Wednesday, March 2

Koch Bites

Charles G. Koch, "Why Koch Industries Is Speaking Out". March 1

BECAUSE there might be a nickel in it. The end.

Let's return to a couple of our favorite themes as though we have more than one. First, When does this shit finally get recognized as both the driving force and the proximate cause of the collapse of the system, and not its perpetual "untried" solution? and, second, When are we going to exclude from the debate over Education people who can't put together a competent argument, let alone an honest one?

Last evening I turned on the local news at the top of the hour, just in time for the carny spiel, and 13's blond hairdo said this: "A major sneat will undergo renovation." She meant "street". Now, we all make mistakes, certainly. But there was nothing, nothing whatsoever to give the impression she'd meant to say anything but "major sneat". Not in her eyes, her body language, the pasted-on width of her smile, nothing. Now perhaps you imagine this as the announcer's art, the product of long training and years of experience, to recognize what is important in the context--not what the words mean, but how you look reading them, or something like them--but to me it emphasizes the fact that 1) the only important thing in the whole charade is getting to the advertisements on time, and 2) I seriously suspect that a good portion of the people paid to do so do not actually care what the words they use mean, if anything. The best example of that lately--and the one thing I literally applauded during coverage of the Democratic walk-out--was when the NEA president, asked by the Doyenne of Indianapolis Teleprompter Misreaders, Debby Knox, why teachers were opposed to the Education Reform package, told her that to begin with the thing had nothing to do with Reform. This struck Debby about the way Jaques' soliloquy would go over in a chicken coop. One hoped for the required wit for Debby to reply, "But that's what our graphic says."

There was no recognition, none, that the man had made a point, an especially wounding one at that, and that she'd been guilty of confusing an argument with a description. Not her job, what words mean. Besides, the mob has spoken.

We begin with the subhead:
Crony capitalism and bloated government prevent entrepreneurs from producing the products and services that make people's lives better.

"Crony capitalism" is a nice touch, isn't it? Don Charles is concerned about abuses on both sides. What's ahead is no rote defense of Big Business, no sir. It's a rote defense of the right of Even Bigger Business to gobble Big Business up and cough up an owl pellet.
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.

Send entries to "My Favorite Koch Brother Public Denunciation of Reagan-era Defense Spending" to Doghouse Riley, ℅ this blog.

And look, for the record, I have no doubt that the Wichita Sun Kings' concern over budget deficits is genuine. Why wouldn't it be? Reader, if you had enough money for 10,000 lifetimes you might be tempted ask why the gubment should pass out bootstraps. If your inherited stake in the pillage and rapine of natural resources had set you up before you pooped your first diaper, unfettered capitalism might look like God's Own Plan of Salvation to you, too. It might even explain--but it doesn't excuse--conflating budget deficits with "government spending" and not "incontinent, largely Republican-libertarian tax eliminating", nor economic crisis with government actions, but not the libertarian government inaction which turned a terrible Bush administration economic record into a really terrible Bush administration economic record.

And you might also confuse "spewing uncounted millions to bumlicking message toadies" with "speaking out".
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.

So-called stimulus. Don't you just love it when the end of the American political spectrum which brought you Defense Department, revenue enhancement, and Death Tax decides to quibble over the precise use of words? (And I guess the fact that it must've been stimulating something if the states'll be worse off without it must've escaped Baron Koch's notice.)
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.

Vilified? Merciful heavens. Did you try buying them off?
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.

Which is why you're a Republican.
In spite of looming bankruptcy, President Obama and many in Congress have tiptoed around the issue of overspending by suggesting relatively minor cuts in mostly discretionary items. There have been few serious proposals for necessary cuts in military and entitlement programs, even though these account for about three-fourths of all federal spending.

See note at "crony capitalism", above. Let's say something about easy Libertarianism, shall we? The Pharaoh of the Plains here knows full well that government spending which benefits him is unlikely to feel the axe while all around him are felled. We're going to have to go a long fucking way down that road before there's any meaningful defense cuts, and "meaningful" is still a long, long way from "justified", a level at which the Sultan of Teabagging would find himself with few friends on the Right, assuming he was still an assiduous budget cutter. At any rate, it's awful easy to say "defense cuts" when you don't spell any out, ain't it? Meanwhile, the gubment ain't gonna stop trying to land planes safely, or scrap the interstate system Koch Spoils, Inc., depends on; it's not going to stop enforcing contract law, prosecuting theft or fraud, guaranteeing bank deposits, or operating satellite communications, and it'll keep leasing gas and oil and mineral rights for pennies, so you get to sound both draconian and fair at no personal risk. In other words, you're a libertarian.
Federal data indicate how urgently we need reform: The unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid already exceed $106 trillion. That's well over $300,000 for every man, woman and child in America (and exceeds the combined value of every U.S. bank account, stock certificate, building and piece of personal or public property).

First, there are no unfunded liabilities of Social Security; Social Security is just thrown in there because you'd like to flush it down the crapper with the rest of the social safety net. Second, "We can't afford it," is actually only one possible solution, and not much of one at that. (And funny, by the way, how it takes just one paragraph to go from "military 'and' entitlement programs" to, uh, half that.)
The Congressional Budget Office has warned that the interest on our federal debt is "poised to skyrocket." Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is sounding alarms. Yet the White House insists that substantial spending cuts would hurt the economy and increase unemployment.

