Time magazine Tuesday morning published a headline that blatantly misrepresented billionaire and conservative philanthropist Charles Koch as saying America could “bomb its way to $100,000 salaries.”
In fact, Koch was saying the exact opposite in a speech, joking that it was “monstrous” that gross domestic product (GDP) counts weapons the same as other kinds of production, and suggesting that goods which enable further production should be valued over weapons that merely destroy.
The body of Time’s article represents Koch’s speech, which was given at a three-day retreat in California for the political donor network Freedom Partners, more accurately:
Conservative billionaire Charles Koch is predicting average American incomes of $100,000 annually in roughly a decade if government is scaled back and regulations are scrapped.
One way to get there? Building and using more bombs, he jokingly told about 450 donors to the political network he backs.
“I think we can have growth rates in excess of 4%. When I’m talking about growth rates, I’m not talking about that GDP, which counts poison gas the same as it counts penicillin,” the 79-year-old industrialist said, veering off his prepared remarks. “What a monstrous measure this is. If we make more bombs, the GDP goes up — particularly if we explode them.”
His audience laughed, clearly getting the joke.
“Maybe we make more bombs,” he said, trailing off. “I’m just kidding. I won’t go there.”
Even though Koch was obviously joking, Time initially ran a totally misleading headline, suggesting Koch had called for America to engage in warfare as a means to boost the economy.
— Jim Treacher (@jtLOL) August 4, 2015
Eventually, Time changed the headline, which now reads “Charles Koch Mocks Common Measure of Prosperity.” The article also includes a note at the end that “The headline on this story has been updated to more accurately reflect the content of the article.”
The notion of bombing one’s way to prosperity isn’t unheard of, though. Liberal economist and New York Times writer Paul Krugman, for instance, has touted the positive economic effects of destructive events, such as the 9/11 attacks, the Fukushima earthquakes, and World War II.
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