Posted by: Barry Bickmore | May 18, 2011

Charles Koch Buys an Econ Department

Regular readers of my blog may have noticed that I’m not really into tracking down the funding sources of climate contrarians.  If some scientists really think they’re oppressed Galileos, and so need money from non-traditional sources to continue researching their groundbreaking geniusness, why not take some cash from Exxon or the Koch brothers?  Maybe the funding source is worth noting, so people can take it into account when deciding how much to trust these scientists, but I don’t think it’s necessarily some kind of smoking gun.  And so I usually pass over these discussions and focus on scientific issues.

I may have to change my mind.

Last week, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Charles Koch donated $1.5 million to the Florida State University Economics Department.  In exchange, he has to sign off on any new faculty hires.

In case you’re not familiar with the world of academia, let me clue you in.  This is bad.  It’s really bad.


  1. That’s messed up. Sounds like Koch is trying to turn universities into right-wing think tanks. Not surprising he’s had substantial financial influence over George Mason, either.

  2. I never really care about where the money comes from, but I do care about what strings are attached to it.

    The fact that Koch gave a wad of cash to an econ department is not a big deal. The fact that has to sign off on any new faculty hires is.

  3. Apparently, this is far from an isolated case:

    John Allison, former chairman of bank holding company BB&T, admires author Ayn Rand so much that he devised a strategy to spread her laissez-faire principles on U.S. campuses. Allison, working through the BB&T Charitable Foundation, gives schools grants of as much as $2 million if they agree to create a course on capitalism and make Rand’s masterwork, “Atlas Shrugged,” required reading.

    College gifts now coming with strings attached – The Washington Post

  4. Oh. My. Goodness.

    I always thought the strings attached to such donations were about free passes for dopey offspring to get into or through certain courses, with the added bonus of ugly portraits and statues.

    This is terrible.

  5. Hang on. My husband just asked how much so I checked.

    One and a half million dollars. What portion of the faculty budget is this?

    If I’m to sell my personal or academic integrity, my asking price will be a bit more than this paltry sum.

  6. Wait… there’s more. Alive and well, right here in Utah, at USU:

  7. The whole Koch thing, climate change denial, elimination of social services, the EPA, the FDIC, unions, the democratic party, workers rights, buying academia and conservative and libetarian talk show hosts like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck, co-opting and bullshitting the Tea Party, etc etc reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode where a 5 year old kid is so fantastically supernaturally powerful, he takes over a whole town. Well the Kochs are fast taking over America with their not so supernatural but super wealth. My question for you all is, what’s the best way to stop them? Any suggestions are welcome. Any constructive efforts to stop them would also be appreciated. And why the hell are they doing this crap anyway when they’re 70 and 75 years old? You think they would be trying at this late stage in life to rack up points with their God Yahweh by doing good for people, like George Soros is.

  8. An interesting analogy is Richard Tol’s sojourn in Hamburg. Richard was the Michael Otto Professor of Sustainability and Global Change, Department of GeoSciences and Department of Economics, Hamburg University (2000-2006).

  9. It’s been reported Charles recently bought through an Art auction,a work done buy the Australian Generation -X Pastellist and known recluse James DeWeaver for US$70,000 after DeWeaver said this about the Koch Brothers.
    I agree fully with DeWeaver on that one!

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