by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It is disgusting when big shots use their money to get handouts from government — ethanol subsidies, limits on sugar imports, loan guarantees for Boeing or special deals from Rahm Emanuel. That’s government helping well-connected rich people, handing them money that once belonged to taxpayers.
But the Kochs aren’t like that. The brothers made their billions by growing their businesses. That’s a good thing. That’s real wealth creation, jobs for people and products people want.
The Kochs oppose subsidies, even for their own company. They’d get rid of them if everybody else would.
I should disclose that I’ve spent time with both David and Charles Koch. They’ve paid me to speak at a few of their events. I happily took the money and gave it to charities.
But anyone who understands libertarianism knows I’d agree with the Kochs even if I’d never met them. They are pro-immigration, anti-drug war. They want less defense spending. They got praised by Attorney General Holder for their campaign to jail fewer people.
Why is the left so mad at them? It’s definitely not because they’re the only big spenders in politics.
During the last presidential election, it was reported that the Kochs spent $60 million. Tom Steyer, the big environmental activist, spent $70 million a few years later.
Yes, groups affiliated with the Kochs spent $400 million. But the Huffington Post reports that labor unions spent much more: $1.7 billion. Union spending dwarfs Koch spending.
I wish libertarians could just pay the government to shrink. But that’s not going to happen soon.