David Koch Versus Leftists: Integrity Versus Hypocrisy Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, August 29 2019
By any reasonable measure, Koch’s was a life fully and successfully lived. But beyond that, in contrast with so many of his detractors, Mr. Koch lived a life of integrity.

Last week, entrepreneur and philanthropist David Koch passed away at the age of 79. 

In an unsurprising yet nevertheless bleak register of the state of contemporary culture, seedier elements of the political left, who ironically accuse Donald Trump of degrading societal discourse, erupted in a ghoulish celebratory chorus.  

For example, crowds at rallies for 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren openly cheered the announcement, although at least Sanders possessed the fortitude to interrupt them.  Not so Ms. Warren, who proceeded to heap her trademark zealot’s scorn: 

And then along come Big Oil, big polluters, the Koch brothers.  They come in, and they say, “You know, this could be a problem.  If our government, our federal government gets really serious about climate change, they’re going to bite into our own profits.  If they change the regulations, that’s going to disrupt how we do business.”  So they have an investment decision to make. 

Stay classy, Elizabeth Warren. 

As is often the case, however, nobody stooped to the depths of classlessness exhibited by HBO’s resident gargoyle Bill Maher.  “He and his brother have done more than anybody to fund climate science deniers for decades,” Maher ranted.  “So [expletive] him, the Amazon is burning up, I’m glad he’s dead, and I hope the end was painful.” 

Beyond the tawdriness, however, there’s a bizarre illogic to such celebrations, which we also witnessed when conservative figures like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher passed. 

Namely, why is it that cackling leftists consider it some sort of burn when someone they detest dies of natural causes after almost 80 years of life, and after achieving almost unparalleled professional success?  Alongside his brother Charles, Koch built the second-largest privately held enterprise in the United States.  Isn’t that a life to which almost everyone in the world would aspire? 

By any reasonable measure, Koch’s was a life fully and successfully lived. 

But beyond that, in contrast with so many of his detractors, Mr. Koch lived a life of integrity. 

As just one manifestation of that, Mr. Koch donated an astounding $1.3 billion of his own wealth to charitable causes, including hospitals and the arts.  He matched word with deed. 

In contrast, many among the political left are more interested in redirecting other people’s money to interest groups they favor.  Earlier this year, Sanders himself was asked why he claimed to oppose the Trump tax cuts, yet filed his own tax returns under the lower tax rate rather than the rate he advocates for others.  Instead of answering that inconvenient question, the millionaire Sanders literally scoffed and attempted to change the subject to Trump’s tax returns, a non sequitur. 

And how much have Elizabeth Warren and Bill Maher cumulatively donated to charity?  Somehow, one suspects that the amount falls well short of Mr. Koch’s $1.3 billion. 

More fundamentally, Mr. Koch accumulated his wealth by serving society.  His enterprises offer products that society wants, and purchase voluntarily.  Sanders, in comparison, has spent his career in government, paid a salary through taxation, rather than by offering a service or product that others voluntarily buy. 

Moreover, Mr. Koch supported a heterodox array of causes, including criminal justice reform.  Former prisoner Chandra Bozelko, author of the Prison Diaries blog, explained in The Wall Street Journal how Kochs‘ support reflected humanitarian concerns and allowed the reform movement to flourish: 

By giving money to reform organizations, the Kochs made it easier for conservative politicians to support the movement, enabling many of the legislative changes we see today at both the federal and state levels – including the federal First Step Act of 2018 and Florida’s Amendment 4, a ballot initiative to restore voting rights for felons.  Cash bail reform received an infusion of funds from Koch Industries last year…  I’m honored to work with groups funded and supported by him and his brother because I know that they’re pursuing the same humanitarian goals I am for the almost 2.3 million people who are incarcerated and the approximately 11.3 million family members who go through the criminal justice system with them. 

Hardly the deeds of a heartless right-wing maniac who deserves the left’s frothing hatred. 

The simple fact is that David Koch was an honorable man who actually backed his professed ideals with action and personal sacrifice, and made our world a better place for it.  May he rest in peace.