libertarian

Profiles in Liberty: Matt Mitchell, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center

Dr. Matthew Mitchell is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His primary research interests include economic freedom and economic growth, government spending, state and local fiscal policy, public choice, and institutional economics.

When he’s not researching, Dr. Mitchell blogs for Neighborhood Effects, a blog which touches on state, local, and global economic policy, often in a conversational way. You can follow his freedom-loving Tweets @MattMitchell80.

Matt Mitchell

 

Matt Naugle: How did you become a libertarian?

Matt Mitchell: I credit my brother and the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS). Since I was 13 or 14, my brother and I have been debating politics and ideas. We agree on 95 percent of issues but like to focus on the 5 percent where we disagree. Through those discussions—and the reading I had to do to inform them—the edges of my worldview were gradually shaped.

When I was in college, I attended a weeklong IHS seminar and came to the realization that I could debate like this for a living. Basically from that point on, I set my sights on studying public choice economics at Mason, followed by a career discussing ideas. (My brother became a physician; as our friend puts it, I became “a doctor of silly diagrams”).

MN: As a member of the Joint Advisory Board of Economists for Virginia, does the state follow your advice?

Cato settlement details revealed

After some speculation, we now have an idea of some of the changes that will be made at the Cato Institute as a result of the lawsuit filed by Charles and David Koch. We had heard rumors in recent days, much of which was true.

Dave Weigel offered up some details on the campfire that was held yesterday at Cato to explain to employees what had transpired and how they would move forward under the terms of the agreement:

Shortly before 3 p.m. [Monday], the men and women of the Cato Institute strolled into the renovated Friedrich von Hayek Auditorium to confirm their good news. Five days earlier, the Washington Post broke news of a settlement between David Koch, Charles Koch, and America’s largest, longest-lived libertarian think tank. Ed Crane, 68, Cato’s president since its 1977 genesis in San Francisco, would step down. His replacement would be John Allison, 64, a banker who’d endowed college courses on the work of Ayn Rand.

“I didn’t see today as Ed’s swan song,” says Levy. “He’s going to stay on for a while as CEO, and after that, he’s going to remain a very important consultant on fundraising and other issues.” What about all of that public Jell-O wrestling with two of the planet’s richest men? “We’ve gotten past that.” David Koch had stopped donating to Cato, but “if everybody behaves in a way that was contemplated, he’ll be a supporter in the future as he was in the past.”

Ed Crane is out at the Cato Institute

We should know the firm details of the future of the Cato Institute by the end of the day, but the Washington Times reports that Ed Crane, who founded Cato in 1974 and has served as the influential think tanks president since that time, will be forced into retirement as part of the settlement with Charles and David Koch:

The Cato Institute’s co-founder and president, Edward Crane, has been forced out by the libertarian organization’s board of directors, according to inside sources. John A. Allison, former chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation, will take over as interim president.

Mr. Allison is believed to be planning to arrive at the Washington-D.C. think tank on Monday for the transition news to be announced. Asked about the leadership changes, Cato spokesman Khristine Brooks said a statement would be issued on Monday.

By one account, Mr. Crane is “leaving kicking and screaming,” but he will do so “under the guise that he is retiring earlier than he had planned.” He will continue to have a role at the organization as a fundraiser and liaison with big donors. Ms. Brooks denied Mr. Crane was being forced out, adding, “Ed Crane will stay at Cato Institute for a period of time.”

Based on the rumors I’ve heard, the Kochs will have control of the board of directors as the recent additions to the board will supposedly be removed. That doesn’t strike me as a good thing for the future of the Cato Institute, but no one seems overly concerned, which I find to be odd if the Kochs truly have control.

Again, we should know more later today.

Is the drama over at the Cato Institute?

The legal battle between the Koch brothers and Ed Crane over the future of the Cato Institute may or may not finally be finished. Details of the supposed settlement have not yet been made clear, but here is what has been reported up to this point:

“Looks like we’ve come to an accommodation with the Koch brothers,” Cato founder and President Ed Crane said in a Tuesday e-mail to employees.

Crane said that staffers will be briefed on Monday on the “settlement” by Cato Chairman Bob Levy and John Allison, a prominent libertarian and former BB&T chief executive officer, who mediated the negotiations. “It will be great to get all this unpleasantness behind us,” Crane said.

In a follow up email to staff, Crane cautioned that negotiations are ongoing.

The deal will settle a lawsuit that the Koch brothers filed in February over shares that determine control of Cato. It results from the original division of shares between the two Koch brothers, Crane, and the late Cato Chairman William Niskanen.

After Niskanen died of stroke complications in October, the Koch brothers claimed that a founding shareholder agreement gave them the option to buy his shares. Crane held that they should go to Niskanen’s widow, which would leave him in effective control of the organization.

