Cato Institute


The Cato Institute does NOT necessarily embrace conservative positions. In fact, their stated position is that they DON’T want to be considered as part of the conservative cause because the word “conservative” can mean a hostility to change, and also can mean a person wants to maintain the present state of affairs.

It may be stating the obvious that The Cato Institute does NOT necessarily embrace conservative positions, but some present it as a conservative think tank. It’s not. And most Libertarians are NOT conservatives.

I don’t think I’ve been that sensitive to labels since my juvenile days in high school. Apparently the Cato guys have given in to PC.

Cato maintains some odd positions.

One of their more bizarre views is an opposition to child labor prohibitions. This attitude seems to stem from their obsession with “economic development”:

To be fair, economic issues are very often drivers of societal movements. But bending economic development so much that it justifies child labor? That’s over the top.

The argument then is for a country to become wealthy to prevent child labor.

So the 11 year old gal in Bangladesh is going to have to wait 'till economic development produces a prosperous Bangladesh. Can you say, “When pigs fly”?

Bill to punish lawless officials in sanctuary cities with fines and jail time

My mother worked on a farm from the age of 8. She was driving trucks with a double-clutch on the farm at age 12.

Oh yes, there could be no reasonable objections to child labor prohibition… right…

To be fair, economic issues are very often drivers of societal movements. But bending economic development so much that it justifies child labor? That’s over the top.

The argument then is for a country to become wealthy to prevent child labor.

Which is precisely how it works in every nation that is still Industrializing. Children get to work, the country moves out of poverty faster.

You judge a developing country for this, but the fact is, immigrants came here in the middle of the 19th century to set up their entire families to work in factories together.

Once we finished industrializing, only then could we afford to put more prohibitions of where & when children could work.

Bangladesh hasn’t reached that point. I’m sure when they do, they’ll introduce those laws. Until then, demanding they stop would just be starving people.

Can you say, have you seen the African Lions? How about the Pacific Pumas?

Countries no one thought would ever get their act together, are suddenly exploding in development. Because China is no longer an affordable place for labor, so companies are investing elsewhere.

And the great economic churn continues, uplifting the people in poor places, a few nations at a time.


You gotta’ get Eisenhower in here somewhere, or it won’t be an authentic AS post.


Talk all you want, it doesn’t change that Industrialization is the frame here.

Interfere, people starve. That’s a far bigger concern for those kids and their families.


I don’t care much for CATO, never have. Seems to me that all too often they aren’t grounded in reality.


Well, CATO is a think tank and by it’s very nature a progressive organization. Advising changes for society regardless of the culture. As a matter of fact to the progressive, national culture means nothing in their pursuit of global dominance because they think they know better, what is needed for society.
Now frankly putting children to work in many cases teaches responsibility, which American children have lost sight of. But sadly in many foreign lands little children are more the slave than the worker, paid so poorly that it DOES NOT advance the financial welfare of the family, only the factory owner who employs these children.
I worked on farms as a child of 7. We, kids, had a cow to milk, chickens to feed, eggs to collect, gardens to weed, and at times helped with gathering the hay. Back in the fourties we did not have balers on these farms, The man on the tractor would wind-row the hay, and the bigger fellows would follow behind the wagon, forking it up on the wagon and we little ones would fork it into a pile. (usually there was an adult up there with us); Taught me the value of hard work.


No, Cato isn’t conservative. Libertarians are not conservative.

While I was growing up, I got to hear lots of stories about how hard my parents worked on the farms while they grew up. The United States had child labor laws in those days, but they still had to get up, work the farm, go to school and then work the farm. I’ve known many with stories of working hard as children to help pay the family’s bills. Someone has to, and circumstances often won’t spare the children. This isn’t so evil a concept as you might feel it is.

Maybe an 11-year-old girl working 8 hours a day for 53 cents is a travesty. Then again, her parents are probably working for 61 cents a day. Plenty of folks want to prevent both from working because “sweat shops” are terrible places, and no one should have to work for 61 cents a day or 67 cents an hour or any other positively weirdly low wage.

So when the incredibly poor want to work in order to survive and they do it for so much less than an American can imagine, what do you think we ought to do? Take away the opportunities? Demand American standards? Or just eliminate their means of survival?

Paul Krugman summarizes what happened more bluntly: “The direct result was that Bangladeshi textile factories stopped employing children. But did the children go back to school? Did they return to happy homes? Not according to Oxfam, which found that the displaced child workers ended up in even worse jobs, or on the streets—and that a significant number were forced into prostitution.

Is this just? If you want that for Bangladeshi children, what do you propose instead of allowing them to work?

Why you dismiss this next comment is confusing to me.

The main reason children do not work in wealthy countries is precisely because they are wealthy. The relationship between child labor and income is striking.

The solution is free trade. That’s built on trade not on regulation and limiting opportunities for people to trade. When a country is wealthy, the kids don’t work. Our teen employment levels are in the basement these days. Kids are graduating from high school never having worked a day in their lives beyond school. This is a luxury (or a curse depending on whom you ask) that is a direct result of regulations and culture that are sustainable because the United States is wealthy. Economic development is key to solving third-world problems.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that you find Cato’s positions odd. They are odd in context of a nation fixated on slowly eroding the freedoms of its citizens. Calling Cato PC is rather odd too. Cato is clearly politically incorrect based on the values of Democrats, liberals, conservatives or Republicans.


Why in the world would they do it if it did not advance the financial welfare of the family? If going to work or not going to work made no difference at all, I wouldn’t do it. You wouldn’t. They wouldn’t either. They only way they would go to work is if they were forced to. That’s the slavery thing you mentioned. It happens too, but Cato isn’t defending that.


