EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: Charles Koch

AUDIO OBTAINED FROM SOURCE WHO WAS PRESENT.

 

OPENING SESSIONS

June 15, 2014

SPEAKER:

CHARLES KOCH

“American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society”

 

P R O C E E D I N G S

KEVIN GENTRY: All right. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. For about as long as we’ve had these meetings, we have always started at 1:00 on Sunday afternoon. I guess no particular reason (inaudible) we’ve always done it this way (inaudible) do it, but it’s worked out well. And as our movement has grown, we’ve had to add things on the tail end and add things on the front end. And people start coming in a day early, and sometimes two days early.

(Inaudible) all the meetings in different parts of the country as the freedom movement grows, and we are delighted to have all you here. And those of you who are coming in, there’s plenty of room on the left-hand and the right-hand side. We will gladly accommodate you. Those of you who are concerned about the temperature, I’m convinced (inaudible) over the next few minutes.

Well, again, welcome to the formal beginning of this conference, our next conference, the theme of which (inaudible) is “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society.” And I’ll turn it over to Charles. Charles, take it away.

(Applause.)

CHARLES KOCH: Thank you all, and thank you, Kevin. And thank you for being here for what we consider a critical need at a critical time. And what’s great is that we’ve got, I think a record number of you (inaudible). So a big hand to all of you.

(Applause.)

CHARLES KOCH: And I believe that we’ve got a full and I think very exciting program with a lot of innovation in it. And I hope you will find it as valuable as I do.

But as good as the program is, I think what we all need to recognize is the real strength of the seminar is you. You are what makes possible all of these efforts. Maybe not all of them, but the majority of them. (Inaudible) joining the movement (inaudible).

And that gets me to the main part of my (inaudible) which really, started really focusing on that several years ago when a friend — a very close friend challenged me that what would you do if you weren’t afraid? And that was at a time when David and I were put squarely in front of the firing squad. I don’t mean just over on (inaudible). We were squarely in front of the firing squad.

There were ad hominem attacks from Capitol Hill, from the media. We started to get many more hacker attempts and hacker groups who interrupt and destroy our IT system. There were threats to firebomb our facility, and a continuing increase in death threats against us and our family. So it was a great question then and during the exploration in all of this. It’s an even a better question now. I mean, for example, we have 10 million malicious hacker attempts on our IT systems every month, so they’re not fooling around, and we can’t either.

So what would I do differently if I weren’t afraid? In all honestly, very little, but it’s a question all of us need to constantly ask ourselves. Are we afraid the government will single us out for harassment or investigation? Are we afraid of being criticized by the press or having our reputations tarnished or being called “evil” or un-American? Those are the kinds of questions we need to absorb. We’ve been attacked in all these ways and many more.

So there’s nothing wrong with being afraid. There’s plenty of reasons to fear today: fear of reprisal, fear for our businesses, fear for our families, fear for our country. What has saved America in the past when it’s been threatened is the courage of people who did whatever it took to save it, and that’s just as true today. If we don’t show the same amount of courage, we will lose our country as we (inaudible) in the past.

So in my view, America must choose between two entirely different solutions. One is freedom and one is collectivism. Now, to me freedom is based on a favoring of respect for people and what they value. Collectivism is based on the belief that people aren’t capable of running their own lives, and those in power are capable of running it for them. Collectivists believe — and this is not hyperbole. Collectivists believe we are either too evil or too stupid to be allowed to pursue our own values. In contrast, freedom enables people to improve their own lives by creating value for others.

Collectivism not only takes away freedom, it takes away prosperity, impoverishing the very people it purports to help. And (inaudible) is nowhere more clear than the lives of the — of the poor. Since World War II, poverty has been approached as a technical problem to be solved by experts. (Inaudible) of experts. These experts have become the new philosopher (inaudible).

But their solutions address the symptoms of poverty, not the causes, which in large part are due to the lack of political and economic freedom. That’s why even though the (inaudible) experts declared that war on poverty has cost over $20 trillion — now, I want to make clear that’s trillion with a “T” — $20 trillion since 1954. And as Ronald Reagan said, it was the war that poverty won, but $20 trillion down the drain. The poverty rate is the same as it was in 1964.

(Inaudible) has done more to alleviate world poverty than the IMF, the World Bank, Western charities, and foreign aid combined. In America, cronyism is corrupting the market and business people, and it’s devastating the poor. Here in California, tens of billions of gallons of water are being diverted from irrigation to save a trillion (inaudible) called the Delta Smelt. In San Francisco, commercial dog walkers now need a license, and vehicles that transport dogs must be inspected and improved. In Mississippi, hair braiding now needs a new license which requires 300 hours of course work. The list goes on.

One out of every three Americans now requires government — one out of every three American workers require government permission to work. All of this impoverishes the very people that the left is saying they’re trying to help.

The federal ethanol mandate is similarly misguided on an even larger scale. It requires millions of gallons of gas — of ethanol into gasoline, consumes two-fifths of the entire U.S. corn crop. This raises the cost of corn and other food staples by as much as 35 percent. Who does this hurt? All Americans, but especially the poor who spend one-fifth of their budgets on food. And now a new study shows that ethanol can actually be worse for the environment than conventional gasoline. You can’t make this stuff up, but I guess watching Administration works, you’ve got to believe anything.

When businesses collude with the government to capture illegitimate profits in the many, many tens of billions, this cronyism puts the economy in (inaudible) country is the corrupt business people who then are encouraged to support collectivism. And then when people witness this spectacle, it undermines their support for what they mistakenly take as free enterprise. This isn’t free enterprise. This is cronyism.

So to truly help the poor and the economy, we have to eliminate cronyism. We have to eliminate welfare for the rich. If we don’t, we have no chance of prevailing. So our strategy is to do just that and move us toward a society in which people do well by truly doing good, not (inaudible).

Now, the strategy is not perfect, and we don’t pretend that it is. But we believe that the other approaches (inaudible) that give us the best chance of saving our country, and tomorrow we’ll address the short-term dimensions of this strategy. Now, there’s an opportunity to make real political gains this year. Today we’ll address the long-term (inaudible) how to change the national conversation and begin to build a lasting freedom majority.

Now, like all successful business people, you understand the importance of having a long-term as well as a short-term focus. In business you can’t focus so much on quarterly earnings that you sacrifice the future. The same thing is true for our seminar’s efforts. We can’t solely focus on the next election. If we aren’t building capabilities for the long term, for the future, we will have no future.

Now for this strategy to work, we need more than (inaudible). We need to understand that we need more (inaudible). We need courage. Courage is considered the most important of all the virtues because without it, you can’t exercise your others when they’re needed most. As Aristotle put it, “You will never do anything in this world without courage.” It’s been called the foundation of every virtue (inaudible). Well, believe me, in this country we are at that place now.

Now, the free society is what I’ve devoted a great bulk of my life to. And for me, the stakes in this struggle are so high, that it’s not just a matter of political questions. It’s a moral imperative. And I know a number of you feel the same way, and I am truly glad to have you as partners (inaudible) efforts and long-term partners to help us build this network.

Thank you for your courage and commitment now when it’s needed most. Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

KEVIN GENTRY: Thank you, Charles, (inaudible).

(End of session.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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