Between the Lines

Cato, Crane, and Koch

Charles Koch was standing in line, waiting for his greaseburger.  The scene: a little greasy spoon at the foot of San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill, where we low-level Kochtopus employees grabbed a quick hamburger for lunch.  The place was smoky, unappetizing, and cheap.  So what was one of the richest men in country doing there?

He was waiting for his lunch, just like the rest of us.

The year was 1977, and the paint was hardly dry on the walls of the warren of offices that housed the Cato Institute and allied institutions.  The occasion was the first Cato board meeting after the move to San Francisco.  The bookcases were only half-assembled, and the furniture was sparse, and yet the directors were coming to town.  We lowly interns and office employees had been told to keep a very low profile.  “Look busy,” my boss, Libertarian Review editor Roy Childs told me, “even if you aren’t.  Especially if you aren’t.”

I was packing books into envelopes when the high muck-a-mucks visited the Libertarian Review office on their tour of Koch’s domain.  The magazine had launched a direct-mail subscription drive, and we were eagerly opening the business-reply envelopes and bundling the checks for later deposit.  Each new subscriber got a copy of a freshly printed pamphlet by Rose Wilder...

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