Koch brothers: The billionaires’ lament
The reclusive brothers behind Koch Industries, who use their fortune to promote free-market conservatism and various other causes, say their message is being distorted.
“Suddenly,” said Matthew Continetti in The Weekly Standard, Charles and David Koch are “the most demonized men in American politics.” The reclusive brothers behind the global energy and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries have, for decades, used their substantial fortunes—now estimated at $21.5 billion each—to promote free-market conservatism, along with cancer research, ballet, museums, and various other causes. But the Left has decided to use the Kochs as “convenient scapegoats” to delegitimize the conservative revival in this country, portraying them as sinister puppet masters buying elections, bribing Congress to do their bidding, and funding conservative activism—aka the “right-wing hate machine.” The simple truth, of course, is that the Kochs are hard-working businessmen with a sincere libertarian faith in the wisdom of free-market capitalism, who are doing their best to defend against what David Koch calls the “anti-business, anti-free-enterprise” agenda of Barack Obama. “It’s unbelievable how they distort what your message is,” David Koch told me.
The Kochs should stop whining, said Ezra Klein in WashingtonPost.com. They got into politics willingly, and it’s a good thing when “rich guys who want to buy up the political system face some risk of public backlash.” But some perspective is in order. The Kochs are just two of the “rich ideologues, trade organizations,” corporations, industries, and voter groups trying to “set the agenda of the Republican Party.” I’d argue that the Chamber of Commerce has more influence, and that the Kochs no more control the GOP—or the nation—than liberal billionaire George Soros controls the Democratic Party.
In fact, our entire political system is now in the hands of those possessing “vast financial resources,” said Glenn Greenwald in Salon.com. The Kochs serve as convenient “bogeymen” on whom Democratic partisans can blame their losses, just as Republicans blame Soros for stealing elections with his money. What amuses me, though, is that the Kochs seem to truly believe that President Obama is a “radical” who has “internalized Marxist models.” Really? Since Obama took office, and put a slew of Wall Street bankers and corporate executives into key positions, U.S. corporations have racked up all-time profits, the Dow Jones index has climbed more than 50 percent, the wealthiest Americans have had their tax cut extended, income inequality has risen, and millions of Americans have lost their homes. The rich got richer, the poor poorer. And the Kochs see millionaires and billionaires like themselves “as the True Victims”? Now, that’s rich.