Ethics Koch Brothers Racism

Charles Koch: People on Food Stamps are Dependent Addicts, Have No Work Ethic


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.

  • Sabyen91

    “[We] need greater incentives to work.”

    Yeah, like fair wages. Your move.

  • Brutlyhonest

    I was writing something then decided to just say fuck it. The people who buy in to drivel like this from koch are willfully ignorant and nothing will change that.

  • Kitty Smith

    Those stupid poor people with their stupid addiction to food. Then need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and learn to kick the habit and get back to work.

  • Ashes Defacto

    This is like Bush several years ago, surprised that a woman in the audience was working three jobs and could barely make ends meet. Or the several times various Republicans didn’t have an answer for or flatly denied that it’s possible to work a full time job and still qualify for food stamps. The fictional welfare queen from thirty years ago has come to encompass the majority of Americans. Yet the Republicans are only offering strange performance art like that beach bum bragging about getting food stamps on Fox “News” or forcing massive cuts to social programs that seem to fall hardest upon the those least able to afford it.

    However these good Christians will fight to their last breath to maintain deductions for corporate jets, tax credits for shipping whole factories out of the country and a whole lot of intrusive laws aimed at people they don’t like. All in the name of smaller government and the free market.

  • muselet

    It is bitterly amusing that Charles Koch, a man who inherited not only great wealth but companies that generate yet more wealth for him and his brother, deigns to lecture us little people on the value of work and personal success.

    Words cannot express my contempt for this evil little man.


  • bbcaaat

    Does the same thing apply to the biggest welfare takers in the US? Corporations who get gov. hand outs and avoid taxes via loopholes? Corporate welfare is huge compared to personal welfare.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    This sick, twisted, demented kick-people-when-they’re-down libertarian bullshit is based on one huge, massive, insidious, grotesque and absolutely inscrutable lie:

    That not helping people in need doesn’t cost money.

    Thoughtful, intelligent, observant, pragmatic people figured out a long, long time ago that as a society we have only two choices: (1) pay the cost of helping people in need, or (2) pay the cost of dealing with the social consequences caused by not helping people in need.

    And here’s the even bigger secret, the one nobody tells you and the one that certainly never enters the mind of anyone inclined to agree with Mr. Charles Koch: (2) costs more than (1).

    As long as people believe the opposite, that there is actually a way to ignore the poor and let them suffer and starve that will not cost anyone anything, or that it costs more to help them than to not help them, we’ll continue to hear this disgusting, sociopathic psycho-talk from the Right.

    • i_a_c

      B-b-but social costs don’t show up as a line item on the expense report, so they don’t exist!

    • If history shows us anything, one of the costs of #2 is that if it goes on long enough, people like Charles Koch are usually found being marched to an appointment with a firing squad.

      • GrafZeppelin127

        Or the guillotine.

        It kills me (no pun intended) that the people who whine and bray the most about “communism” are always trying so hard to create the conditions that lead to communist revolutions in the first place.