Koch Fiends

The New Republic

You have read:

0 / 8

free articles in the past 30 days.

Already a subscriber?

Log in here

sign up for unlimited access for just $34.97Sign me up

JONATHAN CHAIT FEBRUARY 25, 2011

Koch Fiends

Reason's Nick Gillespie endorses a post from Reddit pointing out that the Koch brothers (who also fund Reason) believe in some things that liberals also believe in:

The KOCH brothers must be stopped. They gave $40K to Scott Walker, the MAX allowed by state law. That's small potatoes compared to the $100+ million they give to other organizations. These organizations will terrify you. If the anti-union thing weren't enough, here are bigger and better reasons to stop the evil Kochs. They are trying to:

  1. decriminalize drugs,
  2. legalize gay marriage,
  3. repeal the Patriot Act,
  4. end the police state,
  5. cut defense spending.

This is a pretty silly argument. The Koch brothers are right-wing libertarians. They believe in limited government almost across the board, but their energies are devoted to economics in general and policies that benefit them in particular. When the Koch brothers get involved in politics, they support right-wing and Republican causes:

Meanwhile, since 1998 Koch Industries has spent more than fifty million dollars on lobbying. Separately, the company’s political-action committee, KochPAC, has donated some eight million dollars to political campaigns, more than eighty per cent of it to Republicans. So far in 2010, Koch Industries leads all other energy companies in political contributions, as it has since 2006. In addition, during the past dozen years the Kochs and other family members have personally spent more than two million dollars on political contributions. In the second quarter of 2010, David Koch was the biggest individual contributor to the Republican Governors Association, with a million-dollar donation. ...

During the 2000 election campaign, Koch Industries spent some nine hundred thousand dollars to support the candidacies of George W. Bush and other Republicans. ...

In 2004, Citizens for a Sound Economy was accused of illegitimately throwing its weight behind Bush’s reëlection. The group’s Oregon branch had attempted to get Ralph Nader on the Presidential ballot, in order to dilute Democratic support for John Kerry. Critics argued that it was illegal for a tax-exempt nonprofit organization to donate its services for partisan political purposes.

Gillespie's implication is that, if you're horrified by the Bush administration's civil rights record and supportive of gay marriage, the Koch brothers are for you. In fact, they're not. They work very hard to elect Bush and members of Congress who will support his agenda. They support think-tanks that oppose right-wing defense and civil liberties as long as they also support right-wing economic policies.

Another way to put this is that the Kochs will happily put their money behind candidates and intellectuals who agree with their economic agenda but disagree with their social agenda. They will never put their money behind candidates or intellectuals of whom the reverse is true.

Now, there is a coherent view here. The view is that libertarianism ought to be organized around economics, and especially opposition to progressive taxation and any attempt to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions. The Kochs have helped make this the dominant strain of American libertarianism. You can defend that if you want. But to pretend that people on the left should feel half-gratitude toward the Kochs because the Kochs support them on a bunch of issues is disingenuous. The Kochs are overwhelmingly in the business of supporting the Republican agenda.

share this article on facebook or twitter

posted in: jonathan chait, koch industries, george w. bush, nick gillespie, scott walker

print this article

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Show all 8 comments

You must be a subscriber to post comments. Subscribe today.

Back to Top

SHARE HIGHLIGHT

0 CHARACTERS SELECTED

TWEET THIS

POST TO TUMBLR

SHARE ON FACEBOOK