A researcher has found correspondence between Friedrich Hayek and billionaire Charles Koch, where Koch urged Hayek to sign up for Social Security payments, to insure that Hayek, recovering from a gall bladder operation, would be able to make a trip to the US with the knowledge that he would be covered by Medicare for any medical emergencies.
Walter Block, I'm guessing, would consider Hayek justified in taking SS payments, since Hayek paid into the program for many years. But, where does Koch get off throwing this at Hayek without as much as a nod to the libertarian principles involved in such a decision?
What was behind all this?
Koch wanted Hayek to visit the US and spend some time at the Koch-controlled Institute for Humane Studies. How bad did the exchange get between Koch and Hayek? Here's The Nation, breaking the story:
A few weeks later, the institute reported the good news: Professor Hayek had indeed opted into Social Security while he was teaching at Chicago and had paid into the program for ten years. He was eligible for benefits. On August 10, 1973, Koch wrote a letter appealing to Hayek to accept a shorter stay at the IHS, hard-selling Hayek on Social Security’s retirement benefits, which Koch encouraged Hayek to draw on even outside America. He also assured Hayek that Medicare, which had been created in 1965 by the Social Security amendments as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, would cover his medical needs.
Koch writes: “You may be interested in the information that we uncovered on the
insurance and other benefits that would be available to you in this country.
Since you have paid into the United States Social Security Program for a full
forty quarters, you are entitled to Social Security payments while living
anywhere in the Free World. Also, at any time you are in the United States, you
are automatically entitled to hospital coverage.”
Then, taking on the unlikely role of Social Security Administration customer service rep, Koch adds, “In order to be eligible for medical coverage you must apply during the registration period which is anytime from January 1 to March 31. For your
further information, I am enclosing a pamphlet on Social Security.”
The Nation then gets carried away, painting the entire libertarian movement as having what appears to be the opportunistic bent of Koch:
To long term observers of the libertarian movement, this early opportunistic move by Koch will come as no surprise. It's likely why he attempts to distant himself from the parts of the libertarian movement that promote the great economists Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. For an opportunist, like Koch, Mises and Rothbard are simply too principled.
Why didn’t Charles Koch offer to put up some of his enormous wealth to pay for Hayek’s temporary medical insurance? One obvious answer: because the state had already offered a better and freer program. But perhaps Koch’s stinginess also reveals the social ethic behind libertarian values: every man for himself; selfishness is a virtue.
It's also likely why Koch puts up with the beltarians around him. For an opportunist, these malleable types who can love the Fed and love war, when it's necessary, and still with a straight face think they are lovers of liberty, are just what an opportunist needs.
Ignoring, Mises, Rothbard and Ron Paul, is something a beltarian can do with the greatest of ease. It's about as easy for them as it is for Charles Koch slipping a Social Security pamphlet into an envelope and sending it off to Hayek.