Looking at Life through Koch-Colored Glasses: You May Be One of the Richest People in the World…without Knowing It

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger
Last week, Charles Koch—chairman and CEO of Koch Industries based in Wichita, Kansas—launched a new media campaign “to laud economic freedom and warn the public about government overreach.” This media campaign, which will run in Wichita for four weeks, will cost the Charles Koch Foundation approximately $200,000. Charles Koch, whose estimated net worth is reported to be more than $30 billion, said that if his media effort is successful, it may be expanded to other cities.

Here is the video produced by Koch’s foundation that has been airing in Wichita:

Economic Freedom in 60 Seconds

So…a man worth billions has taken it upon himself to inform the public that people in the US making $34,000 a year should consider themselves to be among the top 1% of earners in the world. I would assume that millions of Americans don’t realize how rich they really are. Maybe that’s because the US government has been doing its best to make people feel poorer than they really are.

According to the 2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA provided by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, a family of six earning $31,590 is below the poverty level. C’mon! A family of six earning nearly $32,000 a year is below the poverty level? Who are you going to believe—the government or Charles Koch? After all, Koch is a successful “free market” businessman. HE knows what the United States needs to become the most prosperous country in the world.

In a telephone interview recently, Koch said that he “believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum. He also “emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people.” Koch said, “We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country…” Koch added that government regulations and the minimum wage law “tend to hold everyone back.” He criticized the “culture of dependency” in this country—which, according to Koch, includes government subsidies and cronyism in addition to an “avalanche” of regulations, and the minimum wage.

Back in 2011, Charles Koch wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in which he criticized “crony capitalism.” Koch wrote: “But it [crony capitalism] erodes our overall standard of living and stifles entrepreneurs by rewarding the politically favored rather than those who provide what consumers want.” He added; “Government spending on business only aggravates the problem. Too many businesses have successfully lobbied for special favors and treatment by seeking mandates for their products, subsidies (in the form of cash payments from the government), and regulations or tariffs to keep more efficient competitors at bay.”

Rebecca Leber of ThinkProgress found Koch’s opinion piece amusing. She wrote, “Hilariously, he [Koch] is not writing about himself or his brother David.” She added, “Drawing on just a small portion of their net worth, the Koch brothers bankroll a network of Tea Party groups and Republican political war chests. In return, they receive continued subsidies, government contracts, and pro-polluter policies that benefit their interests.”

Andy Kroll of Mother Jones wrote an article (March 1, 2011) after reading Koch’s Wall Street piece titled Hypocrisy Alert: Charles Koch Blasts “Crony Capitalism.”

In his article, Kroll wrote: the following:

And while Charles Koch criticizes “crony capitalism,” his company is one of the biggest players in the nation when it comes to lobbying and political donations. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Koch Industries has spent more than $40 million lobbying the federal government in the past three years alone. Koch Industries, company executives, and the company’s political action committee have doled out $11 million since 1989 to federal candidates, political parties, and political committees; Charles and David Koch and their wives contributed $2.8 million of that, a mere $1,500 of which went to Democrats, according to the Public Campaign Action Fund (PCAF). Much of that spending has gone toward fighting new regulations of the oil and gas industry, which would hurt Koch Industries’ profits. Not surprisingly, then, lawmakers on the influential House energy and commerce committee have pocketed $630,950 in Koch-connected donations.

Koch’s concerns about the fiscal health of the US, as voiced in his op-ed, are not unfounded. But his criticism of lobbying and “crony capitalism” flies in the face of his own actions and those of companies, critics say. “Koch Industries is the perfect example of absolutely everything Charles claims to hate about our current political system,” David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund, said in a statement. “The hypocrisy is palpable.”

And Lee Fang, writing for ThinkProgress in March of 2011, said the following:

Charles [Koch] has compared himself to a libertarian “Martin Luther,” evangelizing to the world for their supply side cause. However, the tens of millions in campaign donations and the dozens of front groups funded by Koch work in tandem to promoting the business interests of Koch Industries.

Koch funds both socially conservative groups and socially liberal groups. However, Koch’s financing of front groups and political organizations all have one thing in common: every single Koch group attacks workers’ rights, promotes deregulation, and argues for radical supply side economics. Not only do the Koch’s front groups pad Koch Industries’ bottom line, they supply the Koch brother’s talking points. In fact, for his opinion piece today, Charles heavily relied on front groups he finances for statistics. The “freedom index” cited by Charles is a creation of the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, and the erroneous “unfunded liabilities” claim was supplied by the Koch-funded National Center for Policy Analysis.

MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Talks To Mark Ames & Yasha Levine About The Koch Brothers

One has to wonder what goes on in the minds of billionaires like Charles Koch. Does he truly believe that folks earning $34,000 a year are rich? Does he really think that lowering the minimum wage will help the working poor? Does he even give a damn?

SOURCES
Charles Koch Foundation: An Income Of $34,000 Puts You In The Wealthiest 1 Percent (Huffington Post)

Billionaire Koch Brother Says Eliminating The Minimum Wage Will Help The Poor (ThinkProgress)

Five Ways Charles Koch Benefits From Practices He Criticizes In Absurd Wall Street Journal Op-Ed (ThinkProgress)

Charles Koch launching Wichita campaign about economic freedom, government overreach (The Wichita Eagle)

Hypocrisy Alert: Charles Koch Blasts “Crony Capitalism” (Mother Jones)

Billionaire Charles Koch on helping the poor: Eliminate minimum wages (Raw Story)

Charles Koch launching Wichita campaign about economic freedom, government (McClatchy)

7 Ways the Koch Bros. Benefit from Corporate Welfare (Exiled Online)

Charles Koch, America’s largest crony capitalist, takes on crony capitalism (Grist)

REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions By Demanding Bailouts And Taxpayer Subsidies (Part 1) (ThinkProgress)

REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions Corrupting Government And Polluting For Free (Part 2) (ThinkProgress)

Why Koch Industries Is Speaking Out (Wall Street Journal)

159 thoughts on “Looking at Life through Koch-Colored Glasses: You May Be One of the Richest People in the World…without Knowing It”

  1. I always used to study post in news papers but now as I am
    a user of net thus from now I am using net for articles or reviews, thanks to web.

  2. Gene H:

    And your problem is that you dont understand or refuse to understand the underlying philosophical roots of an issue. You are terribly superficial. You lack that spark of curiosity, that desire to truly understand and it is now so painfully obvious that I am embarresed for you. It must be very frustrating for you, I guess that is why you almost always resort to vitriol when you disagree with someone. Not unlike the anger shown by simpletons when they are frustrated.

    The bottom line is that all socialist modalities [fascism/socialism/communism/neo-liberalism/progressivism, etc.] have their genesis in a certain philosophy which provides the intellectual foundation. All 20th centry tyrants have their roots in Marx and Hegel taking it back to that point. It goes back farther but you can do your own research. Maybe you will learn what I already know and have been vainly trying to explain to you for years – namely that ideas matter.

  3. “That said, we can see that fascism, communism, and progressivism are all closely related to one another. The progressive U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was a devoted disciple of the German philosopher Georg Hegel, whose ideas – most notably his view of history as an evolutionary, unfolding process where conflicting forces constantly battle in order to bring about change and progress – also had a profound influence on Karl Marx [in fact Marx was a “young hegelian” in Germany]. Mussolini, for his part, carried with him a medallion of Marx. Progressives commonly saw Mussolini’s project and Lenin’s as linked enterprises. The progressive muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens referred to the “Russian-Italian” method as if the two were flip sides of the same coin. Steffens and his fellow progressives generally saw Mussolini, Lenin, and Stalin as three men pursuing a similar objective: the fundamental transformation of corrupt and outdated societies.”

  4. “It should be noted, at this point, that fascism is closely related not only to progressivism, but also to communism. The chief difference between fascism and communism is that the former is rooted in nationalism and seeks to create a socialist utopia within the confines of a particular country’s borders; thus the Nazis embraced “National Socialism.” Communism, by contrast, seeks to transcend national boundaries and promote a worldwide proletariat revolution, where the foot soldiers are bound together not by a common nationality but by their membership in the same economic class. This was expressed by Karl Marx’s famous exhortation in the Communist Manifesto: “Workers of the world, unite!” Apart from this distinction, communism and fascism are kindred spirits of anti-capitalism. Jonah Goldberg characterizes them as “closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to dominate and control the same social space.” “[I]n terms of their theory and practice,” he says, “ the differences are minimal.””

  5. “To clarify this point, a working definition of fascism is in order. A comprehensive discussion of fascism’s tenets and variations can be located here, but for the purpose of this discussion, fascism can be distilled down to this: It is a totalitarian movement that empowers an omnipotent government to control every nook and cranny of political, economic, social, and private life – generally in the name of “the public good.” Its leadership is commonly spearheaded by a powerful, charismatic, even deified figure who is viewed as uniquely capable – along with his hand-picked advisers – of leading his nation to new-found or restored greatness. Its economics are collectivist, socialist and redistributionist – supremely hostile to free-market capitalism and wealth inequalities. And it tends to promote and exploit the grievances of “the common man,” portraying society as the theater of a ceaseless conflict – a class war – between oppressor and oppressed, victimizer and victim. Consequently, identity politics are central to fascism.”

