Archive for Thursday, July 18, 2013

Letter: Koch, arts

July 18, 2013


To the editor:

David Koch pledged $100 million in 2008 to renovate the New York State Theatre in Lincoln Center, a theater that is now named for him. He also has been a donor and trustee of the American Ballet Theater in Lincoln Center for 25 years.

Thank you for your support of the arts, Mr. Koch. However it is difficult to reconcile these facts with your support of Gov. Sam Brownback, who has gutted arts funding in the state of Kansas. Could you possibly exert a little of your considerable influence with the governor on behalf of the arts?


Matthew Herbert 4 years, 11 months ago

The mistake you make is assuming a man who has given so much to the arts would be angry at a man who has taken from it. Koch, like Brownback, believes that the arts should be privately funded and as such has given tremendous amounts of his private money to it.

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

But he wants to make sure he only gives it to the upper crust in New York. Has he given any money to small town arts programs? New York, big deal. There are a lot of people giving money to the arts in New York. Small town people like the arts too.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

He gives money to people he wants to. Isn't that what people should do?

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

You have no way of knowing if he donates anywhere else. You are only assuming he doesn't.

Lots of small town people travel to NY to see the arts.

Amazing that you'd criticize someone's sizable donation to the arts because you don't like where he chose to donate his money.

His targeted donation will do more to help more people enjoy the arts than a donation to a small town arts program.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, just to play devil's advocate here, a lot of small town folks never go to NY or other big cities, either because they can't afford it, or because they don't want to.

NY, on the other hand, has world class amounts and kinds of art/music/culture available.

So, it may very well be the case that there's more of a need for small town arts programs, so that people can be exposed to art/culture that they might not have been otherwise.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

Can't argue with you as what you say may be true, but I would simply counter that if true, then you and others should donate to those art centers if you believe there is a need.

Criticizing someone for making a charitable donation just because there are other needs out there isn't reasonable. All charitable donations should be lauded.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

That's why we pay taxes, and don't complain about them. I'd rather have my taxes go towards arts programs in small towns than towards many other things.

Not sure I agree with that - if people donate to things I disagree with, or have a problem with, I think I have the right to say that. If someone thinks that a charitable donation is more to make the donor look good than anything else, they can say that as well.

Also, one could consider the tax write off aspects of them as well.

People criticize government spending all of the time - why should we simply praise all private spending?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Let me ask you this, Jafs, if I donated money to an organization that worked for a cure to AIDS, would you criticize me for not donating to breast cancer research? If I donated to the Special Olympics would you criticize me for not donating to Habitat For Humanity? Would you criticize me if at the end of the I was eligible for a tax break as a result of my gift?

Or is this just another opportunity to criticize the Koch brothers?

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago


But, I support all of the things you mentioned. If you donated money to a far right wing conservative organization working to eliminate public education, I might very well criticize that.

And, if I knew that you didn't really care about those things, but were just donating in order to make yourself look good and get a tax write-off, I might criticize that also.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

First off, if I did make a contribution to a right wing organization, I would tell you that it's my money to donate in any way I choose. It's really none of your business how I spend my money, just as it's none of my business how you spend your money. If you think it's ill advised, simply donate money to a left wing organization. And when you do, it will be none of my business.

As to donating to make myself look good, frankly, that would require you having the ability to look into my heart so you can determine that that is something important to me. You don't have that ability and never will. I can't look into your heart. And none of us can look into the heart of the Koch brothers. Throwing that argument out there says nothing.

And as to the tax write-off, well, it's a tax write-off available to us all. And has been for a very long time. I take the individual deduction and can safely assume you do as well. And Koch. So what does that say about any of us? Nothing. I donate to charity and encourage others to do so as well. Because I can then legally get some tax benefit does not diminish the gift, not when I make it, not when you make it, not when a very wealthy person makes it.

What people in this forum are doing is reprehensible, in my opinion. If you'd like to criticize the Koch brothers' political or business activities, do so. It might be fair if I criticized their carbon footprint because they use business practices that are harmful to the environment. However, it would be unfair to criticize them if their carbon footprint was simply because they were alive. We all hurt the environment simply by being alive. We must have the ability to separate that which we can reasonably be critical of and that which becomes unreasonable. (business practices = reasonable, being alive = unreasonable). Criticizing their charitable contributions has crossed the line into unreasonableness.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

You asked a question and I answered it.

