I recently watch and enjoyed this video of John Stewart interviewing Daniel Schulman, the author of “Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty“.
As a result of watching the interview I am now reading the book and enjoying it. I may post of a review of it here before long. The objection I wish to voice is that the repeated assertion in the interview by both Schulman and Stewart, that the Koch brothers are libertarians or even “anarcho-capitalists”. I reject applying these labels to Charles and David Koch as I vehemently question their libertarian credentials and view them as first and foremost self-serving corporatists.
To elaborate on this point, I’ll happily point out that none of the Kochs’ libertarian advocacy deals with libertarian issues that would undermine their business models. You generally will not hear Koch funded organizations, questioning government infrastructure, the government granted monopolies known as patents and copyrights, or government granted liability limits. Indeed they tend to be very much in favor of these things. Additionally they tend to support the conservative version of “tort reform” which seeks to make it harder for some one wrong by a corporation get reimbursed.
On top of this their Koch subsidiaries have received millions of dollars in government subsidies, they have specifically lobbied for the building of the Keystone Pipeline which, will not only require tax payer money, but also make heavy use of the land-theft known as eminent domain. Furthermore, Koch funded groups have also supported “ag-gag” bills which prohibit journalist from investigating animal abuses in corporate agriculture and they have pushed for a surtax on solar panel owners who wish to sell their excess energy to local utilities. Additionally, the Republican Candidates who the Kochs have generally put their money towards in recent years, such as Mitt Romney are about as far removed from the libertarian tradition as one can get, while remaining part of the American political right.
While the Kochs for all I know may believe their own rhetoric any examination of what actually supports shows that they are not libertarians at all but businessmen seeking government intervention on their own behalf. Unfortunately their corporatism has had far too much influence on the libertarian movement, which is why I feel the need to call it out here.