- By Bill Bonner
Yesterday evening, after dinner, we went over to our favorite dive, Henry Downes' bar in Waterford. Run-down, derelict and shopworn, the bar needs a 'makeover' or a wrecking ball. A group of young men in shorts (though it was cold and rainy outside) sat at one table. An old man in rumpled clothes shuffled in and sat at the bar. And then a youngish woman came in, alone. She ordered a Guinness too and joined him at the bar, soon picking up a conversation.
We asked for the famous Number 9 - a whiskey made by the establishment - and settled into a quiet corner booth. Our pulse raced. Our nostrils flared. For a moment we thought we might lose consciousness. The Number 9 was as smooth as ever...but on our mind were rough thoughts...all the unhappy readers of this Diary, many made furious by our praise of Charles Koch.
Our commentary on Koch drew so many cancellations and complaints we didn't know what to make of it. Many readers had the kind of opinion of Charles that is usually reserved for the Gestapo or The Plague. We wondered where they got it. So today we return to the scene to investigate.
First, we pause to let readers know that the Fed has begun an important powwow.
"With Fed on Deck, Stocks Slip," says a Barron's headline.
The Fed meeting will determine how much Wall Street gamblers make this week...and perhaps the next. It is extraordinary, but bureaucrats working for a quasi-government bank cartel now decide who gets what. That they have shifted so much of the nation's wealth to their friends - and future employers - in the financial sector is not surprising. But it is still outrageous. And yet, it causes less complaint than gluten in communion wafers.
But let us leave the Fed and take up our subject for today: Charles Koch and his involvement in politics.
We begin by clarifying our own view of politics. In a few words: we're against it. We're not for abstract 'liberty' or for 'democracy' or any 'ism'....we just don't like anyone telling us what to do.
Politics is telling other people what to do. It is one part self-deception, one part fraud, and one part brute force. If you don't go along with the self-deception or submit to the fraud, brute force will be used against you. Ultimately, you must do what the politicians and their lackeys in government tell you to do...or they will soon have their boot on your neck.
Most people go along willingly...and often happily. They stand in line to vote, feeling proud of themselves, and hoping to score an advantage or drive their neighbors in the direction they think they should go. They want more retirement benefits...bigger salaries for teachers...or more war in the Middle East. They cannot get these things without the firepower of government behind them. So they believe they are 'good citizens' by using it.
Deceiving, pretending, bullying, threatening, thieving, enslaving and killing - strip away the claptrap and that is what you have. Government is a dirty and uncivilized business. As Jefferson pointed out long ago, the less of it you have the better off you are. Almost everything obeys the Law of Declining Marginal Utility. A little of the Number 9 may be a good thing; a lot is dangerous. Government is no different.
Charles Koch shares the view of the founding fathers...that when it comes to government, less is more. But what can he do about it? Should he pick up a rifle and defend his business, seeking to liberate it from the multitude of new offices...and the swarms of officers...sent to harass his people and eat out their substance? Should he arm his 80,000 US employees, gather them at the gates of Wichita...and proclaim independence? And then, when the feds send their troops, should he fight...with a volley of gunfire that will be 'heard round the world?'
A smart man, Charles rid himself of self-deception by reading Hayek and Mises while he was still in college. Then, he has watched the fraud develop...and has seen through it. He has seen the Department of
Energy grow from 400 employees when Jimmy Carter started it to 16,000 employees today. He has watched the national debt rise from less than $1 trillion in 1980 to over $16 trillion today. And, day after day, government reaches into more and more of our lives...with so many edicts, rules, and orders that the typical citizen is unable to keep up with them and is always in danger of being arrested and impoverished.
What would Jefferson do about this? What could Charles do? We doubt that it has been especially effective, but he has used his only weapon - money - to ask for redress of grievances.
His critics accuse him of undermining democracy and perverting the (otherwise pristine) political process. His friends wonder whether it is a good idea, to sully his name by stooping to politics at all. But in all we have learned about him, he seems to be genuine and forthright - almost naively innocent -- about what he is doing....and why he is doing it. It has nothing to do with getting special favors for himself or his business. He knows we are all under the feds' heel. He merely tries to lighten the weight of the boot. That is, he seeks no special treatment, but only less treatment for us all. And for that we owe him a debt of gratitude.
Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.