Cato Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

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The Cato Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary May 2002, marking a quarter century of promoting individual liberty, limited government and free markets. We held a number of events to honor this occasion.

On Thursday evening, May 9, the Institute held a gala banquet in Washington as part of a three-day celebration marking Cato’s quarter century defense of liberty. At the dinner, the Institute presented the first Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty posthumously, to distinguished British economist Peter Bauer, a professor emeritus at the London School of Economics who authored ground-breaking work on development economics. Dinner speakers included P. J. O’Rourke, author and Cato Institute H. L. Mencken Research Fellow, and John Stossel of ABC News “20/20.”

To mark the anniversary, several special publications were released. Cato executive vice president David Boaz edited Toward Liberty: The Idea That Is Changing the World, a collection of Cato’s essays over the past 25 years. Cato Clippings reprints some of the Cato staff’s best op-eds. Cato also published a special 25-year Annual Report with highlights of its work.

For an overview of Cato’s first twenty-five years, visit the About Us page. The Institute was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane and Charles G. Koch in San Francisco. As the New York Times pointed out during Cato’s 10th anniversary in 1987, “Cato has managed to generate more activity and interest across a wider political spectrum than some of its more sedate competitors with much larger budgets.” Last year, FAIR reported that in a review of the top 25 think tanks that the Cato Institute had the second most major media mentions.

While many avoided Social Security as the “Third Rail,” the Cato Institute, in its inaugural edition of Cato Policy Report in 1979 argued that privatization of the system should be considered. The following year Cato published Peter Ferrara’s 500-page Social Security: The Inherent Contradiction, which makes the case for privatization of Social Security. In 1995, on the 60th anniversary of the creation of the government-run Social Security program, the Cato Institute established the Project on Social Security Choice.

The Cato Institute has hosted conferences around the world, including a 1988 conference in Shanghai that was the first free-market conference held in mainland China since its communist takeover. In 1990 Cato hosted a week-long conference in Moscow titled “Transition to Freedom: The New Soviet Challenge.”

The Institute has continued its work in all these areas. In 2001, the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security drew heavily on the work and personnel of the Cato Institute. Also in 2001, Cato held its fourth conference in China. Cato’s 19th Annual Monetary Conference was held in Mexico City. And at the beginning of 2002 Cato launched the Center for Educational Freedom.