More On Cato

I was a little too hasty with Cato - I may have let them off too lightly in my post about BS.
which mentioned them.

Check out SourceWatch, "a collaborative project of the Center for Media and Democracy to produce a directory of the people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda." The Center for Media and Democracy says it "strengthens participatory democracy by investigating and exposing public relations spin and propaganda, and by promoting media literacy and citizen journalism, media 'of, by and for the people.'" Sounds good to me - I would imagine this should be the goal of basic journalism, not to mention Penn and Teller's show "Bulls--t": "investigating and exposing... spin and propaganda." I dotted out the "public relations" part of that quote, because that's just one avenue of investigation. Take out those two words and it's exactly what BS is supposed to be all about.

Since it's cooperative, like Wikipedia, you may end up reading something totally different than what I'm reading when they talk about The Cato Institute. And there's a lot to digest from what I'm reading. But that's ok - you can go to Cato's website, and simply look at Cato's Board of Directors. That's my favorite way of seeing who's really behind an organization. So who do we have?

  • Richard J. Dennis, President, Dennis Trading Group
    Dennis is a Commodoties Trader. According to BusinessWeek, he made $200 million trading in the 1980's. Not exactly a middle-class "man on the street". You can see how deregulation might be his friend. More from the article:
    As Dennis' bank account grew, his interest in influencing public affairs grew along with it. Starting with a $1,000 donation to George McGovern in 1972, he has given $10 million to politicians, he reckons. An additional $20 million went to a think tank he founded in the early 1980s and closed in 1989, and still more went to a private foundation, he says.

    Can you see why Cato takes this position on Campaign Finance Reform: "The right to spend money on politics, including the right to contribute to campaigns, is protected by the First Amendment. Attempts to limit that right should meet with a great deal of skepticism from both citizens and the courts." Of course, my hypothetical donation of, say, $20 can't compete with Dennis's millions, which means my opinion is worth about %0.000001 to the politicians who are getting said millions, but First Amendment, blah blah blah, so I'll just shut up. Or, at least, talk at %0.000001 of my normal volume.

    Then there's:
  • David H. Koch, Executive Vice President, Koch Industries, Inc.
    According to SourceWatch, "Koch Industries is the second largest privately-held company in the United States (behind Cargill), with annual sales of more than $40 billion." (emphasis mine). Wow - makes Dennis look like a poor SOB. Koch, FYI, co-founded Cato.

    Another? OK, sure:
  • Frederick W. Smith, Chairman & CEO, FedEx Corporation
    Do I even need to bother? Another loaded-up-the-wazoo member of the board of Cato, who has a vested interest in deregulation. Regulations are EXTREMELY important to FedEx - they even have a page on their website listing the latest relevant laws for investors. So OF COURSE they have a vested interest in doing whatever it takes to reduce the number of pesky regulations (like, say, against shipping sex slaves from Indonesia or God-Knows-What from God-Knows-Where) and keep rolling it in.

    Last one (out of fourteen, so I can keep this up for a while):
  • John C. Malone, Chairman, Liberty Media Corporation

    Liberty Media Corporation (NASDAQ: LINTA,LINTB,LCAPA,LCAPB) is a holding company owning interests in a broad range of electronic retailing, media, communications and entertainment businesses. Our businesses include some of the world's most recognized and respected brands and companies, including QVC, Encore, Starz, IAC/InterActiveCorp, and News Corporation.

    That there's from the Liberty Media website. I'm not sure I would use "respected" for QVC, but they certainly are profitable.

    One last interesting point - Cato is hugely involved with the fight to privatize Social Security. The website socialsecurity.org is run by Cato. It's ironic how the same institute that poo-poo's global warming as being overblown are freaking out about the "Social Security crisis", using the same alarmist techniques that they decry when their opponents use it. Meanwhile, since privatizing SocSec means giving retirement money to private investors, it's no surprise the board also includes:
  • Lewis E. Randall, Board Member, E*Trade Financial
  • Jeffrey S. Yass, Managing Director, Susquehanna International Group, LLP
  • K. Tucker Andersen, Senior Consultant, Cumberland Associates LLC
  • David H. Padden, President, Padden & Company

    All prominent financiers. All stand to profit tremendously from SocSec privitization.

    So what's my point? Pretty simple: Cato is a bulls--t organization dedicated to changing public policy in their own interest by using a veneer of populism to peddle their crap. And Penn and Teller has had them on their show twice in the first season alone (that's the only ones I'm aware of), presenting their views. What Cato is NOT is an objective source of information of any kind, and anything they say is suspect of being a huge, steaming pile of BULLS--T. I guess P&T didn't pick up on that...

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