I hate giving somebody like Charles Koch even a brief uncritical mention on my blog, but you know what they say about enemies, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." That's about where I stand when I visit Webpages or social forums dedicated to extreme right-wing views, or carry strong authoritarian tendencies to impose their solutions.
So while reading an op-ed written by Charles Koch, I was amazed by some of his obviously populist left-wing statements made against corporate welfare, the use of taxpayer funded incentives and subsidies for businesses and his apparent opposition to "train to the job" policies.
USA Today Excerpt:
Companies should earn profits by creating value for customers and acting with integrity, the opposite of today's rampant cronyism.
Too many businesses focus on getting subsidies and mandates from government rather than creating value for customers. According to George Mason University's Mercatus Center, such favors cost us more than $11,000 per person in lost GDP every year, a $3.6 trillion economic hit.
Charles Koch wrote that? There's plenty to chew on right there. Of course my first reaction is to see how those statements relate to economic development policies here at home in Janesville, Wisconsin.
For the most part, city leaders here and across Wisconsin not only believe that communities are in competition with one another for jobs, they vigorously support and fuel those concepts by carving out special slush accounts from modest local tax treasuries to fund bidding "incentives" to pay business ransom demands. In the meantime, they leave the business of government and its responsibility to the general public teetering on insolvency.
Considering George Mason University's Mercatus Center is a Koch funded think tank, I would think they would want to hide their report showing the accumulated annual cost of business subsidies and incentives, is $3.6 trillion AND describe it as a loss. That's more than the entire federal budget! Yet the Koch's see government, not its corruption and those that extort it, as the problem?
There's even more local friction to Koch's op-ed if we include some policy statements from one of Koch's special millionaire club members, Diane Hendricks. The billionairess from Beloit recently said that local governments (city councils, county boards) must not be afraid to stick their necks out (as opposed to getting out of the way) by offering taxpayer funded capital incentives to effect economic growth. In fact, members of the local business establishment have said "taxpayers need to put more skin in the game," when it comes to attracting or expanding private-for-profit business enterprise.
Again, Charles Koch's op-ed is not only in direct opposition to all that, Koch claims those concepts are responsible for washing away up to $11K per person in lost GDP ...every year!
But there's more.
I agree with Dr. Martin Luther King. There are no dead-end jobs. Every job deserves our best. "If a man is called to be a street sweeper," King said, "he should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'"
I assume if every job deserves our best, it should also pay the best.
Again. Am I missing something here? My interpretation of "there are no dead-end jobs" is also to say that there is no such thing as an "entry level job." That is, if you do your job well, whether you're flipping burgers or stocking shelves, you deserve to be paid for your time, production and labor well enough to support yourself without government assistance. If the employer's business model can't support that, it's the business that's dead end - not the job. The Koch's support those values? That's pure Leftyville.
When it comes to creating opportunities for all, we can do much better. It's time to let people seek opportunities that best suit their talents, for businesses to forsake cronyism and for government to get out of the way.
Again, here we go. Is that meant to be a joke? The folks at Walker's Workforce Developmental agency and their local tools have been preaching the exact opposite to that. To them, it's all about training to the jobs that are available to satisfy the local economy's needs. In fact, their concern is that schools have for TOO long tried to satisfy students’ personal pursuit of the American Dream.
If the Koch brothers really believe in some of the concepts Charles wrote about, I'd have to ask them: why are they supporting candidates whose regressive economic and political philosophies runs counter to theirs?
Look, I'm not going to pretend the Koch's war on the concept of government, the environment, unions or public education does not exist, but if we can acknowledge that the game is rigged with a crony collectivist system (some call it rent-seeking) that incurs a $3.6T LOSS in GDP every year and costs individuals up to $11,000 in personal wealth - THAT should be public enemy number one. By comparison, everything else the Koch's have been trying to do is just playing around at the edges.