!!

                1. or liberal spending, depending. . .

            3. If you’re not utopians then that means you must accept some form of society that doesn’t perfectly align with your stated principles in order to bow to reality.

              Zeno would like to have a word with Tony.

            4. And furthermore Tony, since government isn’t and can never be perfect, why are you shilling for it?

            5. No, not being Utopian means you accept the inevitability of imperfection; it does not mean you accept alternative policies (like bloated welfare states) that yield more imperfection that the correct ones.

      1. libertarianism’s refusal to grapple with the reality of workplace coercion?or accept the legitimacy of those remedies most likely to mitigate it?is so deeply misguided

        Perhaps we just need to accept the legitimacy of whatever remedy they are selling. Don’t think about it, just go with it.

    2. The boss is not legally empowered to use violence against you, nor imprison you, nor confiscate your property. Otherwise, yeah, the boss is more coercive.

      1. Easier to leave your boss and find a new one than a new government.

        1. He writes immediately after: “And while it’s true that it is easier to leave an employer than a nation, the former still isn’t easy.”

          1. This is what is called flinging s–t at the wall to see what sticks. The entire left-o-sphere will be quoting the juicy bits as gospel and conveniently leaving out the sentences that completely contradict the talking points he just made.

      2. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m in chains here. In chains!

        1. Kinky.

          1. Those Trump tax cuts are causing companies to extend their benefits in all sorts of creative ways.

          2. Beware. . .

            Your getting really close to that line of harassment. . .

    3. Having actually had many peaceful discussions with folks on the left, it appears that libertarians define “power” and “coercion” much differently than liberals and progressives. To a leftist, a boss is inherently coercive because they have “power” over the employee who is compelled to do whatever the boss tells them. It’s a foreign idea to us libertarians, but it’s really how a significant number of people on the left think.

      To the left, it’s all about the power balance, with that term expanded to cover both an imbalance of wealth and an imbalance of social position. If a male executive sexually harassed another male executive, most on the left would not see a problem requiring a political solution. Change that balance in any way and most will suddenly call for political action of some kind.

      1. Except if the boss is named, say, William Jefferson Clinton?

    1. The headline didn’t quote the full statement: “Harvey Weinstein on steroids for the think tank world.” This is probably an important qualification.

      1. True.

        However, Weinstein has a level of quantity and duration that makes the comparison invalid.

        1. I have no particular urge to defend Crane or get into who was worse arguments. They’re ultimately not very useful other than to make a juicier story.

          It sounds like this comparison becomes even less valid as it seems he was removed 6 years ago for these very reasons.

      2. I find it hard to believe that Harvey Weinstein on steroids is any different from regular Harvey Weinstein.

          1. And you can actually see his dick without a microscope.

          2. That is a mental image I did not need at 07:12 in the morning!

    2. The Cato Institute has supported political correctness in the past, and now may be hoisted on their own petard so to speak. With the #metoo hysteria still raging, the pro-globalist Cato Institute may soon be consumed by the monster that it helped to create.

      Words to live by.

      1. I’m gonna get that printed on a t-shirt.

    3. We need to calibrate Ed Crane on the MilliWeinstein scale.

  2. LOL

    Domestic Dissident|2.9.18 @ 12:10PM|#

    Looks like a major scandal is about to hit the Cato Institute, with at least three former employees apparently claiming that Ed Crane sexually harassed them.

    Suffice it to say I don’t think Reason will be talking about this one very much.

    1. To celebrate DDs ignorance, is to live a life of constant joy.

    2. Pretty much every time he makes a comment like that, an article on the subject appears later the same day.

      1. All that means is he’s right and Reason is forced to respond. Fact.

        1. Game. Set. Match.

    3. This is the best DD quote since that time someone brought up a quote of his from 2014 demanding we take action against Russia in the wake of the Crimea annexation, in response to a comment in a thread last year where he called Cathy Young a warmongerer for being open to sanctions against Russia.

      1. Thanks for bringing that up, as I was on the verge of doing it myself and patting myself on the back for it. That was a fun moment.

        https://reason.com/blog/2017/07…..nt_6901272

        1. He really is a special kind of dumb, isn’t he.

      2. You mean Katerina Yunginsky, or whatever he makes a point of calling her?

  3. The story goes on to describe these incidents in harrowing detail

    Look, Levitz, Crane is a creep and exploited his power to ogle young women and create a hostile environment, but keep things in perspective, okay? He didn’t go around raping women and fertilizing the ferns.

    But the fact that such harassment is so thoroughly bipartisan and trans-ideological is part of why libertarianism’s refusal to grapple with the reality of workplace coercion ? or accept the legitimacy of those remedies most likely to mitigate it ? is so deeply misguided.

    Remedies that he doesn’t name or explain. I guess we’re just supposed to take it as given that Regulation will fix this problem, and not cultural changes and more civil suits.

  4. “More broadly,” tutted New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz, “libertarians fail to grapple with the reality that, for most individuals in an advanced society, the most coercive force in day-to-day life isn’t the state, but the boss.”

    I wonder how many libertarians Levitz has talked to about coercion of any kind. My guess is fewer than one.

    1. ” the most coercive force in day-to-day life isn’t the state, but the boss.””

      yeah, because you can quit your govt, but you can’t quit your job.

      wait a second

      1. no, wait, its “because you can sue the govt, but you can’t sue your employ….”

        hm. that’s not it either.

        1. It’s because if you don’t do what your boss wants, he’ll either lock you up or kill you. That’s what it is . . . right?

