A Free-Market Energy Blog

Charles Koch: An Entrepreneur for Liberty

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 9, 2015

“As an idealistic man in my twenties, I became passionate about the urgency of finding freedom-fueled solutions to human problems, even if the solutions were radical.” (p. 11)

“My readings covered the entire philosophical spectrum…. I discovered my own political orientation was much more nuanced than simply ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal,’ in the contemporary use of those words.” (p. 13)

– Charles Koch, Good Profit (New York: Crown Business, 2015)

Charles Koch’s Good Profit: How Creating Profit for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies defends the free and prosperous commonwealth against cronyism (aka ‘bad profit’). But more than that, the author presents insights about economic freedom to set up his business management ideal, Principled Entrepreneurship.

A baker’s dozen of quotations from Koch’s new book, and one more for good measure, follow.

“‘Peace’ and ‘mutual advantage’: These are essential requirements for civil society and, on an individual level, for success–yours and mine.” (p. 3)

“Free societies, which are based on respect for what people value, enjoy the greatest prosperity…. Societies that don’t embrace freedom wind up with the least prosperity. Venezuela is a country rich in natural resources, yet after just fourteen years under a socialist government, it now rations food, electricity, water, and other staples.” (p. 8)

“… [Ludwig von] Mises showed in unparalleled depth and scope that a free society based on scrupulous respect for private property, the consistent rule of law, and the right to freely exchange goods and services is the system most conducive to human well-being, progress, civility, and peace.” (p. 14)

“[W]idespread human well-being demands a system that clearly defines and protects private property rights, allows people to speak freely without intimidation or legal repercussions, refrains from interference with private parties’ agreements and exchanges, and allows human action–rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should cost’–to guide prices.” (p. 14)

“[M]uch of what is done coercively–in the name of making people better off–does the opposite.” (18)

“[M]utually beneficial voluntary transactions based on trust are the hallmark of economic freedom and vital to good profit.” (p. 45)

“Whether in civil society or in business, mutual benefit is achieved only when rules are in place to make sure people don’t use aggression (force or deceit) to advance their self-interest.” (p. 61)

“In a free market with property rights and beneficial rules of conduct, profitability through voluntary transactions is not a signal that one party is taking advantage of another. Quite the contrary, ‘good’ profitability is the appropriate measure of an enterprise’s contribution to society.” (p. 66)

“… in a truly free society, people and businesses gain by serving others.” (p. 98)

“In a truly free economy, for a business to survive and prosper in the long term it must develop and use its capabilities to create real, sustainable, superior value for its customers, for society, and for itself.” (p. 100)

“Any group of people, whether a society or an organization, functions more effectively when guided by general rules of just conduct rather than specific commands. As the French writer Frédéric Bastiat observed: ‘The surest way to have the laws respected is to make them respectable’.” (p. 120)

“Just as a country with free trade provides people with knowledge from all over, free speech within a company allows the exchange of information and ideas that generate innovation and progress.” (p. 166)

“Free societies are exceptionally effective at communicating what people value and how best to satisfy those values.” (p. 169)

“Good profit is earned through entrepreneurship–helping people improve their own lives. It is not diminishing someone else’s well-being, but adding to it…. Such transactions are win-win, not zero-sum.” (p. 244)


  1. James Rust  

    Great posting. We rarely see good remarks about the Koch brothers who are demonized by the mainstream media. I have admired the Koch brothers for many years and wished I had created the wealth they have done so I could provide their extreme level of philanthropy.

    James H. Rust, professor


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