Kansas billionaire and libertarian philanthropist Charles Koch, the co-owner of Koch Industries, is launching a new media campaign in his hometown of Wichita to promote economic freedom and warn against government overreach.
His first 60-second television spot, which aired Wednesday, stated that economic freedom is the key to financial prosperity and social progress. It warned that the U.S. economic freedom ranking has fallen when compared to other countries and could continue to decline.
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"The spot was developed as part of our ongoing work to support the kind of scholarship and analysis that examines how to ensure opportunities for earned success while sharing compassion for the vulnerable," Koch explained in a statement on the Charles Koch Foundation website
The foundation provides grants to think tanks and higher education programs dedicated to free market economic theory.
"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," he told the Wichita Eagle
. "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 dependence."
He continued, "Massive spending, debt, deficits, this . . . avalanche of regulations we've had advanced, particularly in this administration but even in the previous ones, all this undermines the standard of living and human well being that we've worked so hard to get people to understand the benefits of."
Larry Jacobs, a professor of politics at the University of Minnesota who has followed Koch's career, told the newspaper that many of his ideas about government regulations are contentious and "probably won't go anywhere" because many people believe that some regulations give the poor and disenfranchised a "minimum floor" of protection.
"But I do understand his frustration," Jacobs said. "You almost get the feeling that he feels a frustration that he's being misunderstood as a kind of a threat to America, a greedy threat, and that he feels like he's unfairly demagogued. He wants his message to resonate, so he's now offering a positive agenda that applies to all of America."
The $200,000 campaign will run in Wichita for four weeks. Koch said he might expand it to other cities.
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