  6. “H. G. Wells, one of the most influential progressives of the 20th century, said in 1932 that progressives must become “liberal fascists” and “enlightened Nazis.” Regarding totalitarianism, he stated: “I have never been able to escape altogether from its relentless logic.” Calling for a “‘Phoenix Rebirth’ of Liberalism” under the umbrella of “Liberal Fascism,” Wells said: “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti, for enlightened Nazis.”
    The poet Wallace Stevens pronounced himself “pro-Mussolini personally.”
    The eminent historian Charles Beard wrote of Mussolini’s efforts: “Beyond question, an amazing experiment is being made [in Italy], an experiment in reconciling individualism and socialism.”
    Muckraking journalists almost universally admired Mussolini. Lincoln Steffens, for one, said that Italian fascism made Western democracy, by comparison, look like a system run by “petty persons with petty purposes.” Mussolini, Steffens proclaimed reverently, had been “formed” by God “out of the rib of Italy.”
    McClure’s Magazine founder Samuel McClure, an important figure in the muckraking movement, described Italian fascism as “a great step forward and the first new ideal in government since the founding of the American Republic.”
    After having vistited Italy and interviewed Mussolini in 1926, the American humorist Will Rogers, who was informally dubbed “Ambassador-at-Large of the United States” by the National Press Club, said of the fascist dictator: “I’m pretty high on that bird.” “Dictator form of government is the greatest form of government,” Rogers wrote, “that is, if you have the right dictator.”
    Reporter Ida Tarbell was deeply impressed by Mussolini’s attitudes regarding labor, affectionately dubbing him “a despot with a dimple.”
    NAACP co-founder W. E. B. DuBois saw National Socialism as a worthy model for economic organization. The establishment of the Nazi dictatorship in Germany, he wrote, had been “absolutely necessary to get the state in order.” In 1937 DuBois stated: “there is today, in some respects, more democracy in Germany than there has been in years past.”
    FDR adviser Rexford Guy Tugwell said of Italian fascism: “It’s the cleanest, neatest, most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen. It makes me envious.”
    New Republic editor George Soule, who avidly supported FDR, noted approvingly that the Roosevelt administration was “trying out the economics of fascism.”
    Playwright George Bernard Shaw hailed Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini as the world’s great “progressive” leaders because they “did things,” unlike the leaders of those “putrefying corpses” called parliamentary democracies. ”

    I love this:

    “Progressivism was a sister movement of fascism,” writes Goldberg, “and today’s liberalism is the daughter of Progressivism.” The journalist J. T. Flynn – perhaps the best-known anti-FDR muckraker of the 1930s, foresaw that American fascism might one day manifest itself as “a very genteel and dainty and pleasant form of fascism which cannot be called fascism at all because it will be so virtuous and polite.”

  7. “Why would I call a dog a cat?”

    That is a question only you can answer.

    “Why do you say a cat is a dog?”

    I don’t. I say they are both quadrupedal mammals of the phylum chordata but that they are not the same thing. That is what I have been saying all along. Just because socialism and fascism are both forms of government and like all forms of government have statist characteristics does not make them equivalents.

    I don’t have to call you a sociopath, Bron.
    Your ideals speak for themselves.
    I don’t have to declare victory.
    The arguments are clear.
    Socialism and fascism are not the same thing.

    If you are upset that it took minimal effort to corner you, you can be as upset as you like with me, for I don’t care, but really the only person you have to be upset with is yourself for making a conflation in the form of a false equivalence the cornerstone of your statements.

    Learn to argue better. When you do, you’ll learn that made up definitions always form a foundation as weak as sand. Or not.

    It seems to be one of your favorite mistakes.

  8. Gene H:

    In point of fact they are all the same, so I see no need to answer why I say they are. The reason is contained in that statement.

    Why would I call a dog a cat? Why do you say a cat is a dog?

    When are you going to start calling me a sociopath? I am actually amazed you havent yet. It is usually your go to for dismissal. I guess the “more than one hand tied behind my back” statement was meant to accomplish the same thing.

    It isnt up to your usuall standards though, kind of lame. How come you didnt just declare victory like you usually do?

    A for effort but D for effectiveness. Kinda like socialism, it means well [or does it?] but it doesnt deliver.

