Talk:Political activities of the Koch brothers/Archive 4

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Who is Jane Mayer is why does her opinion warrant an entire section here?

This article lends undue weight - a LOT of undue weight - to the opinions of a single person. I can see mentioning Mayer's New Yorker piece and maybe even devoting a paragraph to it; I can't see the Mayer piece having a whole section comprising about 20% of this article. Belchfire (talk) 20:20, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Mayer's New Yorker piece provides a large part of all the Koch articles; if all that information belongs here (which I doubt), so does the criticism of that article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 22:49, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I've changed the heading to a general one. Also, there appears to be undue weight regarding the responses, etc. to the article. What do you guys think of removing one of the two block quotes so that you end up with one quote and the Defended by Searle Freedom Trust section. Somedifferentstuff (talk) 00:43, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
It needs to be edited down to no more than a single paragraph. Think about it - this article covers 50 years of history and yet almost a fifth of it concerns a single magazine article. That's undue weight, big time. Belchfire (talk) 15:03, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
The Mayer article itself is 10 pages long, so the blockquote representing it is absolutely appropriate. The problem is with what I mentioned previously, the responses, etc. to the article. They currently occupy the majority of the section. Feel free to add more material (if warranted) and depth to the history regarding the family's political activities. Somedifferentstuff (talk) 19:32, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
The responses are probably more notable than the article itself, and should be given more placement. I have no objection to trimming both, but the quotes should probably be trimmed before the responses. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:44, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
I changed the title back to "Criticism from Jane Mayer" since she is the only person cited for criticism in the section. If the section describing Mayer's criticism is staying, then the responses need to stay to point out the problems that exist with her article and criticism of the Kochs. I do agree that undue weight is given related to Mayer's views, and would support removing the section entirely, but I'm sure others would disagree which is why the responses to her views are necessary to balance it out. AdventurousSquirrel (talk) 21:35, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
I think having 2 block quotes responding to Mayer is undue weight. Her article is a 10 page piece [1] yet the majority of the section is devoted to responses, etc. Changing the section name is fine for now but if more criticism is added to this article it will need to be changed to a general "Criticism" section. Somedifferentstuff (talk) 22:47, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm not seeing a compelling argument in favor of keeping 6 paragraphs of material about the Mayer article. The block quotes are mostly superfluous. That entire section needs to be pared down to just the gist of the piece and a couple of quotes, plus a couple of sentences about the responses. Belchfire (talk) 01:29, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm clearly in favor of keeping the Mayer quote (it's a good representation of that lengthy piece and the only critical one of its type in this entire article) - but I'm fine with trimming the Mayer section overall. In general I think the criticism section should be expanded, given the attention the Koch's have been receiving. Somedifferentstuff (talk) 14:28, 3 July 2012 (UTC)



Mightyou indicate what in [[W{:BLP]] says that where people are criticised that the criticism section should be expanded "given the attention" the person is receiving? Cheers. Collect (talk) 15:10, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

The article should represent the reliable sources that are currently available. If more criticism is coming from more sources, then the article should represent that weight as accurately as possible. Somedifferentstuff (talk) 15:31, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
Per your earlier comment, Somedifferentstuff, if the Criticism section were expanded, then a shortened blurb about the Mayer article belongs within it, not above it. Thoughts anyone? Belchfire (talk) 06:55, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
We can cross that bridge if we come to it. Right now I don't see anyone expanding the criticism section. Somedifferentstuff (talk) 14:31, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
It could be expanded by moving the Mayer-related material there. Belchfire (talk) 19:27, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

"Counterpunch" editorial

Does not meet WP:RS, does not meet WP:BLP for a contentious claim about a living person, and its removal is absolutely required by policy. Note that the failure of the citation was noted for 16 months in this article - and it was well past time for its removal. Cheers. Collect (talk) 18:42, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

"The Koch Empire and Americans for Prosperity" by PAM MARTENS is an article in a newsletter, not an editorial.[2] Could you explain what is "contentious" about this claim: "In 1981 [Charles Koch] was placed in charge of the estate of Claude Lambe and thereby also inherited control of the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation".[3] TFD (talk) 19:03, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
Straight face that "inherited control" is a very POV wording of "was named executor"? Or did anyone think estates do not get executors? Collect (talk) 20:20, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
How should one phrase it then? I suppose one could argue that executors exercise control on behalf of the deceased and therefore have not "inherited" it. TFD (talk) 20:49, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
CounterPunch is an extremely unreliable source. Google "Counterpunch and blood-libel" or "Counterpunch and anti-semitism" that will give a taste of this vile entity. Capitalismojo (talk) 19:42, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
We cannot rely on the collective wisdom of bloggers on the web to determine what should be in the article. CounterPunch meets rs for news organizations. TFD (talk) 20:44, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
I strongly disagree. CounterPunch is no more reliable than a political blog. Belchfire (talk) 21:10, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
Absolutely, positively, wrong. If a publication has a reputation for lies and propaganda, we cannot expect reliable sources to report that; we are allowed to consider all factors as to whether a publication is reliable. In this case, we do not have any indication that they are reliable (in terms of taking an editorial interest in their articles), whether or not their editing is reprehensible. Although invoking Godwin's law is rarely appropriate, it seems that CounterPunch, if it has an editorial policy, is fairly close to Hitler. If it doesn't have an editorial policy, it's not reliable. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:52, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
In other words, instead of backing up your views, you choose to resort to innuendo and expect other editors to respect your judgment. TFD (talk) 20:57, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
No, at WP:RSN, I've "resorted" to using their own words. I see nothing which indicates that fact-checking is part of their editorial policy. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:00, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
The blogs Capitalismojo has found are sufficient to require some evidence that CounterPunch is a reliable source. None has yet been forthcoming. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:02, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
See Richard Keeble's Ethics for Journalists, Routledge, 2009, p. 253, "...Peace News... is an outstanding publication and worth highlighting. Its international coverage is particularly impressive.... So too websites such as ... (investigative journalism site run by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair)...."[4] BTW could you name a specific blog that is informing your opinion, most blogs are not rs. 22:03, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
I have a higher standard for reliable sources than Wikipedia, for the most part; the source has to be written as if it an attempt at reporting, rather than appearing to be an essay, diatribe, or editorial. If that isn't met, I require some evidence the source does fact-checking. If it is met, I would usually take their word for it that they do fact-checking. Even that (their word) isn't readily apparent here. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:25, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
Yours is a commendable practice, I'm sure. However, Wikipedia accepts biased opinion pieces that qualify as reliable sources. We acknowledge that an op-ed may contain very good research, fact-checking and expert analysis. We examine such texts on a case-by-case basis. Binksternet (talk) 00:53, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
Arthur Rubin, if you "have a higher standard for reliable sources than Wikipedia", then you should take your argument to the policy talk pages. TFD (talk) 01:47, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
CounterPunch is as honest and reliable as the New American magazine and for many of the same reasons. That is to say: it isn't reliable. Capitalismojo (talk) 03:29, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
Can you provide a source for your opinion. TFD (talk) 04:16, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

(od) Other "fact" claims in that "article" include:

The work of most of the groups is to push for privatization of public services and public schools.
Americans for Prosperity was able to blanket the internet with a McCarthyesque video
the Koch brothers have never allowed their company’s stock to trade in those “free markets.” (um -- that is why it is a "private company" folks!)
What could possibly explain all this right wing and deregulatory attention on a state of 1.3 million people? For one, New Hampshire hosts the first Presidential primary. For another, Koch Industries, Inc. purchased Georgia-Pacific Corp. for $21 billion in 2005, paying a 39 percent premium over its share price on the New York Stock Exchange at the time. In case no one here ever watches finance shows, it is difficult to buy a company paying less than the current share value!
The tycoons of yesteryear handed down an axe to grind against government interference in big business and that has been carefully nurtured by a labyrinth of modern tycoons and front groups. sure sounds like an editorial opinion from here -- anyone care to claim it is a "fact"?
You can even turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse by rehabilitating the deregulatory/free markets brand that fleeced the public, took their homes, left the financial system of the country in ruins and then used taxpayer money to attempt to bail itself out.

