- So long as the markets are free and the
rich stay that way, human suffering and environmental devastation are irrelevant.
Beneath the "feel good" facade of baseball, apple-pie, mom, and
Chevrolet lurks this sinister reality of the American Way.
- Much of humanity is shackled by poverty
and besieged by the violence of war. Earth is experiencing a slow, agonizing
death. Animal and plant species are disappearing at an alarming rate. Despite
these tragic and inevitable consequences, the United States persists in
spreading the cancers of Americanized Capitalism and Democracy.
- Here's to Saint Charles
- America's wealthiest owe a significant
debt of gratitude to their patron saint, Charles G. Koch. Mr. Koch's Herculean
efforts have virtually ensured that the United States' plutocracy and its
complimentary corporatocracy will continue their reign in America's highly
dysfunctional democracy. Blessed with a significant number of Americans
still rendered somnambulant by a mass media machine, Koch and his fellow
patricians are riding high.
- Mr. Koch has virtually endless resources
at his disposal to keep "his people" in power. Charles owns 40%
of the shares of the largest privately held company in the world. Koch
Enterprises generated revenues of $40 billion in 2004. Koch recently acquired
gargantuan lumber and paper producer Georgia Pacific, which significantly
expands his empire of oil, pipeline, fiber, and chemical enterprises. By
shunning public sale of Koch Enterprise stock, Charles Koch has maintained
a tight-fisted grip on his company while cloaking its finances behind a
veil of secrecy.
- It's in their blue blood
- Causes enhancing the power of America's
Capitalist elites are a Koch clan obsession. They live to pursue lower
taxes on corporations and the wealthy, shifting the burden of subsidizing
America's burgeoning military, oil, pharma, and prison industrial complexes
to the middle class and poor.
- As they press to defang consumer, labor
and environmental protection laws to shelter corporations from liability
and increase their profit-making capacity, the Koch family vigorously toils
to enhance corporate power.
- Consider that Fred Koch, Charles's father,
was a charter member of the John Birch Society, which pushed for the repeal
of income taxes and civil rights legislation. Practicing a racist agenda
on behalf of the White wealthy elite, the JBS was formed on the pretext
of fighting Communism. Fred's interest in the JBS allegedly stemmed from
having witnessed the Purges under Stalin in the 1930's. Despite his concern
for Stalin's victims, Fred still remained in Russia to make money by upgrading
Communist oil refineries. A true Capitalist.
- Happiness is not for sale, but in America,
power and influence are
- David Koch, Charles' brother, founded
the Cato Institute in 1977 and was a presidential candidate in 1980 as
a Libertarian. Charles, David and Cato are no friends to America's working
class or minorities. Staunch supporters of social security privatization
and property rights, Cato strongly opposes affirmative action and government
regulation. With such an obviously biased agenda, it is rather curious
that the "liberal" mainstream media often cites Cato as a neutral
- In 1996, the Cato Institute itself wrote:
- "Dozens of huge corporations, eager
to roll back government regulatory powers, are among Cato's largest donors."
- With the backing of one of the wealthiest
families in America, Koch Family Foundations provides funding to several
think tanks similar to Cato, each of which "nobly" crusades for
the rights of the "oppressed" upper class and fights for the
freedom of corporate America.
- According to the Nation (in a 1996 article
documenting Bob Dole's incestuous relationship with the Koch group) the
reverse Robin Hoods from Wichita, Kansas have "lavished tens of millions
of dollars in the past decade on 'free market' advocacy institutions in
and around Washington."
- In 2004, Koch Industries made $587,000
in campaign donations, more than any other oil company. From 1998 to 2004
the Koch family and its enterprises gave $3.9 million in political contributions.
Compare that to the $3.8 million contributed by Exxon Mobile, which is
six times the size of Koch. During that same period, the Koch boys spent
$2.4 million lobbying Congress to pass "humanitarian" legislation
that would repeal the estate tax and significantly reduce the capacity
of consumers to sue.
