Cusack Hates Cato

Do you think all these people work at the Cato Institute? No. Even the people who work at these places, I've met them. They don't have any monopoly or insight into anything. Where does their intellectual or moral clout come from? Nowhere. The guy's talking in front of a camera, reading from a teleprompter, bitching at people. I know enough to be intimidated by serious men and women, but I won't be cowed by people like that. - Cusack, Metro

Watchout, America... don't let the policy experts at the Cato Institute intimidate you into submission. What a brave radical and truthteller John Cusak is. Intimidated? Really? For me this registers up there with the shame level of unexpectedness as the reaction to Don Imus' racism (in that I had no idea there were people that listened to Don Imus). I guess the work the folks at the Cato Institute are doing is having an effect. It reminds me of one of Constant's posts, in that "If you look at political writing, one of the unmistakable trends is that political writing is about stuff that scares the writer. Whatever his surface attitude, he is worried. Maybe he has intellectual contempt for his enemies, but he's worried because he sees they have met with some success and may meet with more." Also, which "serious men and women" does Cusack know enough to be intimidated by? The ones he agrees with?

Cusack: The question becomes one of intellectual honesty and basic morality. I wanted to talk about the players or the heirs of the Friedman legacy who are in the public sector today... The Grover Norquists and Bill Kristols of the world come to mind ...You also talk about the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute as pursuing the goal of the elimination of the public sphere and the total liberation of corporations.

Klein: I refer to the people in those think tanks as "the people who are paid to think by the makers of tanks" because a huge amount of the funding for these think tanks is coming directly from the weapons and homeland security industry. They are funded by some of the wealthiest families and the wealthiest corporations in this country so the question of intellectual honesty really has to come up. They exist in a strange intellectual gray zone where they get money in order to think. And besides, I'm not sure thinking really belongs in tanks.

Cusack: So you're saying that the Shultzes and the Perles and the Kissingers and the Jim Bakers of the world are embedded in the homeland security/privatized war economy?

Klein: More than embedded. I mean, they are it. - Huffington Post

Everyone Cusack disagrees wtih gets branded dishonest and immoral? Save me righteous Cusack from the evil ones! Reduction of the public sphere, yes. Liberation of corporations, no. Cato responds here and here.

The best quote from the two articles linked above has to be Klein's, "They exist in a strange intellectual gray zone where they get money in order to think." So... that's different from government and academia how exactly? Protect your children, the think tanks are coming!

Share this

Morality in Public Discourse

The morality to which Mr Cusack refers is the persistent use of misinformation, logical fallacy and tools of rhetoric to influence innocent people's perception of an issue according to a purely political agenda. Unfortunately, Mr. Cusack is wrong about one thing; think tanks are not paid to think. They are paid to influence public opinion, at any cost to honesty and The Truth, however you conceive it to be.

But if there are different

But if there are different conceptions of the truth, how could someone be accused of misinformation? Cusack is performing an interview for the Huffington Post for crying out loud--where does he get off knocking folks for using tools of rhetoric for a political agenda?

This just seems to me another case of "people can't filter information for themselves, so they need to ignore our opponents."

John Cusack is an idiot.

John Cusack is an idiot. Huh. Until now, I only knew that his movies sucked.

Bullets over Broadway ?

Bullets over Broadway ?

I agree.  Bash Cusack all

I agree.  Bash Cusack all you want--I prefer his sister--but the man's made some good flicks.  Then again, he also starred in Serendipity.  And Identity.  And ConAir. And America's Sweethearts.  And 1408.  And Runaway Jury.

Damn you, Scott. Identity

Damn you, Scott. Identity was a great movie. I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.


I know enough to be intimidated by serious men and women...

He doesn't seem to be intimidated by Naomi Klein.

I'm just saying.

Cusack just another shill for the state. But Cato sucks too.

Does Cusack actually believe that "the public" is synonymous with the state? That state actors are responsive to public pressure, at least MORE so than private actors? That state actors, indeed, are benevolent and looking out for this thing called "the common good" simply because, theoretically, they must? What a dope. These so called progressives need to go beyond the tired watered down Marxism of Social Democrats and at least glance at left-wing anarchist critiques of political power in its own right.

Reminds me of dinner with a friend of mine who actually shed a (metaphorical) tear for the awful goons known as FEMA, saying they "don't have enough money", etc.