In short - such a blatant editorial opinion piece that even a few short quotes expose it for what it is. And check out some of Pam Martens other "articles" including claims like:

If you’re a Wall Street behemoth, there are endless opportunities to privatize profits and socialize losses beyond collecting trillions of dollars in bailouts from taxpayers. One of the ingenious methods that has remained below the public’s radar was started by the Rudy Giuliani administration in New York City in 1998. It’s called the Paid Detail Unit and it allows the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street corporations, including those repeatedly charged with crimes, to order up a flank of New York’s finest with the ease of dialing the deli for a pastrami on rye.


Now corruption probes are snowballing at NOPD, revealing cash payments to police in the Paid Detail and members of the department setting up limited liability corporations to run upwards of $250,000 in Paid Detail work billed to the city.

And in another article:

It was a triumph in public relations for a police department about to go on an assault spree – pepper spraying and punching peaceful protestors; kicking, ramming and arresting journalists attempting to cover the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.
On air, the reporter, Scott Pelley, said the surveillance center was “housed in a secret location,” as one would expect of a real counter terrorism program — as opposed to a program to simply quash dissent. Mr. Pelley also said the program was run by the NYPD. As it turns out, neither of those assertions were accurate.
You won’t find photographs showing these firms in the surveillance center in any U.S. corporate news outlet, but a foreign news service has them openly displayed – a news organization servicing countries of the former Soviet Union. IOW, - which is not exactly RS AFAICT.
Not only is it unprecedented for corporations under serial and ongoing corruption probes to be allowed to spy on law abiding citizens under the imprimatur of the largest police force in the country, but the legality of the operation by the NYPD itself is highly questionable

Anyone in any sense care to assert that such articles are a basis for a claim of "fact" on Wikipedia? Really? Collect (talk) 11:57, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

It is not up to us to conduct our own analysis of news sources - we go by what reliable sources say. There are blogs where one may complain about the "liberal" media and how unfair it is to "conservatives". Signed reports in news sources always contain the opinions of authors. Take for example the 'New York Times. The first article on today's website is "United States Adds Forces in Persian Gulf, a Signal to Iran" By THOM SHANKER, ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER.[5] At the same time [Obama] must signal support for Israel, but not so much support that the Israelis see the buildup as an opportunity to strike the Iranian nuclear facilities.... A key motivation for “Olympic Games,” the covert effort to undermine Iran’s enrichment capability with cyberattacks, has been to demonstrate to the Israelis that there are more effective ways to slow the program than to strike from the air. But this delicate signaling to both Iran and Israel is a complex dance." More overtly newspapers, such as the Telegraph and the Washington Times express even more opinion in signed articles. Typically academic books and papers are even more expressive of opinions, but that does not make them unreliable. Most of the experts on modern right-wing movementss, Chip Berlet, Sara Diamond, Robert Altemeyer and others say that they are warning us about the supposed danger they present. You are confusing neutrality with factual accuracy. TFD (talk) 15:22, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
Contentious claims which are opinions are bad material for BLPs at best. In the case at hand, the claims were shown to be wrongly stated, which means using that source for the misstated fact is contreary to common sense. And in all cases, I believe that material from opinion pieces should be properly ascribed as opinion, and not as "fact." Cheers. Collect (talk) 15:34, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
Again you seem to be confused about the difference between facts and opinions. A fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. An opinion is an interpretation of the facts. A good example is a law court, where judges determine facts and write opinions. We do not reject the findings of fact because the judge has written an opinion. Facts come under WP:RS, while opinion comes under WP:NPOV. It may be confusing because some partisans routinely make up facts in order to support their opinions. Such sources of course are not reliable. Respectable investigative journalists and academics assemble real facts in order to support their opinions. Such sources are reliable. TFD (talk) 16:20, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
What makes you think that a highly partisan outlet like Counterpunch does not fall into the scenario you just outlined? Highly partisan sources are always suspect because they never present an oposing view, and Counterpunch is clearly one of those. Arzel (talk) 17:24, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
See Richard Keeble's Ethics for Journalists, Routledge, 2009, p. 253, "...Peace News... is an outstanding publication and worth highlighting. Its international coverage is particularly impressive.... So too websites such as ... (investigative journalism site run by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair)...."[6] While one may speculate, one needs to show that the what reliable sources say about them is false. That Einstein was of the opinion that E=mc2 does not mean that we can assume the data he used to verify it was faked. TFD (talk) 17:30, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
You can't seriously be imposing that a mathematical theory is an opinion, can you? Furthermore, simply having a book published does not by virture imply factual information. I have published book chapters, and I can tell you it is far easier to get a chapter published in a book than it is to get that same information published in a journal. Arzel (talk) 19:46, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
Arzel, opposing views are not required to form a factual reliable source. We assess partisan sources on a case-by-case basis; they are not all suspect. Fact-checking and accuracy are not unique to neutrality. Binksternet (talk) 18:41, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
Your statement is contridictory. If we assess partisan sources on a case-by-case basis than they are all suspect, if they were not then there would be no need to assess some of them at all. Apparently, the logic here is that need not be assessed. Arzel (talk) 19:46, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
It is not contradictory. Some partisan sources, such as the New York Times, Fox News and CounterPunch are reliable, others, such as the Cato Institute, are not. You need to provide sources for your beliefs. You read blogs and cite them as sources, but you need real sources. Note what Richard Keeble's Ethics for Journalists, Routledge, 2009, p. 253, says, "...Peace News... is an outstanding publication and worth highlighting. Its international coverage is particularly impressive.... So too websites such as ... (investigative journalism site run by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair)...." Now find a source that says they are wrong. TFD (talk) 20:29, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
FNC and the NYT are not comparable to CP. Arzel (talk) 13:52, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
ou need to supply a source that supports your viewpoint, rather than repeat your personal opinion. A book on journalism ethics published in the academic press praises the journalism of CP. That's good enough for me, why is it not good enough for you? TFD (talk) 14:07, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Keeble praised CP's journalism. That should end this discussion. Binksternet (talk) 14:46, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
My source is CP. Forgive me if I don't take too much stock in a book of opinion within the notably liberal academic establishment. Knowing what it takes to get a book or chapter published for opinion that can be then used in an academic class my view of academic integrity has taken quite the severe hit over the past few years. Unless you are talking about hard peer reivewed science such information is almost as worthless as the paper it is printed on. Keeble is a nobody (at least withint WP) so that is not much of an endorsement of CP. Arzel (talk) 14:57, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
I can't get to the text of the book via the link provided. The text as shown seems to talk about counterpunch in the context of international coverage. I can't tell precisely what or why the professor is praising CP. If it is for CP's international coverage I'd say this fellow is very wrong. But given that all we have is some choppy text, I can't be sure what is being praised about CP. One unkown UK academic source does not get CP off the hook and make it instantly a RS. Capitalismojo (talk) 19:12, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
A textbook on the ethics of journalism that praises the journalism of CounterPunch is a reliable source for CP being a reliable source. If the source is wrong, then it is incumbent on you to provide an alternative source. So far you have failed to do so and I can only conclude that there are no sources and you are only expressing your personal opinion. What is the "hook"? TFD (talk) 19:57, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Let's see, off the top of my head I'd say there are quite a few good sources. The New Republic magazine, Commentary magazine, Alan Dershowitz, the American Jewish Committee, a number of think tanks have all blasted Counterpunch. I will go get the links if you would like. Capitalismojo (talk) 06:15, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Good idea. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 06:28, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, could you please provide a link to an article. TFD (talk) 15:43, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, gone for a bit. I will tomorrow. Capitalismojo (talk) 04:19, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

Here are some of the links I was speaking about.

