Libertarian History/Philosophy

Charles Koch and Brian Hooks on Learning From Your Critics

The libertarian philanthropist and CEO of Stand Together on their new book, Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World

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Over the past 50-plus years, Charles Koch grew his family business, Koch Industries, into one of the largest privately-held companies in America while playing a leading role in creating or supporting the modern libertarian movement and some of its major institutions. Among them: The Cato Institute, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Mercatus Center, and the Charles Koch Foundation, a nonprofit that supports many organizations, including Reason Foundation, which is the publisher of Reason magazine. Along with his brother David, a longtime trustee of the Reason Foundation who passed away last year at the age of 79, the 85-year-old billionaire became not only one of the most successful businessmen in the country but also one of the most controversial, with leftists blaming  "the Koch brothers" for many of our contemporary problems.

Koch has just published Believe in People, a book that seeks to "offer a paradigm shift [that] calls for all of us to move away from the top-down approach to solving the really big problems" by instead "empowering people from the bottom up to act on their unique gifts and contribute to the lives of others."

In a conversation with Koch and his co-author, Brian Hooks, who is the chairman and CEO of Stand Together and the president of the Charles Koch Foundation, Reason's Nick Gillespie discusses the 2020 election, the successes and failures of the libertarian movement, and what Koch and Hooks see as the defining challenges and opportunities in the coming decade.

Coordination producer: Drake Springer

Cameras by Rob Keyes, Benjamin Gaskell, Zach Weissmueller, and Paul Detrick; audio by Kyle Arnold; narrated by Nick Gillespie; edited by Ian Keyser and John Osterhoudt

Photos: AP Photo/Topeka Capital-Journal, Mike Burley; Kris Tripplaar/Sipa USA/Newscom; BO RADER/MCT/Newscom; Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons/Flickr; Gavin Peters/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons; BO RADER/MCT/Newscom; AP Photo/David Zalubowski; Nicholas von Akron/Creative Commons/Flickr.

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  2. Charles Koch’s $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ has turned formerly libertarian Reason into another left wing anti Trump pro Democrat media outlet.

    1. Ah, yes, that famous criticism of Charles Koch.
      That he’s too left wing.

      1. Bill has been crying on here for days about Trump losing.

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      2. Definition of Libertarian: someone hated by the right for being too liberal and hated by the left for being too conservative.

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  3. Part of the solution to governments imposing top-down solutions to our problems is preventing people who are openly campaigning on particularly bad top-down solutions from gaining the White House.

    “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.”

    https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/#

    That’s nothing but a big excuse for using the government to impose top-down solutions on everything from corporate greed to racial inequity, and if President Trump had been reelected, we wouldn’t be looking at its actual implementation.

    Tesla is saying that four years from now, the supply chain efficiencies and other achievement they’re achieving on their battery technology will allow the sale of electric cars to consumers for less than $25,000–no Green New Deal necessary. That’s a bottom-up approach to our problems right there.

    Defeating President Trump’s reelection bid may be the greatest defeat for bottom-up approaches we see in our lifetimes. If Biden keeps half the promises he made on his website(s) in his first 100 days, American entrepreneurs may not be able to get us back to where we are now for decades.

    1. Part of the solution to governments imposing top-down solutions to our problems is preventing people who are openly campaigning on particularly bad top-down solutions from gaining the White House.

      I know, right? That’s why I voted for JoJo. Who did you vote for, Ken? The Team Red authoritarian?

      1. Why do you expect us to believe that you “voted for JoJo” when you spam DNC agitprop here all day?

        1. It doesn’t matter who chemjeff votes for.

          1. At least his vote for Jo canceled out your vote for Trump.

            1. Do you care about the issues, or is it all a personal vendetta with you?

              1. He’s fifty-centing.

                1. Fifty Cent voted against Biden, saying he didn’t want to be Twenty Cent.

            2. Good thinking Chip. Now we have a potential President Harris. I bet you feel good about that.

              Stupid faggot.

      2. Youre an admitted globalist. Stop pretending you aren’t. Globalism requires an authoritarian system that disallows competition among nation states. Youre delusional. You voted Jo because youre in a safe leftist state and can cosplay. You support almost every action plan of Biden.

        1. Here, let me fix that for you:

          Youre an admitted globalist.

          Yes, I am.

