Reason Podcast

The Libertarian Life and Legacy of David Koch

The billionaire philanthropist worked to create a world in which people are more prosperous and tolerant.

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David Koch, the billionaire free market philanthropist, has died at the age of 79.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1940, Koch was a longtime member of the board of trustees of Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this podcast, and a major force in the modern libertarian movement. He was also, along with his older brother Charles, one of the "Koch brothers," who are regularly invoked on the left as a primary cause of all that is bad in American politics.

Such lazy demonization belies a life and fortune spent trying to build a better world through business, politics, and culture, one in which people are not only more prosperous and tolerant but free to run their own experiments in living.

In 1980, Koch was the vice presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, whose platform that year endorsed the then-radical notions of legalizing drugs, ending penalties for victimless crimes, and full acceptance of gays and lesbians. The platform also called for the abolition of the CIA and FBI in the wake of the Church Commission findings of widespread abuse. In 1987, he told Reason, "Pursuing a very aggressive foreign policy…is an extremely expensive endeavor for the U.S. government. The cost of maintaining a huge military force abroad is gigantic. It's so big it puts a severe strain on the U.S. economy, creating economic hardships here at home." Not surprisingly, he was a critic of the Iraq War and other 21st-century interventions.

He gave widely to libertarian organizations such as Americans for Prosperity and also to cancer research and the arts. In today's podcast, Nick Gillespie speaks with Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty, the author of Radicals For Capitalism, a history of the libertarian movement, about the life and legacy of David Koch.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

 

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  1. “He was also, along with his older brother Charles, one of the ‘Koch brothers,’ who are regularly invoked on the left as a primary cause of all that is bad in American politics.”

    More libertarians need to master the approach I’ve developed to promote Koch-funded ideas to progressives and Democrats.

    Start by establishing common ground on immigration. Send your progressive friends a Shikha Dalmia article or two (the one I link in my name is a good example). Then ask, “If the Koch brothers are so greedy and evil, would they be #Resisting Drumpf’s white nationalist agenda with such intensity?”

    Follow up by pointing out that the Kochs don’t want to create The Handmaid’s Tale in the US any more than Democrats do. Tell your progressive friends that the Koch / Reason position on access to abortion care is that it should be completely unrestricted in all 3 trimesters — which is precisely the mainstream Democratic position. If time permits, you can also remind progressives that Reason subscribes to the modern scientific view that gender is entirely unrelated to chromosomes or anatomy.

    If enough libertarians take my advice, with any luck Charles Koch could be a featured speaker at the 2020 Democratic convention.

    1. Sᴛᴀʀᴛ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ғʀᴏᴍ ʜᴏᴍᴇ! Gʀᴇᴀᴛ ᴊᴏʙ ғᴏʀ sᴛᴜᴅᴇɴᴛs, sᴛᴀʏ-ᴀᴛ-ʜᴏᴍᴇ ᴍᴏᴍs ᴏʀ ᴀɴʏᴏɴᴇ ɴᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ ᴀɴ ᴇxᴛʀᴀ ɪɴᴄᴏᴍᴇ… Yᴏᴜ ᴏɴʟʏ ɴᴇᴇᴅ ᴀ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀ ʀᴇʟɪᴀʙʟᴇ ɪɴᴛᴇʀɴᴇᴛ ᴄᴏɴɴᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ… Mᴀᴋᴇ $80 ʜᴏᴜʀʟʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴛᴏ $13000 ᴀ ᴍᴏɴᴛʜ ʙʏ ғᴏʟʟᴏᴡɪɴɢ ʟɪɴᴋ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏᴛᴛᴏᴍ ᴀɴᴅ sɪɢɴɪɴɢ ᴜᴘ… Yᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ғɪʀsᴛ ᴄʜᴇᴄᴋ ʙʏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇɴᴅ ᴏғ ᴛʜɪs ᴡᴇᴇᴋ
      pop over to this website …….. Read More

  2. The Libertarian Life and Legacy of David Koch

    Facts not in evidence?

    1. A lot more libertarian than the life and legacy of Donald Trump.

      1. A lot more progressive too. But I wasn’t aware it was a contest. If so, was there a pool? Odds?

      2. I don’t see that much of a difference. Both Koch and Trump were fairly free market oriented and didn’t care much about/for social conservatism. Trump has been catering a bit more to social conservatives in recent years out of political expediency.

  3. Mr. David Koch influenced me in the mid-1980s while I was a junior college student here in Detroit, MI, USA. He is one of the reason’s why I became a Libertarian back then. I started to donate to the Cato Institute back then too. Anyway, may God bless him and rest in peace, sir.

  4. Yeah, every headline has Koch as a “billionaire conservative donor”. Oddly, it’s because the conservatives want to claim him, and the liberals do not.

  5. RIP. Haven’t agreed with the brother’s pushing a libertarian suicide pact the last few years, but on the whole he was a great philanthropist who advanced liberty. A great man, the world is worse off without him.

  6. It’s a sad commentary on today’s political climate that some Trump supporters have joined the left in celebrating his death. Among Breibart crowd “Globalist” became a term that’s applied indiscriminately to anyone who’s nominally anti Trump.

