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The politically-motivated attack on Koch Industries

Investor’s Business Daily and The Atlantic have provided more context to the politically-motivated article in Bloomberg Markets criticizing Wichita-based Koch Industries. We find that the more scrutiny the Bloomberg article receives, the worse it looks.

The Investor’s op-ed makes the observation that anyone who reads the article must come to: “Indeed, throughout the entire story you find the Kochs taking steps to bring corporate behavior back in line, not only with the law but with their own stringent ethical standards.”

Later, the authors point out the politics behind the attack on Koch: “The long hit piece, as Daniel Indiviglio writes in the Atlantic, managed to find ‘eight instances of alleged misconduct by a giant multinational over the span of 63 years.’ In nearly every case, Koch itself took steps to correct the problems. Putting it in context, Indiviglio then Google-searched a comparable company, finding eight serious instances of misconduct — we’re talking fines and settlements for fraud and bribery — over 11 years. That company would be GE, whose CEO Jeffrey Immelt heads President Obama’s jobs council and seems to see regulation as opportunities for businesses to profit. We await that Bloomberg investigation.”

In his piece for The Atlantic, Indiviglio writes: “According to Bloomberg, 14 reporters around the globe worked for six months on the story. What did they turn up? Really, shockingly little. And what’s worse: from the very outset, the reporters’ bias against the Koch brothers is utterly clear.”

On the bias and lack of context, he writes: “To further attempt to sway the reader before explaining the facts, the reporters reveal the following fact that someone not familiar with politics and lobbying might find shocking: ‘Koch Industries has spent more than $50 million to lobby in Washington since 2006.’ My reaction to reading this was, ‘$50 million? That’s it?’ That might sound like a lot, but let’s compare that to, say, General Electric. Over the same period, GE has spent more than $136 million lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”

After running through the eight issues in the Bloomberg piece, Indiviglio concludes: “Obviously, Koch Industries did make mistakes. It likely regrets those mistakes: the penalties, fines, and lawsuits that resulted cost the firm many millions of dollars. This is more a problem with big multinational corporations than a problem specific to Koch, however. When you’ve got subsidiaries around the world, strong, flawless oversight is difficult and very expensive.”

Underlying this article (and others like it) and its criticism is the advocacy of Charles Koch and David Koch for free markets and economic freedom — something the political left is opposed to.

But it’s not only the political left — liberals and progressives — that oppose the positions that Charles and David Koch advocate. Much of the business community, like General Electric, thrive on the crony capitalism the Kochs oppose, and have opposed for many years. As Charles Koch wrote earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal: “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. 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.”

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