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.”
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 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?