1. George Mason University, the League of the South, and the Mises Institute
Examining the academic programs closest to Koch, we continue to find ties to the League of the South and Mises Institute. This includes academic organizations most directly run by Charles Koch Foundation officials and Charles Koch himself, specifically the programs anchored at George Mason University: the Institute for Humane Studies, and the Mercatus Center.
The Mercatus Center is an aggressive free-market think tank co-founded by Charles Koch, who remains a board member and central funder to this day.
The Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) is different. Charles Koch has served as IHS’s board chair for thirty-eight years. IHS is the driving engine behind Koch’s “talent pipeline,” training students and faculty, and providing careers in Koch’s “Liberty Movement.” IHS explicitly teaches Koch’s “Structure of Social Change” as part of a “Careers in Public Policy” framework. Along with Mercatus, IHS is a constant feature of Koch’s secretive donor summits.
League of the South
As recently as Spring 2017, the founder of the League of the South Institute and its successor the Abbeville Institute, Donald Livingston, lectured in George Mason University’s economics department as part of an IHS sponsored “Invisible Hand Seminar.”
The LOS became increasingly militant between being founded in 1994 and being listed as a hate-group in 2000. Livingston served on the IHS Academic Review Committee for a period including 1996-1999. This committee reviews applicants for “Humane Studies” Fellowships, which were originally “Claude R. Lambe Fellowships,” because they were founded and funded by the (Koch family operated) Claude R. Lambe Foundation. These fellowships were considerable, $18,000 per academic year in 2000 (up from $12,000 in 1999).
LOS founding member Thomas Woods lists himself as the recipient of “two Humane Studies Fellowships and a Claude R. Lambe Fellowship from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University.”
LOS and Mises Institute co-founder, Joseph Stromberg, served many years as an associate editor of the IHS publication, Literature of Liberty.
Thomas DiLorenzo, was an affiliated scholar at the League of the South Institute, is currently affiliated with their spin-off organization, the Abbeville Institute, and is Mises Institute “faculty.” DiLorenzo was also a professor in George Mason University’s economics department, and did policy work for Charles Koch’s Cato Institute.
During the time that the LOS was founded, DiLorenzo was active in the “Cash for Comments” network of tobacco-funded economists operating out of George Mason University and think tanks like the Independent Institute. DiLorenzo and GMU professor James Bennett were paid at least $150,000 by the tobacco industry for their book, CancerScam: The Diversion of Federal Cancer Funds to Politics (Tobacco Legacy Archives, 1995). James Bennet was an early Mises faculty member, and is for several years.
While many of these connections were years ago, the connection between the Mises Institute and George Mason is alive and well-funded by Charles Koch.
At the Mercatus Center, the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics is led by GMU economists Peter Boettke and Christopher Coyne. Both are contributors to Mises Institute publications. As recently as 2007, Boettke has expressed explicit support for the Mises Institute on his blog, explaining why he “think[s] the Mises Institute is so vitally important to the Austrian/libertarian movement.”
As recently as 2016, Mises Institute faculty Robert Higgs was hired as a Mercatus F.A. Hayek Distinguished Visiting Scholar. Higgs has also done policy work in 2009 as part of Mercatus’s Global Prosperity Initiative.
Bruce Yandle, a Mises contributor, is a Mercatus Distinguished adjunct professor of economics, and his quarterly report Economic Situation is distributed by Mercatus. Yandle is a past president of APEE, and was the Dean of Clemson University’s College of Business who oversaw $1,943,198 of Koch foundation funding to the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism, between 2007 and 2016. Yandle is now an affiliated faculty member of the Koch center, the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism (CISC).
In March of 2018, the Koch-funded youth organization, Students for Liberty, held its annual conference of the Washington D.C. It was co-funded by the Charle Koch Institute, IHS, Mercatus, and the Mises Institute (and Facebook, among other sponsors).
On a panel entitled “Is University Even Worth It Anymore?” Mises Institute President Jeff Deist was joined by GMU professor and Mercatus fellow, Bryan Caplan. Bryan Caplan is a contributor to the Mises publications.
