Tag Archives: Koch Industries

Charles G. Koch: Why Koch Industries is speaking out

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Charles G. Koch, who is chairman of the board and CEO of Koch Industries, writes that economic freedom — not government spending and intervention — leads to prosperity and economic well-being for all, even for our poorest citizens.

Koch describes an “economic crisis” of increased spending and debt, at both the federal and state levels. The spending cuts currently being considered by Congress, he says, are “relatively minor,” with few proposals for necessary cuts to military and entitlement programs. He describes Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as someone who takes seriously the challenge of controlling government spending.

Mismanagement of our finances by both Democrats and Republicans, along with their and President Obama’s refusal to tackle the problem of existing debt and the unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, means we are looking at “looming bankruptcy,” Koch writes.

On the relationship between government and business, Koch writes that too many business firms have practiced “crony capitalism”: lobbying for special favors, subsidies, and regulations to keep competitors — who may be more efficient — out of the way.

While it’s more difficult than practicing cronyism, competing in open markets assures that firms that efficiently provide goods and services that consumers demand are the companies that thrive, Koch writes. It is these efficient firms that raise our standard of living. When politically-favored firms are propped up and bailed out, our economy is weakened: “Subsidizing inefficient jobs is costly, wastes resources, and weakens our economy.”

He concludes: “I am confident that businesses like ours will hire more people and invest in more equipment when our country’s financial future looks more promising. Laying the groundwork for smaller, smarter government, especially at the federal level, is going to be tough. But it is essential for getting us back on the path to long-term prosperity.”

Why Koch Industries Is Speaking Out

Crony capitalism and bloated government prevent entrepreneurs from producing the products and services that make people’s lives better.

By Charles G. Koch

Years of tremendous overspending by federal, state and local governments have brought us face-to-face with an economic crisis. Federal spending will total at least $3.8 trillion this year — double what it was 10 years ago. And unlike in 2001, when there was a small federal surplus, this year’s projected budget deficit is more than $1.6 trillion.

Several trillions more in debt have been accumulated by state and local governments. States are looking at a combined total of more than $130 billion in budget shortfalls this year. Next year, they will be in even worse shape as most so-called stimulus payments end.

For many years, I, my family and our company have contributed to a variety of intellectual and political causes working to solve these problems. Because of our activism, we’ve been vilified by various groups. Despite this criticism, we’re determined to keep contributing and standing up for those politicians, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who are taking these challenges seriously.

Both Democrats and Republicans have done a poor job of managing our finances. They’ve raised debt ceilings, floated bond issues, and delayed tough decisions.

Continue reading at The Wall Street Journal (subscription not required)

Koch critics examined

Critics of Charles and David Koch allege that the philanthropists have tried to hide their political involvement and contributions over the years. While false, many uncritically believe it. And at the same time, the media gives Koch critics a pass on their lack of transparency.

Not everyone, however. Here Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post takes a look at some of the figures that are attacking the Koch brothers. Here’s part:

From our brief inquiry into some left-wing groups, we’ve learned a few things. First, they share many of the same donors. Second, they often pursue the same agenda (“Get the Koch brothers!”) And, while they talk an awful lot about “transparency” and the menace of “anonymous donors,” their own disclosure is limited, at best.

Don’t get me wrong. Rich people and foundations have every right to operate in this fashion. But it’s rank hypocrisy for them to go after the Koch brothers for funding lots of conservative groups. Moreover, the mainstream media and Congress should stop pretending that these left-wing front groups are high-minded independent watch dogs. In fact, these groups are highly partisan and selective attack dogs.

A mix of diverse ideological organizations conducting pitched battles on the political playing field is a vital part of our democratic system. Let’s just be honest about who the players are and who owns the teams.

Koch executives respond to fraudulent call

This week a prankster called Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and pretended to be David Koch, who is executive vice president of Koch Industries.

Responding to the fraudulent call in National Review Online, Koch executives pledged to continue supporting free enterprise, free markets, and economic freedom in spite of opposition generated as part of an “orchestrated campaign” headed by the Obama Administration and groups like Center for American Progress. Bringing in labor groups is an escalation not seen before. The prank call is described as “fraudulent.”

Koch Executives Speak Out on Wisconsin

“We will not step back at all.”
By Robert Costa

Madison, Wis. — Earlier this week, a blogger impersonating industrialist David Koch spoke with Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who is attempting to pass a budget-repair bill. The conversation between Walker and the poseur, which was recorded, has received heavy media attention and turned the national spotlight onto the political activities of Koch Industries, a private, Wichita-based company with diverse holdings.

In interviews with National Review Online, Koch executives responded to the incident and pledged to “not stop” supporting free-enterprise initiatives, even as opponents attempt to sully the Koch name and the groups that brothers David and Charles Koch, the company’s co-owners, support. They also noted that David Koch and the governor have never met or spoken.

Continue reading at National Review Online.

Charles and David Koch v. George Soros: Free markets or not

Perhaps the best commentary on the recent conference sponsored by Charles and David Koch in California comes from Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner. Titled The Kochs vs. Soros: Free markets vs. state coercion, it explains the difference between advocates of free enterprise and those who believe in using the force of government to achieve their goals.

At the conference, protests were arranged by the left-wing advocacy group Common Cause. That organization recently launched an attack on Charles Koch, David Koch, and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices that has been found to be baseless and nothing more than a publicity stunt.

After tracing the source of funding for Common Cause, Carney concluded: “In other words, money from billionaire George Soros and anonymous, well-heeled liberals was funding a protest against rich people’s influence on politics.”

Liberals, of course, contend that their political donates are good because their causes are the correct causes: “Conservative money is bad, and linked to greed, while liberal money is self-evidently philanthropic.”

While I don’t want to repeat Carney’s entire piece here — there’s a link to it below — here’s the crux of his argument: “… while Soros money and Koch money are superficially equivalent, there’s a crucial distinction. If we take both sides at their word, Soros and other liberal donors spend in order to impose their preferences on others while the Kochs and other free-market donors spend in an effort to be left alone to buy and sell with willing parties. The moral difference is this: Only one side is trying to compel others to conform to its preferences.”

Carney has written before about the political left’s presumption — that big business is evil and is always seeking to restrain government interference — being incorrect. In his 2006 book The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money , Carney explains:

The standard assumption seems to be that government action protects ordinary people by restraining big business, which, in turn, wants to be left alone. The facts point in an entirely different direction:

  • Enron was a tireless advocate of strict global energy regulations supported by environmentalists. Enron also used its influence in Washington to keep laissez-faire bureaucrats off the federal commissions that regulate the energy industry.
  • Philip Morris has aggressively supported heightened federal regulation over tobacco and tobacco advertising. Meanwhile, the state governments that sued Big Tobacco are now working to protect those same large cigarette companies from competition and lawsuits.
  • A recent tax increase in Virginia passed because of the tireless support of the state’s business leaders, and big business has a long history of supporting tax hikes.
  • General Motors provided critical support for new stricter clean air rules that boosted the company’s bottom line.

