Americans are known for their generosity, charity, and concern toward foreigners who suffer during times of natural disasters, but recently, American conservatives have demonstrated that their lack of concern for their countrymen who are poor and disadvantaged through no fault of their own. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and homes to a less-than-ideal economy and Republicans have answered with cuts to unemployment benefits and social safety nets belying generosity and charity for their own citizens. Many Americans consider it a privilege to pay their taxes because the government used to take care of our most vulnerable citizens. Republicans though, hate taxes when they are used to fund government aid programs, but they depend on them to fund their wars and tax breaks for the rich. This week, Warren Buffett wrote an op/ed where he said the wealthy should pay more taxes because of the opportunity this country has given them, and that they should share the sacrifice middle class America shoulders.
Buffett was candid in revealing that his tax burden was barely 17.4% on his income and nothing in payroll taxes, and he rightly estimated that the average middle-class taxpayer pays between 15-25% income tax and about 10% in payroll taxes. Mr. Buffett said most mega-wealthy Americans are decent people, but he surely was not talking about Charles Koch who answered Buffett in a statement that was part self-aggrandizement and part meanness. Koch said, “Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good; this is particularly true over the past several years with the massive uncontrolled increase in government spending. I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington.” To be fair to Koch, he does contribute a tiny percentage of his considerable wealth to the New York City Ballet and Opera, but the only people who enjoy his largesse are his wealthy friends. There aren’t many working-class or poor Americans frequenting ballet or opera performances in New York or any other city.
Much of the business and non-profit investments Koch gives money to are organizations that promote his political ideology of less government regulations and more tax breaks for himself and his ultra-wealthy colleagues in the corporate world. Koch did not expound on what government programs he considers do more harm than good, but based on his politics, one can assume it is any program that benefits the bottom 98% of income earners; but primarily the poor. One thing is certain, Koch does not object to millions of Americans’ tax dollars going to government programs that subsidize his companies.
When Charles Koch says he contributes to non-profits, he means organizations like his brother David’s Americans For Prosperity that funded the anti-Obama teabagger movement. Think Progress reported that Koch’s teabaggers compared healthcare reform to the Holocaust as well as sponsoring rallies with speakers from the birther movement. There are very few Americans who would consider seditious organizations as charitable organizations. Koch Industries also “contributed” money to neo-conservative think tanks that promoted the war in Iraq, because it benefited the oil industry such as Dick Cheney’s company Halliburton and Koch Industries.
Koch also made charitable contributions to organizations that promoted anti-science propaganda and the notion that the poor do not really suffer. Those “charitable investments” will never help feed poor Americans, but they do misinform ignorant Fox News’ viewers as well as advance his Libertarian political ideology. Koch also gave money to higher education with the proviso that he control curriculum that promoted his political ideology. A major part of Koch’s ideology is to demean environmental initiatives because his company is a major source of carcinogen producers. Koch Industries has also avoided paying the public for the hundreds-of-millions of tons of carbon pollution his companies produce each year.
Charles and David Koch have benefited greatly from this country and they should pay their fair share of taxes because the government has given them every advantage regular working-class Americans will never enjoy. In fact, besides the government subsidies and low tax rates, the American people unwittingly have enriched Koch by purchasing their gas, oil, and a multitude of products they produce. The Koch brothers give approximately $12 million a year to right-wing organizations and think tanks, and to put it into its proper perspective, it works out to 0.0005% of their net worth. Factored in with Koch’s approximately 17% tax liability means they still do not pay as much as an average middle-class taxpayer who pays nearly 25-38% in total taxes. It is hardly equitable, but paying their fair share is not what the Koch brothers are about.
People like the Kochs will not be satisfied until the government and the American people pay them everything they have. Their record of pollution alone makes them guilty of murder for the cancer-causing agents they produce and the air and water they pollute that will never recover in this generation’s lifetime. Warren Buffett said that the mega-wealthy would never miss the money if the government increased their tax liability, but Charles and David Koch are greedy and will not be content until they take everything Americans have.
Most Americans are happy when they can contribute to the poor, and when their tax dollars are used to help feed and house the most vulnerable among us they consider it a worthy investment. But most Americans are not nearly as evil and self-centered as the Kochs and it is a testament to the kindness of Americans. It is a kindness people like the Kochs will never comprehend because they have been given everything from birth and maybe if they felt what it is like to be fearful of going hungry or not having adequate shelter for their family, they would have a different attitude. However, one has to wonder if the Kochs are so self-centered and greedy that they would let their own family members go hungry to avoid paying one more dollar in taxes. Based on the level of selfishness the libertarian-minded Koch brothers exude, they would probably sell their family to the government if they could get the right price.