The Koch brothers may have shown a great deal of business acumen by having themselves born to a wealthy oilman, but whatever wits they used to keep from blowing their inheritance, originality clearly isn’t among their gifts.
Confronted with Warren Buffet’s widely played New York Times op-ed decrying the tax pampering of the fabulously wealthy, along with a call for a more appropriate contribution from the upper brackets, Charles Koch went all Bartleby the Scrivener, and told the National Review that in essence, “I would prefer not to.”
Specifically, he coughed up the same old frayed and weather-beaten excuse right wing fat cats have used since the New Deal to gloss their sense of unaccountability, their aversion to the public good and their reactionary social views, claiming they can’t bear to give their nickels and dimes to the bad, bad, bad government.
Charley Moneybags said exactly, “Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good. I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington.”
The campaign to protect every scrap of private wealth at the expense of a desiccated public sector, in other words selling the snake oil that prosperity will spread like kudzu across the land if we rid ourselves of unions, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, college loan assistance, food and medicine inspection, environmental regulation, workplace safety rules and public supported bridges and highways has moved from the rightward fringe back in the Fifties and Sixties, into the Republican mainstream.
Dave and Charley Koch, if you believe them, will cheerfully take care of all that currently messy governmental stuff privately, and at a very reasonable cost, they promise, if we just let them keep every dime of their money. In this new Garden of Eden you must remember that supinely accepting bottom drawer wages and breathing in the lung-scarring particulates their factories produce without complaining is for your own economic good. Those who actually fall for this patently self-serving spew deserve to live in such a Garden of Eden. You can read about that paradise in most of the novels of Charles Dickens. If you believe Dickensian England was paradisiacal, you’re going to love the new right-wing Elysian Fields.
Old Charley is right that he does invest a lot in non-profits, in particular “think tanks” that crank out politically expedient boilerplate, lobbyists to hold the affections of members of congress who remain simpatico, and political PACS that finance his favorite prodigies and Tea Party pets.
One can understand the public relations problem facing these particularly greedy, grudging and conscience-free Masters of the Universe, since PR cover is a priority of the first order if what you’re asking for is a Get out of Responsibility Free card for penurious plutocrats. The “everything government does is bad” trope is the best you’re probably going to find.
The really sad thing about the Charley Kochs of the world isn’t that they can’t come right out and tell the truth about themselves and their nasty agenda; it’s their failure to realize the degree to which it is in their own economic and social interests to contribute to a healthy public sector that guarantees a prosperous consumer base; healthy, well-educated workers and a stable and productive population. Truly tis a pity, for everyone.