Most important, in these and hundreds of similar cases, the government action that helps big business hurts consumers, taxpayers, less established businesses, and smaller competitors. Following closely what big business does in Washington reveals a very different story from conventional wisdom.

While critics of Charles Koch, David Koch, and Koch Industries use the “big business” criticism — Koch Industries is a very large company, after all — there is a difference the critics can’t — or don’t want to — grasp, as Carney explains in the Washington Examiner article: “First off — and this was the point of a talk I gave Sunday at the Koch conference — many of the industrialists in the audience could profit more through regulations and subsidies than they could through the free market. Some oil executives, for example, have supported California’s strict refinery regulations because they kept out competitors. Natural gas companies like Enron have backed cap and trade because it hurt oil and coal. As for bankers — the Wall Street bailouts made it clear that big government is their mother’s milk.” (emphasis added)

Carney’s book The Big Ripoff is blunt and detailed in its criticism of companies that use government to obtain special favor to enrich themselves. Yet, he spoke at the Koch conference, and has spoken at other similar events in the past.

The Kochs vs. Soros: Free markets vs. state coercion

By Timothy P. Carney

Palm Springs, California — At the front gates of the Rancho Las Palmas resort, a few hundred liberals rallied Sunday against “corporate greed” and polluters. They chanted for the arrest of billionaires Charles and David Koch, and their ire was also directed at the other free market-oriented businessmen invited here by the Koch brothers to discuss free markets and electoral strategies.

Billionaires poisoning our politics was the central theme of the protests. But nothing is quite as it seems in modern politics: The protest’s organizer, the nonprofit Common Cause, is funded by billionaire George Soros.

Common Cause has received $2 million from Soros’s Open Society Institute in the past eight years, according to grant data provided by Capital Research Center. Two panelists at Common Cause’s rival conference nearby — President Obama’s former green jobs czar, Van Jones, and blogger Lee Fang — work at the Center for American Progress, which was started and funded by Soros but, as a 501(c)4 nonprofit “think tank,” legally conceals the names of its donors.

In other words, money from billionaire George Soros and anonymous, well-heeled liberals was funding a protest against rich people’s influence on politics.

When Politico reporter Ken Vogel pointed out that Soros hosts similar “secret” confabs, CAP’s Fang responded on Twitter: “don’t you think there’s a very serious difference between donors who help the poor vs. donors who fund people to kill government, taxes on rich?”

In less than 140 characters, Fang had epitomized the myopic liberal view of money in politics: Conservative money is bad, and linked to greed, while liberal money is self-evidently philanthropic.

Continue reading at the Washington Examiner

Koch Industries: Jobs created through market principles

Now that President Barack Obama has embraced job creation in his 2011 State of the Union Address, he might want to take a look at a company that has been successful in creating both jobs and value for its customers. Wichita-based Koch Industries Inc. has done this through an application of market-based practices as described in The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World’s Largest Private Company, a 2007 book authored by company CEO Charles G. Koch. Koch’s approach has been successful. Since 1960, the value of Koch Industries Inc. has increased faster than the value of the broad-based S&P index of the 500 largest U.S. companies by a factor of 16 times.

Charles and David Koch also believe in free markets and economic freedom as the best way to promote prosperity for all people, and they have long supported organizations that work towards this goal.

But not everyone agrees with Charles and David Koch and their free-market approach to creating jobs, value, and prosperity. Recently they have come under baseless attack by the liberal activist group Common Cause for an alleged attempt to influence two U.S. Supreme Court justices. But as shown in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, Common Cause’s complaint is based on incorrect facts, even a total disregard for facts, and is totally groundless. As the Journal notes: “Common Cause’s letter to the Justice Department is just the latest salvo in a long campaign by left-wing groups to intimidate conservative judges, academics and activists.” Fortunately for the cause of freedom, Charles and David Koch do not shrink back from these attacks.

Recently the Wichita Eagle profiled Koch Industries Inc. and how the company’s growth supports over 50,000 jobs in the U.S. and 17,000 overseas. When ripple effects are counted, the job count is at over 203,000 in the U.S. A reprint of the Eagle article is available at Koch cautious in acquiring other businesses.

Growth of Wichita’s Koch Industries profiled

Two recent Wichita Eagle articles profiled Wichita-based Koch Industries and its recent growth.

In Wichita, Koch employs about 2,300 workers, and about 50,000 across the U.S. in nearly all the states. When standard economic multipliers are used, these Koch jobs support about 203,000 total jobs.

While Koch’s headquarters are in Wichita, Kansas ranks seventh among the states in the number of Koch employees, with Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, and South Carolina having more Koch employees.

Of note in the article Koch cautious in acquiring other businesses:

  • Koch has been cautious in its acquisitions, looking for acquisitions that provide a “long-term, sustainable advantage.”
  • A fit with Koch’s culture is necessary. That culture is described in Charles Koch’s 2007 book The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World’s Largest Private Company. More information on this book, including excerpts, is available at The Science of Success.
  • Besides the costs of acquisition, Koch has spent $10 billion on capital improvements since 2003.
  • Nationwide Koch has 1,500 job openings, including need for workers in accounting, finance, and information technology in Wichita.

A report created by Harrah Analytics of Koch’s economic impact in the U.S. is available at Koch Companies Creating Jobs Nationwide.

The second article, Fertilizer helps Koch grow describes a Koch anhydrous ammonia plant near Enid, Oklahoma. This plant produces 3,000 tons per day, described as 10 percent of the country’s production. The article describes Koch’s efforts to comply with emissions regulations.

Also, the article describes how a partially Koch-owned plant in Venezuela was seized by Hugo Chavez as that country moved away from a market economy to a socialized economy.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday November 16, 2010

Future of California. George Gilder, writing in the Wall Street Journal, lays out a grim future for California based on voters’ refusal to overturn AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. Of the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state, Gilder writes: “That’s a 30% drop followed by a mandated 80% overall drop by 2050. Together with a $500 billion public-pension overhang, the new energy cap dooms the state to bankruptcy.” He says that AB 32 may not be necessary at all: “The irony is that a century-long trend of advance in conventional ‘non-renewable’ energy — from wood to oil to natural gas and nuclear — has already wrought a roughly 60% drop in carbon emissions per watt. Thus the long-term California targets might well be achieved globally in the normal course of technological advance. The obvious next step is aggressive exploitation of the trillions of cubic feet of low-carbon natural gas discovered over the last two years, essentially ending the U.S. energy crisis.” … Referring to green energy radicals, Gilder writes: “Their economic model sees new wealth emerge from jobs dismantling the existing energy economy and replacing it with a medieval system of windmills and solar collectors. By this logic we could all get rich by razing the existing housing plant and replacing it with new-fangled tents.” Which reminds me of when I criticized those who promote wind power for its job creation: “After all, if we view our energy policy as a jobs creation program, why not build wind turbines and haul them to western Kansas without the use of machinery? Think of the jobs that would create.” An economic boom to those along the Santa Fe Trail, no doubt.