Some Libertarians Need Social Skills

Twitter and the Internet in general have gone insane once Rand Paul endorsed Mitt Romney a day after his dad, Ron Paul, conceeded the Presidential race. All of a sudden, Rand Paul became a sellout, a traitor, a neo-con, etc. The same Rand Paul whose Senate record has nearly been perfect on issues from civil liberties to fiscal issues. If this is how we treat our own, imagine how we treat non-libertarians. This outburst only adds to the biggest problem most non-libertarians and some libertarians have with the Ron Paul movement, that we’re a lunatic fringe that demands 100% conformity. In order to broaden our outreach and persuade more people to become libertarians, some of us need to learn some basic social skills.

Why Should We Become More Sociable?

People do business with and vote for people they like. It’s human nature. In order to get more people to consider libertarian ideas and candidates, they have to like the people behind them whether it be the person on the phone or the door to door canvasser.

First things, first.

If your political discourse usually includes one or more of the following: Bilderbergers, Bohemian Grove, NWO, Illuminati, fluoride, conspiracy, 9/11 Truth, long form birth certificate, or anything like that; please keep it to yourself. You’re making all of us in the liberty movement look insane. (Full credit to a rant by @TPANick on Twitter for that) Plus, if your newssources are Infowars, Prison Planet, Lew Rockwell.com, or Russia Today (RT); you probably need to open your mind and find other news outlets. They’re all as much propaganda and agenda driven news outlets as the rest of the media. Do your own research and reach your own conclusions. Finally, if you believe that Reason magazine and the Cato Institute are statist, you probably need to find a more productive outlet for your time than politics.

How Should We Treat Our Enemies?

Gary Johnson visits The Daily Show

Last night, Gary Johnson, the former two-term Governor of New Mexico and current Libertarian Party nominee, stopped by The Daily Show to chat with Jon Stewart about his campaign, the differences — or lack thereof — between Democrats and Republicans, and the obstacles he faces in getting into the debate:

Obama to paint Romney as a “libertarian”

Yesterday, I was grabbing a cup of coffee while browsing through Twitter when I saw a headline that literally made me spit my drink out of my mouth. President Barack Obama will apparently attempt to paint Mitt Romney, who has mathematically secured enough delegates to win the GOP nomination, as a libertarian (note Obama doesn’t actually use that term to describe Romney, but the beliefs describe are libertarian in nature):

President Barack Obama is previewing his next strategy in the 2012 campaign — an audacious effort to paint former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the majority GOP as radical libertarians that have abandoned mainstream American politics.

Since 2000, “we [Democrats] haven’t moved that much. … What’s changed is the Republican Party,” Obama told a group of wealthy donors gathered Monday night at a New York town-house owned by Marc Lasry. Lasry is a billionaire equity-capitalist who runs a $20 billion fund that buys up the shaky assets of failing companies.

Republicans “have gone from a preference for market-based solutions to an absolutism … [to] a belief that all regulations are bad; that government has no role to play,” said Obama, who has presided over record unemployment of at least 8.1 percent, record deficits of more than $1 trillion per year, and a record $5 trillion increase in the national debt.

The president’s divisive strategy is designed to persuade swing-voters that the former governor of Massachusetts is a radical libertarian, even though Obama has repeatedly said his health-sector law is modeled on Romney’s Massachusetts law.

Johnson pushes Federal Reserve audit

In the last couple web ads produced by his campaign, Gov. Gary Johnson has covered his fiscal record and his anti-war stance. But in his new ad, his team makes a very clear appeal to Ron Paul supporters by noting that he’ll continue to wave the banner of auditing the Federal Reserve, making the nation’s central bank more transparent for Americans:

Penn Jillette backs Gov. Gary Johnson

Penn Jillette, half of the magic duo, Penn & Teller, has been everywhere the last few years. In addition to their almost nightly performances at the Rio in Las Vegas He and Teller hosted Bullshit!, a libertarian-themed show on Showtime that took on conventional wisdom and junk science.

More recently, Jillette has been acting as a political commentator. He appears regularly on various shows on CNN and Fox News and has been known to write an occasional column on political issues.

However, his recent criticism of President Barack Obama over the so-called on “war on drugs” gave him the opportunity to note on Hannity that, while he disagrees with many of the policies pushed by the White House, he is backing Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for president.

Here’s the entire segment of Jillette with Sean Hannity:

 

Gary Johnson releases first ad as a Libertarian

Gary Johnson, the former two-term Governor of New Mexico (1995-2003) and 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee, has dropped his first ad of the general election campaign.

The ad, which has no narration, only captions, notes that Johnson vetoed 750 bills during his eight years in office, has the best record of job creation of any candidate running in the fall, including Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and left New Mexico with a $1 billion budget surplus at the end of his last term. The end of ad notes that the Libertarian Party isn’t just a party, rather it encompasses the “People,” urging voters to “participate in [their] freedom”:

 


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