Jonah Goldberg

Here's the problem. The profit motives of the Koch brothers are by far the least interesting thing about them. Charles and David Koch are worth about $40 billion -- apiece! Could they make even more money in a more libertarian America? Who knows? But let's say yes. The idea that they are going to all of this bother just to be worth $50 billion instead of $40 billion is pretty silly when you think about it.

Profit maximization hardly explains why they've given hundreds of millions of dollars to cancer research, hospitals and the arts. And profit lust probably has little to do with why Charles Koch co-founded the nonprofit libertarian think tank the Cato Institute either. It certainly doesn't explain why Charles Koch wrote a book on "market-based management." (Koch's time is more valuable seeking something other than book royalties, of which I'm sure there were few, if any.) Maybe there's a profit motive lurking somewhere in the millions that the Kochs have spent helping GOP politicians, but there are far cheaper and smarter ways for billionaires to buy laws and regulations to their liking.

I have no problem with journalistic skepticism or the search for ulterior motives. I just object to the idea that only Republicans might have them.

Al Gore reportedly left government with a net worth of less than $2 million; he's now worth more than $200 million, in part by profiting from climate policies he lobbies for. Gore surely believes in those policies, but why does he get the benefit of the doubt? GE spent millions on politics in exchange for "green energy" policies that generate billions in profits that wouldn't exist in a free market. Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon recently chronicled how George Soros and new liberal golden-boy fat cat Tom Steyer have financial interests at stake in their own preferred public policies. And yet they get glowing treatment from the press as idealists sacrificing profit for principles.

The irony is that it'd be in the media's business interest to report on the seedy underbelly of liberal politics, too. But they don't, because they actually do put their liberal principles before profits.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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