Megyn Kelly Interviews Charles Koch on Moral Values, Political Principles, and Happiness

Megyn Kelly Interviews Charles Koch on Moral Values, Political Principles, and Happiness

‎Today, ‎October ‎16, ‎2015, ‏‎7 hours ago | Jenna Lifhits

Fox News host Megyn Kelly sat down with conservative businessman and philanthropist Charles Koch for a rare interview Thursday.

Koch discussed the influence of his father on his work ethic, portraying him as a man who believed in initiative, independence, and the “glorious feeling of accomplishment.” He then revealed the unique hiring process at Koch Industries, which is based not on a degree from a prestigious university, but on integrity.

“I’ve had the philosophy that John Adams expressed, in the kind of system that we’re trying to create in this country: that this is a system for moral people. It will work for no other,” he said.

Koch also talked about his political principles, telling Kelly that he considered himself not a libertarian, as commonly thought, but a classical liberal.

“A classical liberal is someone who wants a society that maximizes peace, civility, tolerance, and well-being for everyone. One that opens opportunities for everyone to advance themselves,” he said.

He decried the arrogance of the “tyranny of experts”: a vision of society that places a premium on specialists and believes that the people “are too evil or stupid to run their own lives.” He said that in this vision, specialists, armed with technical knowledge, climb to power because they are seen as “perfectly capable of running everybody else’s lives, because they’re so much smarter.”

Later in the interview, Koch told Kelly what motivates him to keep working at the age of 79.

“I feel a passion for what we’re trying to do,” he said. “I mean, why does somebody who’s old who’s a writer keep writing? Because that’s who they are.”

In an especially illuminating moment, he told her how he conceived of happiness, hearkening back to Aristotle’s enduring philosophy.

“To be happy you have to fulfill your nature. That’s what Aristotle taught so many centuries ago, that the road to happiness isn’t to go drink more or consume more. The road to happiness is to fully develop your abilities, and then apply them to do good,” Koch said.

Full transcript below:

MEGYN KELLY: So how exactly did Charles Koch, a man demonized by the president, the majority leader and minority leader, to name a few, become so feared and so successful? For the first time, he tells us from his home in Wichita, banged up a little thanks to foot surgery, and wearing a cast decorated by his wife. Ready to talk about life, politics and his book, Good Profit.

KELLY: So your book, Good Profit, reads to me like a love letter to your father. How big of an influence was he?

CHARLES KOCH: Both my parents were a tremendous influence on me. My father’s influence came from — he decided well, probably before we were born that as he put it, ‘I’m not going to have any kids who are country club bums.’

KELLY: He worked you.

KOCH: He wanted to instill the work ethic. And, because he knew if you don’t learn to work to be more productive to improve your efficiency, to cooperate with other people at an early age, you may never learn those habits. So you can’t make a contribution, you can’t be successful. Then, years later, when I asked my father, I said ‘Pop, why were you so much harder on me than my younger brothers?’ he said, son, you plum wore me out.

KELLY: Later, Koch kept up the hard work landing at the prestigious M.I.T. His plan was not to take over the family business.

KOCH: The thought of going back and working for him – he was such a disciplinarian growing up, I had no idea I would do that.

KELLY: But things changed.

KOCH: He called me, he said, ‘Son, my health is not good. I don’t have that long to live. Either you come back to run the company or I’m going to have to sell it.’

KELLY: Tell us about the first piece of advice that you dad gave you when you took over as CEO.

KOCH: His first word when I arrived is, ‘Son, i hope your first deal is a loser, otherwise, you’ll think you’re a lot smarter than you are.’ But he had tremendous values, tremendous integrity, humility, work ethic and terrific thirst for knowledge.

KELLY: You warn in the book about the trap of overconfidence, in a business and a person?

KOCH: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Hubris, arrogance, is just one step ahead of loss of integrity, because if you think you’re better than other people, you know more, then you’re going to think, as many leaders have, that the rules don’t apply to them – so they lose their integrity.

KELLY: His new book, good profit, emphasizes integrity, arguing, it’s fine to make lots of money. But how you do it matters.