All the billionaires. An amusing commentary — amusing until you realize what it really means — by Scott Burns in the Austin American-Statesman takes a look at how long the wealth of America’s billionaires could fund the federal government deficit. The upshot is that there are about 400 billionaires, and their combined wealth could fund the deficit for about nine months. What’s sobering about this? All this wealth would go to fund only the deficit — that portion of federal spending above revenue for the year. There’s still all the base spending to pay for. And the wealth of these people, which in many cases is in the substance of the companies they founded or own — Microsoft, Oracle, Koch Industries, Wal-Mart, Google, etc. — would be gone.

Kansas has sold assets before. In this year’s session of the Kansas Legislature, there was a proposal to sell state-owned assets in order to raise funds and reduce costs. Kansas Reporter’s Rachel Whitten reports it’s been done before, with success.

Where are the airlines? James Fallows of The Atlantic regarding the new “groping” TSA screenings at airports. Echoing Wichitan John Todd from last week, one reader writes: “And again, where are the airlines? When TSA begins to drive away customers, they’ll react, is the stock answer. I would argue that it already does drive away customers (certainly if the emails I receive are any indication), but what of those it ‘merely’ makes angry? There’s something wrong with a business model that accepts angry and harassed customers as an acceptable option to no customers at all.” Wichitan Mike Smith writes in: “Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate is having a hearing regarding the TSA’s new procedures that I hope results in the procedures being rescinded. If your readers want to make last minute contact with Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback (who is on the committee with TSA oversight), I urge them to do so.”

Next for the tea party. Patrick Ruffini in National Review looks at the future of the tea party. Ruffini notes the difficulty in maintaining the momentum of grassroots efforts. Both Bush and Obama have faced this. He cautions: “The experience should provide a cautionary tale to the Tea Partiers, with their more humble origins: Hitch yourself to established power institutions at your own peril.” But other, newer organizations have sprung up to help tea party activisits: “Ned Ryun, executive director of American Majority — one of the more promising new institutions that have risen up around the Tea Party movement — wants to ignore Washington and go local. ‘What the movement is really about, quite frankly, is the local leaders, and I’ve made a point with American Majority of going directly to them, and ignoring the so-called national leaders of the movement,’ he told me. ‘I think the national leaders are beside the point; if they go away, the movement still exists. If the local leaders go away, the movement dies.'” Kansas is one of the states that American Majority has been active in since its inception. American Majority plans to be involved at the local government level in the 2012 elections.

The new naysayers. President Obama and others have criticized Republicans for being the party of “No.” Now that some of the president’s deficit reduction commission recommendations are starting to be known, there’s a new party of “No.” Writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times: “But Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson performed a valuable public service nonetheless: the reaction to their proposals demonstrated that when it comes to addressing the long-term challenges facing this country, the Democrats, too, can play the Party of No.”

Community Improvement Districts spread to Overland Park. As reported in Kansas Reporter, Overland Park is considering whether to create its first Community Improvement District. In this case, the district — which allows merchants within to charge extra sales tax for their own benefit — would benefit a proposed residential and retail complex. More about these tax districts may be found here.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday October 22, 2010

My best tweet yesterday. I just uninstalled the NPR News app from my iPhone. #NPR #Juan

Many have already voted. Wednesday Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale told commissioners that his office had sent 63,000 mail ballots to voters in the county, and 20,000 had been returned. In the 2006 general election, a midterm election comparable to this year, 118,258 ballots were cast in Sedgwick County. Gale’s numbers tell us that around half of voters will use the advance voting system, and perhaps 17 percent have already voted as far as two weeks in advance of election day.

Goyle on defense pork barrel spending. Yesterday Kansas fourth Congressional district candidate Democrat Raj Goyle criticized Republican Mike Pompeo for not supporting a second engine for the F-35 fighter jet program. Goyle says we need to protect 800 jobs in Cowley county by approving this project. The problem is this federal spending program is not needed and wasteful. According to Forbes: “The problem General Electric and teammate Rolls Royce face is that both the Bush and the Obama administrations concluded the single-engine F-35 would do just fine with only one engine supplier. … Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to make termination of the second engine a test case of whether Congress is committed to eliminating waste.” Spending money on this jet engine that is not needed is the very definition of government waste. A question: If these jobs were not in the Congressional district Goyle is running in, would he support this project? If the answer is yes, he fails the Defense Secretary’s test for whether Congress is really ready to eliminate waste. If the answer is no, he’s already engaging in the type of pork-grabbing — getting anything and everything for the home district, no matter what the cost — that he purportedly disdains.

They do this too? Here’s another example of left-wing bloggers and writers claiming to have “uncovered” something that sits in plain sight. This time it comes from Think Progress, a project of the hard left — but innocently-named — Center for American Progress Action Fund, which in turn is a project of George Soros. Jonathan Adler explains at National Review Online: “Think Progress has a breathless post up today alleging they have uncovered the Koch brothers sinister plot to coordinate corporate, libertarian, and conservative donors to outside groups and think tanks. What they’ve actually uncovered is (horrors) an invitation-only conference of generally like-minded philanthropic and other organizations that likes to discuss issues and strategies and hear from prominent thinkers and commentators (including, on at least one occasion, NRO’s Ramesh Ponnuru and frequent contributor Veronique de Rugy). Think Progress acts as if this is some sort of revelation, but this sort of thing has been common for some time, particularly on the left. The Environmental Grantmakers Association is one example of an organizational umbrella for like-minded philanthropists that has sponsored closed-door conferences for strategy discussions, but there are others. The Kendall Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, and other specific funders have, at times, also taken very aggressive steps to ensure coordination by funders and grant recipients. I wrote about this fifteen years ago in my book on the environmentalist movement. Next thing Think Progress will tell us there’s gambling in Atlantic City.” By the way, the Wichita Eagle will rely on Think Progress as a source.

Does business favor free markets? Many people naively assume that business automatically supports free markets and less regulation. The Washington Examiner’s Timothy P. Carney tells us that this is not so. Writing about his speaking experiences at an event sponsored by Charles Koch, Carney writes: “I’ve often said — and I said it at the dinner — that privately held businesses tend to favor free markets, even when they get big; while publicly held businesses (like those on the Fortune 500), tend to want bigger government as often or more often than they want free markets, depending on the industry and who’s in power.” Carney lists a number of companies — BP, Conoco, Shell, and Wal-Mart that are in favor of more government regulation. Wal-Mart, for example, favored higher minimum wage legislation because it already paid higher wages than its competitors, and the new minimum wage would hurt them, giving Wal-Mart a competitive advantage obtained through regulation. Carney also makes the case that liberals don’t often realize that they’re being played: “This may be the most important point that folks like [left-wing bloggers] Zernike, Yglesias, and Fang miss: many of these businessmen could profit even more under the policies the Left favors than they do under the free market.” As it applies to Koch Industries specifically, Carney notes that strict regulation of refineries makes entry by competitors difficult to impossible, relying on the Los Angeles Times for evidence: “California refiners are simply cashing in on a system that allows a handful of players to keep prices high by carefully controlling supplies. The result is a kind of miracle market in which profits abound, outsiders can’t compete and a dwindling cadre of gas station operators has little choice but go along. Indeed, the recent history of California’s fuel industry is a textbook case of how a once-competitive business can become skewed to the advantage of a few, all with the federal government’s blessing.” I would add that in competitive markets, business firms must seek to please a diverse array of customers, and that’s harder to do than pleasing politicians and regulators.