          Stop pretending you aren’t.

          I never pretended to be otherwise.

          Globalism requires some bullshit strawman position that I will now project onto you.

          No, actually it doesn’t.

          Youre delusional.

          No, I’m not.

          You voted Jo because of some bullshit strawman reason that I will now project onto you because I have nothing but insults.

          Actually, I voted for JoJo because she was clearly the superior choice among either Team Red or Team Blue.

          Finally I will now make up some more shit about you.

          Yes, you do make up shit about me all the time.

          1. No, actually it doesn’t.

            Yeah, actually it does. The only mistake JesseAz made was in the direction of the causality of your ideology. You’re not an authoritarian because you’re a globalist, you’re a globalist because you’re an authoritarian. Globalism is how self hating lily white upper middle class angsty teens of all ages, like you, assuage their self-hatred and guilt, by stomping on others’ culture, livelihood, autonomy, and property rights.

            Also, you’re a Canadian who lives in the greater Toronto area who formerly used the screen name cytotoxic. You aren’t eligible to vote in American elections. Although with the level of blatant, proven, caught-on-tape fraud that took place this year I wouldn’t actually be all that surprised if you did vote in the American election.

            1. Fuck off, Tulpa.

            2. “globalism is how self hating lily white upper middle class angsty teens of all ages, like you, assuage their self-hatred and guilt, by stomping on others’ culture, livelihood, autonomy, and property rights.”

              Is that your final definition? You are standing on that.

              It helps me to understand where you are coming from if that is it.

              Free movement of goods, services, and people is that.

              Side point. You take the name of a world renowned respected musical writer and performer as your own. Yet you claim autonomy, cultural and property rights as values.

              Somebody was the walrus but I doubt you earned it.

          2. Or real shift like your advocacy of child molesters from foreign countries having unrestricted access to our children. A sentiment you expressed in the very forums.

            Tubby, I will NEVER alert that go.

        2. And here I thought globalism meant believing that all of the people of the world deserve to be free. And nations shouldn’t interfere with free trade between their peoples.

      3. I wasted my vote when I wrote in Meir Kahane for President!

      4. I voted for the guy who rejected the Green New Deal and also rejected racist HR training.

        1. Well, my pick, Giant Meteor, would have done that, too.

      5. Tubby, we know damn well you voted for Biden. Probably dozens of times. Which is even more remarkable since you’re Canadian.

        1. Unless he moved to Georgia for the Senate race.

          1. Could be.

    2. You assume that they actually WERE bottom-up advocates. I see nothing to indicate that they legitimately were. The Kochs lied about their beliefs for years. They like some things…but seem to really love bombing dark-skinned folks more than most.

      1. I don’t think that was necessarily true of David.
        I think what we’re witnessing now is the true Charles Koch unleashed. He no longer has David’s moderating influence to keep him even ostensibly libertarian.

        1. The only libertarian position either Koch ever supported was international ”””””free””””” trade managed by international/supranational global governance organizations and the dissolution of national borders/sovereignty. If that sounds pretty familiar, it’s because it’s precisely identical to international communism as explicated by Marx and Engels.

          1. Hey Paul, “And Your Bird Can Sing” is a great song.

      2. Want to keep it real? I’ll keep it real: it’s assholes like these that are the reason why most people in the world despise billionaires and mistrust free market capitalism so much.

        These guys like Charles Koch are some of the richest motherfuckers on the entire planet, and yet they still force their pathetic flunkies like Welch and Gillespie our to beg others to give them more money they don’t need at all because they’re simply too fucking cheap to pay their salaries out of their own pockets.

        Most normal human beings find this level of greed absolutely shameless and disgusting. Is it any wonder nobody wants to listen to them?

        1. As I said elsewhere, at least the “robber barons” actually improved America. The rich today sell us out.

    3. Tesla is saying that four years from now, the supply chain efficiencies and other achievement they’re achieving on their battery technology will allow the sale of electric cars to consumers for less than $25,000–no Green New Deal necessary. That’s a bottom-up approach to our problems right there.

      The billions in subsidies to Tesla didn’t hurt either.

      1. How were they any different to the subsidies to Ford and GM for the exact same reasons? All things being equal, it’s apparent that if they failed in 14 cases and only one company provided the goods, then they weren’t actually a factor.