KELLY: You say you’ve always prized values over talent in your hiring decision. Really?

KOCH: Absolutely. I’ve had the philosophy that John Adams expressed, in the kind of system that were trying to create in this country: that this is a system for moral people. It will work for no other.

KELLY: You’re telling me some hot-shot salesman from New York can come down, top of his game, sure, he may bend the rules here or there, but he is a producer. You won’t hire that guy?

KOCH: No, absolutely not – if he is going to bend the rules, we won’t have it. In our interview process, that’s what we look for.

KELLY: How do you figure out someone’s value, their integrity, in a job interview.

KOCH: We put the candidate in different situations, like we have somebody that the candidate doesn’t think is important, we take him down to the cafeteria, we see how the candidate treats that person, we see how they treat the staff at the cafeteria, and we see how they answer questions. We ask them, ‘Gosh, did you have any problems? Did you make any mistakes?’ If they say ‘Oh, no, but the company was so screwed up and they wouldn’t listen to me.’

KELLY: What does the inability to admit mistakes tell you about somebody?

KOCH: They don’t have any humility and probably don’t have any integrity.

KELLY: Humility in hiring also served Koch well.

KELLY: Don’t you want all the hot shot MBAs from Harvard and Wharton and elsewhere?

KOCH: We find we do better from community colleges, from rural colleges, like after I was president of Koch Industries, our next president were — well, one didn’t graduate from college. And the current president is from state.

KELLY: At Koch Industries, even you get evaluated. Is that true?

KOCH: That’s true.

KELLY: How does that work?

KOCH: That works great. I learn a lot.

KELLY: Aren’t you afraid of a bruised ego?

KOCH: No – here’s the thing. I think all of us need this attitude. Do you want to have your feelings hurt a little bit because you have some negative feedback, or do you want to continue down the disastrous track you’re on and have a huge disaster? Talk about a bruised ego. It may ruin your career.

KELLY: Is it true that any employee at Koch can earn more than his boss?

KOCH: Oh, absolutely. We try to reward people according to the value they create, value they create in society and for the company.

KELLY: And you will hire based on talent? Even if you don’t have an open spot, necessarily?

KOCH: On values, yeah.

KELLY: How can you hold to a budget under those circumstances?

KOCH: Well, we’re not big on budgets.

KELLY: The other message you want to send your employee is try new things. Don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes.

KOCH: Right, if you never failed, then you’re probably not doing very much. You’re certainly not innovating. You’re not improving, because the only way you improve is to try new things.

KELLY: What if you’re a big success and you don’t want to risk it?

KOCH: That’s one of my principles. Success is one of the worst enemies of success, because success tends to breed complacency and lack of humility.

KELLY: When companies aren’t successful, Koch says Uncle Sam should stay out of it, dismissing government subsidies, loans and tariffs as “corporate welfare.”

KOCH: Well, corporate welfare, I think, is a disaster for this country. It’s crippling our economy. It is contributing to a permanent underclass and corrupting the business community.

KELLY: Critics say what the Kochs really oppose is government assistance that could hurt Koch’s bottom line, a charge Koch denies.

KOCH: We oppose all corporate welfare, whether we benefit or not. You will find that our policy positions mainly hurt our profitability rather than help it.

KELLY: What about China? We’ve heard Donald Trump talk repeatedly about how they’re devaluing their currency, and how the next president need to put a stop to that by perhaps imposing a tariff on their goods.

KOCH: Well, I mean, tariffs are a disaster. The way — the principle way that human beings had gotten out of extreme poverty is free trade.

KELLY: When we return, Charles Koch addresses the attack from the left, the death threats and why he is still working so hard at the age of 79. Don’t go away.

KELLY: The Kochs are behind a number of political action groups which have been demonized by the left. Donors may remain anonymous under the law, a source of consternation for Koch’s critics, including President Obama.

KELLY: Not long ago, President Obama himself came out and attacked you. It’s not the first time, but he said that the Koch brothers are trying to prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding. You came out, and, in a rare public statement, said you were flabbergasted by that accusation. Why?

