This is like a Browns/Cowboys Super Bowl, and I’m just rooting for pain:
Billionaires Charles and David Koch filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Cato Institute in a fight for control of the influential libertarian think tank.
The complaint centers on the the handling of the shares of William A Niskanen, a former chairman of the Cato Institute, following his death October 26, 2011, The lawsuit calls into question whether or not Niskanen’s shares should be transferred to his widow. The lawsuit also names Cato’s president Edward Crane, according to court documents.
The Cato Institute, originally founded as The Charles Koch Foundation in 1974, was formed as a corporation with shareholders. It was re-named The Cato Institute in 1976.
Also, this correction is priceless:
Correction: The original version of this story referred to the Cato Institute as libertarian. Through the editing process, Cato was mislabeled as conservative. This inaccuracy was corrected and properly identifies the Cato Institute as libertarian.
Six in one, a half dozen in the other.
Wow. I think the FSM is doing a fantastic job today of balancing out the bad news of the Hines Ward era being over. Thanks, FSM!
Shareholders? WTF? What kind of nonprofit has shareholders?
Also, too, I’m rooting for more than pain. I’d love to see some airing of dirty laundry, preferably enough for indictments.
Libertarians only believe in freedom from the government over their own liberties. However, your liberties should be controlled by the government.
Ya no, I’ve been following American polities for a while now; and I still ain’t clear on what the diff is. Maybe there really isn’t one in practical terms, but how does the Cato Institute define the difference?
So the Cato Institute is NOT conservative, not in the least. Don’t even think about calling them that in print. Cato = Not Conservative.
Maybe someone can help figure out what this is about. How valuable are the shares of the Cato Institute? Is this like one of those things rich people own, like a baseball team, where they claim to lose money (or in the case of a non-profit, claim not to make money), but really there’s tons of cash flow to siphon off and huge payoff for appreciation?
Republicans endorse the social conservatism. Libertarians callously use social conservatism to save $100 year in taxes.
A public court case would be ideal. One that goes on a long time.
c u n d gulag
“The lawsuit calls into question whether or not Niskanen’s shares should be transferred to his widow.”
Women – wake up!
They’re after ALL of YOU!
First, they came for the pregger’s teengage black sluts, but I wasn’t a pregger’s teenage black slut, so I said nothing.
Then, they came for the pregger’s college sluts, but I wasn’t a pregger’s college slut, so I said nothing.
Then, they came for the pregger’s married women, but I wasn’t a pregger’s married woman so I said nothing.
Then they came for the widow’s – and, WAIT! HOLY SH*T – I’M A F*CKING WIDOW!!!
This, Mrs. Niskanen, is what happens when you get near the Koch brothers.
HAHAHAHAHAHAhahahaha*cough*…oh god, laughing so hard I can’t breathe*cough*HELP! I’m…*cough*
[JGabriel keels over dead from laughter.]
Villago Delenda Est
Libertarian = Neo-Feudalist.
So I’m cool with that change.
The Koch Brothers, and all their heirs, should go the way of Andrew Breitbart. Tout suite.
“libertarian” was only coined when a haiku author wanted to say “conservative” but needed another syllable.
Just as a lot of liberals ran away from the term liberal, as a derogation. Now the tables are turned. Identity Politics.
I did not know that. (I knew they were behind it, of course.) Every liberal and progressive site should always refer to the Cato Institute as “The Cato Institute (formerly The Charles Koch Foundation)” to reinforce the connection. And because it pisses off Chuckles Koch, who would prefer to be a shadowy figure.
Democratic Nihilist, Keeper Of Party Purity
Glad to see that someone is finally willing to acknowledge that this is a distinction without a difference.
A. yea, that’s going to happen in my lifetime.
2. Hey, I root for the Steel Skulls when Cleveburg isn’t in contention. OK, or at least until they refused to get rid of the ever present football-player rapist. maybe again once he’s gone. But never ever Denver, or Baltimore. so I get your point.
I love cy pres court battles. they just go on, and on, and on, and totally eat up the organization’s assets!
@Ben Franklin: There are individuals and Heinlein fans who are sincere (if misguided) libertarians. For any group that has money behind it, “libertarian” is just shorthand for IGMFY.
Oh god no. Their cash flow is probably largely contributions from the Kochs.
I’d be shocked if the Kochs don’t own the vast majority of the stock. Why they care if this dead guy’s shares go to his wife is beyond me.
The Ancient Randonneur
Isn’t a libertarian just a conservative who doesn’t go to church?
Yeah, it does make you wonder what rights shareholders have. They wouldn’t be fighting over them if it was just symbolic.
Huh. The comparison I went with at my place wasn’t to the Cowboys and the Rapistbergers in the Super Bowl, but instead to the Iran-Iraq War.
It seems to me that the respectful thing to do is to follow the model of Ronald Reagan, and the ideals of libertarians, and sell copious amounts of arms to both sides.
Villago Delenda Est
Dead guy’s wife may be a decent human being.
This would cause intense disruption of the mission of the Cato Institute.
