A libertarian billionaire embraces a Catholic business school for its ethics.
the chairman and chief executive officer of Koch Industries finds two aspects of the Washington-based business school highly attractive: at the personal level, its emphasis on character and virtue; at the social level, its message that the right way to get ahead and contribute to your community is by creating wealth and opportunity for others.
.. for his own hires, Mr. Koch ranks virtue higher than talent. “We believe that talented people with bad values can do far more damage than virtuous people with lesser talents,” he says.
.. “Tim always said, ‘You’re a Catholic but just don’t know it,’ ” says Mr. Koch. While he wouldn’t go that far, he will say he is attracted to Catholic University’s effort to put the human person at the heart of business life.
.. or many on the Catholic left, and increasingly on the Catholic right, the idea that free markets might advance Catholic social teaching is anathema.
.. “One can be in business and pursue bad profit,” Mr. Koch explains. “That is, by practicing cronyism—rigging the system to undermine competition, innovation and opportunity, making others worse off. Good profit should lead you to improve your ability to help others improve their lives. But that’s not how many businesses act today.” For Mr. Koch, everything from protectionist restrictions on goods and services to subsidies for preferred industries to arbitrary licensing requirements promote bad profit by unfairly limiting competition.
.. This distinction between good and bad profit illuminates the fundamental difference between how Mr. Koch regards the market and how his critics do. In the view of the critics, free markets treat working men and women as commodities to be bought and sold, and only through strong government intervention can workers hope for a decent standard of living. In Mr. Koch’s view, the most important capital is human, and the truly free market is vital because it’s the only place where the little guy can use his or her own unique talents to offer better a product or service without being unfairly blocked from competing.
.. workers, whose greatest protection is possible only in a dynamic, growing economy: The ability to tell the boss to “take this job and shove it”—secure in the knowledge that there is a good job available somewhere else.
.. The opposite of market competition is not cooperation, as is often assumed. It’s collusion—and almost always the kind that benefits the haves over the have-nots. Which explains why the moral threat to capitalism these days comes not from socialism but from cronyism and corporate welfare.
.. What he wants to encourage, he says, is an economic system open enough so that ordinary people who work hard and have their own unique abilities can build lives of dignity and hope for their families.