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So people with money finance research people are doing that advances things they care about, like...

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The Kochs' efforts on criminal justice reform?

This is the Soros conspiracy theory for lefties.


I doubt you've done the research I have on this, so I'll leave it as an exercise to you and readers here to read my links, critiques of them, and draw your own conclusions.

Also, I'm not saying everything Koch's touch is all wrong, but you can usually trace it back to self-interest whether directly or as cover.

They do a lot of focus grouping to get from, for instance: "taxes are wrong" --> "don't build expensive public transit" --> "make a ballot prop to widen highways at the expense of public transit", and the latter actually happened, per NY Times article below:

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/climate/koch-brothers-pub...


Thanks to my past life working in the libertarian movement, I personally know a lot of the people written about in these conspiracy theories, and have been previously accused of being a paid Koch shill with nefarious motives for expressing my genuine (research-based!) opinions on what I think is best for society. I've met some self-interested people on the establishment Republican lobbying side, but almost none of them were even peripherally connected to the Koch network, and at least the parts of the Koch network I interfaced with didn't like that at all.

Believe we're wrong if you want, but accusing us of bad faith just because you can find some way something might conceivably benefit us is lazy.

I have my disagreements with the Kochtopus, but everyone I know even at the highest levels of those organizations is fiercely ideologically motivated, and the people I know who know the Kochs say that absolutely extends to them (and I haven't seen things that seem to contradict it).


Ideology works because it is genuine. When it is said that some idea prevails because it benefits some group (== it is an ideology), it does not imply that the group does not genuinely believe in it.

Usually, political leaders are selected among those who truly believe and have fewer personal benefit (by those who believe less but benefit more), but that's not always the case, and ultimately that doesn't matter. What story we tell ourselves (how genuinely we believe) is not very relevant at the end of the day, for we do not make a living in the world of stories (but for martyrs).

So one must be very cautious, when reasoning about society (or anything really), each time ones line of arguments crosses ones self interest. How much genuinely we believe in what we benefit from is no better an argument than how much strongly an addict feel he needs his fix.


The ideology just happens to align so well with the interests...


Not really -- most business lobbyists are looking for various forms of corporate welfare. They want special treatment for their business/industry, or barriers to entry that prevent competitors from getting a foothold. Yeah, low regulatory barriers can help a whole industry, but why do you think many big companies lobby in favor of regulations? Big businesses can handle regulations way better than small companies (see Google with the GDPR, for example). Deregulation is an even playing field, so it's a tough sell to say that that's just self-interest.


> Deregulation is an even playing field, so it's a tough sell to say that that's just self-interest.

Just because deregulation doesn't give you a leg up against competitors within your industry doesn't suddenly remove self-interest as a motive. Price collusion doesn't help you vis-a-vis your competitors either but it's certainly done in self-interest.

If everybody in the economy makes 10% more in nominal terms but output remains the same, nobody is better off in real terms. The industry being deregulated is just a subset of the economy though! If getting rid of a regulation makes participants in an industry which is only 2% of the economy do 10% better in nominal terms while output remains unchanged, those participants are coming out ahead in real terms by capturing a bigger piece of the economic pie.

One need resort to neither altruism nor high minded ideals to explain such an action, self-interest still suffices.


The slang term is “useful idiots” if you are looking for something to look up and read about.


I don't doubt a lot of the leadership and foot soldiers alike are true believers. I also was involved and earnestly believed in the cause, but the evidence shows that Kochs are dishonest in business and have done a lot of things for blatant self-interest rather than for a principled stance.

I think the Koch Brothers themselves actually do believe what they say, but it's also hard to not conflate:

(1) The government shouldn't impose such strict regulations on business.

(2) I benefit if the government doesn't impose such strict regulations on my business.

Further, you can see how their childhood led to their libertarian / no-holds-barred pathology because of their absent father who encouraged them to fight-it-out in all disputes and their strict (literally Nazi) governess - leading to them sueing each other and anyone else who gets in the way of their "freedom". It's a shame.


The Kochs' efforts on criminal justice reform?

Good you mentioned that one. The goal is to push through on mens rea for company executives, for the top brass to go to prison you actually have to prove intent of malfeasance. "Should know" would not be enough to lock someone away.

Currently playing in a theater near you: the 737-MAX drama.


No, that's not the goal. How do I know? I used to work in the libertarian movement and know a lot of the people involved. I have a number of mutual friends with the Kochs. The people involved in this (even at the top levels) really do believe in criminal justice reform.


I’m a libertarian and it’s not because people are paying me. It’s from a principled stance that it’s the best and most ethical system of societal organization possible. To name but a few recent victories where libertarians have been both right and well ahead of the curve - drug legalization, criminal justice reform, and school choice. Next will be sex work which I anticipate will be legalized in many places in the USA within the next decade.


Ah, so you're an actual libertarian, not a Libertarian. I tend to agree with libertarian principles but often times they just get co-opted by Libertarians.


Do you mean the Libertarian Party? I am not a member because I don’t want to be a member of any political party out of principle. As an independent I have voted for candidates of different parties depending on the situation. It’s impossible that 2 parties (or 3) capture all of someone’s views.


In part yes - in America there is a Libertarian philosophy that doesn't match what the rest of the world calls libertarianism, big-l Libertarianism seems much more heavily focused on fiscal freedom at the expense of freedom of opportunity, while little-l libertarianism tends to value freedom of opportunity and freedom of expression above the purely fiscal freedoms.

Sadly, both groups tend to cling to the term l/Libertarianism which can confuse things. I mostly mention this because different people will read your self-described libertarianism differently with some people reading it as Libertarianism.


It's an aphorism that if you put 1000 libertarians in a room you will have 1000 definitions of what a "real" libertarian is. For me, the essence of libertarianism is about valuing the individual over the collective. This includes protecting individuals from the state by restricting state power, strong protection of private property, economic freedom, and allowing people the freedom to make their own decisions even if they are dumb decisions. It's a very natural and free way of living. So many people want the state to coerce others into doing what they want - essentially running other people's lives. That is a great evil and how casually people resort to this makes me ill. I just want everyone to have maximum freedom possible.


You know, there's a special name for a stateless society where people are allowed to own any amount of any thing and enter into any agreement. It's called "feudalism"


Common trope against libertarians, a super lazy no-thought argument. Feudalism is owning people which is clearly unethical. I'm not against government, I'm pro-freedom with a government that does the minimum possible to ensure a non-coercive society. Liberals take the absolute craziest position and say, "Durr that's what libertarians believe!" Completely ridiculous.


I think it's a decent argument, maybe it doesn't apply to your specific flavor of libertarianism since you believe the state should "ensure a non-coercive society" but the devil is in the details with regard to what one considers coercive.


Do you truly believe that libertarians, of which there are millions in the US, want to return to a feudal society? This is what you actually think? It’s completely absurd


> Do you truly believe that libertarians, of which there are millions in the US, want to return to a feudal society

No, not a literal feudal structure as it was implemented in medieval europe, but a system with some similar qualities. In particular, a system where the landed elite control private paramilitary forces and the common folk have no choice but to pay homage to their capital lords or find themselves without the protection of a state.


It's not about what you want, it's about the inevitable consequences.

Capitalist libertarianism is oxymoronic. People cannot have freedom when they need to work to survive so that others can live lavishly and accumulate infinitely without working.




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