Kansas politics in New York Times. Particularly the governor’s race. The article contains an accurate assessment on how things really work in Kansas, and should be noted by those who blame all of our state’s problems in Republicans: “But while Republicans dominate the State Legislature and the governor was once chairman of the state party, the reality about those who currently control Kansas is far subtler — the effective majority in the Legislature is a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats, while the governor defected to the Democratic Party.” See Kansas Governor’s Race Seen Redefining G.O.P.

Sedgwick County website still dark. Not exactly dark, but the county didn’t renew its domain name registration, and it expired. Usually these things can be cleared up pretty quickly, but for me it’s still out of order after about 24 hours. It works on my iPhone, though, but the county’s website is not friendly to use on mobile devices.

Energy to be topic at Wichita Pachyderm. Today’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature John A. McKinsey speaking on the topic “Cap and Trade: What is the economic and regulatory impact of Congressional legislation?” The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday October 21, 2010

Honest journalist too much for NPR. Juan Williams has been fired by National Public Radio. His offense: He spoke in a not-politically-correct way about Muslims. On Monday’s O’Reilly Factor Williams said: “But when I get on a plane — I got to tell you — if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” According to Williams, NPR said this is a bigoted remark that “crossed the line.” Across all forms of media, this is sure to be a big issue. Williams is an accomplished journalist and reporter who has written many books on civil rights in America. He has been critical of established black leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Williams will appear on The O’Reilly Factor tonight, with the Fox News promotion teasing “Is he the first victim of George Soros’s new war on Fox News?”

Star recommends retaining judges. The Kansas City Star recommends retaining all judges on the ballot in Kansas. The newspaper evidently didn’t take into account or give much weight to the admonishment of Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss over an ethics issue. The Star supports the elitest system of judicial selection in Kansas, where lawyers have much more input than do ordinary citizens.

How the right wing echo chamber works. Here’s another instance of left-wing journalists and bloggers claiming to have discovered something that sits in plain sight. Allegations of existence of an “echo chamber” sound sensational and sinister. The left has these, too, as documented in Politico. If you’ve followed some of the attacks on Koch Industries this year, you’re aware that there is a network of websites and blogs that cut-and-paste the same material for wide distribution. This left-wing echo chamber exists in the mainstream media too, when publications like the Wichita Eagle relies on ThinkProgress and the New York Times editorial page for evidence criticizing Jerry Moran on climate change. Who are these sources the Eagle relies on? ThinkProgress is a project of the hard left — but innocently-named — Center for American Progress Action Fund, which in turn is a project of convicted inside trader George Soros. And the New York Times editorial page is, well the New York Times editorial page — enough said.

You — not me — should sacrifice. Another global warming alarmist revealed as a hypocrite. “A Youtube film, released by Irish documentary film makers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, has revealed the shocking hypocrisy of James Cameron, the director of Avatar. The film shows that Cameron, who has publicly stated that ‘we are all going to have to live with less,’ has continued a lifestyle of extravagant consumption. Cameron, yesterday, announced he was donating $1m to oppose California’s Prop 23. Prop 23 will suspend Global Warming legislation and is being bitterly opposed by environmentalists. Supporters of Prop 23 say that if it is defeated California will lose jobs because of an increase in energy prices.” The video is just over two minutes long and may be viewed by clicking on James Cameron — Hypocrite.

Most expect local tax increases. Rasmussen: “A sizable majority of Americans say their states are now having major budget problems, and they think spending cuts, not higher taxes, are the solution. But most expect their taxes to be raised in the next year anyway.” More at Most Expect State or Local Tax Hikes In the Next Year.

Texas vs. California. “In Texas, the payroll count is back to prerecession levels. California is nearly 1.5 million jobs in the hole. Why such a difference? Chalk it up to taxes, regulation and attitude, says Investor’s Business Daily (IBD).” Summary at NCPA: A Trenchant Tale of Two States .

Email spam spreads to Facebook. I’m sure I’m not the first person to receive something like this, but the well-known Nigerian fraudulent schemes that for many years have used regular email have now spread to Facebook messages. Today I was notified by “barrister James Mawulom a solicitor at law” that a man with my same surname had died in Africa, and I am due to receive a lot of money.

Free political speech, with what restrictions?

A letter in today’s Wichita Eagle discusses free speech and provides a useful starting point for examining political speech and its regulation.

The writer states: “I believe in free speech and free enterprise, and I’m sure that [U.S. Representative Lynn] Jenkins, the owners of Koch Industries and Americans for Prosperity believe in these, too.”

But — and isn’t there always a “but”? — then the writer calls for Jenkins to disclose how much she’s received from Koch Industries in contributions, and also for Americans for Prosperity to reveal its contributions.

I might remind the letter writer that the Federal Election Commission keeps track of the contributions that federal office candidates have received from all sources, and makes that data available to the public. Journalists regularly make use of the data in writing news stories. OpenSecrets.org makes some of that data easier to access and performs analysis that lets citizens better understand political contributions.

Regarding AFP and its contributions: AFP, like other similar organizations, is not required by law to reveal this information. These laws apply regardless of ideology, and there are plenty of organizations on the political left that do the same as AFP. The Center for American Progress comes to mind.

This letter writer, however, seems concerned about only conservative politicians and those individuals and organizations that believe in and promote free markets.

But some of the contributions to organizations like AFP are public knowledge. IRS form 990 documents contain records of contributions made by foundations to organizations like AFP and CAP. These documents are easily available through Guidestar, if the letter writer is interested.

Individual contributions — like the ones I have given to AFP — won’t be there, but the contributions I think the letter writer has alluded to are.

The bigger question is this: Should we require disclosure of contributions to politicians and political organizations like AFP and CAP?

I am reminded of the first amendment to the Bill of Rights, which states: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Political contributions are, in my opinion, speech. An important form of speech.

Some people make the case that they want to know who paid for television advertisements, or who paid to rent the hall for a political rally, etc. But laws forcing disclosure of the source of these forms of speech violate the first amendment. Period.

The ability to exercise free speech anonymously is important for both individuals and corporations. Should a shy person, or a person advocating an unpopular cause, be forced to reveal themselves? Should I or the Wichita Eagle require all comment writers to reveal their true name and address, along with how they got the money to buy their computer?

