We most know how Charles and David Koch spend their time: playing the part of stereotypical Hollywood villains with massive donations to plutocratic political causes in between writing aggrieved op-eds complaining about the lack of deference some Americans exhibit in the face of their economic betters.
But what has Bill Koch, the Daniel Baldwin of the Koch brothers, been up to?
There's a new town in Colorado. It has about 50 buildings, including a saloon, a church, a jail, a firehouse, a livery and a train station. Soon, it will have a mansion on a hill so the town's founder can look down on his creation. But don't expect to move here — or even to visit.
This town is billionaire Bill Koch's fascination with the Old West rendered in bricks and mortar. It sits on a 420-acre meadow on his Bear Ranch below the Raggeds Wilderness Area in Gunnison County. It's an unpopulated, faux Western town that might boggle the mind of anyone who ever had a playhouse. Its full-size buildings come with polished brass and carved-mahogany details and are fronted with board sidewalks and underpinned by a water-treatment system. A locked gate with guards screens who comes and goes.
Koch's project manager has told county officials that the enclave in the middle of the 6,400-acre Bear Ranch won't ever be open to the public.
Whatever you may say about Bill Koch, he's not a very good businessman. The other Koch brothers would have just bought a mayor — a much cheaper investment than an entire city — and let the place deteriorate until it resembled a syphilis-ridden 19th century town.
Maybe this other Koch brother is a closet socialist, who is constructing a faux-Western town as a testament to the need for progressive taxation. Thanks to the decreasing marginal utility of money, an extra dollar is worth more to the poor than to the rich: Your first dollars will be spent buying food and basic shelter, while by the billionth dollar you're down to building model saloons.
Bill Koch seems intent on dramatizing this situation, while his brothers think "decreasing marginal utility" is an oil plant with bad profit margins.
Photo by Matthew Staver/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Tags: Bill Koch, Charles Koch, Colorado, David Koch