Monday, September 13, 2010

The Brothers Koch...

The other day we posted an essay titled “Money Makes the World Go Round...” which detailed the disturbing fact that in America today one percent of the population controls a quarter of the wealth of the country.  We also mentioned the enormous wealth and influence of the Koch brothers (pronounced Coke), Charles and David, who provide the main funding force behind the tea party phenomenon.   (One person described the tea partiers as the Koch brothers’ “boots on the ground.”)
In the August 30th issue of The New Yorker, Jane Mayer has given us a detailed description of these two brothers in an article appropriately titled, “Covert Operations: The brothers trying to bring down Obama.”  [Here] (This is is a must read--no excuses.)
Over the years these men have funded think tanks and foundations to further their own economic agenda and their libertarian political views.  As we mentioned before, their corporate headquarters is in Wichita, Kansas and their annual revenue, according to Mayer, is estimated at $100 billion dollars.  The conglomerate is involved in:
... oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control [of] some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.”
Much of the brothers‘ involvement in American political life is to ensure that government regulations and taxation do not interfere with their revenue stream.  Their libertarian beliefs are simple.  They wish to reduce dramatically personal and corporate taxes, to provide only minimal social services to the needy and, of course, gut all social programs, such as aid to the disabled, the elderly and the unemployed.  
The Koch brothers are also leading deniers of climate change.  Some of the industries which are part of the Koch conglomerate have been accused of being major environmental pollutants so the brothers have fought back by contesting the science of climate change.  The brothers have fought the concept through funding of think tanks and research projects which deny the existence of global warming or its human causation.  Jane Mayer details one example of how the brothers Koch defended their economic interests.  Please note the far reach of their power and influence which extends even into the judiciary: [Here}
In 1997, for instance, the E.P.A. moved to reduce surface ozone, a form of pollution caused, in part, by emissions from oil refineries.  Susan Dudley, an economist who became a top official at the Mercatus Center [a Koch-run and controlled think tank], criticized the proposed rule.  The E.P.A., she argued, had not taken into account that smog-free skies would result in more cases of skin cancer.  She projected that if pollution were controlled it would cause up to eleven thousand additional cases of skin cancer each year.
In 1999, the District of Columbia Circuit Court took up Dudley’s smog argument.  Evaluating the E.P.A. rule, the court found that the E.P.A. had ‘explicitly disregarded’ the ‘possible health benefits of ozone.’  In another part of the opinion, the court ruled, 2-1, that the E.P.A. had overstepped its authority in calibrating standards for ozone emissions.  As the Constitutional Accountability Center, a think tank, revealed, the judges in the majority had previously attended legal junkets, on a Montana ranch, that were arranged by the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment—a group funded by Koch family foundations.  The judges have claimed that the ruling was unaffected by their attendance.

Breathtaking and scary, isn't it?  I wonder if any of those tea party folks know how manipulated they have been by two men who are only motivated by their own self- interest.  These men are now positioned to pervert our government and its governance.

In the meantime, David is throwing money at various high profile New York City charities: American Ballet Theatre ($2.5 million);  Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre’s building ($100 million and now named for him); American Museum of Natural History ($20 million and dinosaur wing now named for him--appropriately, I believe); Metropolitan Museum of Art ($10 million for their fountains and a membership on their board; and $40 million to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he is a member of the board, has an endowed chair in his name, and a research center in his name. 
I suspect that David Koch believes that he can social climb the old-fashioned way--he can buy his way up, rung by rung.  Obviously, Charles and David Koch also believe that they can also buy exactly the government that they want.  
Let’s hope that they are wrong.  

Is the Obama administration up to the task of stopping them?...  

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