David Koch, the billionaire free market philanthropist, has died at the age of 79.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1940, Koch was a longtime member of the board of trustees of Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this podcast, and a major force in the modern libertarian movement. He was also, along with his older brother Charles, one of the "Koch brothers," who are regularly invoked on the left as a primary cause of all that is bad in American politics.
Such lazy demonization belies a life and fortune spent trying to build a better world through business, politics, and culture, one in which people are not only more prosperous and tolerant but free to run their own experiments in living.
In 1980, Koch was the vice presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, whose platform that year endorsed the then-radical notions of legalizing drugs, ending penalties for victimless crimes, and full acceptance of gays and lesbians. The platform also called for the abolition of the CIA and FBI in the wake of the Church Commission findings of widespread abuse. In 1987, he told Reason, "Pursuing a very aggressive foreign policy…is an extremely expensive endeavor for the U.S. government. The cost of maintaining a huge military force abroad is gigantic. It's so big it puts a severe strain on the U.S. economy, creating economic hardships here at home." Not surprisingly, he was a critic of the Iraq War and other 21st-century interventions.
He gave widely to libertarian organizations such as Americans for Prosperity and also to cancer research and the arts. In today's podcast, Nick Gillespie speaks with Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty, the author of Radicals For Capitalism, a history of the libertarian movement, about the life and legacy of David Koch.
Audio production by Ian Keyser.