        1. He even liked the billions in research China steals. So not sure what he is bitching about.

        2. Oh they all get subsidies. So maybe we shouldn’t be celebrating Tesla, or Ford, or GM, as some type of Rearden Metal archetype.

          1. But that’s not what Ken was doing.

            1. Jeff doesn’t care about facts or logic.

              1. Or American children. As he advocates for letting child molesters from foreign countries have unrestricted access to them.

    4. Defeating President Trump’s reelection bid may be the greatest defeat for bottom-up approaches we see in our lifetimes.

      Defeating Trump is the greatest VICTORY for conservatives. Because the right-wing had lost its way under Trump. They went from actually doing something about out-of-control spending, with the sequester, all the way to “do whatever Trump wants”. Had Trump won, there would be literally no reason for anyone in power to advocate for less spending. Just us kooky libertarians. It would be Team Blue aka “spend spend spend”, and Team Red aka “do whatever Dear Leader Trump wants”. NOW, at least, we will have a discussion about how to pay for all of this crap, as Republicans will now pretend to care about spending again, without first having to check with Trump’s tweets to make sure that they are permitted to oppose spending again.

      We had four years of strongman idolatry from Team Red and that is quite enough. Time for that shit to end.

      1. “the greatest VICTORY for conservatives”

        Concern trolling at its finest.

      2. Ah yes. The normal lefty shit where they pretend to know ones best interests. You have openly stated you hate the GOP, yet here you are pretending to know what is best for them. And what is that? For them to act like lefty shits like yourself.

        1. If Trumpian strongman populism is truly what the “real Murican” right-wingers in the heartland want, then conservatism is truly dead in this country, and it’s now just a contest between left-wing authoritarianism and right-wing authoritarianism.

          Defeating the populist strongman will – hopefully – return right-wingers back to discussing ideas and proposing solutions, instead of this juvenile “pwning the libs” shit.

          Jesse, are you a conservative, or are you a populist? You can’t fully be both at the same time. There is some overlap, but in the end, genuine conservatives ought to be in favor of letting the rule of law and the institutions of government prevail over the whims of Dear Leader, even if Dear Leader is speaking “for the popular will”.

          1. Hey look, chemjeff who totally isn’t cytotoxic is lusting after the neocon Bush-era big government war machine Republican party just like he did when he totally wasn’t cytotoxic.

          2. It’s just really rich that you constantly defend democrats then turn around and attack republicans for their overspending. Which they do, but at a fraction of the pace of democrats.

            Maybe if we weren’t constantly settling for a bad republican as a hedge against a far worse democrat, we could focus on our gong the GOP of big spending RINOs.

      3. I think Trumps De-Regulation campaign is what really made him great (when’s the last time we had a president push for LIMITS?). But I agree; In his last term he started leaning left with the Cares Act. Too bad Republicans standard-lean wasn’t in the grasps of Rand Paul but it’s still a WHOLE heck of a lot better than the left and it’s sexist, racist, Nazi (national socialism) platform.

        1. Trump deserves credit for killing a $3.5 trillion stimulus package and negotiating an agreement with the Taliban for a full withdrawal from Afghanistan, too. Biden supported that $3.5 trillion stimulus package and maintaining 8,000 troops in Afghanistan on an indefinite basis.

          Trump was also against the Green New Deal, a War on Guns, and Medicare for All, too–three things that Biden is planning to pursue to the best of his ability according to his website(s). Because Trump wasn’t libertarian certainly doesn’t mean he wasn’t vastly superior to Biden in every respect on the issues where they differed.

      4. Hey look, chemjeff who totally isn’t cytotoxic is lusting after the neocon Bush-era big government war machine Republican party just like he did when he totally wasn’t cytotoxic.

        Bomb the darkies, import the survivors. Free minds and free markets baby!!!!!!!!!

    5. My advice to anti-Trump Reason libertarians:

      During the hard fucking that economic and civil liberty will get from the Biden/Harris regime, just lie back and think of Jo Jorgenson

      1. And the problem doesn’t go away until the negative consequences of Biden in being office goes away.

        1. Won’t happen.
          USA is done.
          It’s the USSA now.

          1. The solution is to rid ourselves of the socialists. With them gone, America can be repaired.

      2. Jo Jorgenson? THE VERY REASON Trump lost re-election??? The fact that Trump would’ve been re-elected if it wasn’t for Jo Jorgenson actually does give me some ‘faith’ in the American people – but the fact we got the Demon Party for the next 4-years if frightening.