With all due respect, Your Worshipfulness, there are actual arguments on the other side. See, government doesn't operate like an inherited prairie principality; the peons get to talk back.
Plenty of compelling examples indicate just the opposite. When Canada recently reduced its federal spending to 11.3% of GDP from 17.5% eight years earlier, the economy rebounded and unemployment dropped. By comparison, our federal spending is 25% of GDP.

I never realized it was so simple. Remember, that "Best Koch Brothers Op-Ed Excoriating the Reagan and Bush Deficits" deadline is midnight Friday.
Government spending on business only aggravates the problem. Too many businesses have successfully lobbied for special favors and treatment by seeking mandates for their products, subsidies (in the form of cash payments from the government), and regulations or tariffs to keep more efficient competitors at bay.

While the number of businesses successfully lobbying for special favors and treatment in the deregulation of their business, or the abrogation of government responsibility to protect the welfare of its citizens, is just about right.
Crony capitalism is much easier than competing in an open market. But it erodes our overall standard of living and stifles entrepreneurs by rewarding the politically favored rather than those who provide what consumers want.

Listen, Sir Charles, we're all grateful for you bankrolling the lawsuit over Cheney's Energy Task Force. Keep fightin' the good fight.
The purpose of business is to efficiently convert resources into products and services that make people's lives better. Businesses that fail to do so should be allowed to go bankrupt rather than be bailed out.

Okay, here's everything I know about economics. So you'll have to excuse my saying that at least one recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics has disagreed with you. An awful lot of people seem to think we couldn't let the global financial market collapse , and a lot of 'em think GM and Chrysler were too big to fail, even a lot of people who despise that circumstance. So it does seem to me that if you don't like Too Big To Fail it's the Too Big part which needs reforming, and I don't see anything about that in the Teabagging literature (maybe I did the search wrong). Given that the idea exists, given that, when the chips were down, it was a Free-Market-spoutin' Republican President who rode to the rescue, given that the people who control such enterprises are free to spread the same sort of largesse you're busy defending so they can get their way, perhaps it's time to recognize, at least, that political reality is sometimes going to trump your personal metaphysical certainty, much as actual reality so frequently does.
But what about jobs that are lost when businesses go under? It's important to remember that not all jobs are the same. In business, real jobs profitably produce goods and services that people value more highly than their alternatives. Subsidizing inefficient jobs is costly, wastes resources, and weakens our economy.

Beggin' your Lordship's pardon, but are there plenty of compelling examples, like Canada, to indicate that regularly tossing thousands, even hundreds of thousands, out of work, with no safety net, is the key to a successful economy? And if there are, do they show their work?
Because every other company in a given industry is accepting market-distorting programs, Koch companies have had little option but to do so as well, simply to remain competitive and help sustain our 50,000 U.S.-based jobs. However, even when such policies benefit us, we only support the policies that enhance true economic freedom.

As usual, the reformer is exempted from the reforms. In Canada this is known as "hypocrisy".

Let's just say this, Chuck: no one here would ever expect you to behave any differently.


Fearguth said...

I'm disappointed that you left out Chairman Koch's bit about running with the antelopes. Here's my attempt to fill the lacuna:

R. Porrofatto said...

Beautiful. Just swell.
A question I'd like to hear answered by this or any other Koch-sucker: Who are these "entrepreneurs" for whom Koch Industries is so courageously speaking out? From what I've seen, over the last few Republican decades, big businesses like Koch Industries have intensely lobbied for the gutting of laws and regulations which might have kept them from becoming ever bigger, binged on mergers and acquisitions which never would have gotten past any serious anti-trust enforcement, engaged in barely legal practices to stifle competition and increase market share, and encouraged and abetted Wall St. to create a mammoth casino that eschewed entrepreneurs for insane financial "innovations" that were infinitely more profitable than mundane capital investment. And all of this was to the detriment of new businesses, small businesses, and the rest of us.

Meanwhile, advanced technologies in a number of arenas are the province of genuine "entrepreneurs" (and government subsidies) in other countries who are cleaning our clocks due to lack of investment or interest here, and not because of entitlement spending.

Koch is so full of shit it's lucky for him his company makes all that toilet tissue.

Anonymous said...

This is one of those weird things that always happen, like when you think about a plate of shrimp, and out of the blue somebody says shrimp, or plate, or plate of shrimp.

Like, I went to school forever, and had one bad teacher, it was during the Kennedy Administration, and he was one of those officers who gets cashiered out of the Navy because he didn't advance so he went into teaching, and it was a math class where they put me in New Math where they talked about integer lines and Venn diagrams, and I had only had traditional algebra, so I never took another math class until about fifteen years later during the Carter Administration, and that class was calculus, which immediately clarified all the three physics classes that had baffled me in between.

So you got the cold war Navy, you got that once-in-a lifetime actual bad teacher, you got the bad school administration, you got the New Math education fad, you got the calculus-before-physics problem, and for extra weirdness you got the whole run of history from Camelot through malaise.

This bad teacher once threw a kid out of class, one of the kids who knew about Venn diagrams, for appearing in the doorway wearing a sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off and his armpit hair showing. If you had only mentioned social mores it would have been perfect.

Even so, I've got to go lie down for a while.