Nathaniel Foer, The New Republic

"How Counterpunch Distorts the Truth" Alan Dershowitz, The Gatestone Institute

"Department of Obfuscation" The New Republic

Johnathon Tobin, Commentary Magazine

Money Quote; There are some people who are so odious that when you find yourself on the same side of an issue with them, your first instinct must be to question whether you were right in the first place. Alexander Cockburn is certainly such a person. He is a rabid leftist, apologist for totalitarians and a vicious hater of Israel. From his perch as editor of his own rag CounterPunch and as a columnist for the Nation, he has spewed forth nonsense and bile for a long time.

There are more if neccesary. Capitalismojo (talk) 23:00, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

1. is an editorial criticising the editor of CP for his editorial published in the Nation. 2. is an editorial criticizing CP for publishing a short editorial by America's first Arab-American senator defending Lebanese American journalist Helen Thomas. 3. is a 1994 editorial criticizing an editorial by the future CP editor in the New Yorker. 4. is an editorial in Commentary attacking the CP editor for claiming in an editorial that global warming was real. None of your sources is reliable (they are all editorials) and none of them criticize the accuracy of articles published in CP.

Note that a committee of the House of Commons has said that the owner of Fox News is "not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company". Also Fox was criticized for presenting the white supremicist Paul Fromm (activist) as a "free speech activist". Yet we accept FN as a reliable source.

I have presented a reliable source that attests to the reliability of CP and you have presented editorials that do not even question the accuracy of reporting in CP.

TFD (talk) 03:43, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Mention 2012 doc. film?

Mention Robert Greenwald's 2012 documentary Koch Brothers Exposed? [7][8] Rolling Stone The Nation (talk) 09:16, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

We could possibly mention it, but not any of its contents, per WP:BLP. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 09:21, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
Please reconcile this with the above. (talk) 07:49, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
I said, possibly. It still needs justification. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 08:38, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
I concur. Extra care needs to be taken to keep this article from turning into hate-speech. It's riding the line as it is. Belchfire (talk) 16:23, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Hi and Please add the film and producer to this article. I see no reason to describe its contents; go lightly per Arthur Rubin. -SusanLesch (talk) 03:33, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Why? This is little more than an attackumentory. The sources above are practically dripping with venom towards the Koch brothers, and I was unable to find any kind of neutral reporting to show that this film has broad based notability. Arzel (talk) 05:04, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
The film is already covered in the article for its producer, Robert Greenwald. That seems like the appropriate place for it. Belchfire (talk) 05:08, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Note: The NYT specifically states that it is an "attack" film, and the blog post is abundantly clear on that fact. [9] The liberal guerrilla video group Brave New Foundation on Wednesday began what it says will be a prolonged political attack against the industrialist Koch family, which has become synonymous with the anti-Obama conservative movement. is reasonably clear, and thus we can not in good faith make it into a neutral claim of a "documnetary" when the NYT does not so categorize the piece. Collect (talk) 12:11, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Since the film has received media attention, we need to note that in the article. We can provide external links in the article about Greenwald. The documentary itself may warrant an article also. I see the problem with linking to the documentary in this article. When we provide external links we should include a range of views, and there is only one documentary so far. TFD (talk) 13:19, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
"Films" have a Wikipedia notability standards which generally YouTube fails to meet for release. The "documentary" thus would quickly fail AfD. Meanwhile, we should use what the sources state about such a "film" if we mention it at all. Cheers. Collect (talk) 13:36, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Notability is an issue when deciding whether or not to create an article. It seems however that the doc meets Wikipedia:Notability (films). Mentioning the film is not endorsing it. For balance we can add a pro-Koch source complaining about the liberal mainstream anti-American East Coast New York socialist media doc made by someone with the name Greenwald. TFD (talk) 13:55, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I think the NYT source is not "pro-Koch" and makes quite clear that the "film" is designed as an "attack." And I would note that YouTube "films" are uniformly found not to meet notability in the past at AfD. Cheers. Collect (talk) 14:07, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I did not mean the NYT when I said "pro-Koch source". Incidentally your comments contain a number of errors. The NYT does not "specifically state[] that it is an "attack" film". Jim Rutenberg writes in the NYT that Brave New Films has begun "what it says will be a prolonged political attack against the industrialist Koch family". He also writes, "The campaign marks yet another step toward conspicuousness for a family whose political activity was largely in the shadows until last year...." Non-notable films do not make people conspicuous. Incidentally I watched Stalag 17 on youtube the other day. Are you going to set up an AfD? TFD (talk) 15:11, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Cato institute

The subsection for the Cato Institute is pure coat rack. The sentence above it saying they are on the board of directors is sufficient for info on the Cato Institute in relation to the Koch family. AdventurousSquirrel (talk) 19:21, 9 July 2012 (UTC)


Editors, please do not use this article for a political coatrack against Mitt Romney. The election is 4 months away and already every little stupid thing in the news is being inserted into articles. I would remind you all to know that WP is NOT a newspaper, so please stop treating it like it is one. Arzel (talk) 19:30, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

Case in point. Here is clearly a section derived to point out that a few far left protesters don't like Romney.

Mitt Romney FundraiserIn July 2012, David H. Koch hosted a fundraising dinner for 2012 Republican Party Presidential candidate Mitt Romney,[49] which was the subject of protests.[9][50][51] David had donated $2,300 to Romney during the 2008 presidential race.[9]

Are we going to have a similar section every single time Romney has a fundraiser? The use of WP to push political views is really annoying. Arzel (talk) 19:36, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps you will want to read the coatrack guideline to which you linked prominently. It does not prohibit political activities of the Koch family from being included—that is in fact what the topic is about. It is not the fault of editors here that the Koch family has been linked to Romney in multiple articles:The Nation, Forbes, [Mother Jones, CBS News, Vanity Fair, Huffington Post. It is not the responsibility of article editors to prevent Romney from being described as having a "Koch Problem". He's a big boy; he can take his licks.
Now, if an editor were to add something unrelated to the Kochs and politics, that might be a coatrack problem. Binksternet (talk) 21:39, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
How is people protesting Romney related to the Koch family? Arzel (talk) 13:39, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
Furthermore, when are the hypocrites at going to protest Obama for his $50,000 a plate dinners from the Hollywood elite? Arzel (talk) 13:40, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
No we are not going to mention in this article every time Romney has a fund-raiser, but should mention that the Koch bros have held fund-raisers for him. I imagine that in the articles about the political activities of individual Hollywood elitists we should mention if they hold fund-raisers too. TFD (talk) 14:44, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Hiring at Universities

Political Economy is just the original name for the study of economics. The funding of chairs studying economics and free trade does not fall under the rubric "political activities" of the Koch family. ( or anyone else for that matter). I will remove the subsection. Perhaps it belongs at the individual's bio page. Capitalismojo (talk) 04:16, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

Thank you Capitalismojo. I quote the lead of Wikipedia's article below and will restore the section now.

