Op-ed: Charles G. Koch Responds to Baseless Leftist Attacks

Daniel Doherty

4/3/2014 11:25:00 AM - Daniel Doherty

The Left’s obsession with Koch Industries and the two brothers who founded it is almost surreal. Take, for example, the Senate Majority Leader. Virtually every time he speaks now he mentions the Koch brothers in some capacity, complaining incoherently about them and how they’re attempting to “buy America.” To accept his assertions at face value, in other words, is to believe that every problem in America is directly -- or tangentially -- related to Koch Industries. This is absurd.

Well aware of the Left’s crusade to soil the Koch brand, Charles G. Koch took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to defend himself and his company. In his piece, he assails collectivists as lacking real ideas, “[promising] heaven but [delivering] hell,” and resorting to “character assassination.” He also provides some important facts about his company that the Left will no doubt dispute -- and scoff at, too. Nevertheless, here they are:

Rather than try to understand my vision for a free society or accurately report the facts about Koch Industries, our critics would have you believe we're "un-American" and trying to "rig the system," that we're against "environmental protection" or eager to "end workplace safety standards." These falsehoods remind me of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." Here are some facts about my philosophy and our company:

Koch companies employ 60,000 Americans, who make many thousands of products that Americans want and need. According to government figures, our employees and the 143,000 additional American jobs they support generate nearly $11.7 billion in compensation and benefits. About one-third of our U.S.-based employees are union members.

Koch employees have earned well over 700 awards for environmental, health and safety excellence since 2009, many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. EPA officials have commended us for our "commitment to a cleaner environment" and called us "a model for other companies."

Our refineries have consistently ranked among the best in the nation for low per-barrel emissions. In 2012, our Total Case Incident Rate (an important safety measure) was 67% better than a Bureau of Labor Statistics average for peer industries. Even so, we have never rested on our laurels. We believe there is always room for innovation and improvement.

Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs—even when we benefit from them. I believe that cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished.

In a sane world one would think that most rational observers could disagree with the Koch brothers’ political agenda without labeling them “un-American,” and a threat to our constitutional republic. After all, they provide tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, and have been awarded hundreds of commendation awards by federal government agencies.

Apparently, though, demonizing conservative billionaires -- while giving progressive billionaires a pass -- is a more effective political strategy than debating Republicans on the issues.

This is why anti-Koch hysteria is now ingrained in our politics, and isn't going away anytime soon.