If the children are virtually slaves, I don’t see the point you’re making, Nutjob; a child being required to work 8 hours every day is getting no education, and it takes education of one sort or another to advance economically. Otherwise, they have no opportunity to do anything but live hand-to-mouth all their lives.


It’s better, safer, and more advantageous than the work they get working in the fields.

Or it’s better than they get if they have no other alternative.

You cannot compare in a vacuum, you have to analyze the situation in contrast to what their other choices are.


Progressive how? They’re not for Government intervention in anything, they don’t like welfare, they don’t like central planners, they don’t like anti-discrimination laws.

They’re pro-free speech, pro-free assembly and press, and pro-gun ownership,

You, njc17, are closer to being a Progressive than they are, simply by supporting protectionism, and intervention overseas.


In the example, they’re getting paid. What education are they receiving if they aren’t working? Do we in America who object intend to offer them education at our expense? I know how folks here feel about welfare and about foreign aid – rightly so. And education really requires a minimum level of prosperity too. This really isn’t a solution is it? It’s obvious they don’t have many resources, so just what do we expect of these nations and peoples? Shall they forego this meager opportunity in favor of less?


There is no comparison between working for family and working for someone with no interest in their employees beyond the task they need done, comparing the two is either intellectually dishonest or born of profound ignorance.

And there is no such thing as a “double clutch”


I just realized that I never addressed the topic of CATO, I find them to be consistently a perfect example of why government gets everything wrong; both government and think tanks like CATO arrogantly believe that they can render useful conclusions about issues that they know nothing about and have no experience in doing.

Everything they “know” is hearsay, everything they decide to “research” regarding a subject is assumed to be relevant and exhaustive enough to render a conclusion; they NEVER consider that maybe their 100 percent ignorance of the topic might mean they are not qualified to even know what to look at.

So they make arguments that equate child labor in foreign owned factories to children who labor in their families enterprise or for their neighbors.

Like government, they begin with false premises and then build mountains of arguments on top of them, both government and think tanks like CATO probably “mean well” for the most part but they are quite simply not educated sufficiently to render valid or helpful opinions on the specific topics that they address.

And both government and think tanks like CATO gain adherents who will argue their conclusions with great fervor in spite of also knowing NOTHING about the topic either.

So one entity that knows NOTHING first hand renders an opinion, then another who also knows NOTHING first hand argues their position for them; and the people who actually know first hand about the subject are dismissed entirely.

Knowledge means nothing to such ignoramus’s, only “links” to other information compiled by other ignorant people are worthy of consideration.

Stupid is supposed to hurt, trusting government or CATO to draw a legitimate conclusion at the expense and disregard of opinions based on actual knowledge of the topic is stupid; in fact being dogmatic on anything based on hearsay is stupid.


So should we ban businesses from employing children? If so, what do you think happens in Bangladesh if it continues? What do you think happens if it does not continue? Under which condition and how does the Bangladeshi quality of life improve?

Cato is arguing that this economic activity will eventually lead to prosperity and eliminate the need for children who work for their families (as beneficiary rather than employer). Other than an American revulsion to the concept, how is it inferior to banning child labor in that environment?


There is no “we”, children are the responsibility of their parents and their parents are the only agents who have a say on whether or not they work and what type of work that will be.

I was fortunate enough to have been raised in a family that did not cast off their responsibilities to the government, they did what was right regardless of whether it was “legal”.

In other words, “who gives a damn what the government thinks?”


With regard to a lot of things, I DON’T CARE what “the government” thinks. So much of what comes out of D.C. SEEMS to have been generated in the bowels of some moron sitting in the employee bathroom.


Uh, debunked:

Unsynchronized manual transmissions; that’s what it’s for.

To the other point, Sweet Shops are why China gets to have a middle class. Whatever you want to say about them, whatever may even be legitimately wrong about them, they made life better for the vast majority of the people living there.

It’s thanks to sweat shops, that more then half of humanity will be in the middle class by 2020. For the first time in history.

They are a necessary pre-condition for industrialization, there’s no way to avoid it. We certainly didn’t; all you can do, is provide a road map, so that they can transition out of them sooner.



Hey RET, between this guy, and yourself, who would you say knows more about the Littoral combat Ship, it’s flaws, and whether it should be “done away with”?

Or how about this man, John A Allison. Between him and yourself, who would say better understands the 2008 financial crisis? Fair warning, he’s former exec from BB&T.

Or how about this man, Christopher Preble, their Vice President for defense and foreign policy studies. Another retired naval officer. Here’s a whole list foreign policy articles he’s written, can you give me even one topic there that you know better than he does?

It seems to me RET, that you say CATO knows nothing, because you never bothered to peak in to see who their fellows were.

CATO specializes their policy analysis, and hires on people with specialized knowledge. people, from industry, and from the military.

And even some people who lived under Communism, like this bloke:

Andrey Illarionov

A former Putin Advisor no less; think he knows what socialism looks like RET?

How about this guy, a SWEDE, who tells America NOT to copy them? Sanders, eat your heart out.

Oh hey, this one is Mike Pence’s chief economist. And this one was on Reagan’s economic council, and authored the President’s program for privatizing Government services and assets.


There is no such thing as a double clutch, where exactly would you install the second clutch?

The act of “double clutching” is a driving technique that was used by drivers who could not master shifting a non syncro transmission without using the clutch; pushing the clutch down twice simulated the timing which the driver could not master.

You said “driving a double clutch” which does not exist, had you said “double clutching” that would have been rather un-complimentary but at least it would have made sense.

But thank you for proving my other point, that you are absolutely certain that your dogmatic opinion about this subject which you know NOTHING about beyond hearsay is correct and my 4 decades of heavy equipment operation and ownership is inferior to your Google education.

That is why governments and think tanks like CATO are almost always rendering stupid conclusions.