I don't accept the limits you'd like to place on what I can and can't be interested in, and/or have a point of view about.

Or, in the colloquial "You're not the boss of me".

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm not interested in limiting what you say or think. I'm not interested in limiting the opinions or the speech of Rev. Phelps either. You have an equal right to be incorrect as he does.

kochmoney 4 years, 11 months ago

Especially ironic considering your interest in the fallopian tubes of poor women.

I suppose the circular argument is that because it isn't taxpayer money, none of us should be able to use free speech and criticize it. Of course, that private Koch spending is done precisely to limit their amount of tax liability both through write-offs and through donations to "education" and "social welfare" groups that exist as tax sheltered political propaganda machines. ALEC qualifies, for example. On top of that, no, it's not a tax break available for everyone. You're not everyone. You have to have enough income to qualify in the first place, and it's a benefit disproportionately used by the wealthy. Not that it at all matters.

The biggest kicker is the notion that somehow it's unfair to use free speech to criticize public figures for their very public actions. If the Kochs didn't want anyone to know or comment about the donations and they had no motive to boost their reputation, perhaps they shouldn't have insisted on their names in large letters.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Despite many conversations, you continue to misrepresent my position. I can only assume you do so purposefully.

kochmoney 4 years, 11 months ago

Many conversations? Ok then. If I'm misrepresenting your position, you're free to clarify, but I'm pretty sure I'm putting it out there exactly as you've stated it.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

I have very little interest in the reproductive rights of poor women. Generally, I'm pro-choice, with some rare exceptions. However, when it comes to taxes, we all have a right to speak about how those taxes are spent. Therefore, once you decide that it's appropriate to spend tax money on reproductive issues, then you give me a voice in how that money is spent. Of course, as I said, I'm only interested in the rarest of cases. However, there are many out there who are interested all the time. And if they're paying taxes, then they have a voice. Yes, Koch, use tax money and suddenly Kansans For Life have a legitimate voice. As do you, as do I. My suggestion is that in order to keep those opposing voices out of the conversation, simply keep them out of the tax paying. Then they do not have a legitimate voice. But my interest is only to the degree that I have an interest in how every dollar of my taxes is spent. So my interest in their reproductive rights is the same as my interests in roads, schools, military spending, foreign aid, etc. It's nothing personal. Exempt me from having to pay taxes in any of those areas, and my interests become zero. However, I know of no legal way to do that, so my interests are legitimate.

kochmoney 4 years, 11 months ago

That was a very long-winded way of admitting that I was correct.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

Taxes are I posed upon us and we have a right and obligation to voice our opinion on how they should be used. You're mixing charitable donations and political donations. Donating to the arts is donating to the public good. How can you be critical of something that benefits everyone?

And unless you're a mind reader or the person states their motivation how can you know their motivation.

You revealed why you and I differ. You equate private spending with public spending. Ey are not the same. Would you prefer that Koch didn't make the donation?

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

We have a right to voice our opinions, either of public or private spending, or anything else we like.

The point about the donation to Lincoln Center was that it doesn't in fact benefit "everyone", or maybe even the people who need it the most.

Are you as supportive of public funding of the arts, in the same way?

They're not identical, but they're not that different either. I would prefer that our society was structured a bit differently, so that instead of having multimillionaires at the top, and the money very unequally distributed down the line, money was more evenly distributed throughout.

And, I would prefer that taxes go towards arts funding than many of the other things it goes towards, so that the arts aren't dependent on the largesse of rich benefactors. That structure is reminiscent of aristocracies and feudal times.

Also, while it's nice that LC has a new theater, I'm sure that people who want to go there will have to pay a fairly steep price to do it, since NY is very expensive. It doesn't really equate to something like a publicly funded theater with low prices, or arts programs in schools, etc.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, yes, Jafs. And I think your next charitable donation be made to my favorite charity. I promise it's a worthwhile cause.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

"so that instead of having multimillionaires at the top, and the money very unequally distributed down the line, money was more evenly distributed throughout."

I wish you would get over what other people do with their money. I know times are hard, but envy isn't the answer.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

I got it from personal experience of knowing people who do and watching the network morning shows where they ask people lined up outside where they are from. Lots of small town folks.

NYC depends heavily on tourism.

skinny 4 years, 11 months ago

Arts should be privately, end of story!

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 11 months ago

When I was in K-12 school they had a required class called "Art Appreciation".