Now, as for Cato. Justin Raimondo (forget whatever faults you think he has for a moment) pointed out the utter corruption of any rightly named libertarianism that goes on there in his recent column on the decaying "Rose Revolution" in Georgia:

"I have to note that this conference [link not duplicated], which featured alleged 'libertarians' collaborating with and providing a platform for officials of the [dictatorial, repressive] Saakashvili regime, seems, in retrospect, like a major mistake. 'Freedom, Commerce, and Peace' was the alleged topic of the conference's concerns: now that Georgia has none of these things, thanks to their pal Saakashvili, one wonders what public comment the Cato Institute will have – if any."

Their milquetoast views on the war, and the pro-slaughter views of Brink Lindsey and Tom Palmer are shameful for a supposedly libertarian organization.

And given the recent "debate" at Cato on corporatist vs. statist versions of social security, with Daniel Shaprio arguing for compulsory "privatiziation" (in actually state granted privelege to private actors) against the continued existence of the status quo, I think it's fair to say that Cato is in fact "pro corporate". To this I could add their suggestion in a Cato Handbook for Congress that they adopt a national right-to-work law, which is clearly in violation of freedom of association, giving undue leverage to employers contra employees.

They also supported NAFTA. Hardly free trade.

Vernon Smith, Cato adjunct scholar, was thrilled at the prospects that the unjustified war ON Iraq presented for his "experimental economics" ( Sell Iraqi assets to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to a giant mutual fund for investment supposedly on behalf of Iraqi citizens. Of course this is all engineered via an imperial state with entrenched corporate interests at the outset.

And this is all without mentioning whether there'd even BE limited liability corporations in a truly free market.

Cato = blah.

But I like Will Wilkinson :)

Limited Liability isn't in opposition to a free market


Allowing an investment without incurring unlimited risk of liability rather strengthens a free market.

As for your other points. NAFTA is not free trade, but its close than what we had pre-NAFTA.

Social Security privatization wouldn't be a free market solution, but thats because it would compel people to put aside money for retirement, not because of any supposed special state privilege to private actors.

A right to work law isn't even vaguely against freedom of association. Its not a "you can't have unions" law. Unions are allowed, but companies can fire you for failing to perform you duties (striking), and aren't force to rehire you. In fact a right to work law strengthens freedom of association because companies are no longer compelled to hire union labor.

Even Iraq, while obviously a massive imposition of force by the US government, imposed force against a dictator who himself was initating force (in the past in other countries, and on a continueing basis against the Iraqi people)

Forced savings might just be free market

"Social Security privatization wouldn't be a free market solution, but
thats because it would compel people to put aside money for retirement,
not because of any supposed special state privilege to private actors."

I don't see why an private actor doesn't have the right to force another to take proper precautions against inevitable risk. Especially when the chips fall the person who is in dire straights will have no choice but to cheat, steal, or worse murder to survive. Sorry if I have little faith in his willingness to go quietly because of his mistake in not saving for a rainy day.

Heard of "Innocent until

Heard of "Innocent until proven guilty" ? Now I may be a bit conservative here, but I believe it's a good principle.

Doesn't apply

Forcing someone to take proper precaution with regard to the safety of others isn't punishment. Both forced insurance and forced retirement savings serves this purpose.

I just view this a taking a different set of compatible assumptions. It's like the difference between euclidian and non-euclidian geometry. In one case you assume parallel lines never intersect and it the other you assume they can. Each assumption causes changes in the system that cause multiple other assumptions to change. For instance in non-euclidian geometry the angles at the three corners of a triangle do not add up to 180 degrees.

Then it's just a question of which geometric assumptions reflect reality more closely. in the case of geometry Einsteinian space is non-euclidian, and that's why parallel beams of light can converge when space is "warped" by gravity.

So it's just a matter of which set of ethical assumptions more closely reflect reality. The reality of human nature. My assumptions effect things like good samaritan laws, whether a starving man taking a loaf of bread that doesn't belong to him counts as stealing, and other aspects of ethics. I think a different set of assumptions tends to break down sooner under crisis situations.

Libertarianism tries to use two principles. (loosely) 1) Non-initiation of force and 2) No fraud. I think it needs a third 3) Don't endanger others.

There's a huge difference

There's a huge difference between forcing someone to take precaution against an exogeneous risk (say your stockpile of dynamite might blow up the building next door), which is an interesting but distinct libertarian problem and forcing someone to  take precaution against himself because he might commit a crime. In the later case, you presume that he will be guilty... it is not about "punishement" but forcing someone to save because he could become a robber is presumption of guilt and initiation of force.

"I don't see why an private

"I don't see why an private actor doesn't have the right to force another to take proper precautions against inevitable risk."
You do realize that this is the exact argument made by paternalists favoring legislation against smoking, drinking, fatty foods, etc.?