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The Secret Life of Howie Rich and Ed Crane

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Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
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Howie Rich is now famous; the very, very long time lynch pin of the Crane Machine was featured last Friday on the PBS news program NOW. He was not happy about the publicity.

Those ancient libertarian folks among us who remember the very old days know that it was Howie Rich who, with Edward H. Crane, III, took the LP from a movement that spontaneously organized itself across the country to a top down organization that limited information flow to a "need to know" basis. Local activism was sharply discouraged. This was so pronounced that after the Clark Campaign most local activists swore they would never support any national candidate proposed by Crane and Company again despite the seductive clink of Koch dollars.

There was a goofy software developer who wrote the following ditty on Cato Institute, which was the base of wealth around which the Crane Machine operated.

The Cato Song
(by what's his name)

Ed Crane is Cato's president. He keeps his standards high
He says he runs a trim, taut ship, yes, just like Captain Blight (pun)
The similarity is really nothing but a joke -
For they'll be no mutiny on the bounty of billionaire Charles Koch

(Ever changing chorus)
C - A - T - O, C - A - T - O
Aren't you glad their helping freedom grow?
They divide the labor equally, they lead and we follow for liberty!
The finest freedom fighters that we know.

(There are two ways of understanding the last verse)

Murray Rothbard plans the long range Cato strategy
And here is Murray's sage advice for friends of liberty
We must be more professional, we must be better lead
We need centrally planned anarchy if we're to forge ahead.

C - A - T - O, C - A - T - O
Aren't you glad they're helping freedom grow?
Our most prolific scholars worth their weight in fiat dollars
The finest freedom fighters that we know.

Bill Evers edits Inquiry, the Cato magazine
His footnotes all have footnotes to tell you want they mean
His annotated bibliographies have footnotes, too
Read Inquiry or stay ignorant, the choice is up to you!

C - A - T - O, C - A - T - O
Aren't you glad they're helping freedom grow?
They're short and tall and furry, their Bill and Ed and Murray
The finest freedom fighters that we know.

C - A - T - O, C - A - T - O
Aren't you sad they're letting freedom go?
They've lost their love of liberty,
They never knew how to be free
Our former freedom friends, C - A - T - O

That was written and performed around 1980 and reflected what most of us knew about Crane and Company; so while Ed and Howie and friends are older and saggier and Murray was given the bum's rush from Cato for having other ideas on economics in 1981, and Williamson Evers is now happily ensconced at Hoover Institute and attended the Bohemian Grove even with John Fund this year, many things have remained the same.

Libertarians should think hard about this. The expose has just begun, rumor has it. Many Americans are angry with what they view as deceitful behavior and are identifying Howie and his friends as Libertarians. There are political ramifications and even more profound issues to consider here.

You will hear the issue posed by the media as one of legality. Most libertarians will reject that argument. If the State is illegitimate then it has no right to make laws that limit the actions of individuals, especially if their actions are arguably self defense and intended to bring the State to its knees. But is this true? And will their actions result in more or less freedom for those impacted?

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Melinda Pillsbury-Foster is the author of GREED: The NeoConning of America and A Tour of Old Yosemite. The former is a novel about the lives of the NeoCons with a strong autobiographical component. The latter is a non-fiction book about her father (more...)
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