We had such a strong response from our members in favor of the post honoring Ross Perot that I wanted to again honor, and learn from the life of, another American capitalist - David Koch. Mr. Koch, owner and Executive Vice President of Koch Industries, moved onto his next adventure in the universe at age 79 just a few years ago, and his name immediately extracts labels, categories, and condemnations from so many in our, sadly polarized-politicized society. Yet, as with most successful individuals, very few in our society actually understand or appreciate his great contributions to the country.
David Koch was that guy who had six CDs in the car deck - Sinatra, Aretha, Stones, Placido, Snoop and Taylor Swift - so you could never put him in a box or truly label him.
He certainly favored free markets, liberty, and capitalism, but he also gave $1.3 billion to arts, prison reform, and medicine. He supported the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, the Lincoln Center, the National Association of Defense Attorneys, the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and, truly, hundreds more while his do-nothing detractors critiqued his every move. This is the unfortunate reward for most true leaders.
Many don't know that he earned TWO chemical engineering degrees at MIT, while also setting the school record for the most points scored in a single basketball game. He and his brother, Charles, built Koch Industries into an energy-oil refining giant, which made them instant targets.
In business, Mr. Koch created well-paying jobs for thousands of Americans. Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress reflected, "While oil refining, one of the key businesses of Koch Industries, is treated as shameful, it is one of the world's most life-giving businesses. Every product and service we use is better and cheaper because of oil power - from the food we eat to the vacations we take to all the amazing items we buy on Amazon."
William McGurn, the Main Street columnist, added, "Any honest accounting of the connection between fossil fuels and human well-being would acknowledge that these sources of energy have helped lift desperate millions out of poverty, and that, at least for the foreseeable future, there is no alternative that could deliver the same." To be economical, not political, how about we follow AOC's plan after she first helps desperate millions? [She better hurry because she says we have only 12 years left! But wait, didn't Al Gore say we only had 10 years left, 15 years ago? I must have that wrong].
David Koch took care of stakeholders before it was cool to say stakeholders, and certainly without government involvement. His Guiding Principle No. 3 professed, "Principled Entrepreneurship: Practice a philosophy of mutual benefit. Create superior value for the company by doing so for our customers and society. Help make Koch the preferred partners of customers, employees, suppliers, communities and other important constituencies."
Chandra Bozelko, Vice President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and author of the Blog Prison Diaries, teamed up with Mr. Koch in 2015 for the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform. A former prisoner, and working for a "liberal organization," Ms. Bozelko asserted, "David's greatest contribution was to disprove the notion that people can't work together without agreeing on everything." She stated, "But insisting on homogeneity of thought is a surefire way to arrest progress." She also summarized, "I disagreed with David Koch on climate change and many other things, (but) I am for the almost 2.3 million people who are incarcerated and the approximately 113 million family members who go through the criminal justice system with them. I don't need a purity test to get something done." Brilliant.
Finally, David Koch put his money and energy where his mouth was, and got his buns off the couch, to run for Vice President on the Libertarian ticket in 1980, promoting free markets and limited government. [Thankfully, President Reagan also supported these principles]. Yet, showing his convictions and independence, more recently he openly did not support the anti-free-trade and anti-immigration wings of the Republican party. He followed his beliefs. He continually took a stand. Regardless of whether we agree with them, we have to love people who, many times at great personal peril, stand up for what they believe is right!
As we've stated before, we shouldn't scream for open borders until we, personally, sponsor one family into our own homes. Similarly, we should not scream about David Koch's positions until we, personally, do even a fraction of the good he has done for others and for our great country.
A salute and gracious thank you to a great American off on what is likely another amazing adventure. What are you going to do this week to make a difference, to make it count that you were here?
"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney