Thursday, March 01, 2012

Very Irritated With The Koch Brothers

Ah, the Koch Brothers. Whereas the right beats up on money guy George Soros for funding causes on the left he believes in, the left beat up on the Koch Brothers for causes they believe in.

I don't beat up on people for funding causes, but I do get irritated if they do something that looks counterproductive the causes they ostensibly try to advance- if they happen to be causes I believe in.

In this case, I am a big fan of the Cato Institute. Cato is a libertarian think tank that has produced many valuable papers and publications, and has had some small (too small, in my opinion) impact on public policy. I especially love the Cato Daily Podcast, which has been hosted by Caleb Brown for the past several years. Brown does a wonderful job of interviewing Cato scholars on topics of immediate daily interest.

The Koch Brothers co-founded the Cato Institute with Ed Krane and the late Ed Niskanen. The Kochs have poured money into the Cato Institute over the years. So far, so good. But, as the Washington Post reports:

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch filed a lawsuit Wednesday for control of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.

The lawsuit exposes a power struggle for one of Washington’s premiere policy centers, which has been funded by millions in contributions from the Koch brothers’ foundations since its founding in 1974.

Cato was divided between four shareholders: the two Koch brothers, Cato president Ed Crane, and former Cato chairman William Niskanen, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in a court in Johnson County, Kansas.

At the heart of the dispute is the fate of the shares owned by Niskanen, who died in October at age 78 of complications from a stroke. The Koch brothers believe that they have the option to buy Niskanen’s shares, while Cato officials believe that the shares belong to Niskanen’s widow, Kathryn Washburn, according to the complaint.

Why a lawsuit? Is it so important that the Kochs get additional shares? Cato has been absolutely fantastic, just as-is.

Crane released this written statement:

“Charles G. Koch has filed a lawsuit as part of an effort to gain control of the Cato Institute, which he co-founded with me in 1977. While Mr. Koch and entities controlled by him have supported the Cato Institute financially since that time, Mr. Koch and his affiliates have exercised no significant influence over the direction or management of the Cato Institute, or the work done here.

“Mr. Koch’s actions in Kansas court yesterday represent an effort by him to transform Cato from an independent, nonpartisan research organization into a political entity that might better support his partisan agenda. We view Mr. Koch’s actions as an attempt at a hostile takeover, and intend to fight it vehemently in order to continue as an independent research organization, advocating for Individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.”

I'll reserve judgment as to the intentions of Charles Koch for the moment. However, at a time when interest in libertarian ideas is at an all-time high, and acceptance of them is growing, the last thing we need for the liberty movement is divisiveness within the premier libertarian think tank. It's counter-productive, at the very least.

1 comment:

patriot paul said...

Shares in a company don't necessarily mean income and certainly not employment where she gets a paycheck. It may be to her benefit, assuming she inherits the shares, to sell them. I'm anxious to see how a judge would rule in what could be a corporate law case.