Defending the Koch brothers

Tom Jackson
May 2, 2013

I've advocated all sorts of unpopular causes in this blog — I like Internet freedom, I like peace, I like the Cleveland Indians — so I may as well complete my contrarian portfolio by writing a qualified defense of the Koch brothers, the left's current No. 1 villain.

 
The two brothers, David and Charles, are reported to be interested in buying eight newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. The report has prompted a great deal of hand-wringing from Democrats.
 
Now, I don't know how good a job the Kochs would do in running a chain of newspapers. Maybe they would ruin them.
 
But I don't think it's fair to assume the Kochs would be bad for the LA Times. And I thought I'd let you know that much of what you read about the Kochs is wrong. I see a great many articles about the Kochs that feature deliberate misinformation, designed to make them look as bad as possible in the eyes of Democrats and liberals.
 
For example, one of my favorite blogs, Boing Boing, ran a piece by one of my favorite writers, Cory Doctorow, which characterized the Kochs as "billionaire ultra-conservative puppet-masters."
 
That's incorrect. The Kochs are libertarians.
 
As Jack Shafer points out in this article, the Kochs support gay marriage, favor cutting defense spending and withdrawing U.S. military forces from the Middle East. 
 
The U.S. Congress has literally hundreds of Republican members. As far as I can tell, the only ones who supports all of those positions is Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who has taken over Ron Paul's slot as the "token libertarian" in the U.S. House, and Sen. Rand Paul. (Both are social conservatives, but they support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.) 
 
David Koch was the Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate in 1980. They have given heavily to various libertarian causes and magazines, including Reason magazine.
 
Disclosure: Reason recently ran my rave review of the new Cory Doctorow novel, Homeland. You'll notice that Cory doesn't mention this. "Koch-funded magazine praises Cory Doctorow" doesn't fit his narrative.
 
Although I'm a more-or-less libertarian, I'm not on the same page as the Kochs politically. I'm fine with using the government to help poor people. I strongly suspect global warming is a real problem. The Kochs tend to emphasize libertarian issues that help rich people. I am most interested in peace and civil liberties issues, while the Kochs tend to focus on taxation and the size of government. 
 
But one reason I'm skeptical of the current smear campaign is that I've seen this movie before.
 
Last year, when the Kochs forced out the director of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, and put in their own guy, there were all sorts of predictions about how the Kochs would "ruin" Cato by purging the peace and civil liberties folks and turning it into a Republican propaganda machine, similar to the Heritage Foundation. I bought these stories and dutifully promoted them on Twitter.
 
As it turned out, there was no purge. My favorite Cato folks, people such as Julian Sanchez, Christopher Preble and Gene Healy, are still there. I still follow them on Twitter.

Comments

Nemesis

@Grumpy:"Only if you believe polls."

No, because OTHER people pay attention to them. You fail to grasp that you are not all people, you're not even most people. If you believe A, and you tell the pollster you believe B (B being the opposite of A) then you've helped the people who support B (which you oppose) claim that B enjoys broader support. In the REAL WORLD (as opposed to grumpy's fantasy world where grumpy's disdain for polls means they can't influence OTHER people) that helps B become policy and A (your belief) get suppressed.

DEEPsix's picture
DEEPsix

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.

DEEPsix's picture
DEEPsix

forgive typo's ... we forgive yours

eriemom

Typo's forgiven. Sure have enough of my own. Rant, not so much.

eriemom

@Tom: Welcome to the Independent party. Most Americans are. Did you read the Berkeley study that the brothers sponsored about Climate Change.If I remember correctly they were trying to stop it from being published.

Now The Rest of...

Its called free enterprise something the far left wackos hate, if the Koch brothers has the cash to buy the newspaper that's the American way. With major American newspapers failing I wonder why they want a media that's time is clearly ending. I always hope that Charmin or White Cloud would purchase the Register to allow proper use of this paper........

Pterocarya frax...

Since newspapers are dying, it is clearly not about free enterprise, or profit.

It is all about controlling the message...even if for just a couple more years.

Contango

Is it better that the employees have a JOB "...even if for just a couple more years"?

arnmcrmn

Well pull out your big bucks ptero.....buy up some news papers....fire everyone...and let them just die.......

Contango

Licorice Schtick writes:

"Liberals think the most fortunate should all pitch in to help those who need it. Libertarians and conservative think helping should be 'voluntary,' which really means 'someone else.'"

A gross misunderstanding of the political philosophy of each one.

Why is it the State that gets to decide who are the 'needy' and who are not?

And by "pitch in," liberalism (socialism) means the appropriation (theft) of private property with the ultimate goal of maintaining political power (bread and circuses).

To libertarians, "pitch in" means charity or donating and WE decide who are the 'needy' whether they be family, friends or total strangers.

grumpy

Also when the federal gov't gets involved they treat everyone the same. Whether the "needy" lives in rural Montana, Tenneessee, Nevada, New Hampshire, or a city like Miami, San Fransisco, Boston, or NYC. The needs are very different in each of those places. Charities do better, more efficient, than what the federal gov't does, when you see the percentage of money or help that gets to the end user. The gov't rarely gets more than 50% to the end user as compared to charities. You can research charities and see which are more effiecient and decide where to donate.

