Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

One thing I’ve come to value in the last couple of years is the altruism and keen economic insights of the fourth-richest man in America: Charles Koch.

Even though Koch was raised rich and has now amassed a personal fortune of about $34 billion, he recently gave us a deeper sense of his true worth, measured not in dollars, but in values.

“We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country,” he declared. Excellent thought — FDR couldn’t have put it better! Noting that a big problem for the poor is that the Powers That Be “keep throwing obstacles in their way,” Koch cut to the chase, saying, “We’ve got to clear those out.”

Yes, Charlie, I’m with you! Clear out such barriers as the offshoring of middle-class jobs, union busting, poorly funded schools and the lack of affordable health care, housing and child care.

But, alas, that’s not at all what Koch had in mind as obstacles to be cleared out. Rather, he proposes to “help” poor people by eliminating — ready? — “the minimum wage.” Why? Because, explains this clueless son-of-the-rich, having a wage floor “reduces the mobility of labor.”

In case you don’t dwell in the plutocratic, narcissistic, Ayn Randian fantasyland where the Kochs hang out, “labor mobility” is right-wing psychobabble for social Darwinism. Remove all remnants of America’s economic safety net, they coldly theorize (while wallowing in their nests of luxury), and the poor will be “freed” to become billionaires.

As Charles puts it, if the disadvantaged had no protections in the workplace and no government programs to ameliorate their poverty, they would then have to scramble just to live, thus freeing them from reliance on society’s helping hand. Freeing them to do what? Well, Koch says, they could then “start a business … drive a taxicab … become a hairdresser.”

What a visionary he is! Where you and I might see people trapped in debilitating poverty, Charles sees a Brave New World of billionaire hairdressers!