WATERFORD, Ireland – Yesterday evening, after dinner, we went over to our favorite Irish pub, Henry Downes, in Waterford City.
Run-down, derelict and shopworn, the bar needs a makeover… or a wrecking ball.
A group of young Irishmen in shorts (though it was cold and rainy outside) sat at one table. An old man in rumpled clothes shuffled in, sat at the bar, and ordered a Guinness. Then a youngish woman came in. She ordered a Guinness, too, and joined the old man at the bar, soon picking up a conversation.
We asked for the famous No. 9 – a whiskey distilled by the establishment – and settled into a quiet corner booth. Our pulse raced. Our nostrils flared. For a moment we thought we might lose consciousness…
The No. 9 was as smooth as ever. But on our mind was rough with thoughts of all the Diary readers furious at our praise of Charles Koch. (You can catch up on those responses here and in today’s Mailbag below.)
Cancellations and Complaints
Our commentary on Charles Koch – a billionaire businessman, libertarian, and big political donor – drew so many cancellations and complaints we didn’t know what to make of it.
Many readers had the kind of opinion of Koch usually reserved for the Gestapo or the plague. We wondered where they got it. So today, we return to the scene to investigate…
But first, we pause to let readers know that the Fed has begun an important powwow. “With Fed on Deck, Stocks Slip,” reads a headline in Barron’s.
The Fed meeting will determine how much money Wall Street gamblers make this week… and perhaps also next week.
It is extraordinary, but bureaucrats working for a quasi-government bank cartel now decide who gets what. That they have shifted so much of the nation’s wealth to their friends – and future employers – in the financial sector is not surprising. But it is still outrageous. And it causes less complaint than gluten in communion wafers.
But let us leave the Fed and take up our subject for today: Charles Koch and his involvement in politics.
A Boot on Your Neck
We begin by clarifying our own view of politics. In a few words: We’re against it.
We’re not for abstract “liberty” or “democracy” or any of the “isms.” We just don’t like anyone telling us what to do.
Politics is telling other people what to do. It is one part self-deception, one part fraud, and one part brute force. If you don’t go along with the self-deception or submit to the fraud, the government will use brute force against you. Ultimately, you must do what the politicians and their lackeys in government tell you… or they will soon have their boot on your neck.
Most people go along willingly… often happily. They stand in line to vote, feeling proud of themselves, hoping to score an advantage… or drive their neighbors in the direction they think they should go.
They want more retirement benefits… bigger salaries for teachers… or more war in the Middle East. They cannot get these things without the firepower of government behind them. So, they believe they are “good citizens” by using it.
Deceiving, pretending, bullying, threatening, thieving, enslaving, and killing – strip away the claptrap and that is what you have. Government is a dirty and uncivilized business. As Thomas Jefferson pointed out long ago, the less of it you have the better off you are.
After all, almost everything obeys the “law of declining marginal utility.” A little of Number 9 may be a good thing; a lot is dangerous. Government is no different.
Charles Koch shares the view of the founding fathers – that when it comes to government, less is more.
But what can he do about it?
Should he pick up a rifle and defend his business, seeking to liberate it from the multitude of new offices… and the swarms of officers… sent to harass his people and eat out their substance?
Should he arm his 60,000 U.S. employees… gather them at the gates of Wichita, Kansas (where Koch Industries is based)… and proclaim independence?
And then, when the feds send in their troops, should he fight… with a volley of gunfire that will be “heard ‘round the world”?
A smart man, Charles rid himself of self-deception by reading Austrian School economists Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises while he was still in college. Then he has watched the fraud develop… and seen through it.
He has watched the national debt rise from less than $1 trillion in 1980 to over $18 trillion today.
And day after day, government reaches deeper into our lives – with so many edicts, rules, and orders that the typical citizen is unable to keep up and, as a result, is in danger of being arrested and impoverished.
What would Jefferson do about this? What could Charles Koch do?
We doubt that it has been especially effective. But he has used his only weapon – money – for redress of grievances. And he has backed politicians he believes have the same view as he does.
A Debt of Gratitude
Koch’s critics accuse him of undermining democracy and perverting the (otherwise pristine) political process.
His friends wonder whether it is a good idea to sully his name by stooping to politics at all.
But in all we have learned about him, he seems to be genuine and forthright – almost naively innocent – about what he is doing… and why he is doing it.
It has nothing to do with getting special favors for himself or his business. He knows we are all under the feds’ heel. He merely tries to lighten the weight of the boot.
He seeks no special treatment, but only less treatment for us all. And for that we owe him a debt of gratitude.
Further Reading: It may not look it, but Henry Downes is a celebrated institution in Waterford. To learn more about the history of Bill’s favorite bar, and its famous No. 9 whiskey, watch this clip from Dick Warner’s Waterways travel documentary series.
For a surprisingly intimate radio interview with Charles Koch by Kai Ryssdal at Marketplace go here.
