Category: Cato

Snowden @ Cato Surveillance Summit

This inaugural Cato Institute Surveillance Conference will explore these questions, guided by a diverse array of experts: top journalists and privacy advocates; lawyers and technologists; intelligence officials … and those who’ve been targets of surveillance. Most notably is Edward Snowden, a former NSA Contractor and renowned whistleblower who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency to the mainstream media starting in June 2013.

Via Cato Institute Video.

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Why Liberty? Police Witness

Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) is a 34-year veteran of both the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department who oversaw 17 separate drug task forces and is now Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization of police, prosecutors, judges and other law enforcement officials who want to end the war on drugs.

Create your own Why Liberty video and SHARE using #WhyLiberty.

Via Cato Institute Video.

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Cato & Reason

The number of genuine and exciting libertarian publications is small.  Cato & Reason are the two publishers known to most people.

The Cato Institute’s political analysis is among the among the best in America, and a match for any other ideology’s think tanks.  But all of its work is intentionally that of a think tank: a work product is aimed at academics and well-schooled laypeople. 

Reason, by contrast, aims for a broader audience.  It’s evident, though, that part of Reason’s mission is to convince libertarians that the GOP is, or very soon may be, a welcoming party for defenders of the freedom philosophy.

(I don’t think that Nick Gillespie will tire of trying to convince current libertarians that former libertarians Charles and David Koch are well-meaning and freedom-advancing philanthropists.)

We need something else; we need it soon. 

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One Year Later

America’s first real debate about the 21st century surveillance state began one year ago. There had, of course, been no previous shortage of hearings, op-eds, and panels mulling the appropriate “balance between privacy and security” in the post-9/11 era. But for the masses who lacked a security clearance, these had the character of a middle school playground conversation about sex—a largely speculative discussion among participants who’d learned a few of the key terms, but with only the vaguest sense of the reality they described. Secrecy meant abstraction, and in a conflict between abstract fears and the all-too-visible horror of a burning skyscraper, there could be little question which would prevail. The panoptic infrastructure of surveillance developed well out of public view.

A more meaningfully informed public debate finally became possible via a series of unprecedented disclosures about the global surveillance apparatus operated by the National Security Agency—disclosures for which the word “leak” seems almost preposterously inadequate. It was a torrent of information, and it gave even the most dedicated newshounds a glimmer of what intelligence officials mean when they complain about “drinking from the fire hose” of planet-spanning communications networks….

Via Snowden: Year One @ Cato Unbound.

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A Debate Challenge About the Powers Under ObamaCare

The contention:

States have the power to block major provisions of ObamaCare, including punitive taxes the law imposes on their employers and individual residents. That simple claim, backed by the statute’s clear language and legislative history, has riled many of the law’s supporters. Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, issues a debate challenge to those who disagree.

The challenge:

Will Jonathan Gruber or others take Cannon’s challenge?

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How Government Discourages Savings

One often hears that Americans don’t save enough, but why is that? For a few, it’s probably the consequence of spending too much, conspicuously, to keep up appearances. For most people, though, that’s not true: the percentage of lavish, status-conscious spenders is a small part of most communities.

One of the reasons Americans don’t save enough is that government taxation and spending discourages savings.

See, from CNBC’s Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo, a discussion of savings in which Cato’s Dan Mitchell contends government bears significant responsibility for a low savings rate.

For Mitchell’s position in greater detail, see Big Government Cripples Incentives to Save, Promotes Risky Culture of Immediate Gratification.

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The End of the Koch-Cato War

On a day when all America is talking about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, I’m thinking about the Koch-Cato war, now resolved.

Bob Levy explains the dispute and its resolution:

In the end, this was a win for Cato, and an abandonment of the shareholder structure through which the Kochs sought to control the think tank. For more on that view, see Cato at Peace.

More than a victory, though, a reminder: libertarianism may be ruined through an association or control by major-party partisans.

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The Armistice in the Koch Brothers War for the Cato Institute

The Cato Institute and prominent Republican donors Charles and David Koch are set to settle their legal fight over control of the libertarian think tank….

The settlement involves an agreement to dissolve the shareholder agreement. In addition, Crane is expected to retire under a deal that allows him to select his successor, though the Koch brothers could veto the choice.

Via National Journal.

We’ll see.  It’s heartening, though, that the press has stopped calling the Kochs libertarians, and begun to describe them as they are – former libertarians and current Republicans.

