There's an old joke about a man who goes to confession asking for forgiveness for stealing £ 300. When did you steal it? The priest asks. "One hundred pounds last week, 100 pounds the week before – and 100 pounds next week," is the answer.
Charles Koch is like this man with his regrets. The US chemistry billionaire is the kind of villain Bond films would have if the scriptwriters didn't want anyone to watch them. He's gray and relentless. And unlike a Bond villain, he carried out much of his plan – by successfully speaking out against environmental regulations and making donations to crazy Republican politicians.
His opponents have long wanted a settlement. And in his new book Believe in People, Mr Koch seems to regret his bipartisanism. “Boy did we screw it up? What a mess! "He says. From George, I think he made it!
But it's a mirage. Mr Koch explains that he was unhappy that some of the tough Republicans he supported turned out to be anti-immigrant. Tell me about it – I donated to the National Rifle Association and they turned out to be pro guns.
Mr. Koch's Mea Culpa would be more persuasive if his money didn't still flow to Trump Diehards, including David Perdue, a Georgia Senator who did stock deals at an appropriate time. Mr Perdue is not a bipartisan: before a runoff election in the Senate in January, he refused to accept Joe Biden's victory.
I want to "believe in people", but I draw the line with Mr. Koch. His non-apology is far too convenient for a libertarian. By arguing that the politics are messed up, he provides another reason the state should get out of the way.
What Mr. Koch exemplifies is not humility, but the brazen lack of it. He is not alone. Spend a few minutes on social media and you may find people who owe us all an apology. "Coronavirus won't kill you. It really isn't, "tweeted former Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, then deleted it in February. Unimpressed, he now wonders whether lockdowns will reduce the death rate.
It's easier than ever to point out people's mistakes and hypocrisy thanks to internet search capabilities. But for what purpose? We long for the day when die-hard Brexiters, Trumpists or lockdown skeptics collapse under the evidence. That day will probably never arrive.
Will Florida voters regret the rejection of climate change action if their coastline becomes uninhabitable? Will voters in Kent regret a hard Brexit if their streets are clogged with trucks? Past experience and basic psychology do not suggest this. Most people never go to Damascus.
Have the words "I told you" ever played a useful role in human history? Not judging by my own home experience.
A few years ago, psychologist Jordan Peterson caused a sensation in publishing with his book 12 Rules for Life. Whatever those rules were – and I admit I wiped them out of my head – they were pretty dubious.
Although he distinguishes himself as a professor against political correctness, Mr. Peterson could be better understood as a professor against factual correctness. He has weird views on gender differences and refuses to accept human-made climate change.
He can heroically waffle on various topics: He has a two-part podcast in which he conducts a Jungian analysis of Disney's Lion King. But when his most controversial views are put to the test, even he often struggles to defend them.
Will Mr. Peterson ever change his tune? It seems unlikely. He comes back with a new book whose subtitle – 12 More Rules for Life – suggests he hasn't rethought the previous 12. It's a missed opportunity, and yet I struggle to feel indignant. If our driving motivation in life is screaming, "I told you so," we need a better one. Some people will never really admit their mistakes, even with their priest.