@Roger Moore: I think it’s normal to structure non-profits as corporations. Corporations don’t necessarily have to be publicly traded, if that’s what you are thinking.
A fight over the late William Niskanen’s shares in the organization, huh? I did not know that Niskanen died. He did some interesting work on incentives in organizations early in his career. But instead of developing them beyond simple models, seems to me he just used them as a springboard for his ideology, which got more extreme as time went by (or maybe just revealed how extreme it always was). Or maybe his interesting but preliminary ‘curve bending’ graphical models influenced his ideology too much.
Their definition of libertarian is different from mine.
oops! assumed a Steelers reference given the BJers usual passions!
this is hilarious
Good idea. Thanks.
Good old Cato. Carthago delenda est. With any luck we’ll get some of that old-time delenda.
If they call themselves “libertarian” (or even better “civil libertarian”) instead of “conservative”, certain Cato Institute types can pretend to be progressives and act as spoilers.
There’s a old saying “Libertarians are Republicans who like to smoke pot”.
The difference between Libertarians and Conservatives is basically that, smoking pot. Libertarians are against the drug war (got to give them credit for that), conservatives are for it.
Also there’s divergences on gay marriage, and immigration laws.
Both are of course united in favoring plutocracy, and that’s the core Libertarian belief perhaps even more so than Conservatives. Which is why you don’t often hear the differences.
Rooting for the meteor. That’s the phrase.
BROWNS MAKING THE SUPER BOWL LOL COLE MADE A FUNNY.
@existential fish: This is the year man!
@PeakVT: That’s true but doesn’t being a shareholder (rather than, say, a trustee) mean that you actually own a share of the corp’s assets? In most NPOs aren’t the assets held by the corp. and not distributable?
Fuck me, but I have to point out that after over 10 years, the terrorists clearly won.
Fucking take me out back and put me out of my misery now. I no longer want to live…
Here’s the complaint. These are pretend shares:
This ain’t about money. Actually, I don’t know what the fuck it’s about.
@existential fish: i take the browns to teh super bowl every day.
Hey! I’m a Heinlein fan…:-)
But, I haven’t got mine yet….
Immediately thought, “Show me on the doll where Louie Gohmert touched you.” Louie Gohmert will be “touching” the day a shark becomes “cuddly.”
@PeakVT: Corporations, sure, but not shareholder corporations. The only purpose of shares is investment and ownership, and nonprofits aren’t supposed to be “owned.”
From the first two Google items for “nonprofit shares”, “Nonprofits for Dummies”:
And Massachusetts corporate law:
It’s just weird.
@Yevgraf: And this (via ABC news)
Added: I guess I should say that my immediate reaction to Breitbart’s death was “free at last”. He was in the grip of an obsession, and it killed him.
@Ben Franklin: I like Heinlein, too. The Heinlein libertarians are a subset of Heinlein fans, but they’re definitely there. I doubt there would be many libertarians among old-line SF fans if not for Heinlein.
Jay in Oregon
There was a pithy comment somewhere to the effect of “A Libertarian is a Republican who backs the plutocrats instead of the theocrats.”
@redshirt: Yes, but isn’t the world coming to an end in December? Before the SB is played?
@Yevgraf: And This is the same fucking bunch that refused to give tribute to Seal Team Six.
I take Cato so seriously as an organization, the first thing I think of when I see a reference is him ambushing Inspector Clouseau from a closet.
Yay, popcorn futures going up!
@The Ancient Randonneur: The definition I heard was that a libertarian is just a conservative who likes pot and hookers in public.
@Redshift: Okay, thanks for that.
Maybe Crapto is structured differently than most. There’s a decision that may be related to that here that I’m not going to risk mis-interpreting.
ETA: Missed the response by @Mark S. That seems to settle it.
In most states, nonprofit organizations don’t have shareholders. But this is a Kansas corporation and apparently you can be either a shareholder nonprofit or a membership nonprofit there. I don’t know what the point of owning shares in a nonprofit is, but it sure isn’t to make money, since it wouldn’t be a nonprofit in that case. Maybe this is just a fight over who gets to appoint the board of directors or something.
@tamied: Good point. All the more reason for this to be the Brown’s year!
Using the courts to redress a wrong or settle a dispute? Huh. Why can’t the market just call this one?
pseudonymous in nc
“Having won those dollars in bets involving a hilarious role-reversal between a preppy white guy and a black guy from the streets…”
Culture of Truth
No it’s not about money, I assume it’s about control of the institute. Maybe reflective of a larger split the Koch’s a truly fiscal conservative or liberatarian faction, which the Kochs are neither.
Paul in KY
A Browns/Cowboys Super Bowl means the Browns made it to one!
Sounds good to me!
@Steve: Yes, I think it is about who has how much control of the nonprofit. Niskanen got so ideological as his career went on, I no longer read his stuff, but not a very controllable type of person. Maybe his widow is the same. Or maybe the rules for disposal of shares at death are vague.
I’d be interested in hearing more about the details of what this fight is about, at least enough to read if a commenter offers up info for free. Otherwise, not enough to go look.
