I don’t need to explain why comparing a poor person on food stamps to a drug addict is wrong and offensive, but that’s what Charles Koch did last night in an op-ed for USA Today just before citing Martin Luther King.
[We] need greater incentives to work. Costly programs, such as paying able-bodied people not to work, are addictive disincentives. By undermining people’s will to work, our government has created a culture of dependency and hopelessness. This is most unfair to vulnerable citizens who suffer even as we say they are receiving “benefits.”
The “costly programs” Koch links to are programs for needy families such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC), and Medicaid.
The “able-bodied people” he links to are people who qualified for food stamps under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus) which expanded the field of those who were eligible because the economy was in shambles and millions of people had lost their jobs.
As you may have already noticed, Koch’s op-ed features shades of Paul Ryan and Charles Murray’s (and Cliven Bundy for that matter) philosophy that inner-city men have no work ethic.
Beyond implying that we’re actually hurting the people who are receiving “benefits” — scare quotes! — he also makes a pitch for “values” and the willingness to work.
[We] need to guide many more people into developing skills and values that will enable them to reach their potential. Everyone knows education increases a person’s ability to create value. But the willingness to work, an essential for success, often has to be taught, too.
Who is the op-ed directed at? Who is he trying to reach?
The only obvious answer is middle class white people in politically-competitive states. It’s a very cynical op-ed that relies on the audience not being able to identify the racial undertones peppered throughout it. The number of poor white people who qualify for the programs he demonizes may outnumber the minority families who do, but coded language directs your thoughts to those people.
Koch also cited a study conducted by an organization funded by himself to make the claim that regulations are costing Americans over $1 trillion per year.
Compounding the problem are destructive regulations affecting whether and how business invests and employees work. Federal rules cost America an estimated $1.86 trillion per year, calculated the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The op-ed did not disclose that the Competitive Enterprise Institute is partially funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation.