You may not have heard of the Koch brothers, but they figure hugely in all of our lives, nevertheless. They are immensely wealthy: Their “combined fortune of roughly $50 billion is exceeded only by that of Bill Gates.” You have heard of the Tea Party? Well, the Koch brothers and the Tea Party go way back, though the brothers have tried to obfuscate the relationship.
This has worked well for the Kochs because it is their practice to work through “independent” organizations, most notably “Americans for Prosperity” which functions to “educate Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them ‘next-step training’ after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channeled ‘more effectively’.” (New Yorker article, p. 4)
The foregoing quote comes from a lengthy and well-documented article by Jane Mayer and published in “The New Yorker” in August, 30, 2010. As reportage goes, it is a tour de force, especially considering the lengths Charles and David Koch go to in covering their tracks. The details Mayer provides leave the reader stunned as the realization sinks in regarding the extent to which the brothers use their immense wealth to buy influence and avoid the penalties that others are subject to for such crimes as environmental pollution and evading governmental regulations.
The Koch brothers consider themselves libertarians, though the extent to which they would go to exempt themselves from any laws or regulations makes Ron Paul look like a moderate by comparison. They have a particular contempt for environmental regulations, and Koch Industries has been named one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. It seems logical that their involvement in the gas and oil industries is a factor in their donating untold millions of dollars to fighting legislation related to climate change.
The truth can sting. Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of law breaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.” (Mayer, page 3)
How do they figure so largely in our lives? The health care debate is one example. Working through lobbyists and organizations such as Americans for Prosperity, the brothers had an enormously destructive effect on President Obama’s agenda. Rallies in the summer of 2009 “were pivotal in undermining Obama’s agenda….Republicans who might otherwise have worked constructively with Obama” drew back. “As the first anniversary of Obama’s election approached, David Koch came to the Washington area to attend a triumphant Americans for Prosperity gathering….Not a single Republican senator was working with the Administration on health care, or much else.” (Mayer, page 18)
After all this, you may be wondering what the “fair share” in the title is all about. This phrase was used by Charles Koch after “The Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs accused Koch Oil of scheming to steal $31 million of crude oil from Native Americans. Although the company claimed it was accidental, a former executive in this operation said Charles Koch had known about it and had responded to the overages by saying, “I want my fair share, and that’s all of it.”
A very few people, call them oligarchs, have the idea that they can buy (or steal) anything they want. They don’t think laws apply to them. But they tend to squirm when the spotlight of public opinion shines on them. Like the video KONY 2012 that may aid in the capture of the terrorist Joseph Kony, there is the expectation that a new film, “Koch Brothers Exposed” will create reluctance on the part of our legislators to continue to do the bidding of these monsters. We will see!
What can you do—you are only one person? True, but you are only “six degrees of separation,” on average, from any other person on Earth. You become powerful when you share information with your friends and ask them to share it with their friends—it becomes a global revolution. As Stephen King suggests in The Long Walk, when these “society-supported sociopaths” come, step aside, and find the strength to run…