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Saturday, May 17, 2014

 
Must read 'o the day: Koch history

by digby

The story of the libertarian billionaire brother is more interesting than I knew. This piece about David Koch's first (and only) campaign for elective office is very instructive:
The Kochs had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the burgeoning libertarian movement. In the waning days of the 1970s, in the wake of Watergate, Vietnam and a counterculture challenging traditional social mores, they set out to test just how many Americans would embrace what was then a radical brand of politics.

It was the first and only bid for high office by a Koch family member. But much of what occurred in that quixotic campaign shaped what the Kochs have become today — a formidable political and ideological force determined to remake American politics, driven by opposition to government power and hostility to restrictions on money in campaigns.

That election also handed the Kochs their first political setback, driving them to rethink their approach to libertarian ideas. Since then, they have built a powerful network of political nonprofit groups that is exempt from most campaign reporting requirements and contribution limits but will spend tens of millions of dollars to influence the 2014 election. They have exerted enormous influence on American politics, battling government regulation and casting doubt on the urgency of climate change. Instead of replacing the Republican Party, they have helped to profoundly reshape it.

“The 1980 campaign was instructive in helping them learn what ideas resonated,” said Robert A. Tappan, a Koch Industries spokesman, “and at the same time, giving them an understanding of the implications of the electoral political process.”

The Kochs, heirs to a family oil refining and marketing business, were unlikely entrants in a presidential campaign.

Politics was a dangerous game for those in business, Charles Koch argued in a 1974 speech to libertarian thinkers and business leaders in Dallas. Subsidies and special treatment demanded by corporations had helped turn Americans against free enterprise. Business had colluded with the Nixon administration to design price controls and other “socialistic measures.”

The most effective response was not political action, Mr. Koch argued, but investment in pro-capitalist research and educational programs.

“The development of a well-financed cadre of sound proponents of the free enterprise philosophy is the most critical need facing us today,” he said, according to a copy of his speech in a Libertarian Party archive at the University of Virginia, one of thousands of documents reviewed by The New York Times for this article.
And just in case you are even slightly attracted to them for their equal loathing of both parties, keep in mind that they hate them both for being too unfriendly to big business and wealthy interests:
... Charles Koch, then in his first decade as president of Koch Industries, had aggressively expanded the firm’s holdings in oil refineries, petroleum products and commodities, while David Koch worked as an executive at the company’s engineering subsidiary.

As the brothers became more politically active, Koch Industries repeatedly butted against the federal government’s new energy regulations. One month before Charles Koch’s speech in Dallas, a federal audit found that Koch and two other companies had broken federal oil price controls. In 1975, a Koch subsidiary was cited for $10 million in overcharges on propane gas.

The family’s frustrations were captured in a fund-raising letter that Charles Koch wrote on behalf of the 1976 Libertarian presidential candidate, Roger MacBride, a co-creator of the “Little House on the Prairie” television series. Mr. Koch excoriated Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford for backing price controls, and attacked legislation to impose fuel economy standards as “one of the many demonstrations of the bankruptcy of the Republican alternative to Democratic interventionism.”
They want you to have the "liberty" to choose to live under bridges and beg for food --- and gasp for air as well. And hey, as long as the government isn't taxing your stale bread, you've got to feel pretty darned free, amirite? And if you are unhappy with any of that you can always become an oil billionaire. God bless America.

Oh and this was amusing:
David Koch ultimately contributed about $2.1 million, more than half the campaign budget. But the costs began to wear on his siblings, Mr. Koch recounted in an interview with New York magazine. In September 1980, at a rally in Los Angeles, Mr. Crane and Charles Koch shared an elevator with Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, a libertarian activist, who overheard Charles Koch grumbling that his brother was dipping into his investments to pay for the effort.

“Charles was horrified that David had actually had to spend capital instead of just some of the interest on some of his money,” said Ms. Pillsbury-Foster, who became a critic of the brothers’ involvement in the libertarian movement.
Yeah, Now that they're worth 100 billion I'm going to guess this is no longer an issue. They can buy the entire political system with their interest.

They've come a long way baby. I think we have to admit that their life's work has certainly been fruitful for them --- and people like them.


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