I did learn to always say ‘Cato, formerly Charles Koch, foundation’. That is helpful information.
The Browns? There’s something quaint about any fan still able to get fired-up enough to invoke them, even for the sake of comparison. To wish pain on Cleveland is like wishing pain on an old, flea bitten, arthritic hound dog that’s asleep on a porch.
Paul in KY
@Bubblegum Tate: He really looked old this past year. I think he should retire. HOF for sure.
@jl: It is pretty clearly about control. Currently each Koch owns 25% which means one of the other two shareholders has to agree in order to get a majority. If Niskanen’s widow has to give up the shares, that means that the Koch’s will have 2/3 of the shares and can fully control the direction the institute takes.
(EDIT: Also note that the fourth shareholder, Crane, supports Niskanen’s widow keeping the shares)
Privatize the Profits! Socialize the Costs!
What’s the difference between a ‘conservative’ and a ‘libertarian’?
I’ll only tell you if you can tell me the difference between a ‘psychopath’ and a ‘sociopath’.
...now I try to be amused
When I say there is no cannibalism in the British Navy, I mean there is a small amount.
But AFAIK, most of them don’t have anyone who’s called a stockholder. I work at a nonprofit that’s structured as a corporation, and we don’t have stockholders. We have regional chapters and an annual convention where board members are chosen.
@Roger Moore: See @Steve and others upthread.
@…now I try to be amused:
And David Koch has a gammy leg!
“You don’t have to eat the leg, Hodges!”
In the early Reagan era, I was a researcher with the Cato Institute. I was young and naive, and didn’t even know what “libertarian” meant–it was just a job, and it paid actual money. My duties were filing away all the literature that came in, some of it racist and anti-semitic. By the time I was fired three months later, I was a raving liberal. When I mentioned to my teenaged son that I’d once been fired by Ed Crane, he high-fived me.
@Yevgraf: The mental image of Breitbart and Gohmert in a hot tub will never leave me now. Sigh…
Comrade Colette Collaboratrice
@Privatize the Profits! Socialize the Costs!:
Hmm. Don’t all four of those words mean the same thing?
@Yevgraf: Dude,it was Gohmert. Arguably the dumbest motherfucker in the House (and yes, that’s saying something). Ignore it and drive on.
A Ghost To Most
ref=”#comment-3082045″>Paul in KY:
Be careful what you wish for.
/buffalo bills fan
@marina: Serious question here — why was Cato receiving racist/anti-semitic literature, and what did they do with it?
breaking it down into more easily digestible bite-siz chunks for their members?
Cato Institute: conservative or libertarian?
Why trade your headache for an upset stomach when you can have both? They are propertarians, a term I learned on talk.politics.misc back in the day.
What I really need to know is: what does Megan Mcardle think about this?
@Yevgraf: Ya think?
Out of town family wanted to go to Ground Zero when they were in town for our wedding. Security reduced my 78 year old mom practically to tears- as my brother said- at least the TSA knows what they’re doing by now.
It was disgusting.
OTOH, the memorial (once we could see it) was beautiful.
@ Ash Can: Cato got racist and anti-semitic newsletters (among many others) because they had subscriptions to them. The only title I remember now–I worked there literally 32 years ago–was from the Liberty Lobby. What they did with the newsletters was file them away in their library. In the interests of accuracy, I worked for a subset of Cato, a libertarian magazine that has long since gone under; Crane was the boss.
One thing I noticed working among libertarians is that they were all really employable, particularly at newspapers. I had one friend among the editors, and I still miss him. When I got fired (officially, laid off), he told me to be sure and apply for unemployment and MediCal (now Medicaid).
@marina: Doesn’t reflect well on them if they were subscribers and archivers of that drek, does it? Thanks for the info.
Cato employees answered a question that had plagued me for years.
Before Bartlett came out and wrote his article in the NYT about large tax cuts not paying for themselves, I always wondered if the actual conservative professional economists believed this ridiculous claim, or if it was just a talking point. Then during a congressional hearing on C-span about W’s tax legislation, I saw a couple of economists from the Cato institute testify. I assume they were under oath, but can’t say for sure. They were asked, point blank, if the tax breaks would pay for themselves, or increase revenue. To my shock they both said in no uncertain terms that the tax breaks would cause definite revenue shortages that would not be recovered, but they thought the legislation was a good idea because it would increase economic growth. I was stunned, here were conservatives, I’m sorry libertarians, (the distinction reminds me of the episode of Cheers where Woody wasn’t sure he could get married because he was Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and his fiance was Lutheran Church of America)anyway, here were conservatives testifying that tax cuts do not increase revenues. So there it was, their experts actually rely on evidence, and aren’t incompetent. So they are only liars, and not morons.
@Mark S.: “This ain’t about money. Actually, I don’t know what the fuck it’s about.”
Control – CATO is *their* toy, and nobody else gets to play with it!
Paul in KY
@A Ghost To Most: We haven’t gotten there yet, so from that standpoint, I think getting there & losing is better than not getting there at all.
Of course, if we had the same situation as y’all, maybe I would think differently.