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?
Charles Koch Foundation: An Income Of $34,000 Puts You In The Wealthiest 1 Percent (Huffington Post)
Hypocrisy Alert: Charles Koch Blasts “Crony Capitalism” (Mother Jones)
7 Ways the Koch Bros. Benefit from Corporate Welfare (Exiled Online)
Why Koch Industries Is Speaking Out (Wall Street Journal)