Kimo

Re: "the way a question is asked can change the outcome of the poll."

In the game of politics it's called "spin".......

Fancy name for "when all else fails just lie"......

Most "voters" are one issue voters and will register to vote for a party based on that one issue.

Most of the robo posters on these threads are one issue posters that make nebulous posts over and over until everyone else gives up.

If you take out the Party Chairman, trolls, shills...... this thread would dry up and blow away.......

Contango

There's some truth to what you write regarding how "a" question is worded.

But a well constructed polling questionaire usually includes multiple questions in order to help reduce the margin of error.

(Took a stats course in college.)

Why so bitter millionaire-next-door?

Aren't you livin' the good life with publicly financed health and welfare benefits and a very favorable marginal tax rate?

The Mkt. is UP. If it holds, it'll be a good week. Be happy!

Think of all the poor "unfortunates" that you can help with your additional asset wealth!

Contango

The definition of a U.S. liberal reminds me of a corollary of an H.L. Mencken quote regarding early American Puritans:

The haunting fear that someone, somewhere has too much money.

Also by Menchen in regards to the liberal-collectivists is:

"All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him."

And what is one of things that libertarianism desires? Less top-down, command and control govt. and more self-governing.

grumpy

Now you know why I questioned the "facts" of a poll on peoples opinion. It is NOT fact based, it is opinion based. You "might" be somewhat accurate in judging the perception of the public on how biased the press is... it is only the opinion of the general public. Not unbiased views of people who know what is really going on in the media.
I would no more take the results of a poll on media bias than I would take a poll with what is wrong if I were sick and in the hospital rather than get several opinions from doctors. The doctors have a much better chance of being correct, than a poll of people on the street or people who answer polls on the phone.

Contango

Metaphysically, even science is ultimately based on assumptions, i.e. opinions.

As Socrates so famously said: I know nothing.

SamAdams

Tom, while I'm not big on labels, the least I have to agree to do is to label things to MATCH the label. And as long as you think it's okay for government to take from some who worked for it to hand to others who didn't, you're neither Libertarian NOR a classical liberal. Based on what you've written here, as well as other blog entries, if I had to label you, the one that fits best is plain, old run-of-the-mill liberal. Sorry.

The Big Dog's back

No matter how far right you lean Tom, you have to go completely over the cliff to be a bonafide right wingnut. Right sam?

Now The Rest of...

You have to be at the bottom of the cliff to be a far left wacko, right pooch...

S w Rand 2016

I would like to clarify a few things about Senator Rand Paul, regarding the reference to him in this article.
#1 He does not claim to be a full-on Libertarian. He claims, instead, to have Libertarian leanings.
#2 While he may have some opinions which fall into the present-day category of "socially conservative," this only pertains to his personal life. It is very important to note, when it comes to his job as Senator, he is a bit liberal on social issues (and I think the reason for this is because he believes, as I do, that there are simple solutions to allow all sides of an issue to co-exist peacefully). In fact, I wouldn't even call him a "conservative" on fiscal matters. I prefer to call him fiscally "sound."

S w Rand 2016

On another note, I would also like to thank Tom Jackson for a previous article where he linked us to the free ebook downloads of "Little Brother" and "Homeland." I read Little Brother already and I did enjoy it. It was an adventure, to be sure.
In return, I would like to suggest another author that you may or may not be familiar with. Bruce Sterling has written a number of books but I would like to suggest "The Caryatids" and "Schismatrix Plus." (Schismatrix Plus, by the way, is "The Schismatrix" re-released with all of his short stories involving the Shaper-Mechanist universe included).

Contango

Speakin' of Mr. Buffett, I saw this yesterday:

"Buffett lieutenants score big payday"

"Warren Buffett told investors in March he 'hit the jackpot' hiring two former hedge-fund managers to help run Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s investing business.

Todd Combs and Ted Weschler likely feel the same way. Each stands to make at least $27 million—and probably much more,"

When are the sycophant liberal-wannabes gonna learn that the American Ruling Class pays lip service to wealth redistribution, while they're makin' oodles of money? (Rhetorical question)

The American Nomenklatura laughs at the naiveté of their loyal sock puppets.

http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news...

Truth or Dare

"When you own the information you can bend it all you want".

Contango

Which is why an educated populace is necessary for a free and democratic society.

Old Soviet joke:

In Pravda (Truth) there is no news, in Izvestia (News) there is no truth.

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." - George Orwell

kURTje

People know much. Social media proves many truths.

Contango

"Berkshire Cash Hits Record $49.1 Billion as Profit Climbs"

"Berkshire Hathaway buys rest of Israeli tool maker"

Why aren't the bleeding heart liberals asking why Mr. Buffett (the GOOD Democrat) isn't puttin' all those billions to work creating jobs and hiring the unemployed right here in the good ol' U.S.?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20...

http://www.usatoday.com/story/mo...

ByeByeHuron

A working man defending the ideals of a rich man is the work of a fool.

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