What do you think about the Cato Institute (their policies and proposals), and can they be considered an influential think tank?

Yes, CATO is extremely influential — often because they do credible and interesting research. However, they are part of the movement started in the early 1970s, inspired by the 1972 “Powell Memo,” that sought to combat the influence of socially liberal movements in the 1960s that constrained corporate power in politics, regulated industry, strengthened civil society, and undermined reckless profit seeking. CATO pretends to be pro-capitalist “right-libertarian” (historically a bit of an oxymoron, as libertarianism had been anti-capitalist for a century until Friedman, Rothbard, et al distorted its principles in service to corporate profit) but really CATO promotes crony capitalism — just like Milton Friedman did. And of course the ongoing influences of wealthy neoliberals like Koch, Bradley, and Scaife have just made that trend continually worse.

As to what I think of them, as I mentioned they actually have produced some interesting research — sometimes revealing counterintuitive causality or unintended consequences regarding certain policies and practicies (along the lines of Freakonomics). But these occasionally interesting and factual insights are overwhelmed by a mission to disrupt civil society and effective governance as we know it, and perpetuate deceptions on various topics (such as climate change, the effectiveness of government and government solutions, the ability of free markets to solve complex problems like health care, education, social security, and so on). On these and other topics that serve a neoliberal agenda, CATO consistently promotes deliberately deceptive or skewed data, and sometimes even misinformation, that transparently serves their donors’ capital accumulation. Below is just one example of deliberate deception — please note that this was from a full page newspaper ad that CATO created, promoted, and paid for:

"We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now. After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events. The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior. Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect."

For more, see:

And here is more info on the broader and deeper neoliberal trend that CATO aims to serve…basically, we just need to “follow the money” to understand CATO’s tactics and motivations:


My 2 cents.


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