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Mondays with Murray: Rothbard and the Kochs

The Koch Brothers, namely Charles and David, have become the symbol of all things evil for many progressives. They are seen as the ultimate crony capitalists, using their power and wealth to influence the political scene. Of course, progressives are not necessarily upset by that fact alone, but the fact that their particular influence tends to favor those with an "R" next to their name. Millionaires and billionaires alike influence both major parties, and the Democrats are no exception.

The Kochs are not new to the political scene, however. Before they started seeding Republicans with their money, Koch money was a driving force behind much of the modern mainstream libertarian movement, including funding some of Murray Rothbard's work as well as helping to found the Cato Institute and Libertarian Party. They became directly involved in politics when David ran as the Vice Presidential candidate for Ed Clark on the Libertarian ticket in 1980. It was this entry into politics which sparked the divide between the Kochs and Murray Rothbard. Rothbard saw the 1980 political campaign as selling out libertarian principles in order to be more accepted by the mainstream, and he became furious when Clark described libertarians as "low-tax liberals." This would eventually lead to Rothbard's exile from the Cato Institute and the founding of the Mises Institute with Lew Rockwell.

The Kochs activity within the relatively fringe Libertarian Party never bothered mainstream progressives much. But once they became major players in Republican politics, they have been viewed in a much more negative light both by progressives and hardcore libertarians alike. The Kochs were parodied in the movie "The Campaign" with the "Motch Brothers" characters. They are also the subject of a new documentary, "Citizen Koch", as well as a new book by Mother Jones' Daniel Schulman, entitled "Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty."

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Interesting that they had helped back the libertarian cause. Never knew that.