Charles Koch: Help the poor by eliminating the minimum wage

In an interview in my old mater The Wichita Eagle (I worked there from January 1980 – January 1982 as a staff reporter), billionaire Charles Koch talks about an ad campaign he’s bankrolling — and suggests a nice way to help the poor would be to eliminate the minimum wage:

Charles Koch, who runs Koch Industries and contributes to political groups and campaigns, said he will launch a new campaign on Wednesday to laud economic freedom and warn the public about government overreach.

He knows this means he will again draw fire from political critics. His memory of the 2012 political campaign is still fresh. People said he tried to buy elections, and he recalls critics calling him names.

“Evil Koch brother,” he said. “Greedy and stuff.”

In that campaign, conducted mostly out of the limelight, he spent millions (he has not said how much) helping 2012 candidates oppose President Obama and support conservative and libertarian economic policies.

The effort beginning this week will cost the Charles Koch Foundation about $200,000 and run as a media campaign in Wichita for four weeks, he said. If people like it, he said, he might expand it to other cities.

The point of it, Koch said, is that he believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum. He hopes his ideas will help the country grow, he said. In his interview he emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people. Government regulations – including the minimum wage law – tend to hold everyone back, he said.

“We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country, rather than saying ‘Oh, we’re just fine now.’ We’re not saying that at all. What we’re saying is, we need to analyze all these additional policies, these subsidies, this cronyism, this avalanche of regulations, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency. And like permitting, to start a business, in many cities, to drive a taxicab, to become a hairdresser. Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.”

It’s always interesting to hear someone who is a millionaire, or billionaire, or someone who gets free government medical coverage and eats bean soup in the Senate dining room, or who has a talk show and jets to cities in a private jet for lunch talk about reducing money for the poorest of Americans. It is talking to the choir. The folks who’ll enjoy these ads and want to see more of them will be within Mr. Koch’s existing political constituency.

To other Americans, it will just be one more example of what we are seeing each day: the utter flip side of “compassionate” conservatism.

Ed Kilgore:

Conservatives have long argued against minimum wage laws on grounds that they kills low-end jobs. Still, it’s a bit shocking to hear David Koch, whose net worth is around $47 billion, sanctimoniously argue that we need to eliminate minimum wage laws (along with regulatory conditions on starting or running a business) to help po’ folks….Technically, downward mobility is still mobility, you see. When you shake the money tree, somebody’s got to fall out.