Billionaire business magnate, philanthropist, and free-marketeer David Koch has died. Mr. Koch worked with his brother Charles to grow what was their father’s small petrochemical company into the second-largest privately held company in the US. A gifted athlete and chemical engineer said to be worth north of 44 billion dollars at the time of his demise at 79 from prostate cancer, David Koch used his financial resources to fund various philanthropic causes, including, especially, to advance human liberty.
Koch Brothers – Famous and/or Infamous
There are, or were, four Koch brothers – Fred, Charles, David, and Bill – all sons of Fred and Mary Koch of Wichita, KS. Fred was a highly successful chemical engineer who invented lucrative processes to convert crude oil into gasoline. Charles and David ran Koch Industries together until David’s retirement for health reasons in 2018. While David and Charles worked together, brothers Fred and Bill have been on the outs with them since the early ’80s.
Bill Koch tried to organize a coup against company president Charles, and when that failed, they went their separate ways. Only they didn’t; instead, Bill, then joined by his brother, Fred, spent the next 20 or so years going after Charles, David, and even their mother, who would go on to disinherit Bill and Fred. Insiders say the Bill was constantly jealous of his minutes-older fraternal twin, David – a natural athlete, who, at 6 foot 5 inches tall, was a record-holding basketball star at MIT.
Charles and David would go forth with each owning a 42% share in Koch Industries, and then grow it into a juggernaut. In 1966 Fred Koch’s company had $177 million in revenue. The next year he died, and Charles took over. Since then, he and David built it up to the point of earning $118 billion in revenue last year. Charles famously lives a low-profile existence in Wichita, while David lived in Manhattan as a man about town and fixture of New York high-society.
It is the two brothers’ political activity that has made them famous, however, and caused the phrase “Koch brothers” to trigger progressive Democrats. How triggered? In 2014, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the floor of the Senate, saying, “[w]hen you make billions of dollars a year, you can be as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be.” He continued, “these two brothers are about as un-American as anyone I can imagine.” What was so god-awful to elicit such a rebuke? Support for liberty. Senator Reid was criticizing them for funding anti-Obamacare initiatives.
Campaign for Liberty
Charles and David Koch have been at the forefront of supporting liberty in the US. Charles, for instance, was a founder of the Cato Institute. David went a step further and ran for office. He was the 1979 nominee for Vice President of the United States of the Libertarian Party.
Here was a great guy, advocating all the things I believed in. He wanted less government and taxes, and was talking about repealing all these victimless crime laws that accumulated on the books. I have friends who smoke pot. I know many homosexuals. It’s ridiculous to treat them as criminals—and here was someone running for president, saying just that.
That is David Koch quoted in a 1980 New Yorker magazine article regarding his running mate. He is remarking on what drew him to the Libertarian party, and its previous candidate. When you hear Mr. Koch defined and described over and over again as far-right, ask how many right-wingers in 1980 were outspoken defenders of gay rights? How many Democrats were? It’s an inconvenient truth that Mr. Koch and other libertarians do not fit into the 3×5 card of allowable opinions on major issues. Mr. Koch and his brother have tried to show the world that liberty meant opposing all government impositions on freedom – economic and social. May he rest in peace.