The Kochs and Cronyism

The Wichita Eagle has an interview with Charles Koch of the infamous Koch brothers, whom I have both defended and criticized on different topics. This one line jumped out at me, two words that perhaps others missed in his defense of his positions:

The point of it, Koch said, is that he believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum. He hopes his ideas will help the country grow, he said. In his interview he emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people. Government regulations – including the minimum wage law – tend to hold everyone back, he said.

“We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country, rather than saying ‘Oh, we’re just fine now.’ We’re not saying that at all. What we’re saying is, we need to analyze all these additional policies, these subsidies, this cronyism, this avalanche of regulations, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency.

Subsidies? Cronyism? Charles Koch is against those things? Then perhaps he should give up all those subsidies and government contracts he gets by being so well-connected in Washington:

– As Yasha Levine has reported, Koch exploits a number of government programs for profit. For instance, Georgia Pacific, a timber company subsidiary of Koch Industries, uses taxpayer money provided by the U.S. Forestry Service to provide their loggers with taxpayer-funded roads and access to virgin growth forests. “Logging companies such as Georgia-Pacific strip lands bare, destroy vast acreages and pay only a small fee to the federal government in proportion to what they take from the public,” according to the Institute for Public Accuracy. Levine also notes that Koch’s cattle ranching company, Matador Cattle Company, uses a New Deal program to profit off federal land for free.

Koch Industries won massive government contracts using their close relationship with the Bush administration. The Bush administration, in a deal even conservatives alleged was a quid pro quo because of Koch’s campaign donations, handed Koch Industries a lucrative contract to supply the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve with 8 million barrels of crude oil. The SPR deal, done initially in 2002, was renewed in 2004 by Bush administration officials. During the occupation of Iraq, Koch won significant contracts to buy Iraqi crude oil…

– Although Koch campaigned vigorously against health reform — running attack ads, sponsoring anti-health reform Tea Parties, and comparing health reform to the Holocaust — Koch Industries applied for health reform subsidies made possible by the Obama administration.

– The Koch brothers have claimed that they oppose government intervention in the market, but Koch Industries lobbies aggressively for taxpayer handouts. In Alaska, blogger Andrew Halcro reported that a Koch subsidiary in Fairbanks asked Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration to use taxpayer money to bail out one of their failing refinery.

– SolveClimate recently reported that Koch Industries will reap huge profits from the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which runs from Koch-owned tar sands mining centers in Canada to Koch-owned refineries in Texas. To build the pipeline, politicians throughout the Midwest, many of whom have received large Koch campaign donations, have used eminent domain — government seizures of private land. In Kansas, where Koch-funded officials advise Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and the Republican legislature, the Keystone XL Pipeline is likely to receive a property tax exemption of ten years, a special loophole that will cost Kansas taxpayers about $50 million.

– Koch Industries has been the recipient of about $85 million in federal government contracts mostly from the Department of Defense. Koch also benefits directly from billions in taxpayer subsidies for oil companies and ethanol production.

Someone who profits from the oil industry has no business complaining about subsidies, cronyism or even government regulation. Much of the regulation of the oil industry in this country amounts to rent-seeking, regulations that protect the market share of big companies and keep smaller, more innovative competitors out of the market.

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  • one man’s cronyism is another man’s business acumen.

  • one man’s cronyism is another man’s business acumen.

    And, in some cases, the same man can have both. That’s called “hypocrisy” and when the simultaneously-held opposing views align with selishness it’s “greed”…

  • Michael Heath

    Charles Koch:

    Koch said, is that he believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum. He hopes his ideas will help the country grow, he said.

    This belief is even less defensible than many of the super-natural beliefs of orthodox Christianity. Precisely because his most distinguishing premises, including those of other U.S. conservatives and libertarians, have been falsified. E.g., a) that austerity as fiscal policy when a developed economy begins to encounter the down-side of a business cycle will cause economic recovery by instilling investor confidence, b) that deregulation with a machete will create long-term economic growth.

    It’s far more tenable to believe that Jesus is God than believe these two popular talking points. The former being irrational, logically incoherent, and lacking evidence; the latter as noted earlier, has been repeatedly falsified. [I promote abandoning belief altogether as a fatally defective thinking attribute, but that’s a diversion from the topic.]

  • David Marjanović

    Perhaps Charles Koch might like to have a look at countries that have a minimum wage higher than that of the US.

    Yeah, didn’t think so.

  • The Kochsucker brothers are liars, thieves and arms-length killers of those who work under unsafe conditions. They are fucking scum.

  • Look, Ed, “subsidies” aren’t subsidies when the Job Creators get them. They just help America™ compete. And the only reason The Poors don’t get them is because those Moochers are too lazy to smooze in DC. I mean, come on, poor people have hardly any lobbyists! How do they expect to get ahead like that?

    In conclusion, this is why we have to cut Food Stamps.

  • gingerbaker


    The Kochsucker brothers are liars, thieves and arms-length killers of those who work under unsafe conditions. They are fucking scum.

    I really don’t think that is fair at all, democommie

    They are worse than that.

    These guys need to be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes. Seriously, they make Goebbels look like a boy scout, and deserve the same fate – to be held responsible for crimes against humanity.

  • magistramarla

    Here’s something else that he said that really, really angers me:

    Charles Koch Foundation: An Income Of $34,000 Puts You In The Wealthiest 1 Percent

    How does he explain this? Well, most of the people in the world as a whole make much less than $34K, so he thinks that the working poor in this country simply need to suck it up and live like the poor people in the rest of the world. Proof positive that these dirty Koch brothers want to make the US into a third world country.

  • slc1

    Re Gingerbaker @ #7

    What’s even worse is that the Koch brothers have been making noises about purchasing the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. The alternative, which is Rupert Murdoch, is just as bad.

  • lpetrich

    I have to ask how much respect the Koch brothers have for US politicians. I ask about that because of what happened to their Russian counterpart, oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He also had political ambitions, even financing some political parties. But President Vladimir Putin had other ideas, and MK was found guilty of dubious charges of corruption. According to Russian oligarchs – Wikipedia, some other oligarchs have had similar fates. So US politicians look like wimps by comparison.

    Although Putin succeeded in humbling many of the post-Soviet oligarchs, I can’t say that I like his method of doing so — it’s too much like Stalin’s purges. His method also has the problem that the main alternative to the oligarchs has been Putin himself.

  • “In his interview he emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people.”

    Meh. Conservatarians have been saying the same crap for decades now. Apparently, it’s just a massive coincidence that the first-order effect of every one of their policies is to help the rich and hurt the poor; it’s always some indirect, down-the-line effect that gets assumed into existence as being good for the poor. And they try to convince us of this while at the same time castigating the poor as lazy bums who are wholly responsible for their own fate.

    Does Koch really think that anyone who hasn’t already fallen for this script is going to buy into it now?

  • sailor1031

    Back in the day P E Trudeau called these people “corporate welfare bums”. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme merde.