KOCH: Because the opposite is true. All of our policies are based on whether it will make — enable people to improve their lives or it will make their lives worse.

KELLY: On the comments made by President Obama – beneath the dignity of the office?

KOCH: I think it is – to misrepresent what a company stands for and attacking private citizens for trying to help people improve their lives.

KELLY: Do you believe that the Democrats, including the president, have tried to make bogeymen out of you and your brother David?

KOCH: Oh, definitely. That’s a full time job on their part. I mean — and that’s why I’ve never been that fond of politics and only got into it recently kicking and screaming, because I don’t think politicians are going to reverse the trajectory of this country. I think it’s going to depend on the American people understanding what is fair and what makes their lives better.

KELLY: Why do you think they’ve been so relentless in their attacks. Harry Reid, your brother David pointed out, mentioned the Koch brothers 279 times. They have painted you as evil. The White House actually put you on an enemies list back in the 2012 campaign.

KOCH: Well, I mean that’s very sad that — that’s what we’ve come to, because in fact what we’re trying to do is the opposite.

KELLY: Is it dangerous? I know you’ve gotten death threats.

KOCH: Yeah, I get a lot of death threats. But the way I look at it, I feel I have a moral obligation to do the best I can to make the country better for everybody, and that threatens certain people because they’re going to have much less power. I want the power to go back to people making decisions over their own lives rather than some experts making it.

KELLY: Are you a libertarian?

KOCH: No. I’m — I have been a libertarian in my past but now I consider myself a classical liberal.

KELLY: Classical liberal. What does that mean?

KOCH: Classical liberal is someone who wants a society that maximizes peace, civility, tolerance and well being for everyone. One that opens opportunities for everyone to advance themselves.

KELLY: Koch didn’t want to reveal his opinions on individual candidates. But we tried.

KELLY: So the “L” word will have people asking is he going to vote for Hillary Clinton?

KOCH: Well, I mean, putting aside all the things that are said about Hillary today, my main difference with her is on the vision of what kind of society will make people’s lives better. So this is a vision of society in which people are too evil or stupid to run their own lives, but those in power are perfectly capable of running everybody else’s lives because they’re so much smarter. It’s what Hayek called the fatal conceit, or William Easterly called the tyranny of experts, because that’s what it is, it is tyranny.

KELLY: So, this discussion will now have people thinking, ‘Ah-ha! He likes Rand Paul.’ He has libertarian leanings. He wants government out of our lives. Is Rand your guy?

KOCH: No, I don’t have a guy. I have these principles and what I’m trying to accomplish, and what we need, to me, is a candidate that will help change the trajectory of the country from all this wasteful, irresponsible spending that’s heading us for a financial cliff, not just by the Democrats but by the Republicans. The reason we tend to support Republicans is they’re taking us toward the cliff at only 70 miles per hour miles an hour and the Democrats are taking us 100 miles an hour.

KELLY: They say you’re going to spend 900 million dollars on the presidential race this cycle. Is that true?

KOCH: No, not even close.

KELLY: Koch says it’s actually more like 300 million, and not all will go toward the presidential race. As for the Democrat’s charge that Koch’s donor network is shady —

KOCH: Everything I give, pretty much, is public. Now not every donor wants to — or is willing to get the kind of abuse and attacks that we do, or death threats, so they’re not willing to have their names out. I think the other side is pushing for that because they want to intimidate people so they won’t oppose it.

KELLY: But Charles Koch is not intimidated, and not slowing down any time soon.

KELLY: At 79 years old, you still work nine hours a day.

KOCH: Well, more than that! C’mon!

KELLY: You come home and have dinner with Liz. Then you work again.

KOCH: Ok, you got it. Thank you so much.

KELLY: Why? Why do you still work so hard?

KOCH: Because I feel a passion for what we’re trying to do. I mean why does somebody who’s old who’s a writer keep writing? Because that’s who they are. That’s their nature, and to be happy you have to fulfill your nature. That’s what Aristotle taught so many centuries ago, that the road to happiness isn’t to go drink more or consume more. The road to happiness is to fully develop your abilities, and then apply them to do good.