  9. Seriously, I’m doing this with way more than one hand tied behind my back, Bron.

    You are cornered yet again by your propensity to fabricate definitions.

    Can you not think of any other strategy to try?

    Is that the only way you can sell your mantra of “greed is good”?

  10. You also haven’t answered the question:

    What drives you to say something is something that it is not?

  11. Gene H:

    I answered above: because it is true. Socialism, fascism and communism are all pretty much the same thing. Or I could say a Golden Retriever, Rottweiler and Lab are all dogs with a slight difference. While it is true that a Golden Retriever isnt a Rottweiler or a Lab, it is still a dog.

    What makes you want to say a Rottweiler isnt a dog?

    Does Marcus Aurelius only count with concretes and not abstractions? I guess when he says thing, he means it literally. An actual existent.

    What you need to ask yourself is what is the essence of an idea. The essence of socialism, fascism and communism is state control of the economy but then if you dont have economic freedom, you dont have political freedom.

    So I have answered your question now for at least the 3rd time maybe more.

  12. Bron,

    The economy has tanked primarily because of deregulation in the banking and finance industry combined with misguided policy that acts as corporate welfare for oil and defense contractors and all fed by the practice of corporatism which I again remind you is fascism lite as well as the inevitable outcome LP/Austrian School economic policies.

    I also not only understand perfectly why I think as I do and where my thoughts come from, I understand the basis of your philosophy of choice apparently far better than you do.

    No amount of evasion will get me to drop the question, Bron.

    What drives you to say something is something that it is not?

  13. Gene H:

    considering our standard of living is going down, your way of looking out for people is to make everyone poor. I will say that is very egalitarian of you.

    The fish doesnt know the water is wet, get a clue Gene.

    As far as perceptions go, the only way they could be backward is if my eyes were inside out.

    And as far as my theory informing my facts? That is just precious coming from you. You dont even understand the genesis of your thinking. For god sakes at least trace back where your ideas come from and understand why you think as you do.

  14. “I cant help it if you adhere to a system of economics which is depraved and indifferent to the plight of average people and only cares about the rich.”

    Project much? Coming from a Randian, that’s pretty funny.

    Seeking to raise the average standard of living is by definition not looking out for the rich. Being an egalitarian isn’t looking out for the rich. It’s looking out for everyone.

    Again . . . Duh!

    But seeking an unregulated market sure is.
    Thinking selfishness is a virtue sure is.
    Putting your claim to property rights above all other considerations sure is.

    That your definitions are wrong is only part of what wrong with the way you think, Bron. Your perception is often backward. This is not terribly surprising considering that you think the proper application of the scientific method is to let your theory inform your facts instead of the facts informing your theory. Your Objectivism is not a lens. It’s a mirror.

  15. statism:

    concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry

    Socialism and fascism are highly centralized forms of government. Socialism and fascism are basically the same thing except for the concentration camps. But then Stalin and Mao did have their gulags.

    You get hung up on the term democratic socialism, so what? If I dont have economic freedom it really doesnt matter who I vote for.

    I am sorry you dont understand that. Sidney Webb is a pretty good writer but he was just a spoiled little rich boy with too much time on his hands. You should read his works sometime so you can understand where your thoughts come from.

    I cant help it if you adhere to a system of economics which is depraved and indifferent to the plight of average people and only cares about the rich. In fact socialism is pushed by many rich people all over the world. Pushed down the throats of men and women who are just trying to make a living, pushed for the sake of power by the rich over the people.

    It is really a sick system and from what I can tell in reading about the lives of early to mid 20th century socialists, it is a political system chaulk full of sociopaths and psychopaths. The leadership, not the rank and file.

    Just for starters Ole GB Shaw thought people should be gassed if they didnt contribute enough.

  16. Bron,

    No, Bron, statism – list socialism and fascism – is exactly as I described: the relative degree of government control over social and economic policy within a given form of government. You don’t get to make up your own definition of that poli sci term either.

    Why do I point out the obvious? Because you are perpetually misrepresenting the obvious. The relevant question is why do you misrepresent the obvious?

    “Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself?”

    “I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.” – Marcus Aurelius

    “When a man lies he murders some part of the world. These are the pale deaths men miscall their lives.” – Paul Gerhardt

    It’s a simple question, Bron.

    What drives you to say something is something that it is not?

    What causes you to violate that Law of Identity you claim to hold so dear?

  17. Gene H:

    what drives me is that it is the truth. And it is so obvious, one wonders why you protest so much?

    Why are stating the obvious? There are varying degrees of everything. But that doesnt take away from the fact that statism is about the supremecy of the state above the individual.

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