The Kochs vs. Soros: Free markets vs. state coercion:

The Kochs vs. Soros: Free markets vs. state coercion
Palm Springs, California -

At the front gates of the Rancho Las Palmas resort, a few hundred liberals rallied Sunday against "corporate greed" and polluters. They chanted for the arrest of billionaires Charles and David Koch, and their ire was also directed at the other free market-oriented businessmen invited here by the Koch brothers to discuss free markets and electoral strategies.
Billionaires poisoning our politics was the central theme of the protests. But nothing is quite as it seems in modern politics: The protest's organizer, the nonprofit Common Cause, is funded by billionaire George Soros.

Common Cause has received $2 million from Soros's Open Society Institute in the past eight years, according to grant data provided by Capital Research Center. Two panelists at Common Cause's rival conference nearby -- President Obama's former green jobs czar, Van Jones, and blogger Lee Fang -- work at the Center for American Progress, which was started and funded by Soros but, as a 501(c)4 nonprofit "think tank," legally conceals the names of its donors.

In other words, money from billionaire George Soros and anonymous, well-heeled liberals was funding a protest against rich people's influence on politics.

When Politico reporter Ken Vogel pointed out that Soros hosts similar "secret" confabs, CAP's Fang responded on Twitter: "don't you think there's a very serious difference between donors who help the poor vs. donors who fund people to kill government, taxes on rich?"

In less than 140 characters, Fang had epitomized the myopic liberal view of money in politics: Conservative money is bad, and linked to greed, while liberal money is self-evidently philanthropic.

Jane Mayer wrote in the New Yorker magazine, for instance, that the Kochs' anti-regulation, anti-bailout, low-tax agenda "dovetail[s] with the brothers' corporate interest." Mayer quoted a Soros spokesman saying "none of his contributions are in the service of his own economic interests."

This is the Obama campaign's tune, too. While decrying Republican campaign contributions in an Obama fundraising e-mail, someone at Organizing for America apparently got self-conscious about the irony and tagged the e-mail with a subject line saying: "Our Donations Are Different."

So, is Soros' money really different from the Kochs' money?

On one level, they're equivalent: They are rich people using their wealth to advance their favored policies.

But the core CAP claim -- that the Soroses and Peter Lewises of the world are trying to help the poor, while the Kochs are not -- is ungrounded.

The Kochs argue, with plenty of evidence, that economic freedom and the prosperity it yields are the best things a government can offer to the poor.

And the accompanying liberal claim -- that pro-free market donations boost the donors' profits while pro-big government donations don't -- is also false.

First off -- and this was the point of a talk I gave Sunday at the Koch conference -- many of the industrialists in the audience could profit more through regulations and subsidies than they could through the free market. Some oil executives, for example, have supported California's strict refinery regulations because they kept out competitors. Natural gas companies like Enron have backed cap and trade because it hurt oil and coal. As for bankers -- the Wall Street bailouts made it clear that big government is their mother's milk.

Second, until Soros discloses all the investments and short positions of all his funds and all his personal wealth, it's not possible to conclude whether his advocacy is motivated by public interest or personal gain. Is he short coal? Has he invested in GE's Greenhouse Gas Services, which, dealing in greenhouse gas credits, depends on a cap-and-trade law in order to be profitable?

We know that other liberal philanthropists use their wealth to advance big-government positions that enrich them. Take Warren Buffett, that relentless champion of the estate tax. His support for a high inheritance tax could be civic-mindedness, but it could also be related to his life insurance holdings and his tendency to buy up successful family businesses forced to sell out by the death tax -- that's how he got the Buffalo News.

Finally, while Soros money and Koch money are superficially equivalent, there's a crucial distinction. If we take both sides at their word, Soros and other liberal donors spend in order to impose their preferences on others while the Kochs and other free-market donors spend in an effort to be left alone to buy and sell with willing parties.

The moral difference is this: Only one side is trying to compel others to conform to its preferences.

Consider how each side profits from its favored policies: The Kochs benefit if government takes less of their profit. To be sure, they could pocket the difference and not make charitable contributions to the poor. In moral terms, that would be selfish or just plain greedy.

Soros and his wealthy supporters profit from the government taxing or threatening to tax the children of a business owner. That's the moral equivalent of mugging.

--- DISCLOSURE: I was not paid for my Palm Springs talk, but in the past, for editing, mentoring, speaking, and the like, Koch-affiliated non-profits have paid me -- approximately $3,000 over the course of my decade in Washington. --- Correction:
Originally I incorrectly attributed the quote by Soros's spokesman to Jane Mayer.

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Here are all those sweet cuddly lefties at the koch anti-rally. Absolutely disgusting, albeit not at all surprising.

The fruits of MY labor are not a social commodity.

