Have a Koch and a Smile

Well, that was a nice little sabbatical.

Last time I wrote, President Obama was re-elected. I stopped writing. It’s not that I threw in the towel. It’s just that this medium didn’t seem to be as much fun as it used to be.

Lately, though, I’ve been looking lately for a reason to jump back in.

Enter Charles Koch.

On April 2, Koch wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined “I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society.” And it’s so. Much. Fun.

He begins: “I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.”

Actually, the principles that have “shaped” Koch’s life, his family, etc., are those of the John Birch society, of which his father was a founder.

This is an organization that promoted the bizarre notion that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-star general, was a communist.

Sound familiar?

He continued: “Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation’s own government.”

No, they’re not.

“A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so.”

Let’s see if General Motors sticks around following the revelation that it ignored signs of a faulty ignition switch in its cars that ended up killing 12 people.

I betcha it does just fine, though I would say that killing your customers is sort of on the par of, you know, disrespecting them.

“The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.”

No, it isn’t.

“More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. ‘The natural progress of things,’ Jefferson wrote, ‘is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.’ He knew that no government could possibly run citizens’ lives for the better.”

When I see a Founding Father quote used, you know, I just have to research it. This one is genuine, though, as often happens, it is taken wildly out of context.

Jefferson penned this in a letter to Col. Edward Carrington, a fellow Virginian and a delegate to the Continental Congress. As one can actually read, Jefferson’s concern at the time was that his colleagues would give in to a hysteria to crown George Washington as King of America, as many, including John Adams, wanted to do. Jefferson specifically addresses “the principle of necessary rotation, particularly to the Senate and Presidency: but most of all to the last.” Jefferson wasn’t warning anyone about “collectivism.”

He was arguing for Article II of the Constitution.

Koch then writes: “The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle.”

Just because you keep saying it doesn’t mean it will ever be true. The stated purpose of health care reform was to provide coverage for more people. More people have been covered.

Success.

“Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.”

This is the portion of Koch’s column that chaps my ass most.

I shall say this slowly and with feeling: Nobody, at least nobody who anyone should take seriously, wants the government to make your blue jeans. Anyone who says they fear communism or socialism lurking behind every corner is spewing nonsense.

I personally have talked several people down from the “health care reform is socialism” ledge. That I have had to do so speaks to the concentrated power of propaganda like the op-ed column I am reviewing.

But they got talked down. Some of them even got covered. And, in doing so, I imagine they were disabused of the notion that what we’re talking about is “socialism” in any regard.

Adding 7 – 10 million more, kids, and you’ve poked a pretty big hole in that balloon.

That idea doesn’t float anymore, Mr. Koch.

Koch goes on for several paragraphs to defend Koch Industries’ corporate record, which I am not writing here to analyze. It is the dogmatic nonsense that sets me seething. And Koch, and his forum the Wall Street Journal, has certainly not failed to disappoint.

Thanks! I forgot how much fun that was!

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