From the perspective of an engaged citizenry, disclosure of who paid for speech diminishes the free discussion and examination of ideas. Conservatives, for example, on realizing that a communication was paid for by a liberal advocacy group, may tune out or discount the message simply because of its source. The same, of course, applies to liberals. This is easy to do. It’s harder to think about the merits of the message and the ideas it contains, and then make up your mind.

Practically, attempts to regulate money in politics invariably fail, as ways are found to circumvent the rules. The result is often less transparency, if transparency is the desired goal.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday October 13, 2010

FactFinder 12: Goyle campaign ad. From KWCH Television: “FactFinder 12 found no evidence Sentry International directly outsourced manufacturing work, only that it partners with companies in China and many other countries to purchase foreign made products.” What’s not talked about in regard to this issue is that U.S. companies don’t manufacture products overseas just for the heck of it. Competitive pressures force them to.

The energy future will look familiar. George Will takes a look at the future of energy in America. But a reminder of the past, in case you forgot: “In 1977, Jimmy Carter said mankind could ‘use up’ all the world’s proven [oil] reserves ‘by the end of the next decade.’ Since then, the world has consumed three times more oil than was in the proven reserves.”

The truth about our jobs crisis. BankruptingAmerica.org has a short video illustrating the depth and magnitude of the crisis. “The jobs report released on Friday shows that unemployment persists at 9.6 percent. As high as this number is, it doesn’t tell the whole unemployment story.” Additional resources are available at the site.

Sowell on government greed. “Those who are always accusing people in the private sector of “greed” almost never accuse government of greed, no matter what it does. Indeed, the question of whether the government is greedy almost never comes up, so most of us probably never think about it. … Perhaps one of the most unconscionable acts of greed by government is confiscating people’s homes, in order to turn this property over to other people, who are expected to build things that will pay more taxes.”

Tweets from Communications Week. At Wichita State University I served on a panel on social media and political campaigns. Some tweets from the audience: “Denae Herrman: Bob Week’s advice for candidates on Twitter: Be more candid & informal. Loosen up! I agree. What makes SM fun is the interactivity.” … “Shae Blevins: @bob_weeks says Goyle, Brownback and Pompeo have failed at using social media for their campaigns in some way. UPDATE your stuff!” … “Lou Heldman: Brownback, Goyle, Pompeo campaigns criticized by @bobweeks on Elliott School panel for sometimes inept use of social media.” I’m sorry, campaigns … but it’s true.

DCCC cuts back on Moore support. From The Atlantic: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has pulled some funding from 10 districts, canceling their ad buys in six and reducing their buys in another four. … The committee has also continued cutting time in KS 03, where Stephene Moore (D) is running for her husband’s seat.”

Liberal Billionaires Take On The Koch Brothers In California Energy Fight. Clare O’Connor in Forbes: “Much has been written about the oil and gas billionaire Koch brothers and their multimillion-dollar donations to right-wing causes. … However, in recent days a handful of liberal billionaires have decided to take on the Kochs in one of the most hotly contested battles this election season: Proposition 23, the California ballot that may well prove a bellwether for the future of energy legislation in the U.S.”

Election dates to note: October 13 — advance ballots start to be mailed. October 18 — last day to register to vote or change party affiliation. October 29 — last day election office will mail advance voting ballots, so make sure your application arrives at your county election office before this date. November 2 — election day.

Obama and the Politics of Outsourcing. William S. Cohen, writing in the Wall Street Journal: “For every job outsourced to Bangalore, nearly two jobs are created in Buffalo or other American cities.” … American popular opinion: “A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Sept. 28 found that outsourcing was the top reason cited by Americans as the cause of the country’s economic problems — and that for the first time in years a majority (53%) of Americans say free-trade agreements have hurt the U.S.” This sentiment is unfounded. Continuing: “Most people treat outsourcing as a zero-sum game — one foreign worker replaces one American worker. But this is not how the dynamic global economy works. … [An analysis] found that when U.S. firms hired lower-cost labor at foreign subsidiaries overseas, their parent companies hired even more people in the U.S. to support expanded operations. … Those new U.S. jobs were higher-skilled and better-paying.” The politics of it: “During difficult economic periods, people are tempted to seek refuge in the false promise of protectionism. … Politicians are not above exploiting an issue by appealing to popular sentiment even when that sentiment is belied by economic reality.” Outsourcing of Kansas jobs is the major campaign theme — and attack ad hammer — of Kansas fourth district Congressional Democrat candidate Raj Goyle.

Will Wichita have a government “bank” to fund downtown? The Wichita Eagle reports that the Wichita contingent visiting Louisville is being pitched the benefits of a government-run fund to spur downtown development. Two takeaways: “The fund, says JPMorgan banker Louis Straub II, doesn’t provide ‘free money’ to developers. ‘It’s a loan with much more favorable terms’ than developers would get through a traditional bank loan.” I would say that sounds like free money to me — as long as you consider paying interest on a loan a cost. Then, a real whopper: “Gary Schmitt, executive vice president at Intrust Bank, said the creation of such a fund in Wichita is possible. … there is precedent for Wichita-area banks getting together to help finance downtown projects. He said it was done in the case of the Hyatt Regency Wichita, for which local banks came together and created a participation loan to finance the hotel. ‘History has shown that the banks will come together for the betterment of the community,’ Schmitt said.” So wow did that work out? The Hyatt failed and is now owned by the city of Wichita, and can operate without concerns about profit. In 2001 the Eagle editorialized: “Having a marquee downtown hotel wholly owned by a city can’t be good for stimulating more private hotel development … Who’s going to be willing to finance, build and open a hotel in direct competition with one supported by public dollars?” As we’ve seen by recent action regarding the Broadview Hotel and Fairfield Inn, no one will — unless the government contributes millions in subsidy.

Wichita Eagle opinion line. “The reason some people can’t find voter fraud in Kansas is the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday October 12, 2010

Wichita Visioneers in Louisville. The Wichita Business Journal’s Emily Behlmann reports on a trip by Wichitans to Louisville to get ideas on transforming Wichita’s downtown. Hopefully they won’t get this idea, as reported yesterday by the Louisville Courier-Journal: “The heavily subsidized 4th Street Live entertainment district has come under criticism from locally owned businesses for receiving millions of dollars in tax breaks and government subsidies — including a controversial, $950,000 city loan that won’t necessarily have to be repaid.” According to Wichita planner Goody Clancy, heavy subsidy isn’t supposed to be necessary in Wichita. And, I hope all the planners read Jack Cashill’s take on Louisville’s planning: Good intentions, and planners, can sap a city’s soul.

Lynn Jenkins: Don’t try to make Koch Industries a scapegoat. From today’s Wichita Eagle: “Koch management is dedicated to keeping the company growing. It reinvests 90 percent of company profits back into the businesses, allowing them to expand product lines and hire more employees. That is good for consumers and for workers. However, the company has come under fire because its owners support free-market principles inconsistent with the current Democrat leadership.”