KELLY: And speaking of happiness, Koch’s father left his sons a bit of money upon his death, along with one final piece of advice.

KOCH: “If you choose to let this money destroy your initiative and independence, then it will be a curse to you and my action in giving it to you will have been a mistake. I shall regret very much to have you miss the glorious feeling of accomplishment. Remember that often adversity is a blessing in disguise and is certainly the greatest character builder.” That’s tough.

KELLY: The glorious feeling of accomplishment.

KOCH: Yeah.

KELLY: Charles Koch, thank you.

KOCH: Well, thank you, Megyn. Appreciate it.

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We identify ourselves as Classic Liberals.

A Classic Liberal believes in - Everything our Founders - Framers and Ratifiers stood for....Ethics, Morals, Beliefs, Individualism, Intents, Purpose and Inalienable Rights.

Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government. The philosophy emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanization in the 19th century in Europe and the United States.

*It advocates civil liberties with a limited government under the rule of law, and belief in laissez-faire economic policy.
*Classical liberalism is built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 18th century, such as selected ideas of Adam Smith, John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. It drew on a psychological understanding of individual liberty, the contradictory theories of natural law and utilitarianism, and a belief in progress.
*Classical liberals were more suspicious than conservatives of all but the most minimal government 
*and, adopting Thomas Hobbes's theory of government, they believed government had been created by individuals to protect themselves from one another.  (Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism starting below)     

We join in the cause of Liberty.  We have no political or private affiliation, sponsorship, or loyalty that belongs to any other national organization.  We are all independent entities chosen to join together as the Framers that founded our Nation did so many decades ago, in the cause and in the spirit of the same.

For the sake of the modern political arena I usually call myself a Christian conservative constitutionalist. However, when asked to be more definitive, I tell people I'm a 17th-19th Century classical liberal, and then watch most scratch their heads.

To distinguish that political philosophy from modern liberalism I point out that classical liberalism is based LIBERTY, and in s sense a cross between conservatism and libertarianism - somewhat. On the other hand, modern liberalism is based on a LIBERTINE philosophy in a fascist/socialist worldview. It's almost an oxymoron.

For example, I believe that the Constitution with the Bill of Rights sets up a governmental system of negative right, i.e., what the government CAN NOT do to you. However, a while back, Mr. Obama expressed just the opposite when he called for fundamental changes in interpreting the Constitution so as to have a system of positive rights, i.e., what the government COULD DO for you.

But if one understood Mr. Obama's philosophy of governance, that meant what the government COULD DO TO you after deciding what was BEST FOR you. Hence a socialist welfare nanny one-party authoritative state with a fascist/socialist approach to governance.

Roberto,

nice point made well IMO.

I remember him saying that, and taking note of the phrase 'negative rights', which was new to me. I looked into it a little but not much/enough to fully understand the natural residual effect being his agenda as you point out. I only focused on it long enough to grasp that the phrase 'negative rights' was determined by point-of-view - negative if you're looking at it from government's point-of-view... which liberty minded people wouldn't naturally do.

I pretty well stopped at 'who invented that phrase? Thomas Hobbes?'  :~}

The Constitution is a "LIMIT" on the Federal government and in Article I section it defines what powers the Government is loaned by the States. The tenth amendment proves that all other rights and powers are retained by the States or the people.

Perhaps the following will be of some help. The concepts of positive and negative rights goes back to Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Also there was a famous essay on the subject by Isaiah Berlin in 1958

So, is the positive concept of freedom a political concept? Can individuals or groups achieve positive freedom through political action? Is it possible for the state to promote the positive freedom of citizens on their behalf? And if so, is it desirable for the state to do so? The classic texts in the history of western political thought are divided over how these questions should be answered: theorists in the classical liberal tradition, like Constant (1767–1830) , Humboldt ( 1767–1835), Spencer (1820–1903) and Mill (1806–1873)), are typically classed as answering ‘no’ and therefore as defending a negative concept of political freedom; theorists that are critical of this tradition, like Rousseau, Hegel, Marx and T.H. Green, are typically classed as answering ‘yes’ and as defending a positive concept of political freedom.