At that same 2018 conference, the Mises Institute sponsored a panel entitled “The Next Generation of Austrian Economists, moderated by the Mises Institute’s Tho Bishop. The panel featured Chris Calton from the Institute for Humane Studies and two GMU graduate students Tate Fegley and Louis Rouanet, both Mises fellows.
Other GMU students that are contributors to the Mises Institute include Paul Mueller (Ph.D economics student), Michael Watson (Ph.D economics student, 2016 Mises Fellow, attended Mises University and other events 2009-2016), Vedran Vuk (Ph.D economics student), Felicia Cowley (Ph.D economics student), Stuart Farrand (Masters student in public policy) Theodore Phalan (GMU economics undergraduate).
The 2018 Students for Liberty conference featured a session on how “the history of the women and minorities who helped found this nation throws real wrench in [progressive] propaganda works,” whose message “depends on citizens believing America was founded on racism and misogyny.”
Immediately following this panel is League of the South co-founder and longtime VP of the Mises Institute, Jeffrey A. Tucker, who is now the Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research, a free-market think tank. Tucker, a darling of the youth “Liberty Movement,” can be seen in a 2013 video for IHS’s LearnLiberty project, shedding a tear over the horrors of minimum wage.
Tucker is widely acknowledged to have been involved in the racist Ron Paul newsletters during the 1990s while he was working alongside LOS/Mises co-founders Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard. For a short time, Tucker’s interest in Austrian economics led him to enroll in GMU’s graduate economics program.
In several of Koch’s campus programs, we can see older Mises-affiliated faculty mentoring graduate student Mises fellows, who go on to become new faculty hires.
2. The Koch-funded Mises Institute Pipeline
In 2015, Mises Institute president Jeff Deist announced that 31 student fellowships “representing 19 high schools, universities, and home schools” were attending their “Mises University” conference.
In June 2017, the Mises Institute’s press officer, Tho Bishop, reported that over 150 students fellows attended Mises University, whose program heavily featured LOS scholars Thomas DiLorenzo and Thomas Woods alongside Koch-funded professors Walter Block, Patrick Newman, Jeffrey Herbener, G.P. Manish, and Robert Murphy.
Florida Gulf Coast University
Christopher Westley is currently a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, and a scholar at the Mises Institute.
According to his CV, Westley was principal investigator of a Koch program at Jacksonville State University between 2010-2012 that brought in at least $230,546. Westley’s dissertation at Auburn University was a treatise on how ideological extremism can, and does, impact policy change.
As part of the Koch funded program at Florida Gulf Coast University, Westley has put on a semester long reading group on Mises’ book “Human Action,” which posits (among other things) that “up to now certain races have contributed nothing or very little to the development of civilization and can, in this sense, be called inferior. (Mises, Human Action, 1949, pg 90).”
[See more on Human Action’s eugenics and its central role in violent free-market ideology and Charles Koch’s Market Based Management.™ below]
FGCU’s annual grant report to the Koch foundation lists achievements, including student placement in free-market programs and internships and sending students to the 2011 Mises Institute conference in Naples, Florida. Between 2012-2015, each annual report to the Koch foundation listed at least one student attending “Mises University,” the weeklong summer program. The larger Koch program at FGCU was overseen by Bradley Hobbes, longtime board member and former vice president of the Association of Private Enterprise Education. Hobbs led numerous Koch-funded reading groups on Ludwig von Mises.
Florida Southern College (Center for Free Enterprise)
A 2016 visiting professor to FGCU, Patrick Newman, was a presenter at Mises University 2017.
Also in 2017, Newman was hired at the Koch-funded Center for Free Enterprise at Florida Southern University. Newman received his Ph.D from Koch’s George Mason University economics department. Between 2012 and 2017, Newman received three Mises Institute fellowships, three Institute for Humane Studies fellowships, and seven Mercatus fellowships.