        1. There were only two possible outcomes.

          Voting for Jo Jorgensen led to the four years of “frightening” outcome.

    6. “Which would you choose for $25,000 – a Tesla Model 2 EV or a VW Golf with a conventional fossil fuel engine? No longer will the argument hold that “I can’t buy the EV because it’s too expensive”, because they will be the same price. You could still say “300 miles is not enough to get me all the way from New York to Los Angeles or London to Edinburgh in one go”, but who really does that? In three years from now, recharging will be much more ubiquitous, too – and it’s hardly a trial for Tesla owners already. When you can buy an EV with over 300 miles of range that is faster and equipped with better technology than an internal combustion engine VW Golf, as well as being much cheaper to run, only groundless anti-electric prejudice will stop you. There won’t be any real reason to buy a car that runs on fuel derived from oil and gas anymore.

      —-Forbes

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmorris/2020/09/26/teslas-25000-electric-car-means-game-over-for-gas-and-oil/?sh=2e29b4c51ee7

      Sounds kind of pie-in-the-sky, doesn’t it? Well here’s the best thing about it–that drop in the cost of Tesla’s battery production costs doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime. It’s all paid for by willing investors. And that $25,000 price tag is without subsidies.

      Joe Biden’s drive to eliminate fossil fuels will reportedly cost the taxpayers $11 trillion. That’s coming out of our future paychecks.

      People who think that the alternative to Joe Biden’s Green New Deal is “doing nothing” are stupid people. People who think that Joe Biden is smarter than entrepreneurs like Musk and Musk’s associates are even dumber still. And people who voted for Jo Jorgensen because they’re against socialism are some of the dumbest people on earth.

  4. “with leftists blaming ‘the Koch brothers’ for many of our contemporary problems”

    That’s changing though! I’ve had considerable success convincing my progressive friends that Mr. Koch is actually a good guy. The key, I’ve found, is to point out that he’s been funding open borders advocacy for decades.

    Seriously. Try it. Next time you hear a progressive criticize our benefactor, link them to one of the many Reason articles in which Shikha Dalmia promotes unlimited, unrestricted immigration. Then ask “Would an evil, selfish person fund this kind of journalism?” You’ll practically see the flashing light bulb above their head.

    1. “flashing light bulb above their head” — Import more people who’ve made their own country a sh*thole so we can be a sh*thole too??

      1. People are not imports. They are not yours to buy, sell, or trade.

        Shoes, TV sets and avocados are imports.

        People move of their own free will for reasons of their own.

        People used to be imports but we got rid of that.

        1. Another Nazi’s are people too sympathy call??? Foreign people are NO MORE entitled to move into the USA than they are to move into my home without permission. It’s not a matter of ?free will? it’s a matter of trespassing.

          Say, where do you live – do I get “free will” to move into your house?

          1. Suppose I give a foreign person permission to rent my house, or buy it from me. Or to work for my company. Who are you to run to the government to try to stop them with guns?

            1. Your ‘foreign person’ just might be safe within your own private property – but lets be real; That ‘foreign person’ is probably not going to live and die in your basement. Your reaching way too-far to try and justify yourself. As does all the “erase the borders” cheerleaders in here.

            2. Fine. However, they will have to legally be able to come to the US and get there on their own. Which isn’t up to them.

  5. “Boy, did we screw up! What a mess!”

    -Charles Koch

    And he will never admit to half of it. Here’s the biggest mess he and his brother are certainly partially responsible for…climate change denialism. And Reason is as well. It’s been clear that going back as far as 1991 the Kochs’ were the primary founders and pushers of climate change denial…it was a hoax, the science wasn’t clear, temperatures are stabilizing, scientists were on the take, to say nothing of pushing Republicans into that active denial, when it was Bush Senior who was initially sounding the alarm. And when things that many libertarians support (like a carbon tax) were still possible.

    And Reason, of course knowing who their benefactors are, did the same. And that will be one of he lasting legacies for both. Sadly.

