Critics of Charles Koch, the world’s 9th richest man, would say that the libertarian tycoon amassed his wealth by taking advantage of systems that benefit the wealthy and impede the working class from moving up. But what would Mr. Koch himself have to say about how he got rich?
Interestingly enough: Apparently, the exact same thing.
In a recent ABC Exclusive interview, Charles Koch said he ‘absolutely’ agreed that the American economy was rigged in favor of the wealthiest:
“It is rigged. We have this corporate welfare that benefits established companies and makes it very difficult for somebody to get started because this two-tiered society creates welfare for the wealthy and obstacles to opportunities for the disadvantaged. It’s cronyism, it’s corporate welfare.”
Koch’s mention of ‘corporate welfare’ is a reference to the tax code. Large corporations like those owned by Charles and his brother, David, receive huge tax exemptions that allow them to get away with paying very little to the government. The tax burden then falls to the middle and working classes while the wealthy are left alone to make more money by reinvesting all of the extra money they saved. Consequently, a ‘’two-tiered society’’ is created where the wealthy and the non-wealthy play by different rules and have different opportunities.
“We benefit tremendously from them,” Koch said about corporate tax exemptions. He admitted that Koch Industries has tripled in size during the past decade. Koch Industries – which is only 1 of 9 companies owned by the Koch brothers – is now worth $115 Million.
#1 Biggest Hypocrite
In the interview with ABC, Koch was eager to portray himself as one of the good guys. Although the Koch Brother empire had benefitted from such a – as he put it – “rigged” system, Charles claims he still wishes to see drastic changes. “I think the whole tax code needs be thrown out and all these exemptions eliminated and everybody taxed on the same basis, not favored by given industry or how well-connected you are,” Koch said.
Koch also laid out his interesting albeit illogical political theory:
“My fundamental proposition is that we want a society… based on ‘You succeed by helping others improve their lives.’ And if you’re succeeding by not doing that, by making their lives worse… then it’s unjust.”
So, Koch made all of his money by helping others, and Koch Industries has never made any lives worse, right?
In fact, there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. First of all, the corporations that make up the Koch Brothers’ vast empire are some of the worst polluters in America. According to research conducted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Koch Industries was 1 of only 3 companies to make the 30 worst-polluters list in all 3 categories: air, water, and climate. The study also ranked Koch Industries as the 5th worst polluter in the U.S.
The Koch Brothers have also worked tirelessly to break up workers’ unions, suppress the minimum wage, and disenfranchise minority voters living in poor areas.
What’s worse, the Koch Brothers have tried their best to deny victims of asbestos exposure just compensation. The Kochs have been the leading financiers behind the Furthering Asbestos Claims and Transparency (FACT) Act. The FACT Act would make it very difficult for people suffering and dying from asbestos exposure to receive the compensation they deserve. The bill would also make any injured worker seeking compensation vulnerable to cyber-crime and identity theft. The Koch Brothers also funded a bogus scientific report saying asbestos-containing products were not harmful.
Furthermore, they are major funders of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a lobbying powerhouse that uses its clout to help corporations guilty of exposing people to asbestos get away without compensating their victims.
Why is Koch Industries so interested in suppressing the rights of asbestos victims? The answer is simple: Georgia-Pacific, a Koch subsidiary, owes well over $1 Billion in asbestos-related liability. DuPont, another Koch subsidiary, is also guilty of injuring thousands of workers by exposing them to asbestos and other chemicals and it too owes compensation.
Using Charles Koch’s logic, isn’t it “unjust’’ for someone to make money if they ‘’make lives worse?’’ Or does Charles think he’s ‘‘succeeding by helping others improve their lives’’ by exposing Americans to deadly chemicals and asbestos and then refusing to pay compensation when they come down with deadly, incurable diseases?
The Corporation? Or the Human Being?
As Charles Koch admitted himself, the corporations he and his brother own — including Georgia-Pacific and DuPont — have benefitted greatly from the American economic and political system. What he didn’t admit in his ABC interview was that Koch Industries spends huge fortunes protecting this same system he condemns. The Koch Brothers work hard to prevent regulations so their corporations can continue to run away with shameful profits at the expense of millions of Americans.
At the end of the interview, Charles Koch suggests that, given the current GOP presidential candidates – none of whom he supports – Hillary Clinton could “possibly” be the Brothers’ pick come the general election.
In response, Clinton posted a tweet: “Not interested in endorsements from people who deny climate science and try to make it harder for people to vote.”