    1. Yep, proggies and Trumpsters agree on a lot more than they will ever admit. Both are anti-liberty

      1. Which tells you that he was on the right side of things.

          1. One of the good ones z”l. A fighter for liberty.

      2. NoVaNick
        August.23.2019 at 9:57 pm
        “Trumpsters agree on a lot more than they will ever admit. Both are anti-liberty”

        What is a “Trumpster”?

        1. Apparently any of us that don’t want to commit national suicide by maintaining sovereign borders and a sane immigration policy.

          1. I’m pretty sure he means, ”retards” like Sevo and LastofTheShitferbrains.

            1. NYP….. the epitome of dearth of wit.

      3. Surprise: Proggies, Trumpsters, and big-L Libertarians (including Reason) are simply in it for a smorgasbord of self-serving, preferred policies.

  7. Hard to believe this site is putting such a positive spin on the death of such a despicable man. It’s almost as if the now deceased Koch was some sort of major donor to the Reason Foundation. Keep these slobbering articles coming and his family may just decide to keep the cash spigot on a little while longer.

    1. James_R
      August.23.2019 at 8:57 pm
      “Hard to believe this site is putting such a positive spin on the death of such a despicable man…”

      Hard to believe such a fucking lying lefty ignoramus wastes time posting here.
      Fuck off, you pathetic piece of shit.

      1. Triggered much?

        1. Esmeralda Overdrive
          August.23.2019 at 11:06 pm
          “Triggered much?”

          Yeah, according to the lefty fucking ignoramus, calling bullshit is “being triggered”.
          Did your brains leak out recently, or did you never have any, you fucking lefty ignoramus?

          1. I surmise the latter in Tony’s case.

          2. “Lefty ignoramus” is definitely a winner of an insult and you should keep running with it because it doesn’t make you seem like a drunken 75 year-old cooter at all.

            1. At we aren’t a drooling idiot fanny bandit like you.

    2. What was so despicable? The way he kept museums, ballets, operas, and educational television shows running for decades? Or was it all the cancer centers and medical research the he kept well funded?

      1. What was despicable was a man who spent a very charmed life trying to maximize a fortune he and his heirs could never hope to deplete in a 100 years. A guy who only started caring about cancer research when he himself was diagnosed with cancer. A man whose generosity only extended to educational endeavours which sought to lend credence to his self serving neoliberal aims. I doubt most working families benefited from his donations to operas, ballets or neoliberal think tanks.

        1. So you feel entitled to his largesse? And perhaps believe he should have consulted with you individually as to how to allocate his capital?

          I have plenty of issues with the Kochs, but it is a mathematical fact that in even just the last year that put ore. Ones towards philanthropic causes than everyone in this entire comment section will in their entire life.

          Maybe you should just worry about you, and not turn your greedy eyes towards want others have.

        2. Look, I don’t like George Soros either, but we are talking about David Koch here….man started making donations well before he got cancer. And they do employ 120k which does help “working families”…

          1. Contrast that with Soros, whose funds never employed many people and whose biggest donations ($15b plus) were to his foundation to avoid paying the US repatriation taxes.

            Soros also spends a lot of his Open Society money in political efforts overseas, probably out of guilt from his damage to English and Malay citizens that got caught in the wrong side of his hedge fund deals, and in attempt to save the old country.

        3. What was despicable was a man who spent a very charmed life trying to maximize a fortune he and his heirs could never hope to deplete in a 100 years.

          No, what’s despicable is that people like you are not trying to maximize your fortunes; that the fruits of your labor are so useless to other people and society that nobody is willing to voluntarily pay you significant amounts of money for it.

          A guy who only started caring about cancer research when he himself was diagnosed with cancer. A man whose generosity only extended to educational endeavours which sought to lend credence to his self serving neoliberal aims.

          That’s the privilege that comes along with being useful to your fellow human beings.

    3. Someone needs to counter Twitter.

  8. I have mixed feelings on the dude. Yeah, he did a lot of good. But he also made his money in the fossil sourced power industry, contributing to global warming and did a lot to lobby politicians to slow down EVs and other green technologies, just so that he could make more profits. Profits which he then donated to charities helping millions.

    1. First, AGW is bullshit. If you’re peddling that, you are really in the wrong place. Second, EVs are not eventual, except in the eyes of politicians and have a lot of problems. In the long term there are likely better paths to advancements in transportation technology.

      1. This place’s science reporter disagrees with you on the veracity of global warming. Sure, he’s a ridiculous optimist, but your denial stance is not even mainstream here. It’s only mainstream among American rightwing blogwhores and nowhere else. But then you probably think they’re right about everything else to as literally the rest of the 99% of humanity thinks you’re cousinfucking morons.

        1. But then you probably think they’re right about everything else to as literally the rest of the 99% of humanity thinks you’re cousinfucking morons.

          99% of humanity used to believe that slavery was alright, that kings ruled by divine authority.

          This place’s science reporter disagrees with you on the veracity of global warming.