Today, political economy, where it is not used as a synonym for economics, may refer to very different things, including Marxian analysis, applied public-choice approaches emanating from the Chicago school and the Virginia school, or simply the advice given by economists to the government or public on general economic policy or on specific proposals. A rapidly-growing mainstream literature from the 1970s has expanded beyond the model of economic policy in which planners maximize utility of a representative individual toward examining how political forces affect the choice of policies, especially as to distributional conflicts and political institutions.

-SusanLesch (talk) 16:40, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

That is clearly not a political activity similar to anything else in this article. Arzel (talk) 16:54, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
It's real stretch to try to say that donating money to universities constitutes "political activities" just because the donations were related to political coursework. Why don't you start an article called "Philanthropic activities of the Koch Family"? This material would fit much better there. Reverting pending discussion and consensus. Belchfire (talk) 16:58, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
Their donations to MIT etc. are just as "political" fer gawrsh sakes. Collect (talk) 17:02, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree, Collect. Apparently Charles gives to 190 universities in the US. Belchfire you must be kidding. If Wikipedia truly needs another article on these people I need a vacation. -SusanLesch (talk) 17:21, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
Maybe you should take the vacation anyway, I'm sure being on jihad is very tiring. Yes, I was kidding to point out the absurdity of including that material here. Belchfire (talk) 17:27, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
I think it is abundantly clear that donations to universities are not widely seen as political activities suitable for inclusion in this article. Perhaps the article could be renamed "Civic activities of the Koch Family" then it would fit well. Capitalismojo (talk) 18:38, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
While donating money to universities is not a political activity per se, it becomes one when there is insistence on the ideological credentials of the academics.[10] TFD (talk) 06:17, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
Jihad? Really Special:Contributions/Belchfire? See WP:NOTBATTLE. Did you intend the english word "struggle"? If so, please keep to english only. (talk) 07:05, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

RfC: Should the article include funding college programs promoting free enterprise?

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

There is a rough consensus to include material about the Koch brothers' funding at Florida State. I saw three general types of argument in the discussion, which I will outline in turn. The first was editor assertion. These arguments asserted that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation's agreement with Florida State either was or was not political. The second type of argument was definition of the word political. These arguments focused around the scope of what could reasonably be defined as "political". Some editors saw the scope of "political activities" as being narrow, limited to participating in political campaigns, lobbying, etc. Other editors saw a broad scope, including any activity that has the ultimate goal of influencing government policy. I did not find these first two types of argument to be very persuasive, as they are based on the subjective opinions of individual editors. Wikipedia's content policies of Verifiability, No original research, and Neutral point of view all emphasize the importance of basing content decisions on reliable sources rather than editors' opinions.

This brings me to the third type of argument, arguments based on the available sources. Several sources were brought forward in the discussion; some of them, most notably the Tampa Bay Times sources, specifically claim that the Kochs' agreement with Florida State was politically motivated. The counter-argument was that the sources presented were opinion pieces. With respect to Wikipedia policy, these arguments are not opposed, however, as we are allowed to include opinions in articles as long as they are attributed to their sources. When considered together these arguments indicate that we should include material about the Kochs' agreement, but that we should make it clear that it is the Tampa Bay Times (or whichever source we use) that considers the agreement as being "political". There is also a policy-based reason that could theoretically be used to argue against inclusion, namely that the views of the Tampa Bay Times and the other sources were of such a tiny minority that including them in the article at all would be giving them undue weight. However, this argument did not come up in the discussion, and as closer I will make no judgement about the relative weight of the sources.

To sum up, considering that the source-based arguments made point towards inclusion, and that slightly more editors were in favour of including the material (10 "yes" !votes versus 7 "no" !votes), it seems appropriate to close this RfC as consensus to include the material, as long as it is clearly attributed to its source. However, editors are welcome to have further discussion about the appropriate amount of weight to give to the available sources. — Mr. Stradivarius (have a chat) 13:37, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, the Koch brothers have provided funding for a new program at Florida's State University promoting "political economy and free enterprise." The brothers' foundation screens academics hired. They also fund the Mercatus Center, whose faculty study "how institutions affect the freedom to prosper," at George Mason University. [11] TFD (talk) 06:36, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

