KAP first impressions and non-neocon reflections on how Christianity and the liberty movement are similar

Just read Hayek’s The Use of Knowledge in Society for the first time for KAP.

KAP is the Koch Associate Program, where they take people, hook them up with jobs in the DC liberty movement (mostly conservative and libertarian think tanks) and indoctrinate them into free market economics and this thing called Market Based Management, or MBM.

MBM is a management philosophy that takes ideas from free market economics and applies them to running a business. Which is weird, because basically free market economics says don’t try to manage the economy. But it has seemed to work for Koch, as Koch Industries is the largest private company in the US.

So Charles Koch started working in his dad’s business, climbed the ladder, made a shit ton of money, discovered free market economics (not nec in that order) and donates tons of money to free market think tanks and causes. He’s particularly interested in helping train tomorrow’s business and think tank leaders.

So I work at Reason four days a week as a full-time employee and spend one day a week at the Koch Institute (one of two non-profits he’s founded, the Institute is the education side, the Koch Foundation gives money away).

The other KAPs are mostly 22-year-olds. I’m not the oldest person at 26, but I’m on the old side. Which I wasn’t sure about at first, but thinking about it, I think it’s really great. When I was in college I didn’t speak to many people. Most people I dismissed out of hand for doing things like talking about reality television before class. The people that did intrigue me also intimidated me, to the point I was afraid to approach them. I had like four friends in college, and not even very many acquaintances. In the four years since college I’ve figured out how misguided and counterproductive that mindset was. You have no idea whether someone’s cool until you talk with them several times. And similarly, very few people are going to reject me out of hand if I express a sincere interest in them. And there is so much to be gained by meeting and getting to know as many people as possible. But I didn’t figure that out until a few years into my career.

So if I’d done KAP right out of college like these kids, I wouldn’t have known how to get the most out of it. Even now, writing this, I know that a few years from now I’ll be like, “Damn, this is what I should have done.” But it’s all good. In a few years I’ll be on to bigger and better opportunities that I will not fully utilize.

The truth is, my self discipline is such that it’s a great thing for me to be in KAP and kind of forced to do things like read Hayek. Being very familiar with his ideas, actually reading him was kind of like being introduced to someone you’ve heard a lot about and finally getting to spend a few minutes listening to them. Which is to say, it was cool.

Today I also went to church with a friend I met through Igor. I asked him during worship, “Do you ever feel weird about being out as a Christian in the liberty movement?” And he was like, “Oh yeah!”

The thing is, there are valid reasons others might discriminate against us as Christians in this movement. There are valid reasons I discriminate against Christians. It feels very un-self-aware to say this but, seriously, we’re not like “those” Christians. I don’t judge people for getting intoxicated, sleeping around, being gay or not believing that Jesus is the risen Savior. It’s far fetched! I get it; it’s cool.

For me personally, the church taught me to be afraid of sin. And I thank God for some of that fear, because I’m one of very few people I know who got through life this far without an unplanned pregnancy, cancer-causing STD, or even a sex-related heartbreak. Similarly with drugs, I saw a lot of kids get derailed with substance abuse and that wasn’t an issue at all for me.

Looking back, for me judgement was a lot of me reconciling what I wanted to do with what I was doing. I couldn’t just admit I was jealous of their freedom from fear, so I dealt with it by justifying my sacrifice as doing the “right” things, meaning they were doing the “wrong” things.

And I did a lot of “right” things. I repaired poor people’s roofs. I rebuilt houses after Katrina. I built a sanctuary for an immigrant community. I sorted through donations and fed hungry kids. I performed skits for nursing home patients. I went hungry to raise money for kids in Africa (I was the worst! I could never do the whole 30 hours for 30-hour Famine).

But at this point in my life I am far more afraid of regretting what I didn’t do. And I guess I’ve just been wrong enough to have lost the arrogance necessary to tell people what the wrong and right things for them to do are.

But all that baggage aside, as I discussed with my friend, the liberty movement is actually weirdly analogous to Christianity. We gather together with like-minded, incredibly passionate people and forego higher paying jobs and acceptance by the masses in order to devote our lives to changing hearts and minds for a cause.

Like, I love that shit. Of course I’m here.

I first quit evangelizing because as my mind began to open I began to look back in horror at what I had been telling people. And now I no longer believe fully in free will conversion. I’m much more a Calvinist. You don’t get to be a Christian because someone explains it and it makes sense to you. God either calls you to him or he doesn’t.

But liberty needs me because that is how people come to liberty, someone has to explain it to them and it makes sense. So I’m an evangelist for liberty. I’m in a year-long church camp (complete with one day of team-building exercises in the park. Not kidding.) where I’m going to learn how to be an effective evangelist by studying theology (free market economics) and outreach (MBM).

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