          “AGW bullshit” doesn’t refer to whether AGW is happening, it refers to the demonstrably nonsensical proposals for dealing with it: destroying the US economy in order to have no significant effect on US or global climate is foolish.

          1. “Destroying the economy” is not a policy proposal on the table. Kind of like “open borders.”

            It’s almost like you’re swallowing conversation-stopping propaganda lines forcefed to you by interests that like the status quo just fine.

            Any infant can understand that the status quo is not necessarily cost-free, and when the status quo is the habitable environment of planet earth undergoing rapid disruptions, it really goes without saying. So keep stalling and see if you aren’t disappointed that we didn’t act when we could have done so cheaply.

            1. Any infant is smarter than you Tony. Your bullshit climate religion is just a delivery system for Marxism.

              You people should all go the Jim Jones route with your doomsday bullshit.

            2. It’s almost like you’re swallowing conversation-stopping propaganda lines forcefed to you by interests that like the status quo just fine.

              Well, Tony, if you don’t understand the science and only go by propaganda lines, as you do, and if you haven’t read the IPCC or other literature, it must seem like that to you.

              Any infant can understand that the status quo is not necessarily cost-free

              Both the IPCC and the Obama administration have quantified the cost of doing nothing, and it amounts to a few percentage points of GDP in 2100 any of their already ridiculous worst case scenarios. Furthermore, most of that damage is going to occur outside the US, and US action is ineffective in combating it. Those are the facts.

              The current crop of Democratic presidential candidates speculates on the gullibility and ignorance of fools like you, and then adds on top of that the ridiculous promise that a “war on climate change” would be good for the economy.

    2. Come on, man. The Koch’s have said ethanol, which they make big money from, is corporate welfare, and they’ve been against big government and corporate welfare long before you got woke. Stop with the BS you’re reading on AOC’s Twitter and Tom Steyer’s blog, and recognize that, in addition to the charitable donations, the Koch’s have employed ~ 60,000 American in a variety of industries. I bet you don’t even drive an EV even though there are a dozen to choose from…

  9. If you’ve analyzed dreams Khawab ki Tabeer in Urdu, you realize right now there are ways and lots of styles to translate dreams. I could see the many people inside the wish (like the lizard) as addressing facets of self. Since you are planning about becoming a homicide detective, the wish could also relate solely to what you need to conquer and experience in order to pursue this target. If it is a faculty, I would seethe fantasy as featuring mean important lifestyle lessons I have to study.

    1. Heavy shit, man. Let Hercules Savinien Triathlon top that, huh? Not even the Urkubold or UnderZOG.

  10. The Kochs have (had) interesting ideas, and I would like to subscribe to their newsletter. Oh, turns out I do!

    Now someone explain to me why they should have the influence they have over national and global policy that they do just because they inherited money and managed to make some more money. Explain the freedomness of that.

    1. Now someone explain to me why they should have the influence they have over national and global policy that they do just because they inherited money and managed to make some more money. Explain the freedomness of that.

      For all their money, the Koch brothers have had less influence on US politics than your average NYT, WaPo editor, Noam Chomsky, or Paul Krugman. Now, tell me, why should unelected, unaccomplished, self-serving jerks like those have so much influence in US politics?

      The answer is the same: because for government to try to adjudicate free speech is even worse than for government to stay out of it entirely.

      1. That’s a ridiculous claim. But at least they’re doing their influencing out in the open, using their free speech. That’s how it’s supposed to be. And that’s not the type of influence the Kochs had. I can count on one finger the times I’ve ever even heard one of them speak. They’re not exercising free speech. They’re exercising the right to own politicians with money. That libertarians can’t tell the difference is your problem. Or was until you made it mine.

        1. You are one painfully stupid Okie rube, you retarded faggot.

        2. Oh, we both agree that special interests buying politicians and government is a huge problem.

          Your solution is to give ever more power to government. But giving government the power to control political spending is simply yet another power that will be corrupted and abused. The more power you give to government, the more psychopaths and crooks will be running it.

          The only solution to the problem that we both perceive is to reduce the size and power of government to its bare minimum, so that there simply isn’t much value in corrupting and buying it in the first place. Literally: that’s the only solution.

  11. Judging by the online comments I’ve read about his passing, David Koch was hated both by the Dumb Trumpkins and the Stupid Left. When you pissed off that many bozos, your life was not in vain.

  12. He was a very nice man whose very presence seemed to brighten a room.

    1. Well, he did have his eyes replaced with flood lights, so there’s that.

  13. If one of the hijackers had just showed up in the ER with cutaneous anthrax, which would not be “skin irritation “ or a single lesion and not been diagnosed and aggressively treated he would probably have died…… Read More

  14. called for the abolition of the CIA and FBI in the wake of the Church Commission

    These days the “progressives” are madly in love with the CIA and the FBI. For those of us old enough that we actually stole that book, it’s bizarre.

    1. The American left used to be liberal-leaning. These days, the American left is composed of democratic socialists and democratic fascists (aka progressives).

  15. Other than being an open borders retard, he was pretty legit.

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