And if the title brought you a SAY WHAT??? moment, that’s understandable. So, let’s connect some dots and see what the picture looks like.
Let’s begin by asking ourselves what Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Glenn Beck, Joe Stalin (yeah, that one), Dick Armey, Dixie Cups, Brawny paper towels, The John Birch Society, The Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, George Mason University, FreedomWorks, Citizens for a Sound Economy, and the Smithsonian have in common?
And if your answer was something like, “Not a thing except they’re on the same page,” let’s start connecting. And when we finish connecting, we find that the picture looks like Charles and David Koch, the two brothers who own Koch Industries, in Wichita, Kansas. With estimated annual revenues of $100 billion, it is the second-largest privately held company in America.
Following the dots we see that President (and for this, Lord, we are thankful!) Barack Obama has had his Progressive agenda ambushed at every possible point by groups like Americans for Prosperity, an organization that David Koch started, in 2004.
Television host Glenn Beck has also thanked the Koch family for their help, but does not elaborate on the relationship.
Before President Obama, President Bill Clinton had his energy and climate legislation hammered on mercilessly and constantly (and frequently dishonestly) by Citizens for a Sound Economy, a Koch Foundation-funded group.
Likewise, by the Cato Institute, a think tank which the Kochs provided the funds to launch back in 1977.
The Kochs also set up another think tank, the Mercatus Center, at George Mason University, in Arlington, Virginia. Established in the mid-eighties, the Center has become a leading source for deregulation policies. George Mason, however, is a public university and hosting an advocacy institution funded and controlled by the Kochs is highly controversial.
Just as controversial is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History where the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, a multimedia exploration of the theory that mankind evolved in response to climate change, is criticized by many as a glib whitewash of any human involvement in global warming.
Ironically enough, the financial stake for this huge family fortune comes from Joseph Stalin. As the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953, Stalin hired Fred Koch, father of David and Charles, to construct oil refineries, pipelines, and train workers. Fred Koch delivered good value for Stalin’s money, and worked for the USSR for many years.
In later years, Fred apparently had second thoughts about the relationship, and helped found the virulently anti-communist John Birch Society.
Currently, the Koch family fortunes are bolstered by consumer products like Dixie Cups, Brawny paper towels, Stainmaster Carpet and the entire Georgia Pacific product line from plywood to modeling clay.
Exactly how much the Kochs have spent to make America over into their image of a Libertarian paradise may never be known outside the company and the foundations the family controls. Current Federal tax law permits anonymous personal donations to politically active nonprofit groups. But what can be gleaned shows spending somewhat north of $200 million since the late 90s alone.
However much the amount is, it appears to be well spent. During the 105th Congress, for example, the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs held hearings involving Triad Management, another shadowy Koch-funded enterprise. The Koch brothers, their employees, and their banks simply refused to respond to subpoenas from the committee. And committee chair Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee) declined to follow up.
Currently, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Koch brothers have given a million dollars in support of Proposition 23. That’s the proposition that would delay implementation of AB 32, the law that would cut California’s emissions of green house gases to 1990 levels.
So, according to sources like PBS’ Frontline, and released Senate transcripts, the Koch brothers get their way by simply buying whatever and whoever they want. By using various tax exempt foundations to subvert or just ignore campaign financing laws, they are using our own money to take our government away from us.
Uncle Joseph would be so proud!
The following links are useful sources:
- Bill Moyers interview on PBS: “Washington’s Other Scandal” FRONTLINE #1705. Air Date: October 6, 1998
- Jane Mayer article in New Yorker Magazine: “The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.” August 20, 2010
- Article on Triad Management Services (cross-reference to Frontline article, above):
John MacMurray teaches 7th grade language arts and social studies at Ladera Vista Junior High in Fullerton.