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?

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. You also apparently don’t know what statism is either.

    It is it’s own “-ism” too but unlike other “-isms” it does not stand alone as an ideology. It describes a function common to all forms of governance. Namely “statism” refers to government control over social and economic policy and the degree which that power is exercised. At the low end of that spectrum, there are minarchists who think that government should be a bare bones minimum, at the high end of the spectrum you have totalitarianism as the scale covering degree of control. Within the idea of statism, there are varieties of approaches. A mixed economy, such as that of a democratic socialist state of a Sweden or a Norway, is certainly a form of statism. So is state capitalism as practiced by the Chinese, fascism/corporatism as increasingly practiced by the U.S., the state socialism practiced by the U.K., and the command economy of the former U.S.S.R. and on and on and on with every single government that has social and economic policies which the last time I checked was all of them.

    Statism is present in all forms of government as all forms are states. Government’s prime function is as a social and economic control system. Duh.

    Saying “the 3 main types of statism are socialism. communism and fascism” is about as informed (and informative) as saying “the 3 main types of ice cream are cold, sweet, and milky”.

    How about you answer the question, Bron, instead of trying to dodge again.

    What drives you to say something is something that it is not? Dishonesty? Or stupidity?

  2. Gene H:

    the 3 main types of statism are socialism. communism and fascism. All take control away from individuals and places that control in the hands of the state or in a small cadre of individuals.

    Maybe socialism is the lesser of the 3 evils because it can be “democratic” but taking over 30% of an individuals income is taking a portion of their life. The ideals of this country were not based on socialism. It is evil pure and simple, it has no redeeming qualities and causes misery unless it is supported by oil money.

    And while we are on that subject, the socialist countries which do somewhat better than the pure socialist countries do so because they have some semblence of a market economy. Which is why you say what you say, you are smart enough to understand that socialism cannot stand on it’s own 2 feet.

    Socialism is evil, are all the people duped by socialism evil? No but the ones who have power to push it are. Socialism is tyranny over the mind of man pure and simple. Jefferson knew it, Madison knew it, do you?

  3. Bron,

    GM is a publicly traded company. The U.S. Governement bailed them out for 32% of their stock which will have to peak at $95.51/share for the government to break even. Which it probably won’t do. This means GM will have been “saved” at a net loss which is borne by taxpayers. Was the bailout wrong? Yes it was. So was every other bailout of companies deemed “too big to fail”. But that’s fascism, not socialism. Socialism is about serving the public trust, not corporate welfare. Business is a risk and sometimes failure happens. There is no such thing as “too big to fail”. There is such a thing as “too necessary to fail” and under a socialist schema such a company (but not GM, a company that was truly necessary like an energy company or a pharmaceutical company) would have been nationalized in response to gross mismanagement and their management replaced. Not given a bunch of money, bonuses for the clowns who drove the business into the ditch in the first place, and a promise to gladly repay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

    As for the 19th Century? The business climate of today is much like it was in the 19th Century, particularly in the banking and finance industry. And that worked out so well when the house of cards collapsed in 1929. Regulation was put in place to make sure that didn’t happen again. But since the Reagan Era, that regulation has been steadily dismantled, leading us right back to where we were before when just a few financial institutions could cripple the economy out of short sighted greed. The late 19th and early 20th Century isn’t known as the Age of the Robber Barons for nothing.

    If you want to join the Communist Party? Be my guest. It’s based on just as bad an idea as your Austrian School/Aynish nonsense.

    You seem to have a distinct affinity for bad ideas.

    Such a move would be just par for the course but with your Aynish “ideals” such a move might make you spontaneously combust.

    Oh, and by the way, socialism isn’t Communism either. It’s not Nazism. It’s not fascism. It’s its own -ism, both politically and economically. It will remain so no matter how often you repeat your lie. Which again raises the question: is your purposeful attempts to conflate socialism into something it isn’t a deliberate lie? Or just ignorance and stupidity?

    Here’s a hint: I don’t think you’re stupid.

    Even you can do the rest of that math yourself.

  4. this is my favorite rendition of the Communist Anthem. Paul Robeson I think.

  5. Gene H:

    Come on, he bought the dam company.

    If there has been 30 years of deregulation, then why are there more regulations than there were 30 years ago? Is that newspeak?

    We havent ever had laissez faire in this country, came close in the early to mid 19th century though.

    With the elevation of the socialist Shelah Jackson Lee to the head of DHS, I am joining the communist party.

  6. “Public ownership of GM”

    GM has not been nationalized.


    He doesn’t want single payer universal health care insurance. He got exactly what he and his corporate masters wanted: corporate welfare for health care insurance companies. The ACA is a prime example of his fascism in action.