The longtime director of the Center for Free Enterprise, Dr. Derek Yonai, was recorded describing to how Koch foundation officials and other professors how “for the past few years what we’ve done is basically . . . looked for the students who don’t fit in.” He explained how “I’m purposefully, kind of like Christianity, I’m purposefully going after all the people that the normal government has totally neglected and turning them into, like, our people” (Yonai, 2016). He also described “recruiting” students to “hopefully get them involved in the liberty movement, through FEE [Foundation for Economic Education], IHS [Institute for Humane Studies], KIP [Koch Internship Program], or if they’ve already done KIP, then eventually into KAP [Koch Associate Program]” (Yonai, 2016).
Loyola University (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Walter Block, an economist from Loyola University (in New Orleans), has been the principal investigator on Koch foundation grant, totalling $276,000 since 2008. His grants from Koch doubled in value, from $24,000 in 2015, to $48,000 in 2016.
Block’s CV lists himself as a “Consulting Economist” funded by a Charles Koch Fellowship in 1974 and was listed among those who attended the early meetings of the Institute for Humane Studies and are now Mises scholars (Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2014). Block was an early fellow at the Cato Institute in 1977--three years after Charles Koch, Murray Rothbard and Ed Crane founded Cato --and has been a Cato adjunct scholar for over a decade.
Walter Block is a prolific defender of racism and sexism, plainly articulated in a talk entitled “There are Some Truths Behind Stereotypes - Nothing is Wrong with Racism and Sexism.” Block cites Charles Murray’s Bell Curve as the basis of his position on racial disparities in intelligence (more on Charles Murray in chapter 5), explaining that “stereotypes are just empirical generalizations.”
He asks why some “stereotypes” are more acceptable than others:
For example, if you say white men can’t jump . . .that’s okay. . . On the other hand if you say that blacks have a lower IQ than whites... “Oh my god, what did he say? You can’t say that?” and yet it’s equally true. But that empirical generalization is somehow politically incorrect, and were not supposed to say it. And so if we want to be scientific about it, and we’re not afraid of the truth, well, the truth is the truth. (Video at 6:40)
Free association is a very important aspect of liberty. It is crucial. Indeed, its lack was the major problem with slavery. The slaves could not quit. They were forced to “associate” with their masters when they would have vastly preferred not to do so. Otherwise, slavery wasn’t so bad. You could pick cotton, sing songs, be fed nice gruel, etc. The only real problem was that this relationship was compulsory. It violated the law of free association, and that of the slaves’ private property rights in their own persons. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, then, to a much smaller degree of course, made partial slaves of the owners of establishments like Woolworths.
He affirmed his position in a later interview, claiming “Everyone should be able to discriminate. Everyone does discriminate” (video at 7:08). Loyola’s President criticized Block’s logic and faculty urged “the university to take the long overdue and necessary steps to condemn and censure Professor Block for his recurring public assaults on the values of Loyola University, its mission and the civil rights of all Americans.”
Block’s publications include The Case For Discrimination, published in 2010 by the Mises Institute, in which he argues that objections to racial discrimination are “economically illiterate,” and describes how “the so-called Civil Rights Act of 1964, would be invalid under libertarian law” (Block 2010, pg 350).
The Mises Institute’s 35th anniversary conference in October 2017 featured a panel on the “future” of the work of late Murray Rothbard, the anarcho-capitalist who co-founded the Cato Institute with Charles Koch, and who later co-founded the Mises Institute and League of the South.
The first panelist was an economics student from Loyola University “under Walter Block,” who told his story of coming into “the movement” and becoming an “anarcho-capitalist” through Rothbard’s writings (video at 0:30).
Western Carolina University (Center for the Study of Free Enterprise)
Aubrey Redford was recently hired at Western Carolina University’s department of economics and is affiliated with Koch’s Center for the Study of Free Enterprise. She received her Ph. D from Texas Tech’s Koch-funded Free Market Institute (under Mises scholar Ben Powell), and between 2013 and 2016, she received fellowships from the Institute for Humane Studies, the Mercatus Center, and the Mises Institute. In an interview, Redford recalls:
it was not until my first year as a PhD student (2012–13) that I really became familiar with what the Mises Institute had to offer. In order to get a solid foundation in Austrian price theory, my advisor [Ben Powell] suggested that I attend Mises University.
Part 4 of this chapter examines some of the particularly dangerous ideologies driving this network of anti-civil rights scholars.