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."