BY JEFF BROWN, EDITOR, EXPONENTIAL TECH INVESTOR
A Diary reader recently asked about the economic impact of new technology on GDP growth.
Wonder if Bill could write a piece taking his outlook on the economy and the effects of current breakthroughs in material sciences, robotics, etc. Could these trends offset the incredible debt/leadership crisis we now face?
– Timothy F.
New technologies and their impact on wealth is one of the big themes we’re tracking at Bonner & Partners. It’s why Bill has asked me to join the team.
I have been a technology executive for the last 25 years. I’ve built early-stage start-ups. I’ve run organizations generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues. From semiconductors to mobile technology, to broadcasting and video tech, to IT networking and cyber-security, to automotive and even consumer electronics… I’ve done it all.
The short answer about the impact of technology on GDP is that it will be significant. But much of the impact will be to slow, not speed up, growth.
GDP measures the prices of all goods and services the U.S. produces. So, technological breakthroughs – which typically lower the costs and prices of goods and services – can reduce GDP growth.
Advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, computing, and semiconductors will continue to push down prices. The cost of energy, food, health care, and shelter will all drop, as a result of the accelerating rate of technological change.
For instance, new houses are now being “printed” using 3-D printers. Construction costs have dropped to just energy inputs and raw material inputs.
Meanwhile, advanced forms of energy production such as nuclear fusion (which is what powers the sun) are within reach in less than 10 years. This will become a dramatically cheaper form of energy production than any other source available to us today.
New technological breakthroughs will also eliminate millions more jobs around the world.
Self-driving cars are revolutionizing transportation and logistics. Over the next five years, the taxi, trucking, and logistics industries will be completely transformed.
Make no mistake: Deflationary and job-reducing effects of technology are big factors in the global slowdown Bill has been warning about.
But on the positive side, quality of life, human longevity, and our ability to spend our time on more meaningful pursuits will dramatically improve.
And for well-informed investors there will be absolutely massive opportunities to profit, as technological breakthroughs transform the way we live…
Editor’s Note: To be among the first to learn about Jeff Brown’s top picks for breakthrough tech stocks on the verge of huge gains follow this link.
U.S. companies are not just borrowing funds at ultra-cheap credit to buyback shares in their own businesses. But what to make of a company that cutting jobs and wasting the savings to buy back shares?
Following hot on the heels of its arch-rival Amazon, Walmart is getting into the delivery-drone race. It’s already been flying drones indoors. Now, it’s seeking permission to fly drones in residential neighborhoods.
A former U.S. intelligence officer has written a new book detailing the most important life-saving tactics he learned from his years in the shadows. It’s titled Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life.
Mailbag (Extended Edition)
Another extended edition today, as readers continue to voice strong opinions about Charles Koch.
Please remember your Tacitus (from Agricola): “It’s human nature to hate those we have wronged [sic].”
The hard working Kochs are hated for their honest success because it highlights the dishonesty of some and the sloth of more.
Gates and Jobs, being clever and somewhat lucky are better tolerated.
– Robert R.
Another lovely letter, all warm and congenial. Your mastery of tone is impeccable. But given the Koch brother’s funding of climate change denial, perhaps your letter is too warm, as the climate will be for those without the resources to survive the coming heat waves.
– David J.
Koch Bros. use their vast wealth to run Super PACS that support some of the worst Republican religious whackos and neo-Con a**holes there are. ”Nice people,” sure.
– Seth P.
“Who is John Galt?” Sounds like you may have him and it took you all of one page to do what it took Ayn Rand some twelve-hundred pages to do. Much thanks.
– Jake S.
Excellent Diary today – I heard Charles Koch’s interview with Kai Ryssdal last week and am very much looking forward to reading his new book.
He was able to point out to Kai, and therefore all Marketplace listeners, that he isn’t just some GOP donor, and that in fact he is quite dissatisfied with Republicans overall.
Of course, he continues to be rich, so I imagine he – and his name – will be demonized well beyond his death.
– John L.
“I LOVE the DIARY” and Charles Koch = Atlas Shrugged 2015. For goodness sake don’t stop now.
– William W.
Regarding your article about Charles Koch. Agree that he is one of the good guys. Character is inside.
Look at an old article about Charles, and you will learn he had to deal with one of his children running over and killing a youngster in an automobile accident near their home.
It was a terrible accident. The child ran into the street between cars and was hit before it could be seen. Charles did not send a lawyer or public relations officer to deal with the family. The Koch family went to the child’s home and expressed their sorrow directly to the parents about the terrible event.
That is “character”!
– John A.
Were you offended by Bill’s issue on Charles Koch? Or do you believe the anti-Koch sentiment is overdone?
As always you can write Bill and the team, at email@example.com
Our colleagues at Palm Beach Research Group have created a blueprint that can bring substantial wealth into your life – at least seven figures in seven years is what they’re claiming. Here’s yesterday’s note about it…