    1. Ron Bailey has been shilling climate apocalypticism for 15 years, but sure shreek.

      1. BS. Show me one article where he came anything close to climate apocalypticism. In fact, all he’s ever done is quote “studies” and articles by Spencer, Lomborg, Schellenberger, Heartland Institute, Curry, Michaels, Climate Depot and more. And in every one of those cases they are people who have denied the overwhelming consensus from climate scientists.

        Yeah, Bailey once a year makes a statement that climate might become a problem…might…and then most every person and article he cites throughout the year tells you the opposite.

        But hey, enjoy the holidays!

        Best,
        Jack

    2. at least he did something good then.
      climate change fearmongering is the biggest waste of time and tears in a long, long time.
      and now it’s gonna be a colossal waste of money too.

  6. “offer a paradigm shift [that] calls for all of us to move away from the top-down approach to solving the really big problems” by instead “empowering people from the bottom up to act on their unique gifts and contribute to the lives of others.”

    Well said – It’s amazing we’re now writing books about the ‘plan’ (foundation) of the USA as if it was a new idea…. How did we get so far off track?

  7. Let’s just say the TLDR is “fuck you, got mine.”

    No one should care what this shitstain thinks.

  8. The Kochs got into politics out of outrage over George Bush’s prescription drug plan, which cost about $75 billion a year. When Paul Ryan proposed is “revenue neutral” corporate tax cut, the Koch organization successfully lobbied to remove all the tax increases that Ryan added to make for lost revenue. As a result, Ryan’s once revenue neutral package is costing the U.S. $150 billion a year. I guess Charlie doesn’t mind deficits if the money goes into his pocket.

    1. Telling you, these worse-than-robber-barons might need to be placed against a wall in the near future.

        1. Why should I mourn if somebody’s pet mauls them to death?

          1. You’re Charles Koch’s pet? I’m very sorry to hear that.

            1. I would not lower myself to waste a valuable bullet on a Quisling.

              1. Better if jihadists killed them all instead, amirite?

    2. Quite honestly I think it was climate change denialism that got them into politics. It dates way back to 1991. Well before prescription drugs. Because that was the issue that most threatened their profits, and that was the issue in which shallow minded libertarians believed a free market will never create answers for, so it dictated denial.

      1. WHAT ‘denialism’???? The last 5-years we’ve been getting colder. In 1970’s it was the Global Cooling Hoax.

        THE only ‘denialism’ going on is the fact every model the climate change hoax created has faltered (BY PROOF OF REALITY AND TIME). Its still snows EVERY DAMN YEAR just like it did BEFORE you whack-jobs ran around with your hair on fire about “the sky is falling down”…

        There’s some MAJOR denialism going on alright; the denialism of OBVIOUS REALITY in the Climate Change Hoax crowd… It was Global Cooling, then it was Global Warming, now it’s just CHANGING??? Give me a freak-en break from such idiocy.

        1. There you go…you’re demonstrating just how successful both Koch and Reason have been in relegating actual science to the back pages. Well done!

          1. And the fact you like to pretend Chicken Little’s “Sky is falling down” is “science” instead of fantasy even a 1/2-Century down the road shows how successful the Climate Hoax Religion has brainwashed you.

            “Bow down to your Gov-Gods; Only Gov-Guns used to sacrifice humanity in the name of “The Sky is falling down” will save us.” — It’s a perfect demonstration of how in the world so many Germans decided to join the Nazi’s. Be careful what you believe in.

    3. David Koch ran for Vice President on the Libertarian Party ticket back in 1980.

      Learn a little history.

  9. Who pays the bills? That’s right. Suck that Koch.

  10. THE only ‘denialism’ going on is the fact each model the weather change hoax created has faltered (BY PROOF OF REALITY AND TIME). Its nevertheless snows EVERY DAMN YEAR just like it did BEFORE you whack-jobs ran around along with your hair on hearth about.

    https://kubet.com.vn/

  11. About thirty years ago I first read Atlas Shrugged. I would reread it four times in my twenties.. Fountainhead three times. We The Living (BEST movie), I read twice. All of her non-fiction, the Branden biographies, Peikoff’s ripoff, and her posthumous fiction. I was devoted to understanding her thinking and she is my biggest intellectual influence.

    I declare her legacy to be stone-cold dead. And there’s no corpse because Rush Limbaugh ate it.

  12. Koch didn’t learn a damn thing, he didn’t get his way so he changed parties. His objective has not changed, to enrich himself further and make the rest of us peasants.

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