Should candidates bother to debate? Rasmussen finds that nearly half of likely voters have watched at least one debate, and about half find them informative.

Costly approach to Kansas economic development — or defense. “Insiders were still not talking Wednesday about the potential cost of saving 6,000 aircraft workers’ jobs in Wichita. Outsiders say that some circumstances at their employer, Hawker Beechcraft, are so different from other companies Kansas has fought to keep that it may be impossible to gauge what it might cost to help prevent the 80-year-old Wichita firm from moving lock, stock and avionics to Baton Rouge, La., and cashing in on Louisiana incentive packages rumored to be worth as much as $400 million.” From Kansas Reporter.

FiveThirtyEight. More about the political site FiveThirtyEight, which I took a look at on Sunday, especially its coverage of Kansas races. Here, James Taranto discusses FiveThirtyEight, concluding: “The recent acquisition of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com makes for a striking contrast with the paper’s uneven news reporting and dreadful op-ed columnists.”

No Wichita city council today. It’s the League of Kansas Municipalities conference in Overland Park this week. LKM is a special interest group working in favor not of the citizens who live in Kansas towns and cities, but the politicians and bureaucrats that run them — and their cronies — who benefit from the LKM’s advocacy of things like TIF districts, STAR bonds, tax abatements, and eminent domain for economic development.

County commissioner forum tonight. Tonight at 7:00 pm at Gloria dei Lutheran Church, 1101 N. River Blvd. Oletha Faust-Goudeau and Richard Ranzau will appear.

Parkinson is moderate — he says again. Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson — yet again — engages in self-congratulation over “how Kansas has weathered the economic recession by setting politics aside and working together to find moderate, common-sense solutions.” He’s done this several times since the legislative session was over — so many times that I’ve lost count. Evidence of a guilty conscience, perhaps? Parkinson’s abandonment of the Kansas Democratic Party by not choosing to run for reelection has put that party at a tremendous disadvantage in this year’s elections.

Bureaucracy vs. Bureaucracy? “Andrew Gray, Libertarian Candidate for Kansas Governor, says that simplifying or repealing unnecessary statutes and regulations is a key part of his administration’s plan to empower the private sector to create jobs and prosperity in Kansas. He also says he’s pleased that Senator Brownback is at least talking about similar actions. However, Gray finds it ridiculous that Senator Brownback is actually planning to create more bureaucracy in order to cut bureaucracy.” I think he’s got a point. But anything that is necessary to reduce the size of government is what we need to do.

The impossibility of an informed electorate. D.W. MacKenzie writing for Mises Daily, reacting to a John Stossel suggestion that uninformed people have a duty not to vote: “The problem with voting in modern America is that we have a politicized society, and modern society is extraordinarily complex. Stossel suggests that only people who follow politics should vote. However, even those who follow politics very closely do not understand the implications of changes in public policy. The lesson here is that efforts to incrementally reform government policies and programs through the democratic process are futile. To the extent that we vote at all, rational people should vote to depoliticize the economy. … What this means is that we need to reintroduce the price system as the primary method of economic communication, and the profit-and-loss sorting mechanism as the primary method of social reform.”

Gallup: Americans negative towards federal government. “More than 7 in 10 Americans use a word or phrase that is clearly negative when providing a top-of-mind reaction to the federal government.” Details here: Americans’ Image of “Federal Government” Mostly Negative.

A minority opinion, or a delusion? Paul Krugman in the New York Times: “Here’s the narrative you hear everywhere: President Obama has presided over a huge expansion of government, but unemployment has remained high. And this proves that government spending can’t create jobs. Here’s what you need to know: The whole story is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need.”

U.S. business under attack by its own government

Who would have thought that President Barack Obama would take a page — maybe an entire chapter — from the Richard Nixon political playbook?

A Review & Outlook piece in the Wall Street Journal explains the connection. The subject is campaign fund disclosure: “Democrats claim only to favor ‘disclosure’ of donors, but their legal intimidation attempts are the best argument against disclosure. Liberals want the names of business donors made public so they can become targets of vilification with the goal of intimidating them into silence. A CEO or corporate board is likely to think twice about contributing to a campaign fund if the IRS or prosecutors might come calling.”

The war on business that’s being conducted by liberals is puzzling and misplaced. Who do they think creates income and wealth that generates taxes to fund Obama’s expanding government?

Regarding Wichita-based Koch Industries and an Obama administration official’s potentially improper disclosure of information, the Journal says it’s glad to hear that this example won’t be used again. But the Journal is skeptical: “… pardon our skepticism given the ferocity of this White House-led campaign against businesses that donate to political campaigns. Faced with electoral repudiation as the public turns against their agenda, Democrats are unleashing government power to silence their political opponents. Instead of piling on, the press corps ought to blow the whistle on this attempt to stifle political speech. This is one more liberal abuse of power that voters should consider as they head to the polls.”

Shutting Up Business

Democrats unleash the IRS and Justice on donors to their political opponents.

If at first you don’t succeed, get some friends in high places to shut your opponents up. That’s the latest Washington power play, as Democrats and liberals attack the Chamber of Commerce and independent spending groups in an attempt to stop businesses from participating in politics.

Since the Supreme Court’s January decision in Citizens United v. FEC, Democrats in Congress have been trying to pass legislation to repeal the First Amendment for business, though not for unions. Having failed on that score, they’re now turning to legal and political threats. Funny how all of this outrage never surfaced when the likes of Peter Lewis of Progressive insurance and George Soros helped to make Democrats financially dominant in 2006 and 2008.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday October 10, 2010

Countryman back on air: Gene Countryman, host of a long-running radio show that went off the air earlier this year, returns to the airwaves tonight with the Gene Countryman Show. The new show airs Sunday evenings from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on KNSS Radio 1330 AM.

Koch article criticism: Andrew Ferguson, media critic for Commentary, provides a critical look at the left-wing hysteria over Jane Mayer’s New Yorker Magazine “exposé” of Charles Koch, David Koch, and Koch Industries. Best quote: “The only support in Mayer’s article for this extravagant charge comes from second-hand assertions, usually in quotes from the brothers’ critics. Many are anonymous. Others are incompletely identified. Conservative think tanks and activists are carefully pinned with the ideological tag; liberal think tanks and left-wing activists are, well, just think tanks and activists.”

Who wins here? Letter from Pat Risley in Wichita Eagle: “Westar is requesting approval to recover direct costs and lost revenues associated with the implementation of the SimpleSavings program. Basically, it means that as homes become more energy-efficient, the lost revenues to Westar would be passed on to all Westar customers.” I thought we were all supposed to win with conservation measures. At its core, I imagine this has something to do with Westar being a regulated utility, rather than operating in a free market for energy.

‘Down-ballot’ races also are important this year: Writing in the Wichita Eagle, Kansas University political science professor Burdett Loomis discusses the “minor” statewide races in Kansas this year. Minor perhaps in terms of the public policy impact of some of these offices, but not for some of the candidates. Writes Loomis: “Beyond the races themselves, these statewide offices offer the real pathways for advancing to the governorship or Congress.”

