Is Charles Koch a hypocrite?

12th September 2012

Collusion between business and government

In the piece, the CEO of Koch Industries explains that because they have the advantage of an uneven playing field, crony businesses can drive their legitimate competitors out of business. Moreover, by subsidizing and mandating politically favoured products in the energy sector the government is pushing up energy prices for everyone. "And by putting resources to less-efficient use, cronyism actually kills jobs rather than creating them."

In order to end cronyism therefore, Koch calls for an end to the government's ability to "dole out favours and rig the market." "If America re-establishes the proper role of business in society," he says, "all kinds of benefits will accrue. Our economy will rebound. Our liberties will be restored. And when President Obama tells an entrepreneur ‘You didn't build that,' everyone will know better."

Hypocrite of the day?

Koch's op-ed, however, was quickly derided, especially for its hypocrisy, soon after it was published. Indeed, Rebecca Leber a reporter/blogger for Think Progress, advanced five ways in which his company, Koch Industries, is benefiting from policies it has specifically campaigned, donated, and lobbied for:  

1. Billions of dollars in oil subsidies.

2. Koch Industries has had at least $85 million in federal government contracts.

3. They've asked for bailouts.

4. After launching a campaign on behalf of the Keystone XL pipeline, they stand to benefit from taxpayer subsidies.

5. Koch Industries contributes millions of dollars to advance anti-environment legislation, and has been accused of outright bribery.

Harold Meyerson, meanwhile, in an article for The American Prospect, seems to join in this analysis:

"Not a word about oil and gas can be found in Koch's litany of complaints. Could this be because Koch Industries, of which Koch is chairman and CEO, was originally and is still primarily an oil-refining and pipeline company, though it has also diversified into such fields as paper, asphalt, chemicals, cattle ranches, commodity trading, and buying elections? A study by the Environmental Law Institute has tallied the amount of U.S. subsidies to the fossil fuel industry between 2002 and 2008 at roughly $72 billion."

Meyerson, the editor-at-large for the left-leaning political magazine, reveals, however, that Koch's hypocrisy isn't his alone. "It epitomizes the double standard of right-wing opponents of industrial policy who neglect to note all the industrial policies that benefit either their own industries (if they're oil men, bankers, military contractors, and so on) or the industries that write them checks (if they're politicians who are funded by oil men, bankers, military contractors, and so on)."

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