All of this after the first paragraph comes from the following sites.

http://whatsbestnext.com/2009/01/the-difference-between-negative-ri...
http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Bloody_PositiveRights.html
http://www.alabamapolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/GTI-Brief-Positive-...
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/

A negative right is a right for me to be protected from harm if I try to get something for myself. A positive right would be my right to have something provided for me.

If health care is a negative right, then the state has an obligation to keep people from preventing me from getting health care and discriminating against me. If health care’s a positive right, then the state has an obligation to provide it for me.

As I read the New Testament, the government’s responsibility, and by the way, I think the Old Testament prophets say this, too, is I read the prophets in the New Testament, the government’s job is to protect negative rights, not to provide positive rights. So as a Christian, I believe in a minimal government. It’s not the government’s job to be providing the health care benefits for people. So I will be looking to see if Obama does things to minimize the role of government in culture, and to provide for as much human freedom as possible.

Since the concept of rights limits the actions of the government, the only way to circumvent them is by adding new rights that are allegedly superior to the others. The concept of Positive Rights was developed. These new rights differ from the old rights. Instead of involving freedom from interference from others, these new rights demand goods and services.

The "positive" in positive rights refers to the fact that to satisfy these rights, other people must provide them. They require action from others, instead of inaction. A "right" to health care is such a right. In order to fulfill it, a doctor must be enslaved. The doctor may be paid of course, but then others are required to pay the bill.

Positive rights are not compatible with real rights, or "negative rights". The positive rights requires actions on the part of others. Negative rights requires that no man can be forced to do anything he doesn't want. The two are incompatible. Positive rights are accepted at the expense of negative rights.

They cannot coexists, since they are polar opposites.

In conclusion, a negative right restrains other persons or governments by limiting their actions toward or against the right holder.

Positive rights provide the right holder with a claim against another person or the state for some good, service, or treatment.

Understanding the difference between “negative” and “positive” rights is integral to comprehending the federal government’s deviation from the nature and bounds of the Constitution.

RB,

Under the LIMITS of the Federal Constitution positive rights can not be created without Amendments.

Now that being said Sovereign States are unlimited, powerful and they can create inside their Constitution positive rights if they like. However these rights will only apply to those States that adopt them.

50 State competing for industries will change the rules and regulations so industries can operate without excessive application studies, fees, permits, court trials etc. The economy will be improved the day they declare Federal Rules and Regulations outside of Article I section 8 null and void.

Mangus,

I agree totally! The federal government is limited by Article 1 Section 8 and the 9th and 10th Amendments, or at least it's supposed to be.

However, with a eisegetical and often dishonest interpretation of the Constitution, especially of the 14th Amendment which is being used to justify all sorts of Positive Rights, along with Case Law based on wrongful SCOTUS Decisions and the concept of Stare Decisis, we no longer have an intact functioning Constitution, especially a Bill of Rights. Then we have the gross interpretation and misuse of the Establishment, Proper and Necessary, Commerce, and Sovereignty Clauses coupled with the aforementioned 14th Amendment.

So I often ask people which of the first Ten Amendments they think are intact. Most say all of them, if they even know generally what the Bill of Rights says. So I have to go one by one to show them how the federal courts and politicians have violated all of them and how all today save one aren't intact.

At least I don't think the government is quartering troops in homes or apartments without owners' permission. I could be wrong on that.

Bob

PS; I do love the concept of nullification. Sadly, with the States so dependent on federal funds it'd be hard for only a few States standing alone to apply it. I also like the concept of an Article V Convention.

The US Supreme Court regularly finds and creates positive rights... Gay Marriage, Abortion, Affirmative Action, etc., etc.

The facts don't support your view Mangus... that includes your view that the States are capable of governing within the limits of the Constitution.  The States are as corrupt as the Federal Government. They regularly finance Corporate Welfare and private interest.in the form of tax abatements, credits, development bonds, and special taxes used to finance improvements to private corporate property... sports arenas, shopping malls, etc.  Social welfare programs are also examples of States using taxes to finance the lives of others at the expense of taxpayers. 

