This past week, Charles Koch, one half of the infamous Koch brothers, penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. Unsurprisingly, Koch believes (or at least wants us to believe) that his selfish, capitalist ways represent the true American spirit and that he should be championed as a protector of liberties.
Go ahead and read his essay, and then when you’re done pounding your head against the wall, let’s take a look at some of the quotes that make the rest of us so angry:
1. Koch resents being labeled “un-American,” saying that his personal principles are the most American of all. “I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives.”
You see, the reason that Koch is so successful is because he understands what it means to be an American better than the rest of us. More accurately, he has exploited the American system’s weakness to hoard billions of dollar. The idea that being an American means taking everything that one possibly can without regard for how others fare is bleak, and a sentiment that I bet most Americans would reject.
2. Koch claims that he only started meddling in politics to uphold America’s cherished principles. “It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to engage in the political process.”
PolitiFact points out, this claim is decidedly false. In the 1990s, Koch and his PAC gave millions of dollars to influence the political system. Koch seems to make some harebrained distinction where the act of lobbying should be considered an “educational effort” even though what it really entails is throwing money at politicians to attain a specific outcome.
3. Koch just wants you to be free. “The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you.”
Okay, except that Charles Koch should be the #1 example of a person in power trying to run your life for you. At this point, government officials are not in control of our lives so much as the 1 percent that bankroll and influence these politicians are actually calling most of the shots.
Koch hides behind the idea that he’s a private citizen just like the rest of us. Theoretically, you are free to do the same as Koch, which is what supposedly makes it fair. Practically speaking, however, you’ll never have the resources to pull off what the Koch brothers do. That kind of wealth and power isn’t even attainable given the union-busting measures he’s put forth, the wage increases he’s suppressed and the equal tax rates for the wealthy that he’s eliminated.
4. “Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.)”
Oh, boo hoo. People are being mean to Mr. Koch. Add him to the list of rich jerks who want all your money AND your respect, too.
I would agree that Koch should know all about character assassination because he’s usually on the side of discrediting and intimidating opponents. His money goes directly toward commercials that serve as smear campaigns against people who stand in his way. These days, you’re more likely to see a political commercial that distorts the facts and compares a candidate to a rat than takes an honest look at the issues.
5. The Koch industry does not deserve to be labeled anti-environment, after all they’ve earned a lot of environmental awards, “many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Even if this claim were entirely valid (it’s really barely true), all it does is prove how ineffective the EPA is when it comes to caring for the environment and how the government is in cahoots with individuals who give it money.
Ask any independent environmental group and it’ll tell you how destructive the Koch brothers are. They fund climate change denial and block attempts to bring clean energy into communities.
6. Americans are stupid for impeding on capitalism “instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves.”
At least Koch is consistent in this respect. He has certainly made it his life’s work to focus on helping himself, and he will continue to help himself moving forward.
Unfortunately, the problems that Americans face are too large for all of us to go it on our own. Looking out for ourselves and no one else will only exacerbate the problems, though a fortunate few like Koch might profit off others’ misfortunes.
The reason that Koch poo-poos on “collectivism” is because he’s managed to succeed without it – not because it can’t work for the rest of us.