Skip to main content

social security card

The Nation has a fantastic exclusive demonstrating the depths of Charles Koch's hypocrisy. To set the scene: It's 1973, and Koch is the newly-appointed president of the Institute for Humane Studies, a libertarian think tank that was sort of a precursor to Koch's Cato Institute. He's trying to lure Friedrich Hayek, "the leading laissez-faire economist of the twentieth century," from his home in Austria to the Institute as "distinguished senior scholar." Hayek originally refuses, on the basis of having had some serious health concerns, and wanting to be in his home country—with its generous social benefits and health protections.

Eager to have Hayek come to the Institute, staff there began researching options for his health coverage, finding out that he had paid into Social Security when he had lived in the U.S. and taught at the University of Chicago in the 1950s. From there it gets really fun.

On August 10, 1973, Koch wrote a letter appealing to Hayek to accept a shorter stay at the IHS, hard-selling Hayek on Social Security’s retirement benefits, which Koch encouraged Hayek to draw on even outside America. He also assured Hayek that Medicare, which had been created in 1965 by the Social Security amendments as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, would cover his medical needs.

Koch writes: “You may be interested in the information that we uncovered on the insurance and other benefits that would be available to you in this country. Since you have paid into the United States Social Security Program for a full forty quarters, you are entitled to Social Security payments while living anywhere in the Free World. Also, at any time you are in the United States, you are automatically entitled to hospital coverage.”

Then, taking on the unlikely role of Social Security Administration customer service rep, Koch adds, “In order to be eligible for medical coverage you must apply during the registration period which is anytime from January 1 to March 31. For your further information, I am enclosing a pamphlet on Social Security.”[...]

Publicly, in academia and in politics, in the media and in propaganda, these two major figures—one the sponsor, the other the mandarin—have been pushing Americans to do away with Social Security and Medicare for our own good: we will become freer, richer, healthier and better people.

But the exchange between Koch and Hayek exposes the bad-faith nature of their public arguments. In private, Koch expresses confidence in Social Security’s ability to care for a clearly worried Hayek. He and his fellow IHS libertarians repeatedly assure Hayek that his government-funded coverage in the United States would be adequate for his medical needs.None of them—not Koch, Hayek or the other libertarians at the IHS—express anything remotely resembling shame or unease at such a betrayal of their public ideals and writings. Nowhere do they worry that by opting into and taking advantage of Social Security programs they might be hastening a socialist takeover of America. It’s simply a given that Social Security and Medicare work, and therefore should be used.[...]

This is a grand swindle played on a trusting, gullible public, a scam whose goal is to con America's dying middle class into handing over their retirement money to the richest 0.1 percent, convincing them that in doing so, they’re “empowering” themselves and protecting their “individual liberty.”

Hayek did end up, in 1974 and again in 1977, as a resident scholar at IHS. The Nation has filed FOIA requests to find out if he took Koch's advice and took advantage of the Social Security and Medicare benefits to which he was entitled, but hasn't yet received a response. But the entire story, very much worth the read, really demonstrates the basic hypocrisy of the libertarian underpinnings from which the tea party, and modern Republican party, have grown: "[E]very man for himself; selfishness is a virtue."

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Sep 29, 2011 at 12:52 PM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders, Exposing ALEC, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site