It's called fascism... or socialist fascism (Nazism)  a hybrid form of fascism and socialism that appeases both sides of the political spectrum... big business and the socialist classes.   

Col,

Jump out of your little thinking box - States are unlimited in powers and rights - the Federal Constitution is a LIMIT on the Federal Government except for some small limits on States powers. 

What you describe a Fascism is really the Free enterprise system working as it should - one State can offer incentives to businesses to move and operate inside a new State - that is called competition and makes for job formation, profits and a expanding tax base.

You call yourself a Conservative but make statements like a Progressive when it comes to States rights, freedoms and Liberties. Could it be that you are social conservative but a fiscal liberal. 

That would be that government must care for the poor and needy at any cost.

Exactly why the only modern political party I consider myself affiliated with is the Tea Party. When neither current political offerings is particularly concerned with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence, a Constitutionalist knows he has a problem on his hands.

Whatever rhetoric may seep from their mouths at any given moment, it is inconsequential to their actions and their actions spells it out loud and clear that the special interests have managed to hog tie our two party political system.

If they were really polar opposites in political ideology, they would disassemble what the previous political administration had formulated. They don't; they continue to build on the same apparatus that the previous administration had constructed, whether it meets with the public's approval or not and more often that not, it doesn't. It is appealing to interests that are diametrically opposed to the will of the people. If it wasn't, most of us wouldn't be here.

Those interests are forever diligently & intentionally eroding the rights of the states in favor of national statism where the federal government is the first & the last word in all matters great & small while subjecting themselves to international codes, treaties & regulations that are being perpetuated by the Untied Nations, the very organization that Dee pointed out that our tax dollars are the main supporters of.

Quite the little shell game they have going. They manipulate foreign policy & our military to their advantage and call for ever increasing military budgets from our tax dollars so that the military can continue to do their bidding outside of the best interest of the American citizen.

Meanwhile, we have paid close to one trillion dollars for Homeland Security to protect us from terrorism and yet no one in the DHS has come to the conclusion that open borders are an unacceptable breach of national security in a War on Terror, the very reason they say they are "temporarily" suspending the Constitutrion, the Bill of Rights & the Declaration of Independence? What is the word I am looking for ...

"Poppycock" isn't it but it will have to do in this particular situation.

When you listen to the political debates that are taking place on both sides of the isle, it is literally breathtaking as to how little time is actually focused on internal problems facing the nation and how consumed the present crop of young hopefuls are focused on Manifest Destiny ideals that have little if anything to do with the proper management of the country in question.

Anarchy is the purest of libertarian views... a philosophy where freedom to exercise one's own will over the will of society is paramount  The libertarian philosophy brings with it a lack of social order and chaos. 

Laws act as guide posts for the moral interaction (acceptable behavior) with one's fellow man...  Laws are the moral restraints on the human condition. They are society's check on the  lusts and avarice of the individual, and are 'necessary' for the human race to advance, while living in relative peace and harmony with each other..

One only needs too reflect on ancient man... to understand that without the law, the barbarian reigns. Might always makes right is tempered by moral order under the restraints of the law..  It is the law which 'frees' society; and provides the environment to advance the social order of mankind.  Without the law man would still be living in caves.

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ALERT ALERT

Rudy Fires Warning Shot – Going to Release Evidence on the Biden’s Millions in Corrupt Deeds!

President Trump’s personal attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani dropped a bomb this morning warning that he is going to start revealing documents related to the Biden Family’s corrupt and criminal dealings in the Ukraine and elsewhere around the world.

Rudy tweeted:

Everything I tried to tell the press last March is now coming out, and more. I will now start to reveal the evidence directly to you, the People. The Biden Family Enterprise made millions by selling public office. Then when Joe was Obama’s Point Man, they ALL made millions.

Rudy Giuliani    @RudyGiuliani
 

Everything I tried to tell the press last March is now coming out, and more. I will now start to reveal the evidence directly to you, the People. The Biden Family Enterprise made millions by selling public office. Then when Joe was Obama’s Point Man, they ALL made millions.

It’s time to take these criminals from the Obama Administration to task.  The Bidens, Obamas and the Clintons were criminal enterprises.

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