  • Absolutely not. Screening is unusual, but requiring that a professorship be associated with a specific (academic) ideology is not, for example, a named professorship to teach the "Chicago school" of economics. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 09:06, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
    I don't think you are addressing the issue. The question isn't whether financing ideological academics is unusual or not. It's whether it is or isn't a political act. Jojalozzo 21:34, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
  • About as ludicrous a suggestion as ever made on any Wikipedia page in history More comment needed? The hiring was done by the faculty, by the way, but with the understanding that if they deliberately chose someone who would not promote the "free enterprise agenda" as it were, that the foundation was under no obligation to pay. Linking this to "political activities" is insane. Wanna have an article on "Economic beliefs of the Koch family"? Collect (talk) 12:25, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
    Your description of how the funding conditions enforce the Kochs' ideology on the hiring of faculty sounds very political. I think "ludicrous" and "insane" are unjustified. Jojalozzo 21:38, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
The problem is my adjectives are precisely correct. No source says they "enforce ideology" and interpolating such a claim is errant. Further many endowed professorships do, in fact, have requirements as to the exact nature of the person given the seat. A Professor of Greek studies \is, perforce, required to be a teacher of Greek studies. A teacher of free market economics is reasonably expected to teach free market economics. A teacher of Marxian economic would be unlikely to be a teacher of Capitalism. Such does not make the gift "political." Collect (talk) 22:36, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
There is nothing remotely ludicrous about the proposal. The central question is whether the Koch brothers have crossed the (rather clear) threshold from hands-off academic sponsorship (whereby the criteria are set by the academics and not the sponsor) or whether their sponsorships carry a distinct viewpoint of Economics, outlined in the sponsorhip's objectives. If it's the latter case, a mere glance at the relevant Wikipedia entry, aptly titled Political economy should suffice : Economics viewpoints are inherently political. What would seem ludicrous, and more so to the Koch brothers themselves, would be to label their actions as non-political! They make it clear, repeatedly and openly, that they are political activists. -The Gnome (talk) 16:45, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Absolutely not. Political activities deal with direct action in political campaigns and political lobbying, not tangential issues that might discuss politics in an acedemic setting. To make this jump implies that all schools are really nothing more than political entities pushing specific political views, which, interestingly enough, would be almost exclusively liberal. Arzel (talk) 15:20, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
    That's a very narrow definition of "political" and I suspect the Koch's would disagree with it. I also find it interesting that we agree that academia is often biased politically which suggests an understanding on your part of the broader, ideological usage of the term. However, the logical inference that categorizing ideological funding of academics as political means "all schools are really nothing more than political entities" is unfounded. Jojalozzo 21:34, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Yes. I listened to Charles Koch's acceptance speech of the Simon award. He insists on "market-based philanthropy". So he attaches strings to almost everything. When the Koch Family Foundation advertises that it donates to 190 universities to promote "economic freedom", that is a political activity because everybody must accept Koch's definition of what that means. It is part of his advisory capacity. -SusanLesch (talk) 15:25, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
I have some news for you. When large donors donate money to universites, hospitals, whatever, they have a say in how the money is used, and they certainly don't give large amounts of money to promote a fundamental view that they disagree with. But to say that this is political activity is simply absurd. Arzel (talk) 15:37, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
Arzel, if what you are saying is true, then all Koch donations are political. However, I think we should look at all donations on a case by case basis, and only include cases where sources say the donations were intended to promote a specific view. TFD (talk) 17:14, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
  • 'Support The promotion of economic ideology associated with the American Right is a political activity. In the same sense if the Soviet Union had funded US colleges to hire Communists to teach economics we would probably have seen that as political as well. TFD (talk) 15:29, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
So all schools that teach economics are inherently political? Where is the logic in that? Arzel (talk) 15:39, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
No, it is only political if the schools insist that professors hold a specific point of view and teach that view in their classes. It could be justifiable if one believes that schools give priority to hiring liberals and promote liberal ideology - but it is political nonetheless. TFD (talk) 17:07, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
Well one can clearly show that the two are highly correlated (something like 80-90% at most universities), the fact it is only cried political when it is not liberal should be also be good evidence. Arzel (talk) 14:17, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support. Normally, university positions and programs are considered apolitical, but the Koch funding style puts the issue squarely in the political arena. Binksternet (talk) 15:36, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose Not political, not noteworthy, not relevant. Belchfire (talk) 16:01, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose For reasons given in previous section. Essentially this is not a political activity by any stretch. Capitalismojo (talk) 23:43, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support - Imposing ideological conditions on funding is clearly a political act, whatever type of organization receives the funding and whatever the ideology. Funding an existing organization with an ideology-driven mission is likewise political whether it is a political party or an academic program. I doubt the Koch family, who are admirably plain spoken about their goals, would dispute this. Jojalozzo 15:45, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support - per SusanLesch, Binksternet, TFD. If the shoe were on the other foot, funding "socialist-based philanthropy", I don't think we'd hear "Not political, not noteworthy, not relevant ... not a political activity by any stretch". --BoogaLouie (talk) 16:36, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
Really? Look at similar pages... say Soro's page. Any discussion there of university gifts as political? Not so much. Capitalismojo (talk) 20:50, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
The George Soros article says he gives money to conservative/progressive causes. However if you have a source that his $880M donation to the Central European University only went to hire academics who promoted a specific political view and that he vets new hires for their politics, then we could categorize his involvement as a political activity, and say for example that he supports a socialist MBA program. TFD (talk) 21:08, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, there is this: The CEU Lectures: George Soros on The Economy, Reflexivity and Open Society "In his October lecture series, George Soros will unveil his latest thinking on economics and politics in five separate lectures." It's just a series of lectures Soros gave at CEU, but I think it's fair to say that the biggest reason he lectures there is that he is a major donor. Then there is also this: Market Principles, Philanthropic Ideals and Public Service Values: The Public Policy Program at the Central European University "As part of the philanthropic empire of the billionaire George Soros, the degree program is also implicated in the project to cultivate ‘open society’ leaders and the diffusion of liberal norms (Soros, 2000)." Do you still want to say that Soros' involvement at CEU is entirely apolitical? Belchfire (talk) 21:53, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
Good point. "Liberal norms" refers to the norms accepted by all western democracies, and excludes stalinism, fascism and islamism. You may want to alter that article. BTW at my school someone who donated $880M would probably be invited to speak. TFD (talk) 03:45, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, quite frankly, if I gave a university $880M and then wasn't invited to speak, I might be slightly miffed. :-) But if I show up and talk about my politics, have I not effective purchased a soapbox to stand on? And is this not "political activity, using the definition we are trying to apply to the Koch's? Of course it is, and to say otherwise is a double-standard. The relevant question, though, is "should such activity be in the Wikipedia article"? And since the activity is so far removed from any election, candidates, or political questions that are before the people, the obvious answer is 'no'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Belchfire (talkcontribs) 03:57, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. That post is very enlightening. I think we are not all using the same definition of "political". As I understand it, the term refers to any activity that seeks to influence government policy. This may be a long term program such as investing in academic programs that will turn out graduates and conduct research with a particular political perspective as well as short term activities to influence current electoral results. I think it incorrect to limit the scope of this article to short term electoral activities. Jojalozzo 04:16, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
"Liberal norms" refers to the norms of Western European and North American democracies, as opposed to Communism, fascism and islamism, etc. I suppose that is political. But we are discussing this article. TFD (talk) 14:27, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Oppose The mere fact that they exert some control over how their donation is used does not mean that the donation is inherently political. Its fair to say that any large donation will come with some constraints on how it can and cannot be used. Compare this with the Mercatus center that TFD mentions at the outset of this discussion: Mercatus actively tries to influence policy and the political discussion, making them, and donations to them inherently political. If these donations morph into something more politically active, then we should reconsider, but merely screening who will receive money doesnt qualify as political activity in my view. Bonewah (talk) 00:42, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Jojalozzo 16:00, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
Digging a little deeper, I think these are closer to what you are asking for:
Jojalozzo 21:38, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong support, per trivially available evidence in mainstream media. This should not be construed as something "for" or "against" this type of activity or the Koch Brothers themselves! This is what donations in economics are usually about! The term proper itself is Political Economy. Why should including the obvious in the relevant entry somehow be treated as controversial? -The Gnome (talk) 18:32, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Strong support, as political constraints on funding make it a political activity. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 18:43, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support: I agree with several of the editors above who posit that the very common practice of placing restrictions on how a gift is used doesn't make the gift political. However, it should be considered that the gift came with stipulations concerning schools of thought on economics, which, whether we like it or not, are either inherently political or else inextricably linked with politics. Arathald (talk) 00:59, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support per Arathald and per Jojalozzo's sources. Hobit (talk) 20:39, 20 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support I came to close this but after reviewing the sources could not. Apart from the off-topic philosophy debate above about "what it is political" this comes down to representing sources (or representing the disagreement in sources if there is one). The sources show it to be a matter of note and political. So, support.Alanscottwalker (talk) 10:48, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
All but one of the sources above are opinion pieces, the one that is not (chronic higher ed) doesn't support the proposition. Capitalismojo (talk) 23:25, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Although I don't agree that there's a consensus, I can see the argument. However, the wording proposed is not supported under that reasoning. Acceptable wording would be "According to a Tampa Bay Times editorial, the Koch brothers have provided funding for a new program at Florida's State University promoting "political economy and free enterprise." — Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:26, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

The Koch Family Foundation advertises gifts to 190 schools under the banner that "free enterprise and classical liberalism promote a more peaceful and prosperous society". I see no problem with the source. -SusanLesch (talk) 20:19, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
No claim there that it's "political". "Free enterprise and classical liberalism" do not necessarily fall into "political". That statement would be appropriate in the KFF article, if an external source could be found. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 03:41, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
Classical liberalism is a political ideology. TFD (talk) 04:16, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
Point taken. I withdraw my objection to inclusion, although with the correct statement. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 07:01, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Lead sentence

General practice is to repeat the title in the lead sentence. "However, if the article title is merely descriptive—such as Electrical characteristics of dynamic loudspeakers—the title does not need to appear verbatim in the main text." (WP:BEGINNING) While we clearly have a descriptive title that we do not need to reprise in the lead, I think it's a good idea to introduce "political activity" near the beginning of the sentence, not at very the end as we do now:

"The children of the late Fred C. Koch who founded the second-largest privately held company in the United States, Koch Industries, are philanthropists who control the Koch Family Foundations and contribute a large amount of money to conservative political activity."

