Even David Koch's Philanthropy Was Toxic - 2019-08-26
The much-celebrated philanthropy of David Koch becomes harder to applaud after you learn that the seeds of his fortune were in business deals that strengthened Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. David Koch was, along with his brother Charles, one half of the notorious "Koch Brothers," both widely reviled by liberals as longtime champions of right-wing causes like climate change denial and environmental deregulation. Ad Policy
But David, who died on Friday, tended to get better press than his brother, because he also donated lavishly to public institutions that enjoy universal enthusiasm. The New York Times obituary gave David Koch a sporting tagline ("a man-about-town philanthropist") and detailed his benefactions to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other commendable causes. "He gave lavishly to the arts, especially ballet," tweeted National Review senior editor Jay Nordlinger. "And to cancer research," added conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. "Every single person touched by cancer ought to mourn his passing."
Such encomiums are premised on the idea that Koch's charitable giving was so commendable that questions about where his money came from or the general impact of the super-rich on society would be impertinent. This willful lack of curiosity was sharply critiqued as long ago as 1909 by then-President Theodore Roosevelt, who wasn't impressed by John D. Rockefeller's setting up a foundation to help disperse his mountain of money. "No amount of charities in spending such fortunes can compensate in any way for the misconduct in acquiring them," Roosevelt curtly but accurately noted. In the case of the Koch family, there's plenty of misconduct to investigate.