It came to pass on the 23d day of the 9th month in the beginning of the 20th Century that a troubling cloud appeared atop Wichita, Kansas. In the fields below, ground and trees trembled at the first cries of a certain infant arrived, a child of dark forces, who would bring misery to so many for so long. And his name was Fred Koch.
All manner of riches would come with ease, commanded perhaps by unstoppable evil, but neither possessions nor power would end the pain for others caused.
In the 11th month of 1967 Fred’s living presence left, but things concocted ended not. Soon, a son would stir the infamy his father brewed – bringing forth even more sorrow across the land.
This boy was David, and with older brother Charles, they pledged great fortunes to crush the public weal. Roads, bridges, schools, prisons, even water and power to light and heat, were touched by a Koch crusade.
Last week, on Friday his family and fanatic fans mourned David’s passing. Meanwhile, millions of victims went on as usual, struggling for food, health, ever wishing for a fairer share of America’s bounty.
All of the fawning obituaries and all the memorial plaudits will not put David Koch’s reputation back together again. It was lost at birth if you believe in the “evil seed”, and nothing he did for the rest of his life could counter the universal harm he promoted.
I first encountered the effects of the Koch philosophy in the late 60s, when one of Fred Koch’s followers presented me with a copy of The Blue Book, a pithy bible of the John Birch Society. At the time I was editor of The Recorder newspaper in Conshohocken, PA, and Fred Koch was one of the founders of the Birch organization.
After reading The Blue Book, I saw a corruption of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism philosophy. Her novels on self-determination emphasized individual freedom of thought and cognitive evaluation. She deplored how fruits of inventors were destroyed or stolen by second-rate “experts” and corporate chicanery.
There is someone named after Ayn Rand in the Senate today – Rand Paul – who fights proposals to increase our minimum wage, seeks to privatize all things short of the air we breathe, and suggests everything should be legal unless it physically harms someone else. He is a corporate tool – no regulation, no anti-trust, no consumer protection.
Conshohocken had once produced 500,000 tons of steel per year and was also home to the national brand – Lee Tires. As companies closed, the town grew poorer, jobs were lost, boarding houses replaced elegant homes, and at least one new crime seemed to be reported every day in a borough with only 8,000 citizens.
Urban Renewal, a federal program that paid to purchase land, clear acres and grant the property to a developer, was the only salvation possible. Some $28 million was promised, and nearly everyone in town was excited with hope of new homes, businesses and roads.
A few folks hated the idea. Long letters about Communism and federal government takeover of the town were sent to me for publication. Angry residents wandered into the newspaper’s office, claiming they represented the opposition to renewal.
It was insane, made no sense, until one of the leaders handed me a copy of The Blue Book and told me to read it and I would change my mind.
Fred Koch’s Birch Society was the source of today’s Tea Party and Libertarian movement.
To achieve their privatization goals the Kochs funded dozens of front groups, and even spent some $400 million to elect favored candidates in 2018.
What are the ultimate goals of the John Birch Society/Libertarians:
- No minimum wage
- No public schools
- No public prisons
- No U.S. Department of Education
- No Environmental Protection Agency
- No public highways
- No public police departments
- No public fire departments
- No union movement or right to strike
- No unemployment compensation
- No workman’s compensation
- No Food Stamps
- No Medicaid
- No Medicare
- No public hospitals
- No public mental institutions
- No Federal Reserve System
- No income tax
- No tariffs
- No Social Security
In every case benefits now free to the public would be taken by investors to make profits.
For example, only charter schools would remain after public schools deteriorated from politicians deliberately cutting funding.
All highways would be toll roads. Annual dues would be required for fire or police protection.
Our seniors would die quickly without Social Security, leaving the only alternative: Wall Street pension plans. Emergency rooms would collapse from the influx of the poor and seniors without Medicaid or Medicare.
What do the pure Libertarians, like the Kochs, think are good ideas:
- No laws against gambling or prostitution
- No penalty for drug use of any kind
- Unlimited immigration with no borders
- Dividing public by race and sexual persuasion
- Earned Income Tax Credits to subsidize business
- More military funding
- Sales taxes
- Ending deficit spending
After a long battle Conshohocken won the urban renewal battle and is replete with high-rise hotels, public parking garages, two large fire departments, and a structure called Marshall Lee Towers.
When all the objections were cleared, the borough’s leaders discovered that the major Birch Society opposition was to the public housing required by the dislocation of residents in the renewal zone.
The critics wanted as few of these homes as possible, citing the “danger” of outsiders moving into town. My opinion at the time was that they meant Black families from Norristown or Philadelphia, but this was never proven.
Finally, someone proposed that part of the renewal program would be housing for the poor elderly, a towering structure on the main drag just for senior citizens. One stipulation was that the waiting list place borough residents on top, county residents next, and others at the end.
There wasn’t very much need for restrictions. The Towers have always been filled only by Conshohocken residents, the demand being so great.
Following the renewal battle I noticed that many of the opponents had left town. They had rented apartments nearby to fight renewal, and now they were off to deprive another community of so-called “government welfare.”
David Koch was about 30 at the time, and Fred had died in 1967.
The society lives on without much publicity, but it has prominent advocates:
Former Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), offered the 2008 keynote speech at the John Birch Society 50th anniversary, and Donald Trump’s current Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was the speaker at the John Birch Society’s National Council dinner shortly before joining the President’s administration.