Here's a straw man proposal:

"The political activities of the children of the late Fred C. Koch include contributions to conservative political candidates and ballot initiatives as well as donations to conservative think tanks and academic programs."

Jojalozzo 14:12, 18 July 2012 (UTC)


The Koch family is active in political and economic issues, funding candidates and organizations sharing their economic and political beliefs, as well as engaging in a broad range of philanthropic activities.

The nature of their beliefs can follow in the lede, of course. Collect (talk) 14:22, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

It's better than what we have now, certainly. Their philanthropy is not necessarily what they're best known for, and it's not the least bit relevant to their political activism. (talk) 14:41, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Looks good except I don't think the lead needs to mention philanthropy when the topic is political. How about:
The Koch family actively supports candidates and organizations that share their political and economic beliefs.
Jojalozzo 14:53, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Which then precludes the stuff about them funding colleges and universities entirely - as such funding is not specifically "political" at all. In fact, it is not unlike a foundation endowing a professorship in any sufficiently restricted area. Collect (talk) 16:31, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't see it that way. Selectively funding faculty or academic programs that share their ideology fits the lead sentence and is clearly political activity. However, if this discussion is going to impact the RFC or spillover from the RFC discussion, then let's stop until it's over. Jojalozzo 17:11, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
That discussion appears to still be ongoing and besides, the tail does not wag the dog - leaving something out of the lead does not preclude inclusion in the body. Furthermore, even if their university donations are found to be insufficiently political for inclusion, there could easily be other activities that justify the descriptor "philanthropists". Belchfire (talk) 17:25, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
The Koch's engage in very significant philanthropy but I don't think it's germane to this article. Jojalozzo 18:23, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
And I and others disagree on your rather substantial extension of "political" to include "anything remotely in favour of free market economics". In the case at hand, the Koch's do not control the textbooks, lectures etc. with regard to economics courses, nor do such courses favour students who "agree" with the Kochs at all -- all they control is the right to stop funding if the faculty names a person who does not favour free market economics, as far as I can tell -- thus the funding is philanthropic and not "political." Cheers. I offered a means to add the colleges in here, but once "philanthropy" is removed, so does any excuse for adding that side-show in. Collect (talk) 19:17, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you are trying to say with all the quotes, but I assume that "anything remotely in favour of free market economics" is the evocation of a hyperbolic internal voice, not what you think anyone here has said. But in any case, "political" is generally understood to describe ideas or actions related to government and policy and I don't understand the resistance to accepting the broad, ideological sense of the term. Do you think "political" is pejorative in some way? Jojalozzo 20:01, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Your super-broad definition of political would apply to every single professorship at every university with an endowed position. Sorry -- I do not stretch the meaning quite that far <g>. Collect (talk) 22:31, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

I would like very much for you to actually address my point, which is that this article is, by virtue of its name, not even supposed to be about philanthropy. If the Koch's donate in a non-political way, it's not a political activity, therefore not relevant to the article. That's why even the mention of philanthropy is out of place. I'm going to remove it now. If you can think of a good reason for it to remain, please share it here and obtain a consensus to support such a change before touching the article. (talk) 04:19, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Donations to "think tanks" etc. still falls under a reasonable definition of "philanthropy." Cheers. Collect (talk) 11:47, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
No, actually, funding think thanks to push their political view cannot be confused with philanthropy. Look the word up. Cheers. (talk) 04:20, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
They may be both political and philanthropic but this is an article on political activities. Getting back to Jojalozzo idea for rewriting the lead, I think it's a good one.
The political activities of the children of the late Fred C. Koch include contributions to conservative political candidates and ballot initiatives as well as donations to conservative think tanks and academic programs.
... is a good beginning sentence. --BoogaLouie (talk) 14:13, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Not really. Unless, of course, you can find sources which define "free market" as "conservative" and "libertarian" as "conservative" and make an inline cite for those equivalencies you define in original research. Collect (talk) 14:33, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree; it's an improvement. As for Collect's objections, the sort of libertarianism that the Koch's support is considered conservative: (talk) 04:20, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

Collect, according to, philanthropy is:

a : an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes
b : an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes

Giving to political organizations who help your business make more money doesn't look all that humanitarian to me. Rather, it looks like the sort of thing a person might do to help themselves. While the Koch's have been philanthropic in some areas, their political contributions -- which is what this article is about -- are explicitly excluded. (talk) 04:50, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

There is more than enough material to cover their philanthropy in depth. Why not expand the article a little? We can rename it to Political and philanthropic activities of the Koch family? – Lionel (talk) 06:25, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
Probably because their philanthropy is already covered, while their political activity isn't. (talk) 06:45, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
Where is their philanthropy covered? Some of it (and of this article) is covered in Koch Family Foundations, but there may be other philanthropy. Koch family is possible, if not merged. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 15:41, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
It's primarily in and (talk) 23:45, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

A proposal for a compromise (as someone who has never edited this page before). Why not just not use either term? (then you get "...Koch Industries, who control..."). The amount that they spend is already mentioned in the lead, and I would say that's the most important point. Arc de Ciel (talk) 07:33, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

Arc, I agree that it's more important to remove "philanthropists" than to replace it with "billionaires". Having said that, I think there are some good reasons for calling them billionaires. Briefly:
1) It's true; they're billionaires.
2) The fact that they're billionaires is why their political activities are so notable in the first place.
3) Calling them billionaires isn't any sort of insult, is it?
4) They're not just billionaires, they're among the richest men in the country, so their personal notability once again stems from their wealth.
What do you think? (talk) 08:35, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Pictogram voting support.svg Page protected for 3 days due to the horrid page history. For the record - PAC is not really for "humanitarian purposes", and the word "billionaire" is entirely neutral, so I'm calling at least part of the revert warring WP:LAME. - Penwhale | dance in the air and follow his steps 08:37, 20 July 2012 (UTC) (copied by (talk) 08:44, 20 July 2012 (UTC))

Belchfire, ironically, you've strengthened the consensus in favor of "billionaire". You have three days to come up with some dazzling counter-argument. Good luck with that. (talk) 08:44, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

And you weaken your position with such posts. Any change requires WP:CONSENSUS which is what you need to achieve here. So far, I seriously doubt that you have it. Cheers. Collect (talk) 12:32, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
Collect, nonsense. I rewrote the lead starting on July 8 and it has been tweaked ever since. -SusanLesch (talk) 14:51, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
I refer to the edit war seeking to use the term "billionaires" as the defining term for the Kochs. "Tweaking" always occurs. "Edit war" is past "tweaking". Cheers. Collect (talk) 15:14, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
Collect, that's fine if you need to argue about one word. But please be careful because the entire lead paragraph (considerably more than one word) went away without any argument. -SusanLesch (talk) 15:39, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

Note: Consensus does not mean that ad hominem arguments ("ludicrous", "insane") or narrow, POV-supporting interpretations of terminology or sarcastic/hyperbolic interpretations of opposing views are given weight. We need reasoned arguments for excluding activities that are ideologically based or the consensus will be to include them. Jojalozzo 15:20, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

