Reader RichardH is bugging me about my stance on MIT and the Koch donation. I decided to Google a little and found the March 2011 The New York Times article Cancer Research Before Activism, Billionaire Conservative Donor Says.
“I read stuff about me and I say, ‘God, I’m a terrible guy,’ ” he said. “And then I come here and everybody treats me like I’m a wonderful fellow, and I say, ‘Well, maybe I’m not so bad after all.’ ”
I wouldn’t be surprised if RichardH found the article to be nothing to get excited about. The quote from David Koch above was enough to make me sick.
The thought that giving to MIT and being treated to a standing ovation there would be enough to wipe away any guilt that Koch might feel for his political activities is exactly what I feared that MIT might be doing for him. The question of how much control he exercises over the hiring decisions and the curriculum at MIT ought to frighten everyone. The fact that MIT thinks so highly of him that they do not feel the need to publicly clarify the amount of control he has, indicates to me just how little they care about his anti-social behavior as long as the money rolls in.
I can’t remember when I have been so ashamed of my connection to MIT.
At least the Boston.com article Pulling together in cancer fight says the following:
The Koch program provides $250,000 in unfettered funding for six to eight researchers over a three- to five-year period to encourage novel thinking. Recipients are required to be doctors who continue seeing patients and promise to bring new technologies swiftly to the bedside.
Of course, we don’t know what other restrictions may exist on who gets funded. This does show that the donor gets to place restrictions on the university long after the money has been donated.
Perhaps when the disease affects David Koch directly he can leave it up to the science to try to find solutions. In other spheres such as global warming and economic fairness, science doesn’t seem to hold any significance if it stands in the way of money. Well, at least we know that he values something more than his own money.
Your can read more about MIT Professor Michael J. Cima.
Prof. Cima was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2011. He now holds the David H. Koch Chair of Engineering at MIT.
Does this mean that the Koch influence extends to all of engineering at MIT?
Here is an excerpt from the July 2012 article from WBUR The United States Of Koch.
As our nation celebrates its independence, two men are bending our government to their will. I speak, of course, of the Koch brothers. Here are 12 things to know about them.
1. They are the fringe 1 percent
2. They own practically everything
3. They think they own their employees
4. They back Scott Brown
5. Right from the start
6. They are already attacking the Court’s health care ruling
7. They are major polluters
8. They are in the climate change denial business
9. David Koch believes global warming is good
10. They were a major force in the Wisconsin recall
11. They host the rich and powerful
12. They are changing our government
Do you think this is the kind of stuff written about David Koch that makes him think he is a terrible guy? You notice that in the excerpt at the beginning of this blog post, Koch does not deny being a terrible guy. He does talk about sometimes feeling like he is a terrible guy and at other times feeling like he is not such a terrible guy.
I wouldn’t want you to think that everything written about the Koch brothers is negative. Here is the December 2012 article from Forbes Inside The Koch Empire: How The Brothers Plan To Reshape America.
Charles’ many critics on the left–including the President of the United States–accuse him of accumulating too much power and using it to promote his own economic interests through a network of secretive organizations they call the “Kochtopus.” Ironically, the Koch brothers believe they’re fighting against power, at least in the political realm. For the Kochs the real power is central government, which can tax entire industries into oblivion, force a citizen to buy health insurance and bring mighty corporations like Koch Industries to heel.
“Most power is power to coerce somebody,” says Charles, in a voice that sounds like Jimmy Stewart with a Kansas twang. “We don’t have the power to coerce anybody.”
The November elections–which David, in a separate interview shortly after the results were finalized, termed “bitterly disappointing”–seem to confirm Charles’ last point. Not even the Koch brothers, who spent tens of millions of dollars during this election cycle (they won’t disclose the exact amount) funding direct political contributions and issue-driven “nonprofits,” could coerce voters to back their candidates. Mitt Romney’s loss was a huge blow to them, both in terms of likely policy outcomes and personal reputation.
But those who think the brothers, older and chastened, will now fade away don’t understand the Kochs. Not a bit. Obama’s victory was just a blip on a master plan measured in decades, not election cycles. “We raised a lot of money and mobilized an awful lot of people, and we lost, plain and simple,” says David. “We’re going to study what worked, what didn’t work, and improve our efforts in the future. We’re not going to roll over and play dead.”
Does this description sound like the Koch’s are the type of people you want controlling your government? It dosesn’t seem like the majority of the electorate in the last presidential election wanted this kind of leadership.
Having watched Steve Forbes run for US President himself, you certainly aren’t thinking that his magazine is some kind of mouthpiece for the left wing.