Why Does David Koch Care?

David Koch - Caricature

David Koch – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

In the fight over Obamacare and so-called “big government” generally, a simple question about why the fight is going on in the first place doesn’t seem to get much attention.  Sure, people are told that they are losing their freedom and that we cannot afford it, both of which I would argue are pitifully misleading arguments and dangerously short-sighted.

Of course it takes a lot of money to fund government.  What is unpatriotic about that?  Do you see where the shift is here?   To couch everything in a rhetoric or quasi-patriotic ideals of freedom and individual rights preempts the debate in the first place and takes it away from the needs and  benefits of the programs.

But focus on the money.  One of the world’s richest men — David Koch (who got his start by inheritance, not his own effort) — founded Americans For Prosperity, a libertarian organization that has spent millions trying to defeat Obamacare and now supports candidates ideologically opposed to government generally.  Doesn’t one ask, why does Koch care?

Seriously.  The guy has billions of dollars and is making billions more.  How in any way is something like the Affordable Care Act going to have an impact on David Koch’s life?

One might argue that he’s concerned about the cost of doing business, but…well, how?  A dwindling middle class seems like a bigger threat to prosperity than a more balanced tax policy.  But David Koch need not worry.  People will still buy fuel and Brawny paper towels and probably more of both if they live in a more prosperous society.

The irony of all this spending is largely missed in public discourse.  People supporting lower taxes argued that the benefits of greater wealth among “job creators” would “trickle down” and benefit all.  We were supposed to see a rising economic tide that would lift all ships.  The clichés used to sell this scam are familiar, right?  Over 30 years later, is the country better off or worse?

What has happened instead is an unprecedented increase in spending on political campaigns and organizations that are doing anything but support a stronger social order.  Quite the opposite.  What has emerged instead is a highly funded class war that wields propaganda as a weapon.  Certainly there is benevolent wealth in America, but it is overshadowed by a brutally open form of greed and disservice that stands behind a rhetoric of double-speak where lost opportunity is called freedom.

These many millions of dollars that robber barons like Koch spend on behalf of their political interests betrays their guilt.  These guys are not fighting to make America better for Americans, they are fighting to make America better for themselves.  Obamacare is merely a wedge issue, one they can use to pry apart American unity.  It is a tool in a divide-and-conquer approach to achieving political gains.  And it is working.

That’s why the David Koch’s in this country care about Obamacare.

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2 thoughts on “Why Does David Koch Care?

  1. Ian

    This is my first time coming across your blog, but I thought I’d chime in and offer my take.

    The Kochs stand to benefit heavily from all of this, but I think calling them greedy doesn’t tell the whole story. I would argue they actually drink their own kool-aid and believe they are doing the country a favor.

    Charles and David’s father did a lot of business with communists. He saw the problems first hand and raised his boys to be laissez-faire. They are well versed in the writings of Hayek and Von Mises, and fund many universities willing to teach this at the expense of mainstream economics. This leads me to believe they care about more than just business.

    I forget where I saw this (something about rigged monoply games), but there are psych studies indicating those with more resources lose empathy, develop a greater sense of entitlemen, and lose sight of the fact that there may be others to attribute some of your success. And not to take too much away from Charles success, but they never had to build anything from the ground up and dont know what its like to struggle, like you mentioned.

    It’s easy for them to believe they have the whole world figured out. And having insulated themselves from the realities most Americans deal with, they can afford to see the world from a more philosophical and less practical point of view. This is especially true for David since Charles is the one handling business matters. Of course, this is all speculation but it helps answer why they care and why the efforts are misguided.

    Oh, by the way, one of the questions on Koch Industries career website asks whether you or any members of your family have ever worked for the federal government.

    1. Tour Guide Post author

      Thank you for contributing.

      I believe Koch’s father, Fred Koch, had developed a better oil refining technique, but faced legal challenges from larger, established oil companies that nearly put him out of business so he took his business overseas, especially the Soviet Union, where he found success. Then of course passed it on to the sons.

      One might argue that Fred Koch overcoming his early business difficulties and succeeding reflects the free market beliefs his sons promote today, but the story is full of irony — and hypocrisy — and doesn’t settle the debate over whether free markets are always the best solution and in our overall best social (or economic) interest.


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