No, you need reasoned arguments for including information which is claimed to be ideologically based. For example; "Have you stopped beating your wife?" or read up on Argument from ignorance. There seems to be a great desire to paint the Koch's as all things bad in the world today and unless they can prove that they are not, it is assumed true. As for the word "Billionaire", no, that is the consequence of their actions, but not a defining aspect of them. You could say they are Americans or Industry Magnets or Moguls or Businessmen or Philantrophists and probably many other words that define their actions. the use of the word billionaire is clearly an attempt to demonize them as rich and part of the "1%". Arzel (talk) 15:57, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
It's your POV that's seeing them demonized. The words are neutral. They are part of the 1%. They are billionaires. Editors here are defending the Koch's for actions they have nothing to apologize for and for which they appear to believe are proper for US citizens. I don't happen to think we need to make their wealth a point in the lead but not because it's biased but because the lead should be focused on their political activity. Their wealth can be discussed later. Jojalozzo 16:10, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree there is nothing pejorative about "billioniare" but I can't agree we shouldn't briefly describe their wealth in the lead as ... well that's what makes their political activities notable. If it helps maybe we could say something like they are "industrialists" rather than billionaires, but work into the lead that the two wealthiest brothers each have an estimated net worth of $25 billion. It's more formal and more precise. There's a big difference between a billionaire worth $1 billion and one worth $25 billion. --BoogaLouie (talk) 18:43, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
Regarding the defining of "libertarian" as "conservative" -- there are "liberal libertarian" issues, such as legalizing marjuana or a Ron Paul foreign policy. The Koch Brothers are not known for their efforts on behalf of these causes. They are conservative libertarians. --BoogaLouie (talk) 18:59, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
It is simply wrong to claim there is nothing pejorative about "billionaire". We just endured a 10-month campaign of demonizing wealth (OWS) by the left-wing and if political activism on the part of right-wing billionaires was not seen as somehow "evil", this article would not exist. (And I note with amusement that the only similar article about George Soros is called George Soros conspiracy theories.) I offer that the genuinely neutral word wealthy is a much better choice, and if editors see a compelling need to quantify the Kochs' wealth, they can dig up sources and place actual numbers on it. Belchfire (talk) 19:06, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
That's your POV. Yes, there is a OWS movement and one could argue there is much bigger, more savvy, more media-impacting "job creators" movement of Fox News and the GOP. I'd agree "one percenter" is pejorative but "billioniare" is not unique to OWS at all. It's often used with more awe and celebrity-worship than disapproval. "Wealthy" doesn't do justice to $25 billion. --BoogaLouie (talk) 19:22, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm just throwing out an idea that might make everybody happy, and thanks for proving my point. "Wealthy" is more or less just as accurate as "billionaire", but you won't accept it because it "doesn't do justice". Even though the article makes it clear the Kochs are much more than just well-to-do, you deem it necessary to put a descriptor on it that has become a code word to people who are left of center. There can be little doubt it is a pejorative, in your mind. Belchfire (talk) 19:45, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
"a descriptor on it that has become a code word to people who are left of center" whaaaat?? "doesn't do justice" in this case means doesn't do justice to the bros accumulation of wealth. Wealthy could be some guy with a big house and a couple of million, not people able to pour tens of $ million into lobbying/advertizing/think tanks. -BoogaLouie (talk) 17:47, 23 July 2012 (UTC)


I think the current lead sentence needs to be refactored in a major way, not just tweaked with a word here and there and I agree that the Koch's great wealth is the basis for the notability of this topic. I also agree that "wealthy" is more neutral than "billionaire" but alone lacks precision in this case. Here's a revision of my last proposal with an attempt to communicate notability:

The Koch family, one of the wealthiest in the world, actively supports candidates and organizations that share their political and economic beliefs.

Jojalozzo 20:37, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

  • Support This is neutral, accurate, free of pejoratives, and leaves little room for mischief. Well done. Belchfire (talk) 20:43, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support. Happy to have a neutral lead. Thank you for the effort, Jojalozzo. -SusanLesch (talk) 22:15, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Lukewarm. I also thank you for your effort Jojalozzo, but I can't help but wonder if the people aren't going to read it and think, "OK, so why not just say what the political and economic beliefs are?" --BoogaLouie (talk) 23:10, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
    Do you mean something like: ... share their libertarian [or conservative] political and economic beliefs.? Jojalozzo 02:56, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support This is an improvement over the current lead. I agree with BoogaLouie, though, about it being more clear to specify what their political and economic beliefs are. (talk) 23:43, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
    Please suggest improvements. (or not. If it's implemented as is, we can improve it any time.) Jojalozzo 14:02, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Jojalozzo, the phrase you added in response to Boogalouie looks like a good start. It's simple, accurate, and easy to support by citations. I'd go with "conservative libertarian" as the adjective. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 14:11, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Nope - they are also free market supporters, and technology supporters. And also supporters of such "political stuff" as medicine, the arts and music. If we start adjectifying them, then we should include all the salient ones, not just "conservative" and "libertarian" for sure. Collect (talk) 14:17, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Yep, I find your arguments irrelevant and utterly unconvincing. We don't care about their non-political donations to technology, medicine, arts and music because, by virtue of the subject of the article, all that is out of scope. Being "free market supporters" is entirely consistent with being conservative libertarians, so your objection falls flat on that basis. In short, none of your complaints have merit. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 14:41, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
I find your comments rude and condescending. If you cannot discuss in an adult manner I suggest you find something else to do. Arzel (talk) 15:57, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the input, but I'm pretty sure Collect can speak for himself. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 03:04, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support: good compromise; covers salient points.– Lionel (talk) 06:51, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support: Seems reasonable and npov. Capitalismojo (talk) 15:14, 23 July 2012 (UTC)


Since support is strong for this proposal I'd like to check on responses to adding a characterization of the Koch political and economic beliefs, along the lines of:

The Koch family, one of the wealthiest in the world, actively supports candidates and organizations that share their conservative libertarian political and economic beliefs.

Do we have a very good source for this? Do all members of the family adhere to the same beliefs (seems unlikely) and if not, is there a more general characterization that would work for all members and if not, can we agree to drop the characterization? Jojalozzo 15:28, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Two of the four brothers are not actively involved, so that statement is false, and present an underlying problem with the article. People usually refer to the Koch's in general, and probably don't really realize that the other two brothers are largely apolitical. It makes it difficult to make generalizations about the family because they are largely non-existant, and I don't have a good solution. Arzel (talk) 16:01, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps we should narrow the title/topic to Charles and David. Please see the new section I started below. Jojalozzo 16:06, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Support is not present for your sub-proposal. Collect (talk) 16:28, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Concur. Earlier version was better. Belchfire (talk) 17:06, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm with you, as we currently have things. This might change if we focus on Charles and David. Jojalozzo 20:28, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Kate Zernike

Wikilink Kate Zernike. (talk) 06:04, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

Been done. (talk) 03:56, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Add title

Add title to February 2012 reference, David Koch intends to cure cancer in his lifetime and remake American politics. (talk) 18:49, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

Been done. (talk) 03:56, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

The whole family or just the most politically active

Do we want this article to be about the whole family or just the most politically active (Charles, David, and ...)? If it's about the whole family I think we're running up against some BLP issues. Jojalozzo 15:32, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Should the title/topic be "Political activities of Charles and David Koch"? Jojalozzo 16:07, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Because it mentions Bill Koch's activities, I fear that somebody will come by and say he is out of scope. -SusanLesch (talk) 16:20, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, either we would drop that (not my preference) or include Bill in the title and make sure any generalizations included everyone mentioned. Jojalozzo 16:34, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
It also mentions Koch Industries and the Koch Family Foundations, which are not entirely Charles and David. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:56, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
At this point, complaining about Bill's inclusion would be a red herring. He is clearly included as background info, not a subject of the article. If coverage of Bill were significantly expanded, that would be different. Belchfire (talk) 17:03, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