Was that taken out of the Kansas curriculum?

hedshrinker 4 years, 11 months ago

I am so bewildered by those who think many causes/functions should earn their own way: many countries provide public funding for early childhood education, many baseline healthcare svcs for many if not all, but esp kids, families, elderly and disabled, public education for all so there is an educated citizenry, as well as many arts, transportation and other entities for the public good. There are many things in life that an individual needs to live a decent life that they cannot provide for themselves individually; altho in KS it seems that is the wave of the future: only people with independent wealth or corporations who can drink from the public trough will prosper. The rest of us will languish in Mississippi-style public schools and universities and the lack of any decent public investment will drive people away in hordes, except for those businesses trying to exploit the consumer....hasn't it ever dawned on anybody that when 2/3 of the economy is driven by consumer spending, we need consumers to have EXPENDABLE money in their pockets...increasing numbers of students can in no way afford higher education of even community college/vocational school...the service sector is the primary area of increasing jobs....very low pay, no benefits, seasonal/part-time, work means people can't support themselves , much less a family. The arts whether a library or art center or public art displays or grants to support individual artist's endeavors are essential to what makes us human.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

"support individual artist's endeavors are essential to what makes us human"

I'd like a Gretsch Hot Rod to learn guitar. Will you buy me one? That's like $4000 worth of human you can be made into(with case, strap, picks... lessons). Better make that $6000.


MarcoPogo 4 years, 11 months ago

No, I will not buy you a Gretsch. You want to learn to play? You can start with a Hondo or a Kramer.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

I already have an Les Paul, a jag, a strat and an early 60s MIJ. Either headshrinker buys me a Gretsch or I get one for Christmas. It never hurts to offer a man a chance to buy himself into being more of a human. :-)

A tele would be fine too.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 11 months ago

Thank you for your support of the arts, Mr. Koch. However it is difficult to reconcile these facts with your support of Gov. Sam Brownback, who has gutted arts funding in the state of Kansas. Could you possibly exert a little of your considerable influence with the governor on behalf of the arts?

---uh, error in logic. if the Koches oppose public/government funding for the arts,then this is an actual example of one of them literally putting his money where his mouth is! good for him.

*to take money out of the economy (see above posts re government creation of arts jobs) to then create jobs with that money makes no sense, just like Obama stimulus money made no sense. that money is taken out of the economy in one way or another first, then put back withsome loss on the way for government. in terms of job effectiveness, would be far better to have those dollars remain untouched in the economy.

private funding of the arts means greater freedom of expression, and freedom from the loss inherent in government.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

They run a shrewd and powerful smoke and screen. Obviously.... they love those tax deductions.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Unless you can state here that you choose not to accept any of those perfectly legal tax deductions that you're entitled to, then your criticism of others who do is nothing but pure hypocrisy.

kochmoney 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't save my charity receipts. I gave the money willingly, and I wasn't motivated by tax incentives. Your argument is invalid.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Merrill's statement was not limited to charitable donations. He said "tax deductions". My response was not limited to charitable donations. I said "legal tax deductions". And unless you refuse all deductions, even the individual deduction we are all entitled to, then my comment was valid.

But I do see that having seen a comment by me, you feel the need to counter that argument, despite not having understood it.

kochmoney 4 years, 11 months ago

You said "any," not "all." Now you're moving the goalposts to cover for your sloppy grammatical choices. The argument was silly, anyway. It is not hypocrisy to criticize Mitt Romney for having a million dollar IRA, even if they can't prove what he did was illegal. He was clearly stretching the law at best.

You've made lots of comments. I've not commented on all of them. I do have a life, and not all of it centers around replying to you. Ego much?

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

"But I do see that having seen a comment by me, you feel the need to counter that argument"

Always. :-)

There is no such thing as a legal deduction. All deductions are legal until due process proves they are illegal. Since you base your statement in part on a thing that cannot exist, your logic fails and you are wrong.

In practice though, you are correct. If you aren't willing to give up the parts of law that favor your philosophy, don't advocate taking away those of others.

You should come to the dark side.

915_Stroker 4 years, 11 months ago

and when all said and done, we, the kansas taxpayers have paid for this, in the form of higher sales tax, when you have the states check book, its almost like YOU! mr. Koch is really running things in Kansas. must say your PUPPETMASTERY is GENIOUS. ethel murphy

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