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John Hinderaker presents: "David Koch, Friend to Mankind" (formaldehyde, ineffectiveness)

'Hi! My name is John Hinderaker from Powerline. You might remember me from such filmstrips as "Asbestos: America's Ever-Vigilant Fireman" and "Ladybugs: America's Least-Recognized Pest". Well, today I'm here to present "A Philanthropist Advances the Cause of Science, the New York Times Doesn't" (link) about David Koch of the Koch family. But, first I want to tell you about a wonderful substance called formaldehyde...'

But, seriously:

1. At the link, John Hinderaker says, "David Koch is one of the world's great philanthropists". That's almost as funny as Hinderaker's 2005 Bush quote [1]. While Koch has certainly spent a large amount of money on various forms of giving, but on balance the picture becomes a bit more murky. Koch Industries provides valuable products and services to millions of people and keeps large numbers of people gainfully employed. At the same time, they also contribute to the pollution problem in the U.S. and the "free market principles" those linked to them advocate make things worse in the U.S. Whether what he does is on balance better for society than, for instance, George Soros isn't clear.

2. In an article criticizing a New York Times article by Michael Cooper ("Cancer Research Before Activism, Billionaire Conservative Donor Says", link), Hinderaker only mentions the reporter's name twice. Compare what I concentrate on. And, in a hidden way that I won't specify, Hinderaker also helps the NYT in a way that I don't. And, that follows Hinderaker having some slight success by concentrating on the reporter (see the "principles" link above). Critiquing individual reporters is a good way to encourage better coverage. It's mostly a good thing that Hinderaker isn't willing to do that for the most part, because whether we want a liberal bias to be replaced by a doctrinaire GOP bias isn't clear.

3. Hinderaker says:

A commenter on one of my posts said he was disappointed to see me spending my time rebutting the uninformed kids at Think Progress. I was sympathetic to his point, and it isn't something we usually do.

Compare that to how I do things: I've got 58 posts about ThinkProgress going back to 2006. I've got 19 posts about Andrea Nill alone, and 78 posts about the Center for American Progress stretching back to 2005. And, there might be even more posts about them that haven't been tagged yet. As much as Hinderaker would like to pretend that they're beneath such an elevated personage as he, they have far more influence than he does. And, he might not need to stoop to criticizing them if he had retailed my past discussions of them in an attempt to force them to provide better coverage.

4. Hinderaker discusses the debate over whether formaldehyde is a carcinogen and comes out in favor of making decisions based on real science. However, even that discussion is slanted towards what's good for corporations rather than for society as a whole and he also says this:

If the EPA over-regulates any chemical based on faulty science, with the effect that the cost of products that include that substance increases, those increased costs are not borne primarily by companies like Georgia-Pacific. Rather, they are passed on to consumers.

Of course, what Hinderaker misses is the fact that many corporations greatly enjoy to "socialize the costs and privatize the profits". In this case, that would consist of profiting from a chemical and at the same time as passing the costs of that chemical - such as later remediation or the costs of cancer treatment - on to others or on to the U.S. as a whole. As with the question of whether Koch is a "great philanthropist", Hinderaker isn't factoring everything involved into the equation.

[1] From powerlineblog.com/archives/2005/07/011024.php

It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

Hyperbolic? Well, maybe. But consider Bush's latest master stroke: the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate...

Sat, 03/05/2011 - 15:01 · Importance: 4