Suppose I had a business where what I do is find people who live in flood prone areas and threaten to wreck their houses unless they pay me money. That would be called an extortion racket, not capitalism. I don’t own those people’s houses. Real capitalism requires the government to restrain me from knocking the houses down. Similarly, I can’t just stand in the middle of a busy intersection, cause a traffic jam, and then shout “free market” when the cops try to take me away. After all, I don’t own the intersection any more than I own your house. So what about Koch Industries and its substantial fossil fuel interests. Do they own the air? Do they own the homes of people in flood-prone areas? To the best of my knowledge, that’s not the case. Charles Koch no more owns the air than I own his house or the interstate highway system. So why is “Koch Industries is allowed to spew whatever it wants into the air” considered a free market position? In part, it’s a misunderstanding. But to a much larger extent it’s a branding triumph. The basic point about pollution and regulation was understood by classical economists and political theorists, was understood by Hayek, is understood by right-of-center politicians in Europe, etc. But in America, things are different, and that’s in large part a triumph of some very self-interested philanthropy.
Listening to the Kochs complain about crony capitalism is like listening to someone eating a free lunch complain about the food being awful and the portions too small.