The Guardian newspaper in London has just published one angry and nasty attack against David Koch, the billionaire libertarian who recently passed away. The article, entitled “Death and Destruction: This is David Koch’s Sad Legacy,” is authored by a progressive (i.e., leftist) named Alex Kotch.
Kotch’s attack encompasses a multitude of areas, including climate change, pollution, greed, selfishness, tax reduction, regulatory reform, and others. I will leave it to others to respond to those issues, should they wish to do so.
There is one part of Kotch’s attack that I wish to address because it truly sets forth the difference between libertarians, on the one hand, and leftists and conservatives on the other. That part is one that deals with mandatory charity versus voluntary charity.
Koch epitomized this grotesquely selfish mentality during his 1980 vice presidential campaign on the Libertarian ticket, when he ran on abolishing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, welfare benefits….
Later in his attack, Kotch writes:
When you walk around Cambridge, Massachusetts, you’ll pass by MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research or the David H. Koch Childcare Center. When taking in upper-crust Manhattan arts and culture, you’ll come across Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. For those who don’t know about Koch’s business and political operations, he must seem like a generous man.
The directors of these institutions are ever grateful to Koch.
“David Koch was a model philanthropist who funded initiatives across a swath of cultural, scientific, and medical institutions,” Robert Millard, chair of the MIT Corporation, said in MIT News. “His generosity has benefited humanity broadly—from the arts to cancer research to science. MIT is deeply thankful for his many contributions to our community.”
“His contributions to medical research will live on forever; they have and will continue to benefit millions of Americans and others around the world,” said Jonathan Simons, CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, in a tribute to Koch. “We will miss his sense of humor, his wisdom and his insightfulness.”
Koch’s donations to hospitals, cancer centers, music centers, and other private organizations total in the billions of dollars.
At the risk of belaboring the obvious, a person with a “grotesquely selfish mentality” wouldn’t seem to be the type to donate billions of dollars of his personal fortune to others. Doesn’t “grotesquely selfish” imply that he would keep every dime of his billions to himself and his family?
So, how does Kotch reconcile what appear to be conflicting positions? He arrives at an interesting conclusion. He says that Koch was using those donations to cover up his selfishness. He writes:
This is the point of these seemingly magnanimous contributions: to cast the Kochs in a positive light, deflecting criticism of Koch Industries’ shameful business practices and defending the legacy of a heartless robber baron.
More important, however, is how Kotch has arrived at his conclusion that Koch was “grotesquely selfish.” He says that Koch’s libertarian opposition to Social Security, Medicare, welfare, and other socialist programs proves that he was selfish. Although he didn’t specifically mention it in his article, Kotch would undoubtedly also subscribe to the longtime leftist mantra that libertarians obviously hate “the poor, needy, and disadvantaged,” owing to their opposition to socialism.
Every welfare-state program is based on forcibly taking money from people to whom it belongs and giving it to people who supposedly need it more. There is no choice in the matter. Refuse to pay the taxes that ultimately fund these programs, and you’ll soon find yourself being hit with IRS liens and garnishments and Justice Department criminal prosecutions. There is nothing voluntary about the welfare state is funded.
Social Security, Medicare, and other socialist programs are based on force. That’s what Kotch and other leftists just don’t get, or if they do get it, they don’t care. For that matter, it’s what conservatives don’t get either, for they favor these socialist programs as much as the left does. For progressives and conservatives, force is everything. For them, society’s use of force to compel assistance to others not only reflects how good and caring Americans are but also serves as a way to make Americans a good and caring people. Over time, society’s agent for the use of force — the federal government — becomes a god to these people, one that takes care of people and that forces people to take care of people
Obviously, we libertarians see the situation totally differently. We oppose the conservative-liberal paradigm of mandatory charity. We hold that people should be free to keep everything they earn and decide for themselves what to do with it. That’s what genuine freedom is all about — freedom of choice, not mandated charity. Moreover, unlike liberals and conservatives, we libertarians have no doubts that a free people will step up to the plate and help others, voluntarily. David Koch’s donations to hospitals, cancer centers, and other private entitles don’t reflect his wish to cover up his selfishness. They reflect how most people, including the wealthy, would operate in a genuinely free society.
Conservatives and liberals, however, have no faith in freedom. They say, for example, that young people (e.g., millennials) would never help their parents, grandparents, and other seniors if left free to make that choice on their own. Thus, they need to be forced to do so, both conservatives and liberals say, through such mandatory-charity programs as Social Security and Medicare.
Consider a recent socialist program, one enacted by President Trump. His trade war against China has so devastated American farmers that some of them have been sent into near-bankruptcy. So, knowing that this is an election year, Trump issued a decree-law ordering federal officials to send farmers giant-sized checks to make up for the lost revenue resulting from his trade war.
But notice something important: Trump, a billionaire, is not using his own money to help out those farmers. Instead, he is using money that is forcibly taken from the American people to fund his election-year largess.
We can only assume that Kotch would come to Trump’s defense by arguing that his taxpayer-funded welfare checks show how good and caring he is. Kotch would undoubtedly would also say that that libertarian opposition to Trump’s action only goes to show how “grotesquely selfish” libertarians are.
It just another classic example of how warped the socialist mindset is and how it has served to destroy freedom in America, while at the same time damaging the principles of individual conscience, free will, morality, and voluntary charity.