Protesting the Secret Meeting of the Koch Brothers at Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa

About the Koch Brothers

Charles and David KochCharles and David Koch are the owners of Koch Industries, a privately-held firm with revenues estimated at $100 billion (no, that’s not a typo!). The firm runs oil refineries in Alaska, Texas and Mexico and owns consumer brands like Brawny Paper towels, Stainmaster carpets, and Dixie cups. They’re also among America’s most generous patrons of the arts – David Koch gave $100 million in 2008 to modernize the theatre at Lincoln Center in NYC and has donated $20 million to remodel the National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

The Kochs and their firm are the central figures in an informal alliance of business executives, conservative theorists and government officials who for several years have met twice annually to strategize over how best to advance an ambitious libertarian agenda. They favor dramatically lower personal and corporate income taxes, less government oversight of industry, particularly environmental regulations, and minimal public assistance for the needy.

Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a non-partisan watchdog organization based in Washington, calls the Kochs “the Standard Oil of our times.” They have invested millions of dollars in campaigns designed to raise doubts about climate change and oppose Obama administration policies ranging from health care reform to the economic stimulus. They are also a major funding source for the Tea Party, supporting it through “Americans for Prosperity,” an organization founded by David Koch in 2004.

In a detailed profile of the Koch’s published in August, The New Yorker reported that “only the Kochs know precisely how much they have spent on politics. Public tax records show that between 1998 and 2008 the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than $48 million. The Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is controlled by Charles Koch and his wife, along with two company employees and an accountant, spent more than $28 million. The David H. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than a $120 million.”

The Kochs also run KochPac, which has donated about $8 million to candidates, most of them Republicans, and Charles and David have made personal contributions of more than $2 million to candidates over the past dozen years, The New Yorker reported.

Koch Industries is planning an invitation-only confidential meeting in January 2011 in Palm Springs, California, to "develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity." Common Cause and its coalition partners have dubbed this meeting "The Billionaires' Caucus," and are planning a series of alternative, public events in Palm Springs.

More Resources for Bloggers and Reporters

Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama- Jane Mayer, The New Yorker

The Brothers Koch: Rich, political, and playing to win- National Public Radio

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party - Frank Rich, New York Times

ThinkProgress' Interview with David Koch - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 - Lee Fang, Center for American Progress

Statements made are the opinion of the writer who is exercising his first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are generally permitted.

Dogboy condones racist death threats.

I'm shocked...shocked I say....

Ok...I'm not shocked at all...

“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein

As long as the United States continues to allow China to manipulate the U.S. Dollar and therefore manipulate our trade with ALL our trading partners:
- our balance of trade with ALL our trading partners will be worse than it would otherwise be.
- free trade agreements will work to our disadvantage and we should halt entering into new ones.

Mark Twain is credited with an early use of the cliché "more than one way to skin a cat" in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, as follows: “she was wise, subtle, and knew more than one way to skin a cat, that is, more than one way to get what she wanted”. defines beggar-thy-neighbor as: an international trade policy of competitive devaluations and increased protective barriers that one country institutes to gain at the expense of its trading partners. Under the guise of fostering ‘indigenous innovation’, the Chinese government has creatively used a non-conventional, subtle version of beggar-thy-neighbor. Its version doesn’t entail the competitive devaluation of its own currency, which would enhance China’s exports and inhibits its trading partners’ exports to China. China’s version perpetrates an over-valuation of the currencies of one or more of its trading partners. This negatively affects all the trade of the pegged trading partner(s), not just trade with China. During the recent period China pegged its currency to the U.S. Dollar, its version of beggar-thy-neighbor was 8 times as damaging to the U.S. economy as what the media refers to as “China keeping it currency undervalued”.

In November 2003, Warren Buffett in his Fortune, Squanderville versus Thriftville article recommended that America adopt a balanced trade model. The fact that advice advocating balance and sustainability, from a sage the caliber of Warren Buffett, could be virtually ignored for over seven years is unfathomable. Until action is taken on Buffett’s or a similar balanced trade model, America will continue to squander time, treasure and talent in pursuit of an illusionary recovery.

Dotsconnectors very good but none of this would have happened if the Wall Street crowd didn't grease the process. Wall Street against Main Street. Without faulty trade agreements that enriched the few by outsourcing Main Street, China would not be the threat it is today.

Statements made are the opinion of the writer who is exercising his first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are generally permitted.

You mean like GM who has taken taxpayer money and is using it to double down on their bad carmaking. This time doing it on a $41,000 vehicle that costs $40,000 to make with the only hope that a $5,000 tax credit will get people to buy it.

Would sounds good until you realize other carmakers are making a product that is already selling for a fraction of the cost of GM's.


Like the great American capitalist you despise, Mother America GM is spending bailout bucks to open a mega plant in Mexico. But I guess facts are too hard for you.

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