Informed choice: The Lawrence Journal-World notes the lack of debates in this election season, both statewide and local: “The near lack of joint debate or forum appearances by the two major party candidates for Kansas governor has drawn considerable attention across the state, but the gubernatorial candidates aren’t the only ones opting out of such events. The unwillingness of candidates to participate in voter education events is reaching all the way to the local level.” An exception might be the Kansas fourth district. Raj Goyle’s events page lists several past and upcoming forums and debates.

Equity in education? Ken Stephens of the Hutchinson News contributes a story looking at the Kansas school finance formula and the issues involved in its reform. It contains a rare piece of wisdom from school lobbyist Mark Tallman, who advocates for more school spending at any expense to the state. Stephens reports: “Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, once suggested that he would like to lock a group of the smartest superintendents in the state in a room to rewrite the formula. The kicker, though, would be that when they were done, all their names would be placed in a hat and their names would be randomly drawn to determine which district they would serve in the future. ‘So don’t write the formula for the district you’re in now,’ Tallman said. ‘Write a formula you think will work for whatever district.'” This reminds me of the wisdom of Walter E. Williams, who wrote “The kind of rules we should have are the kind that we’d make if our worst enemy were in charge.”

Wichita Eagle Opinion Line: “Thanks to the Sedgwick County commissioners for saving us from another tax-increment financing district. Wish the city had some backbone to do what is right for taxpayers.” … “Did anyone else notice that the Republicans’ Pledge to America didn’t include one word about earmarks and pork-barrel spending? I guess that’s just too much to ask.”

Liberal politics: The paranoid style

This month Andrew Ferguson, media critic for Commentary, provides a critical look at the left-wing hysteria over the New Yorker “exposé” of Charles Koch, David Koch, and Koch Industries.

Ferguson is quite critical — justifiably — of the New Yorker article: “The only support in Mayer’s article for this extravagant charge comes from second-hand assertions, usually in quotes from the brothers’ critics. Many are anonymous. Others are incompletely identified. Conservative think tanks and activists are carefully pinned with the ideological tag; liberal think tanks and left-wing activists are, well, just think tanks and activists.”

Other targets of Ferguson’s include MSNBC talk-show host Rachel Maddow: “When Maddow speaks, the White House listens, and by August, the president himself was at a Texas fundraiser warning an audience that had paid at least $5,000 a person about the dangers that rich people posed to politics.”

PRESS MAN: The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics

By Andrew Ferguson

Over the past 30 years, Charles and David Koch, owners of a Kansas-based family business called Koch Industries, have given hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations that advance their political views. Those views can be described as unevenly conservative and generally libertarian (pro-gay marriage, anti-ObamaCare). The donations are readily observable in foundation tax records posted on the Internet, as all such transactions are, and the brothers themselves have made many public appearances on behalf of the think tanks and magazines they fund, given speeches and media interviews, issued statements of support, sat on boards—even, in David’s case, made a hopeless and expensive run for the vice presidency on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.

Oddly, it took a while for the Inspector Clouseaus of the American left to smell a rat. And in fairness, it should be said that hiding in plain sight can often be the most sinister form of disguise for billionaires like the Kochs, the tricky bastards. About a year ago, the alarming rise of the Tea Parties inspired researchers at a website called ThinkProgress to start Googling. Among their discoveries, breathlessly reported, was the news that one of the Kochs’ foundations had funded Americans for Prosperity, a group instrumental in the Tea Party movement.

Continue reading at Commentary Magazine

Lynn Jenkins: The only jobs Democrats care about are their own

Lynn Jenkins, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the second district of Kansas, writes that actions by Congressional Democrats are harming jobs prospects for Americans: “The American people elected us to do our jobs, but instead of focusing on that, Democrats in Washington have decided to wage a campaign against the very companies that eventually will get us out of this economic mess.”

In particular, Jenkins mentions Wichita-based Koch Industries as a company working hard to create jobs and value in the marketplace, only to suffer criticism from President Barack Obama, his administration, and his political allies.

Some of the attacks on Koch Industries are false. Jenkins mentions Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and his claim that Koch outsourced jobs, when the company in question was not related to Koch Industries at the relevant time. This false charge is often repeated.

Then, there’s the income tax information about Koch Industries, which Austan Goolsbee, who was just named by Obama as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, leaked, apparently inappropriately. The Washington Times reports this matter now being investigated by a federal inspector general.

JENKINS: Working on excuses

The only jobs Democrats care about are their own

By Lynn Jenkins

When President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, the Democratic majority told us it would cost $787 billion and keep unemployment below 8 percent. Neither proved to be true. Unemployment has risen to 9.6 percent, and the Congressional Budget Office anticipates that the law will increase deficits by $814 billion.

In addition to historically high unemployment, this year’s annual federal deficit is set to exceed $1.3 trillion, and our national debt is more than $13.5 trillion. However, instead of focusing on job creation or doing our constitutionally obligated task of passing a budget and annual appropriations bills, the president’s staff and congressional Democrats have sought out a boogeyman to blame.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to allow members to get back to their districts to campaign for re-election. Instead of holding a vote on whether to extend the current tax rates set to expire in 2011 and eliminating the uncertainty that is crippling potential job creators of all sizes, Democratic leaders skipped town to protect their jobs rather than fighting to save jobs of hardworking Americans.

Continue reading at the Washington Times

Political attacks by Obama camp endanger opportunity

By Ronald Gidwitz

As a recovering politician (I ran for governor of Illinois in 2006), I know it’s seldom a good idea to hint that voters are dupes. Sometimes, though, in an attempt to “divide and conquer,” politicians do just that.

Lately we’ve seen President Barack Obama and his team, who ran for office on the claim they would bridge political differences, playing this foolish and ultimately self-defeating dividing game.

“Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates all across the country,” the president told Democratic donors in Texas last month.

His advisers have followed his lead. “Americans for Prosperity is funded by billionaire oil men, David and Charles Koch, to promote Republican candidates who support their right-wing agenda and corporate interests,” Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod wrote in The Washington Post last month. He further claimed that these “billionaire oilmen secretly (are) underwriting what the public has been told is a grass-roots movement for change in Washington.”

Well, it’s no secret what AFP is, who we are or what we want to do. Nationwide, Americans for Prosperity and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation have more than 1.5 million activists and 31 state chapters and affiliates. I’m state director for Illinois. More than 80,000 Americans in all 50 states have given money to AFP or the foundation.

  • We want lower taxes and less government spending, ideas that appeal to a solid majority of Americans.
  • We support removing unnecessary barriers to entrepreneurship to spark citizen involvement in the regulatory process.
  • We aim to restore fairness to our judicial system.

Americans aren’t fools. Our call for change is being echoed by millions of citizens. That experienced businesspeople and successful job-creators are among those putting resources behind it is not an insult to the effort, it’s an affirmation of it.

