Charles Koch recently published an op-ed in The Washington Post in which he reaches out to find common ground with Senator Bernard Sanders.
Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, one of the largest private companies in the United States, Koch is well-known as a wealthy fundraiser and powerbroker within the Republican Party. He and his brother David are often targets for liberal attacks. Their politics lean to the libertarian side, and so they wouldn’t seem to share many values with the democratic socialist from Vermont.
According to Koch in the op-ed piece, he agrees with Sanders the system of politics and economics is structured to keep the elites in power and make everybody else pay the bill, especially society’s poorest. Sanders says the system has two levels that tends to keep the poor and underprivileged poor and underprivileged. And corporations receive what is essentially welfare for corporations while regular people don’t have the chance to compete. And Koch agrees.
Charles Koch explains that politicians from both parties have favored laws that help decide where the money goes. This helps keep the current system going. Koch agrees a lot of businesspeople have campaigned for these laws and regulations, which help them and their companies.
Charles Koch uses as examples the tax code, which gives exemptions worth an estimated $1.5 trillion to wealthy taxpayers. He says regulations that limit competition cost businesses nearly $2 trillion a year, and most of the businesses affected are small, and this is unfair.
One specific example he uses is the ethanol mandate. Koch Industries takes advantage of it, because it’s there, but politically Koch is against it. He would like to eliminate it even though his own company profits from it.
He says he chooses his political positions based on how they affect society, not on whether or not his business makes money from those policies. He calls on politicians to stop supporting a system which create an permanent underclass in the country.
Koch points out that poor people caught with marijuana wind up with criminal records that hurt them later in life. But the affluent aren’t treated the same, and there is no justice in that.
While Koch agrees with Sanders on this problem, he disagrees with a socialist solution.
Sanders wants more government, Koch wants less. Koch believes that will lead to greater freedom for all people in the country.
One published reaction to this op-ed speculated that in the future many Sanders supports will actually listen to this message. When they’re eventually disappointed with Sanders, they may listen to a politician expressing the same message as Koch writes. Populism from a libertarian standpoint.