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Hullabaloo


Thursday, April 03, 2014

 
True Believer

by digby

Charles Koch explains that it's all about the most freedom his billions can buy:

I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.

Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation's own government. That's why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles. I have been doing so for more than 50 years, primarily through educational efforts. It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process.

A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. 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. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.

More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. "The natural progress of things," Jefferson wrote, "is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." He knew that no government could possibly run citizens' lives for the better. The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle. Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.

It's absurd to think that the only possible form of oppression comes from government, but a billionaire born to a millionaire would likely think that. He's never had to work for anyone. He's never been subjected to the tyranny of the workplace or the shackles of poverty. That experience tends to give you a different perspective on what "freedom" actually means.

But never let it be said that he has no feelings for the oppressed. He does. In fact, he's very sensitive. It turns out nobody will listen to him and nobody understands him:

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.) This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers.

Rather than try to understand my vision for a free society or accurately report the facts about Koch Industries, our critics would have you believe we're "un-American" and trying to "rig the system," that we're against "environmental protection" or eager to "end workplace safety standards." These falsehoods remind me of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."

He then goes on to regale his readers with a sanitized recitation of his company's virtues. Koch Industries, rather than being a polluting, exploiting, destroyer of the land and the planet, is actually more akin to UNICEF, a caring and gentle caretaker of all the earth's children.

He's lying, of course, but I'm not even sure he knows it. I think he really believes that he is helping people:

Instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves, America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness. This is what happens when elected officials believe that people's lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves. Those in power fail to see that more government means less liberty, and liberty is the essence of what it means to be American. Love of liberty is the American ideal.

If more businesses (and elected officials) were to embrace a vision of creating real value for people in a principled way, our nation would be far better off—not just today, but for generations to come. I'm dedicated to fighting for that vision. I'm convinced most Americans believe it's worth fighting for, too.

He simply cannot understand why anyone would think there is a need for government functions beyond the most rudimentary form of security. After all, Charles Koch doesn't need them. In fact, he thinks they hurt him. If they didn't exist he would have more freedom, which is the only thing he could possibly believe he doesn't have enough of in this world. (Sometimes I think these guys confuse freedom with time, but that's another story ...) He's just a regular guy like you and me, right? We'll all be free if only the government would take its jackbooted foot off the necks of good job-creators like the Koch Brothers.

It always amuses me to see billionaires talk about "those in power" as if it's someone other than themselves. I'd love to see Charles Koch have to spend a month in the life of a secretary who works in one of his offices. Then let's see what he thinks about "power" and "freedom" and who has it and who doesn't.


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