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.