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Destroying Cato to Save It

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Jonathon Adler’s March 2nd Post, Koch v. Cato, describes the inevitable consequence of a Koch-controlled Cato Institute:

Whatever the merits of the Kochs’ claim, I cannot understand how their actions can, in any way, advance the cause of individual liberty to which they’ve devoted substantial sums and personal efforts over the years. Even assuming their legal claim has merit, a legal victory will permanently injure the Cato Institute’s reputation.

Many libertarian-leaning organizations receive money from the Kochs and their foundations and are attacked on this basis. Such attacks can be deflected, as financial support is not the same thing as control. But if the Koch brothers themselves represent the controlling majority of an organization’s board, that organization is, by definition, a Koch-run enterprise. Progressive activists and journalists will have a field day with this.
They will forevermore characterize the Cato Institute as “Koch-controlled” — and, as a legal matter, they will be correct. No efforts to re-establish the Institute’s credibility or independence will overcome this fact….

….any benefit from whatever changes they could make will be outweighed to the permanent damage to Cato’s reputation caused by turning it into a de facto Koch subsidiary. In short, they will have destroyed the Cato Institute to save it.

Adler’s right, of course, but he’s much too mild: the Kochs have let slip their libertarianism for a more conventional conservatism through their control of organizations like American for Prosperity. We should be well beyond the point of thinking the Kochs are traditionally libertarian.

In their efforts to control Cato they they’ve completed a transformation — years ago begun — from libertarians to conservatives, and manipulative and domineering ones at that.

See, previously, The Kochs Sue to Control the Cato Institute.

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