Unfortunately, President Obama has ignored the people’s cries for fiscal responsibility. On issues including the stimulus, health care reform and tax policy, he’s hammered through decidedly liberal and unpopular approaches to America’s problems. Not surprisingly, his popularity rating is sinking, and polls indicate his party seems headed for a thrashing in November’s midterm elections.

Without a positive agenda to run on, the president and his allies have launched the coordinated attacks in an attempt to discredit conservatives.

After Obama’s Texas speech came a 10,000 word attack piece in the New Yorker magazine that went after the Kochs for supposedly “waging a war against Obama.” That article quoted a series of “experts” from groups that are supported by left-wing billionaire currency speculator George Soros, including the Center for Public Integrity and Media Matters for America.

More chilling, Mark Holden, a lawyer for Koch Industries, has fingered Austan Goolsbee, one of Obama’s top economic advisers, as saying during a press briefing that Koch Industries did not pay corporate income taxes.


The federal government has almost infinite power to investigate and intimidate people. It can, whether it intends to or not, easily destroy businesses and reputations. That’s why Americans recoiled against Richard Nixon in the 1970s when they learned he was using federal investigators to track his political “enemies.”

Americans of all political persuasions can agree that we face serious national problems, including sluggish job growth and soaring federal spending. The way to solve these problems is by coming together, not by attacking each other. President Obama should call off the attack dogs, before they end up biting him too.

Ronald Gidwitz is a partner in GCG Partners, a strategic consulting and equity capital firm he co-founded in 1998. He chairs the Illinois chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

More left-wing hatred, less facts

Reason points out how New York Times columnist Frank Rich simply does not understand the issues he’s trying to cover. Either that, or he simply lies to make his left-wing, anti-capitalist political points.

Matt Welch shows how Rich’s attempt to create an interesting conspiracy theory ignores all available facts.

Frank Rich’s Connect-the-dots Errors

By Matt Welch

New York Times conspiracist Frank Rich had a column over the weekend positioning the Christine O’Donnells of the world as “useful idiots” providing “populist cover” for shadowy billionaires, especially the Koch family, who are cashing in on anti-government sentiment they themselves don’t believe in, in order to stage a political “coup.”

Continue reading at Reason

Mine safety regulations: do they work?

The mainstream media attack on Charles Koch, David Koch, and Koch Industries has reached the state of West Virginia. This time a newspaper criticizes the Charles G. Koch Foundation for supporting a “conservative Morgantown think tank and several positions at the West Virginia University economics department.” A specific target of criticism is West Virginia University economics professor Russell S. Sobel and a collection of essays he edited.

Here’s what the Charleston Gazette printed in an article: “One essay questions the value of ‘mandated’ mine safety laws, stating government regulations may increase accident rates.”

Lobbing a brick like this doesn’t do much to increase understanding of important issues of public policy, including the safety of coal miners.

Who could be opposed to the safety of coal miners, after all? I think we can all agree that we’d like miners to work in safety. But do laws and government regulation make them safer? The natural reaction of most people is to assume that government regulation will increase safety. But that’s not always the case.

Here’s a recent example of regulatory failure: Recently research has been presented that shows that bans on texting while driving don’t work and may actually increase the number of crashes. The results of this research are contradictory to what almost everyone in Kansas — and other states — thought this year when the legislature passed, and the governor signed, the texting ban law. It was well-intentioned, but potentially harmful to the safety of drivers — the very people the law is designed to protect.

Having seen examples of regulatory failure like this, we should ask this question: Have mine safety laws — well intentioned as they are — increased the safety of miners?

Chapter 4 of the book in question (Unleashing Capitalism: Why Prosperity Stops at the West Virginia Border and How to Fix It) probably holds the material referred to by the Gazette. This chapter was not written by Sobel, but he is the book’s editor. Here’s two points from the book:

  • A focus by regulators on one type of accident led to an increase in other accidents. Overall deaths increased: “In 1910, the U.S. Bureau of Mines was created with a focus on mainly large-scale accidents, defined as gas and dust explosions and other accidents killing more than five men. State mining legislation was also mainly concerned with these types of accidents. This resulted in a decline in large-scale accidents, but an increase in small-scale accidents, which received less publicity but accounted for more deaths overall.”
  • Incentives matter: “With the passage of workers’ compensations laws, accidents actually increased. Under this new system, employers had an incentive to pay workers compensation instead of paying the extra costs of accident prevention.”

So there is good reason to be skeptical and critical of mine safety laws, even though this is contradictory to a superficial examination of the issue. Yet the mainstream media will automatically demonize those who question the validity of government regulation and those who are bold enough to support their work.

New York Times’ criticism of Koch Industries

The anti-human agenda of the New York Times is on full display in its criticism of Charles Koch, David Koch, and Koch Industries regarding a contribution to the campaign against the AB32 ballot measure in California.

To the Times, the question of man-made global warming and its purported harm is fully settled. Anyone who questions this is labeled a crank — or worse.

Slowly but surely, the contradictions of the global warming alarmists are being revealed. Writing in the Washington Times, Richard Rahn points out the conflict of interest inherent in many of the global warming alarmists:

It is also true that more environmental scientists say that global warming is a problem than not. But if you omit from your sample all of those environmental scientists who are on a government tab — salary or research grant — and those relatively few environmental scientists who are on the tab of an oil company or some other vested private industry, you are likely to have a much smaller ratio between those who agree versus those who disagree about global warming. If you are a professor at a state university and write a research paper showing that global warming is not a problem, how long do you think your government funding will remain?

In the case of the New York Times, a crusade against energy fits right in with its hatred of capitalism and the freedom that inexpensive energy gives to millions of Americans with modest incomes. If you’re the typical Times reader, you don’t have to worry much about the cost of energy. But for most Americans, the cost of energy is very important.

Inexpensive energy — which the Times opposes — is essential to our standard of living and its continued advancement. As economist George Reisman has written, we need to consider “the comparative valuation attached to retaining industrial civilization versus avoiding global warming.” This is a balance that global warming alarmists don’t consider. Or if they do, they come out against human progress in favor of something else.

The types of carbon emission controls and reductions advocated by the Times would lead to — in Reisman’s words again — “the end of further economic progress and the onset of economic retrogression.” Summing up, he writes: “Global warming is not a threat. But environmentalism’s response to it is.”

This is why we should be thankful that Charles and David Koch have been active in the global warming debate. Koch Industries‘ position on this issue is given on their website KochFacts.com:

A free society and the scientific method require an open, honest airing of all sides, not demonizing and silencing those with whom you disagree. We’ve strived to encourage an intellectually honest debate on the scientific basis for claims of harm from greenhouse gases. Because it’s crucial to understand whether proposed initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases will achieve desired environmental goals and what effects they would likely have on the global economy, we have tried to help highlight the facts of the potential effectiveness and costs of policies proposed.