Special Reports

Quotes from Charles Koch

Charles Koch in his office at Koch headquarters in Wichita, Ks. (May 22, 2012)
Charles Koch in his office at Koch headquarters in Wichita, Ks. (May 22, 2012) The Wichita Eagle

Washington, D.C.

It’s a very corrosive atmosphere. As (economist Friedrich) Hayek said, you get there, and you get what he called the Fatal Conceit. You start to believe that a few wise people back there know how people should live their lives better than the people themselves did.

So we need to tell them more and more how to live their lives, what kind of toilet they can have, what kind of food they can have. You don’t want to eat fat anymore. You shouldn’t have coffee.

The poor

I think it’s scary with this administration that is fundamentally dedicated to transforming this country, and that means bigger and bigger government, more intrusive, less productivity, less opportunity. And so who does that hurt the most? Hurts the poorest people. The less productivity, they’re the ones that suffer. It’s not going to change my lifestyle that much. It’s going to hurt them.

Free markets

A free-market economy starts with property rights that are defined in a way, that those who, to get benefit from your property, to profit from use of your property, you need also to bear the cost. And if you get the benefits, but you’ve socialized the cost, get other people to bear the cost, then you get unproductive behavior, and the system breaks down.


One thing we’re trying to do, is find others, other business people and philanthropists who have the courage and the dedication to defend a free society. But unfortunately a majority of large public companies are not into that. They don’t have the courage because they are afraid they’ll be punished, their products will be boycotted, or they’ll be attacked, as we are by the administration and the media.

Or, they’ve become cronyist, and oriented their business to satisfying the politicians rather than individual consumers.

Political parties

I’m neither Republican or Democrat, although we support more Republicans than Democrats, because although many of them are far from our ideal, they would be closer to it than most of the Democrats. But if there’s a Democrat who’s more interested in a free society and economic freedom, and how to increase productivity, and human well being in society, we’d support those people.


We have it as principle number one for a reason. Because integrity is a requirement for trust. And if you don’t have trust with people you deal with, becomes very difficult to deal with. I mean, if you have to document everything, check on everything, have very detailed rules, I mean, productivity, cooperation break down. So that’s number one on who we hire, who we promote, who we retain. If we have somebody who shows a lack of integrity, we try to get them out of here as fast as we can.


The essential condition for happiness is fully developing your abilities, whatever they are, your unique abilities, and then applying them in a way that makes a contribution.

Being the best mechanic you can be is just as good, if you’re satisfied with it and you’re making a contribution, as making a lot of money or being a neurosurgeon, or anything else, because you can’t control what capabilities, what your unique characteristics, are. Those are given and you just need to find out what those are and develop them.

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