          1. Whatever it is, libertarians NEVER think about it. Ever!

  5. Don’t worry. There is justice.

  6. Coulda just gone with straight reporting without the bitching about what some liberal said about it.

    1. Coulda just gone with straight reporting

      Why do you have to bring sexual preference into it?

    2. Media criticism is Reason’s bread and butter.

    3. Maybe ‘some liberal’ could’ve done straight reporting instead of spuriously trying to slander a worldview he doesn’t like.

  7. Virginia Postrel: Facebook post linking Politico article and comments

    1. Not clicking on Facebook. What does Postrel have to say?

      1. Postrel: “Although I never heard anything specific, based on the reputation Cato had as a terrible place for women to work, I find this plausible.”

        Also, there’re some comments by a few insiders.

        1. How could women have been working at Cato? There are no female libertarians.

        2. Virginia Postrel: By contrast, Reason was a great place for women. Bob Poole wouldn’t even think of harassing or demeaning anyone

          You notice she only talks about Bob Poole. Notice the curious absence of Welch and Gillespie?

          1. Hit’n’Run’s comments section devolved into the cesspool it is today under Welch and Gillespie’s watch, and they are therefore personae non grata as far as Postrel is concerned.

            1. Gillespie agrees, Reason is a great place for bitches.

            2. The comments section went south when threaded comments were introduced. :}

          2. Bob Poole’s the actual boss, I think. And Postrel was in the position that Welch eventually got, right? So they were subordinate to her, not she to them.

  8. If there’s anything to learn from the whole #MeToo movement, it’s the libertarian observation that new laws and government aren’t needed to make big changes in society.

    We saw billions shaved off of Wynn Resorts Limited’s market cap and Wynn eventually forced to resign over such allegations. We’ve seen this kind of thing play out over and over now.

    Writing a story trying to discredit the libertarian philosophy by going after a prominent libertarian on sexual harassment is completely missing the point. Free speech, a free press, and persuading people to change their minds about such things is far more effective at stopping misbehavior than government or regulation ever could be–and that’s what libertarianism is all about.

    You have to ignore the central libertarian argument and the power its demonstrated to right these kinds of wrongs all around us in order to criticize the philosophy for allowing this sort of thing to happen.

  9. I’m disappointed in Crane and anyone at Cato who allowed this behavior to happen. But if nothing else, this revelation solidifies Reason’s status as the best libertarian organization.

    1. I blame society. and males. and the way corporations objectify women. and the lack of funds for mandatory gender-sensitivity training

    2. At least Crane didn’t harass any actual libertarians, because we know there are no libertarian women.

  10. “”a pundit is trying to blame libertarianism. Look around: The problem’s a lot larger than that“”

    “To be sure, libertarianism is problematic”
    – Libertarian magazine

    1. Nice catch.

  11. Not cool

  12. That is a spectacular exercise in point-missing.

    It’s also very wrong. You can walk away from your job more easily than you can walk away from your bureaucracy.

  13. libertarianism’s refusal to grapple with the reality of workplace coercion?or accept the legitimacy of those remedies most likely to mitigate it?is so deeply misguided

    Sorry, but what reality are we no grappling with? Or is the ideology not capable of grappling with? Nothing in libertarianism denies that people are capable of bad to horrendous things, or that coworkers and bosses can be awful.

    or accept the legitimacy of those remedies most likely to mitigate it

    Again, what? Libertarians believe private companies should be able to fire bad actors, that activists should be able to voice their concerns and push for cultural change, and that criminals should be prosecuted in a court of law regardless of how powerful they are. What other remedies are being proposed? And how likely are they to mitigate the problem?

    1. or accept the legitimacy of those remedies most likely to mitigate it

      That statement is stupid on its face.

    2. Sorry, but what reality are we no grappling with?

      Look – to not propose a government-based solution to a problem is to ignore the problem. How clearly do we have to spell this out for you?

      1. Such solutions are “most likely to mitigate it”. How do we know? Because Eric Levitz thinks he’s a smart person, and feels it so, and most importantly, it’s the perfect alternative fact that jives with his socialist worldview. How could that be wrong? When have socialists ever been wrong?

  14. “Foes of libertarianism are predictably taking the opportunity to indict an entire political philosophy. “More broadly,” tutted New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz, “libertarians fail to grapple with the reality that, for most individuals in an advanced society, the most coercive force in day-to-day life isn’t the state, but the boss.”

    I know my bosses always carried guns to enforce their desires!
    Eric Levitz is an idiot.

  15. Virginia Postrel Couple of points worth making in response to various comments, mostly on Twitter: 1) “People could quit.” They did. The place was a revolving door for female employees, which is how I knew it was bad. 2) “It’s not illegal.” Forget your obsession with the state. It was a breach of fiduciary duties to donors to waste talent and subsidize personal peccadilloes.

    Nice response from Postrel. Props.

  16. Men might as well give up . It’s like original sin for males .

  17. And this is why my business will never hire “normal” women in the future. I might hire a chick who is like one of the dudes, but no SJWs or regular women. You can tell them apart inside of 30 seconds. I would probably never even hire any women except that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen, so you hire one or two cool chicks for your token broads. Women in my experience mostly just ruin the fun/vibe of all male environments. Basically they’re a stick in the mud 99% of the time. Unless you’re partyin’ they’re more of a pain in the ass than they’re worth.

  18. “Koch Brothers vindicated as one of their foes is revealed as a sexual harasser”

    /Headline you won’t see in prog publications

  19. Eric Levitz is your typical, libtard, dishonest, shit bag, nothing new there. The left loves to twist the truth out of shape every chance they can, never trust one word out of their mouths, even if its words like “and”, “this”.

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