U.S.A. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, billionaire Charles Koch claimed that he is fighting to restore a free society in the United States. He also decried “collectivists” for trying to discredit and intimidate him. The op-ed was written in response to criticism from Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, who has been lambasting the Koch Brothers and their influence for weeks.
In his op-ed, Charles Koch attempts to promote his idea of freedom by referencing Thomas Jefferson. By freedom, he must mean the freedom for individuals to pursue their own interests. I assume he would like people to be able to pursue these without being beholden to economic pressures, such as the risk of going bankrupt due to health related problem. So to that end, he must be in favor of the Affordable Care Act, which has meant that many more Americans have health insurance now, right?
He’s not; in fact, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative advocacy group founded by Charles’ brother David that is closely tied to the Tea Party, has spent large amounts of money attacking Democrats running for re-election who support President Obama’s healthcare legislation. The AFP has also recently launched a massive campaign against the Affordable Care Act. Furthermore, Koch appears to be against any policies that would promote freedom for anybody other than himself and the rest of the richest 1%. Koch Industries has supported the anti-union activities of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. The Koch Brothers have also fought against Medicare and the minimum wage. That doesn’t seem to be somebody who is fighting for a free society; these are the actions of somebody who is actively against progress unless it involves profit for him. The society which Charles Koch and his ilk promote is one where the powerful are the wealthy. Even though that’s pretty much the case today, clearly it’s not enough for him.
Charles Koch is not an arbiter for liberty, and his claim that he is the one who is standing for free debate and a free society is laughable and wildly hypocritical. This most recent op-ed, along with the statements of tech billionaire Tom Perkins made earlier this year, show the level to which the super-rich in America are out of touch with reality. It also highlights the kind of treatment they expect: to be mollycoddled, given privileges, and have everyone hang on their every word. They are outraged when they receive even the tiniest amount of criticism and can’t seem to comprehend that the system which they perpetuate does not benefit the majority of people. They have been so pampered by the system that now that there seems to be a movement to reverse this trend, they feel persecuted. Charles Koch is not promoting freedom; he is promoting Charles Koch. He does not want to change society for the benefit of people; why would he? He’s doing just fine.