A couple of weeks ago at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, several hundred people went to their feet to applaud a speech delivered by David H. Koch. The occasion was the opening of the Met’s new façade on Fifth Avenue. It runs four city blocks, and is complete with new fountains, paving, lighting, landscaping, and seating areas for visitors. Mr. Koch contributed the entire $65 million cost of the project, which took years to complete.
And the people kept applauding. For several minutes. They wouldn’t stop in their gratitude for Koch’s generosity toward New York and one of the world’s great museums.
The Left demonizes David Koch and his brother Charles for their free-market views, their political donations, and the fact that they run a substantial energy company. Harry Reid has made a new career of it, calling them “un-American.” But on the platform that morning were liberal Democrats Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney. Ms. Maloney was particularly gracious when she said, “There is hope for the world when Koch and I can agree on something. On this we agree 100 percent.”
Now, contrast that with the arrogant, intolerant, petulant, radical-left environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Last week, at the People’s Climate March in New York, he accused the Kochs of polluting our atmosphere. He said, “Do I think the Koch brothers are treasonous? Yes, I do.” He added, “I think they should be enjoying three hots and a cot at The Hague with all the other war criminals.”
From Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” The Founders wanted to prevent abuses of the concept of treason exactly like that committed by Kennedy. (Hat tip Seth Lipsky, founder of the New York Sun.)
Treason? Or perhaps if you disagree with the self-centered narcissist Robert Kennedy, you are treasonous?
Koch Industries employs roughly 60,000 people in the U.S. and 100,000 worldwide. Koch operations generate nearly $11.7 billion in compensation and benefits. About one-third of Koch’s U.S.-based workers are unionized. And Koch employees have earned well over 700 awards for excellence since 2009, many of them from the EPA. That is not treason.
But none of that stops Kennedy. He targets anyone in the fossil-fuel business, including members of the clean fracking revolution. In fact, Kennedy and his allies have effectively stopped Governor Andrew Cuomo from approving fracking in New York State, despite numerous studies proving it can be done in an environmentally sound manner.
No matter that right across the street, on the southwest New York border, Pennsylvania is enjoying unrivaled prosperity from the clean fracking operations okayed years ago. It’s like contrasting the success of West Berlin with the grim austerity of East Berlin back in the Cold War.
Mr. Kennedy might also not notice that the “settled science” rug is being pulled right out from under him — and by no less than a former Team Obama member.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Steven Koonin, undersecretary for science at the Energy Department during Obama’s first term, said, yes, the climate is changing. And yes, humans are impacting the climate system, though only 1 to 2 percent of it. But he stated that most climate-change models not only missed the temperature flattening of the past 16 years, they do not capture a huge factor, like oceans, or water vapor, cloud formation, and rainfall.
Koonin asked, “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?” He admitted: Unsettled science. We just don’t know.
Neither does Robert Kennedy, Jr.
Let’s turn back to David Koch. His extraordinary philanthropy illustrates how America’s free-enterprise system creates massive wealth, which is then channeled to the public good by civic-minded people who have their hearts in the right place.
Koch has contributed roughly $1.3 billion to charity for medical research, education, culture, the arts, and policy studies. It’s an incredible story. Besides the Met museum, he just announced a $100 million donation to New York Presbyterian Hospital. He’s given $185 million to MIT, and another $100 million to Lincoln Center. The list goes on and on.
At the end of that speech at the Met, David Koch said he hoped his legacy would be that he “did his very best to make the world a better place.” That legacy is firmly in place.
Robert Kennedy Jr. should be ashamed of himself. Blissfully unaware of the scientific facts and existing solely in his self-centered world, he insults one of America’s great benefactors and stains the greatness of his uncle, John F. Kennedy, and his father, Robert F. Kennedy.
Jack and Bobby would have embraced the remarkable work of David H. Koch.
— Larry Kudlow is economics editor of National Review.