The question got a lot of responses, and each of the two institutions had its defenders. I thought about it, but I realized that I don’t really love either of them enough to drop them a billion dollars.
I think Cato’s job is to influence those who make decisions, but that corporate money completely drowns them out. Sometimes they have free lectures on a topic that interests me, and I’ve gone to those. I’m glad they’re there, but I don’t think they’re anywhere near as important as they like to think.
And the Mises Institute may be really strident on issues that few others address directly, like sound money and copyright. I appreciate that. But I’ve been led to believe that their chairman is the real author of the loathsome stuff from Ron Paul’s old newsletters, and I just can’t imagine handing that guy a sum that amounts to the annual GDP of the Seychelles. Besides, like Cato, they may say the right things, but ultimately, what good does that do if the only people who hear them are those who already agree?
So I said that I would use it to set up a fund to support entrepreneurs, or failing that, I’d give it to FLOW. My argument was that entrepreneurs do a lot more good for people than any libertarian talking shop, and that it’s pretty tough to become an entrepreneur without finding out good and hard what a hindrance government really is.
Unfortunately for FLOW, I don’t actually have an extra billion dollars lying around. But it’s fun to think about what sort of change one might be able to promote with that level of effort. So… who’d get your billion dollars for change?