    “continuing bail out”,

    As is that.

    “deficit spending”

    Has nothing to do with the form of his function.

    He’s not a socialist. He’s not even in the same ballpark as socialism. You seem to mistake my preferences as an investment when my point is that the reality of the situation is 1) your definitions are crap and 2) what we have in this country is a decline into fascism as a matter of definition.

    Keep danglin’, Bron.

    I’m not the one with an emotional investment in justifying my preferences or even my phiosophy. You are, Mr. Objectivist. Because it has been 30 years of deregulation and rah rah over how great laissez-faire economics are and how anything is justifiable so long as there is a profit in it that has led America to the sorry ass state it is in today.

  7. Gene H:

    Public ownership of GM, Obamacare [but go ahead and spin that, single payer is what he wants], continuing bail out, deficit spending, etc.

    I can see why you, as a socialist, would want to distance yourself from his policies. But just keep believing he isnt, at this point I think it is probably more about keeping socialism “untarnished” by saying fascism is responsible.

    Keep spinning, Gene.

  8. I’m having no problem of disposing of your contentions on this terrain, Bron. I am an expert in law, legal theory and political science and I have a more than passing knowledge of economics. “his whole fuking economic policy” is not a specific example of him being socialist, but if you want to go down that road, I can prove he’s a fascist that way too. It would just take longer.

    Also, Medicare is an example of socialism and Obama is not responsible for creating that program, only of trying to ruin it.

    Revision for the sake of brevity: I do invite you to give a specific example of Obama being a socialist.

  9. Gene H:

    his whole fuking economic policy. I guess medicare is fascism too? WTF are you smoking.

    I read Sun Tzu once. Seemed pretty interesting.

    Didnt he also say something like “fight on ground you know”?

    I’d take his advise if I were you.

  10. That is some fine reasoning there, Bron. And by “fine” I mean “specious”. Just because socialism, fascism and Communism are all forms of both government and economic models does not make them equivalents. A motorcycle and a tank are both motorized transports, but you’d be hard pressed to invade Poland on a BMW although a Panzer will do the job quite nicely.

    I’m not the one spinning here, Bron.

    And your spinning is more like dangling at the end of a rope your wrong definitions have provided.

  11. Ok, Gene.

    A garter snake isnt the same as an anaconda either. But they are.

    Essense is what is important.

    Those 2 snakes are as different as night and day, one is 24″ long, the other can grow to 20′ plus. A garter snake eats worms and frogs, a full grown anaconda eats just about anything it wants, one lives in the jungles, one lives in colder weather. But they are still snakes.

    I understand the differences but to say socialism/fascism/communism dont have the same essence is to deny a garter snake the same category as the anaconda.

    All three deny people freedom. It is just a matter of degree.

    You can spin it anyway you want but it doesnt make it so.

  12. However, I do invite you to give an example of Obama being a socialist. WARNING: This is a trick question as I know what example you are likely to provide and have defeat for your assertion before you even answer. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu

  13. Bron,

    Except, again, socialism and fascism are not the same thing. They are antithetical concepts. He cannot be both. Either he is a socialist – for which there is no evidence by his actions – or he is a fascist – of which there is plenty of evidence by his actions. Your ignorant conflation notwithstanding.

  14. Bron,

    Not even Marx thought socialism was Communism. To him is was an intermediate form to his extremist vision of a command economy (which is not the same thing as a planned economy). Socialism is its own thing. It is not fascism. It is not Communism. You’d know that if you were paying attention to something other than Rand and von Mises. It’s not enough to just be awake. You must be aware and ask of each and every thing what is it in itself. Consciousness is a prerequisite to understanding, but they too are not the same thing.

  15. Gene H:

    my point exactly, he is a fascist/socialist. You cant spin that one, although you will try.

  16. rafflaw:

    Socialism isnt communism? How do you say that? I knew it would end up coming to that.

    Socialism is this wonderful system of government/economics which makes everything just all peachy keen. You guys need to wake up.

  17. Bron,

    The ever expanding unitary Executive, which Obama has both embraced and expounded upon, is re-creating the Office of the President in the function of a dictator. Serial dictatorship from the same pool of corrupt corporatists is still dictatorship and the stage is well set for some clown to proclaim him/herself “President for Life” after some “act of terrorism” provides a flimsy cover for suspending elections in the “name of national security”.

    And I not only read those definitions, Bron, unlike you I actually understood them. I say I laughed at your response, but your ignorant conflation isn’t funny considering your Objectivist views only feed corporatism/fascism in the long run.

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