As dim Americans continue to stare blankly through the hazy toxic clouds of cable news teevee noise-static and ask, “hennnrrhhggh why are all the Wall Street protester hippies against capitalism and freedom, hrnngghh,” the intrepid reporter-folks over at The Nation meanwhile managed to uncover a series of letters from the 1970s indicating that America’s most noxious billionaire kleptocrat demon space lizards the Koch Brothers briefly abandoned their scheme to dismantle the social safety net for the half-hour or so it took them to write socialist propaganda pamphlet-screeds trying to convince an ill Austrian economist covered under his country’s universal health care program that he wouldn’t die in the United States if he came to work for them, because he was eligible for Medicare.
From The Nation report:
[Ultra-conservative economist Friedrich] Hayek initially declined Koch’s offer. In a letter to IHS secretary Kenneth Templeton Jr., dated June 16, 1973, Hayek explains that he underwent gall bladder surgery in Austria earlier that year, which only heightened his fear of “the problems (and costs) of falling ill away from home.” (Thanks to waves of progressive reforms, postwar Austria had near universal healthcare and robust social insurance plans that Hayek would have been eligible for.)
IHS vice president George Pearson (who later became a top Koch Industries executive) responded three weeks later, conceding that it was all but impossible to arrange affordable private medical insurance for Hayek in the United States. However, thanks to research by Yale Brozen, a libertarian economist at the University of Chicago, Pearson happily reported that “social security was passed at the University of Chicago while you [Hayek] were there in 1951. You had an option of being in the program. If you so elected at that time, you may be entitled to coverage now.”
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.
Read the rest of the article, sob, rage, do whatever you have to do to get it out, and then start all over again when you remember that the Koch Brothers’ net worth rose $10 billion in the last year alone. [The Nation]