The background section starts out with this sentence:
The "Koch brothers" generally refers to Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch who bought out their brothers Frederick and Bill in 1983.[1]
Shouldwe work an appreviated form of theis into the lead? --BoogaLouie (talk) 17:53, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

What if we retitle the page "Political activities of the Koch brothers" with a lead that starts out something like"
The Koch brothers, Charles G. and David H. Koch, some of the wealthiest people in the world, ... ?
Jojalozzo 20:25, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
Then in the body change
The "Koch brothers" generally refers to Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch who bought out their brothers Frederick and Bill in 1983.[2]
While Charles and David have two other brothers -- Frederick and Bill -- those two were bought out in 1983.[3] --BoogaLouie (talk) 23:20, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

I support focusing on Charles and David, although I have no strong feelings about the the exact wording. BoogaLouie's seems fine. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 03:04, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Looks like the article is unlocked. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 03:48, 26 July 2012 (UTC)


Are there objections to changing the title and text to focus on Charles and David?

(Note: I suggest we leave the question of characterizing their beliefs for another round since I think we have general agreement on this sentence now.)
  • Changes in the body (per BoogaLouie)
    The "Koch brothers" generally refers to Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch who bought out their brothers Frederick and Bill in 1983.
    While Charles and David have two other brothers -- Frederick and Bill -- those two were bought out in 1983.

Jojalozzo 17:22, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Makes it even less clear that it includes Koch Industries, the Koch Family Foundations, and other foundations (formerly, in some cases) controlled by the Koch brothers. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:14, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Why even have a stand-alone article then? Just add the material to the individual BLP articles if it is only about the two men. I am not in favor of this change. Capitalismojo (talk) 18:17, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
As I understand it, you are not challenging the notability of the topic or given us a reason not to have a standalone article. Changing the title will not change the topic's notability so your concern seems moot. Jojalozzo 14:14, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
a) The current title is incorrect since not all members of the Koch family engage in notable political activities and b) none of the changes we are proposing affect any wording related to Koch Industries, the Koch Family Foundations, and other foundations. Unless you have an alternative proposal, I suggest we note your concern and address it in the article body. Jojalozzo 14:14, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

For a clean process, I will open an RfC on the title change. We can work on the impact that would have on the text if we agree on the move. Jojalozzo 14:26, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

Comment about the lead

I didn't read any of the above, sorry. First impressions: I just read the lead as it is now:

"...The children of the late Fred C. Koch who founded the second-largest privately held company in the United States, Koch Industries, are philanthropists who control the Koch Family Foundations and contribute a large amount of money to conservative political activity...The Koch brothers have given more than $196 million to dozens of free-market and advocacy organizations.[1] Tax records indicate that, in 2008, the three main Koch family foundations contributed to 34 political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they direct...."

That makes it sound like they are primarily (and possibly only) philanthropists (a term of praise, if I'm not mistaken). They are, from what I have read, business people first. I'm not sure if their funding of organizations is to improve the nation or to improve their business, but the lead implies the former alone. The term "philanthropist" is not very neutral, and their is no balancing statement. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 23:18, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Well, since you skipped all of the discussion, you probably aren't aware of the epic struggles over some of those labels these last few weeks. (That said, I don't blame you one bit for not wanting to read all of the back-and-forth.) Your impressions are noted with interest (as should the opinions of all casual readers, who are, after all, the people the editors are writing for), but I am puzzled at your assessment of the word 'philanthropists'. How in the Wide World of Sports is that not neutral?? Belchfire 00:37, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
The lead of Philanthropy uses: the love of humanity, caring for, nourishing, developing, enhancing, what it is to be human, private initiatives for public good, and quality of life. Calling someone a philanthropist is a compliment. Anna Frodesiak (talk) 01:53, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
So what's your point? Yes, that's what the word means, alright. Are you implying it is not accurate, perhaps because you disagree with the Koch's politics? Are you perhaps not aware, or wont to overlook, little factoids like this:
And there's lots more where those blurbs came from. There is no serious question that the Kochs are genuine philanthropists, in the altruistic sense and not just because of their political funding activities. It is the non-neutral POV that needs to dismiss that to help justify its irrational hatred, not the other way around. Belchfire 03:11, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
None of what you said matters, for the reasons outlined below. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 03:28, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
I completely agree that calling them philanthropists is neither relevant nor neutral. They are known primarily as businessmen, not philanthropists, and this article is explicitly about their political -- not philanthropic -- spending. The word simply does not belong there, but Belchfire and others have pushed hard, even to the point of edit-warring, to keep it there. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 02:50, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

Requested move

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: moved. Jenks24 (talk) 09:18, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Political activities of the Koch familyPolitical activities of the Koch brothers – The current title is incorrect since not all members of the Koch family engage in notable political activities. The "Koch brothers" is used in sources to refer to the two politically active family members, Charles and David. Jojalozzo 14:37, 27 July 2012 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's policy on article titles.
  • Support. Google search of "Koch family" gets 189,000 hits. Of "Koch brothers" yields 2,630,000. "Koch brothers" being short hand for Charles and David Koch. They are the ones with the money and the political activity. They are far more notable/influential than the other Koch family members. --BoogaLouie (talk) 20:00, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support Per the proposal, which is based on sound reasoning. Belchfire-TALK 20:05, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support. Fair enough, thanks. -SusanLesch (talk) 01:45, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. While most of our material is about the two brothers, we have material about their father and some of their other brothers that would otherwise get orphaned by narrowing our focus to them. I think we can continue to do a good job covering the whole family. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 02:29, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Since not all family members are politically active (at least in a notable way) the current title is inaccurate. I think we can include Fred Sr.'s political activity as background for the sons'. What activity of the other brothers do you think is at risk? Jojalozzo 02:07, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Jojalozzo, I don't see how the title implies that all members of the family are politically active. Rather, it seems to say that the article is about the political activities, if any, of the family members. If someone isn't active politically, they simply won't be mentioned.
My concern is that, besides the big two, at least one of their brothers has been politically active in a notable way, and their father was very politically active. A "family" article has room for all of these. Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 02:32, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
The current title is inaccurate in that it does not correspond to the content of the article. As you point out, the article is not about the "whole family's" political activities, it's only about some of the individual family members, so the title describes a topic (the whole family's political activities) for which we have no content. Jojalozzo 20:35, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
It's about the activities of those who are active. What else would it be? If we had an article called "Acting Careers of the Baldwin Brothers" and one of the brothers was not an actor, would that mean the article has to be renamed "Acting Career of those Baldwin Brothers who are Actors"? :-) Still-24-45-42-125 (talk) 08:47, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support: renaming will provide better focus and is in alignment with the material in the article. No meaningful counter-arguments presented. Fully compliant with WP:CRITERIA. Let's be bold and just do it. – Lionel (talk) 08:52, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support: makes sense to me. When you read the article, it feels like it should have that title already. AdventurousSquirrel (talk) 00:29, 1 August 2012 (UTC)


Any additional comments:
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.
  • Support I agree with BoogaLouie - it makes sense to me to limit the article to the two Koch brothers.--Fox1942 (talk) 10:34, 7 August 2012 (UTC) Added after the RM was closed, moved here. Jenks24 (talk) 11:08, 7 August 2012 (UTC)