The Washingtonian‘s recent story on the Kochs bid to seize Cato described them accurately, too:

Although Charles Koch, 76, had once been a die-hard libertarian, he has emerged as a major financial champion of Republican causes. He and his brother plan to direct more than $200 million to conservative groups before Election Day, according to Politico.

They are no longer libertarians, and will never be dependable libertarian allies.

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Domestic drones as a threat to liberty

America’s use of drones against her foreign enemies, for surveillance and lethal strikes, has been notably successful. We are sure to build new and more advanced drones for similar uses, and to expand our naval power without placing aviators at risk.

Yet, something that has served so well in combat was sure to be proposed for domestic surveillance.

The risk to liberty, as Gene Healy observes, is profound:

Over the past decade, the creeping militarization of the homefront has proceeded almost unnoticed, with DHS grants subsidizing the proliferation of security cameras and military ordnance for local police departments.

On April 19, Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, sent a letter to the head of the FAA urging the adoption of privacy protections, given the “potential for drone technology to enable invasive and pervasive surveillance.” But Congress needn’t wait on Obama’s FAA to start protecting Americans’ privacy rights.

It’s well past time we stopped sleepwalking toward dystopia and had a serious public debate about where the lines should be drawn.

We’ve developed the dangerous habit of taking the weapons and devices designed to defend Americans in war and then using them against our fellow citizens. The line between military and civilian should be much clearer.

See, Gene Healy @ Cato.

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FreedomWorks sides with Cato against the Koch Brothers

The Tea Party activists at FreedomWorks have now condemned Charles and David Koch’s war to control the Cato Institute.

Though they value independence themselves, they’ve received Koch money, and funding like that softens resolve. To their credit, FreedomWorks stayed true to their oft-professed belief in independence:

The work of the Cato Institute – producing top quality intellectual ammunition unyielding in its defense of economic freedom and the unalienable rights of the individual over the encroachments of big government – is clearly threatened by the decision of Charles and David Koch to file a lawsuit against the Institute and Bill Niskanen’s widow, Kathryn Washburn. These actions put an internal governance dispute into the light of day, and the enemies of liberty are having a field day exploiting the distraction. We don’t always agree with individual Cato scholars, but that is precisely the point. They are independent, and their independence is their most valuable asset in the push and pull of the public debate.

It is our hope that the parties at Koch Industries will reconsider their ill-conceived actions so that Cato is there in the future, intact, aggressively holding both Democrats and Republicans to account for any and all efforts to grow the size and reach of government.”

Well-said, true, and welcome to the friends of Cato in their struggle to defend the finest libertarian research institute in the world.

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The Kochs double down on their war for Cato

Of course they do – there was not the slightest chance that men accustomed to having their way, and defining the world in the grandiose way they prefer, would relent.

So, it’s a second lawsuit to control Cato, this one insisting that the libertarian Cato Institute is impermissibly packing its ranks with….libertarians.  Not any libertarians, mind you, but the very ones the Kochs insisted on replacing with supine, non-libertarian supporters.

The Kochs may accurately be known as former libertarians.

SeeKoch vs. Cato: Koch brothers file second lawsuit over ‘Board-packing scheme’ – Think Tanked – The Washington Post.

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Does Koch-supporter Kevin Gentry think everyone else in America is gullible?

At CNN, a Charles Koch-backed Cato Institute board member insists that the Kochs have always supported libertarianism, and that they want an independent Cato.

Kevin Gentry must think that libertarians, and lots of other people, are particularly gullible. We’re not.

If Gentry thinks the Kochs have always been true to libertarianism, he might want to explain why the Kochs have poured so much money into Americans for Prosperity. An AFP event is likely to be a showcase for anti-libertarian politicians like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, or Herman Cain.

Those are favored candidates for GOP activists, but they’re not libertarians. The Kochs may spend their money as they want, but when they spend for those who are against libertarianism, we may reasonably doubt the claim that the Kochs remain faithful libertarians.

As for the second claim, that the Kochs want an independent Cato Institute by making it a dependent part of their family-controlled financial empire, one may ask: What do they and Gentry think it means to be independent?

They should know that real independence means something more than what the Kochs insist it means. Independence is an actual quality, not an industrialist’s talking point.

One can see from Gentry’s editorial that the Kochs are surprised that their lawsuit to control Cato has met with such strong libertarian criticism. They’re surprised out of confusion: they’re no longer what they still claim to be, and we’re still committed to what we have always been.

Via ‘Koch believes in an independent Cato’ at CNN

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