Sunday, April 6, 2014

Charles Koch spills his guts in WSJ Op-Ed

Charles Koch believes that everything he does is good. Other people are not to be trusted to make decisions that he disagrees with. He is the most conceited, self-righteous, and misguided person in the headlines today.

Koch makes several dubious claims in his Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. Koch claims he has spent his life studying the principles that enable people to improve their lives. This statement is demonstrably false. Koch has spent his entire life running a multi-national corporation. This occupation has left him little time for reflection.

Koch lists these principles as dignity, respect, equality before the law, and personal freedom. These are not the principles listed in our founding documents, where the authors discuss life, liberty and the the pursuit of happiness. The Constitution includes a bill of rights that nowhere mentions dignity or respect. Those principles are too vague and ill-defined to serve as the cornerstone of any philosophy. Dignity is an attribute of authority. A judge has dignity, a king has dignity. Respect is a two-edged sword: Respect is earned as well as granted.

Koch lists equality before the law as a fundamental principle, but he has not spent his life donating to legal services for the poor, to ensure that everyone is equal before the law. He lists personal freedom as another fundamental principle, but he runs an organization, a corporation, which tells each employee exactly what he or she should do. Each corporate employee has a written job description that describes exactly what the corporation expects the employee to do for 40 hours a week. There's not much personal freedom there.

Furthermore, the corporation has unwritten rules that restrict personal freedom. The employees must obey all the edicts imposed on them by the executives of the company. They must never question authority, since insubordination is grounds for immediate dismissal. In many ways, a corporation limits the personal liberty of its employees, in the clothes they wear, in the language they use, and in the opinions they must hold about the company and its place in the world.

Koch apparently finds it acceptable to control his employees in this way, but believes that the elected government should never make any rules that affect its citizens. The citizens of a country vote to choose the government and the laws they wish to follow. The citizens of this country choose representatives to make those laws and enforce them. Koch's corporation is a dictatorship. One man makes all the decisions for everyone.

The worst thing that our current government does, according to Koch, is tell people how to run their lives. It does this because it does not trust them to run their own lives, he says. It is Koch who does not trust the people, however. He does not believe a government should rule with the consent of the governed. According to him, no one should have to obey any law he or she disagrees with. This is not a prescription for any real-world government, and it is certainly not a description of how Koch runs his company.

Koch's most egregious lie is when he pretends that his company cares about the environment. The company has won environmental awards, it is true, but these are awards for such things as keeping their oil tankers from leaking. They are not awards for fighting against global warming, because Koch does not acknowledge that greenhouse gases are a problem that has anything to do with him.

Koch is concerned about rearranging deck furniture while the ship is sinking. His refineries only release low levels of greenhouse gases, he says. His company has a fine safety record. He argued for the demise of the ethanol tax credit. But Koch industries is fighting to stop conversion of our energy grid to renewable energy.

Koch has no sympathy for the plight of people all over the world who find their homes threatened by rising sea levels, or watch their crops wither in the ever-hotter sun. Instead, he claims that he is not his brother's keeper. He takes no responsibility for his own actions. He spends vast sums of money to defeat politicians who might be tempted to listen to their constituents and limit the influence of undemocratic corporations.

Charles Koch is the face of evil in our world today.

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