In 1997, several Californian members of the Libertarian Party founded a think tank (a usually political center of research, propaganda and spreading of ideas. Translator’s note) to promote its own ideas: sexual liberty, pacifism and the elimination of the welfare state. The origin of its name (Cato Institute) is related to the famous pamphlets of the XVIII Century against colonialism and the expansion of the government known as Cato’s Letters. 28 years later, this right-wing anarchists’ association has turned into a successful foundation based in Washington, subsidized at length by several multinational companies and proud of being responsible for the pensions’ reform President Bush will implement in his second term.

Edward Crane
Founder and Director of the Cato Institute.

The Cato Institute was founded by Edward H. Crane when he stopped being the president of the Libertarian Party. Since the beginning, he was economically assisted by the Koch brothers -Charles G. and David H - heirs of petrochemical giant Koch Industries. David H. Koch was the Libertarian Party’s candidate to the vice presidency of the U.S. in 1980.

Beyond its nice discourse on sexual liberty, gays’ rights, marihuana liberalization and other revelations of the new age, the Cato Institute has quickly turned into a promoter of social egoism, and above all, it has reintroduced and spread Charles Murray’s theories on racial differences [1].

In 1985, the association hired one of Ronald Reagan’s former economic advisers and founder of the National Tax Limitation Committee as its director. It focused then on the elimination of the State and its welfare structures inherited from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal by promoting the elimination of the personal income tax, the privatization of Social Security, Medicare and education. This is the reason why it recruited Chilean economist José Piñera -former Minister of Labor of General Augusto Pinochet’s fascist government- who, influenced by the «Chicago Boys» and their leader, economist Milton Friedman, privatized social security and freed the Chilean State from its most expensive responsibility. By doing this, Piñera reduced taxes considerably though more than half of the population retired without pensions.

Jose Piñera

According to The New York Times, which quoted a report by Lyndon LaRouche, José Piñera’s Project on Social Security Choice was the basis of the privatization plan presented by George W. Bush in his year 2005 State of the Union address [2].
By worshiping Friedrich von Hayek [3].The Libertarians’ prophet, and his follower Milton Friedman, the Cato Institute held conferences on their economic works where they were usually present. President Edward H. Crane and some members of the Institute (Paul Craigs Roberts, James M. Buchanan, etc.) are also members of Mont Pelerin Society, the libertarians’ temple.

However, the respectability of this think tank has been affected by its biological racism, its social egoism and its level of corruption. Once it began to accept millions from the multinational companies which financed it, the Cato Institute stopped defending ideas and began to defend interests. For instance, it published works on tobacco harmlessness after receiving important contributions from cigarette maker Philip Morris and criticized ecologists’ alarmism on greenhouse effects once it received contributions from its sponsor Exxon-Mobil.

But the Institute’s contribution to the Bush Administration has not been limited to pension’s reform. It has also included a paradoxical ecologist discourse that approves multinational companies’ immunity to contaminate. George w. Bush has even named Gale Norton, former editor of Clarke-Koch’s electoral speeches, head of the Department of Environment [4]. She opposed the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol which sets limits to the greenhouse effects and defended oil installations in Alaska, no matter what the risks for the environment were.

Gale Norton

In 1998, the Cato Institute managed to be well known by the media though it was not due to a remarkable political change but to the fact that multimillionaire Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News and many newspapers, joined the Institute by becoming a member of its Board of Directors that included also his partner John Malone, the distinguished owner of Liberty Media (which controls Discovery and Noos).

On foreign policy issues, the Cato Institute has favored the American withdrawal of all military alliances and intergovernmental organizations and has opposed NATO -and therefore the war against Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq- and financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Institute has also developed a phobia against a possible rapprochement between Russia, China and India which, according to it, may have an adverse effect on American interests. Consequently, it denounced Primakov’s diplomacy and the foundation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Apart from all these, the Institute has held colloquiums in Russia and China to spread free market ideals.

The Cato Institute has turned into a powerful institution based in the American federal capital. What used to be a group against the State’s excesses has turned into an organization in defense of private interests and against all social responsibility. This is the reason why its president and founder, Edward H. Crane, fired the Californian hippies of 1968 and bought an expensive office in Washington.

[1On Charles Murray’s theories, see: «L’Institut Manhattan, laboratorie du néo-conservatisme», Voltaire, September 15, 2004

[2The New York Times presented literal excerpts of Lyndon LaRouche’s pamphlet Bush’s Social Security Privatization-Foot In the Door for Fascism, in an article by Larry Rohter published on its first page, January 27, 2005: «Chile’s Retirees Find Shortfall In Private Plan»

[3Denis Boneau: «Friedrich von Hayek, pape de l’ultra-libéralisme», Voltaire, March 4, 2004

[4Paul Labarique: «Gale Norton ou la pollution idéologique», Voltaire, September 17, 2004