Cato Marks Silver Anniversary; Libertarian Ideas Shape 25 Years of Public policy.(NATION)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 8, 2002 | Go to article overview

Cato Marks Silver Anniversary; Libertarian Ideas Shape 25 Years of Public policy.(NATION)


Byline: Ellen Sorokin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

When young California investment manager Edward Crane visited Washington in 1976, he noticed how much influence a few public policy think tanks had on Capitol Hill.

There was the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution, the two most visible public policy research organizations at the time. The Hoover, RAND, Hudson and Urban institutes were also around.

Mr. Crane, now 57, thought there should be a think tank dedicated to the American principles of liberty and limited government.

"We needed an independent think tank in Washington, one that wasn't afraid to say something that wasn't popular on Capitol Hill or with the current administration," Mr. Crane said in an interview last week. "We wanted an organization that wasn't going to engage in partisan politics."

A year later, in 1977, Mr. Crane and his friend, Kansas industrialist Charles G. Koch, founded the Cato Institute - and tomorrow the organization will mark its 25th anniversary.

The key to the institution's success? It's all about opening up the floor for discussion and allowing a free forum where arguments from the entire political spectrum are represented, Mr. Crane said.

"Cato is the embodiment of the philosophy of the founders of this country," Mr. Crane said. "It's about being upfront and being accurate in our product." The Institute is named after "Cato's Letters," a series of libertarian pamphlets that helped lay the philosophical foundation for the American Revolution, says its Web site.

Cato started its operations in San Francisco with only three persons on its staff and a budget of about $500,000. The institute left behind its California origins and set up shop on Capitol Hill in 1982 in the home of the first Librarian of Congress, George Watterston. Cato continued to grow so that by 1993, it moved into its own building in Northwest. Today, it employs at least 20 persons and has a $15 million annual budget.

Alan Kors, president of the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said Cato has played an important role in providing an open forum on issues like Social Security. …

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