- Particularly noteworthy is the fact that
79% of Koch's campaign funding in 2004 went to Republicans, including $121,000
to Todd Tiahrt, the US Congressman representing Wichita (where Koch Enterprises
is head-quartered); $109,000 to George Bush; and $53,000 to the Hammer,
Tom DeLay. Evidently Charles and David forgot that one is often judged
by the company one keeps. Or perhaps they simply don't care.
- For people with such a professed aversion
to government, it seems a bit odd that Charles Koch and kin would part
with their beloved greenbacks so readily to participate in political activities.
Slicing through their rhetoric, it appears they are far more interested
in manipulating the United States government than in minimizing it.
- In 1996, Triad Management, a shell corporation
with little purpose or substance, began influencing federal elections by
airing attack ads. Since Triad did not publicly disclose the source of
its funding, wealthy individuals could exceed legal limits on campaign
contributions by donating to Triad. In essence, Triad was a vehicle for
- One of its chief beneficiaries was Kansas
Senator Sam Brownback, who defeated Jill Docking in the 1996 Senatorial
race with a Triad-financed anti-Semitic ad campaign. Evidence indicates
that Koch was Brownback's primary financier, through Triad of course. In
exchange, Brownback has represented Koch interests so well that he has
earned a 100% rating from the Cato Institute.
- Of major theft, environmental crime,
and wrongful death
- In their relentless pursuit of the sacred
tenets of free markets and deregulation, the Koch brothers and their multi-tentacled
corporate entities have committed several egregiously immoral and criminal
acts. Fortunately for Charles and David, the Gods of Capitalism have smiled
upon them. Leaving carcinogenic pollutants and death in its wake, Koch
Enterprises has emerged relatively unscathed.
- In 2000, Bill Koch, another of Fred's
sons, appeared on 60 Minutes II and characterized Koch Enterprises like
- "It was was my family company.
I was out of it," he says. "But that's what appalled me so much...
I did not want my family, my legacy, my father's legacy to be based upon
- When he made that statement, Bill Koch
had already parted ways with his brothers and filed a federal lawsuit alleging
that much of Koch Industry's oil profit was derived from theft and fraud.
In December of 1999 a jury decided that Koch stole oil 24,000 times by
"adjusting" the volume they had collected. Koch's own records
showed that their "adjustments for errors" translated into at
least 300 million gallons of oil in their favor. Koch Industries eventually
settled the suit for $25 million.
- Koch Industries has the largest network
of gas and oil pipelines in the United States. Quite an achievement. Unfortunately,
Koch chose increased profits over the environment. In 2000, it paid $30
million for violating federal environmental laws. Koch had caused over
300 oil spills in seven states because it didn't maintain its pipelines
- In 1996, Danielle Smalley and Jason Stone
died tragically before they reached their twentieth birthdays. These Texas
teens were in the vicinity of a Koch high-pressure gas line that was leaking
when it suddenly exploded. Danielle and Jason were incinerated, their bodies
burned beyond recognition. Danielle's family won a $296 million wrongful
death judgment as a result of Koch's criminal negligence. Koch eventually
paid the Smalleys an undisclosed settlement.
- Does Bill Koch think about the charred
remains of Danielle and Jason when he writes checks to Cato and its ilk?
- Bill Koch again captured the essence
of Koch when he commented:
- "Koch Industries has a philosophy
that profits are above everything else."
- As the 2000 election approached, the
Koch brothers' political contributions proved to be money very well spent.
It seems that the Koch conglomerate had dumped 91 metric tons of benzene,
a cancer-causing agent, near its refinery in Corpus Christi. They added
insult to injury by attempting to conceal their crime. Facing a 97 count
indictment, possible prison time for company executives, and potential
fines of $352 million, Charles and David needed a "white knight"
to ride to their rescue.
- Enter George Bush, who "won"
the election with the aid of $800,000 worth of Koch donations. Striking
a blow for the free market, Attorney General Ashcroft dropped almost all
of the charges. Koch Industries pled guilty to falsifying documents and
paid a settlement of a mere $20 million. No one served jail time.
- Putting outsiders in and bringing insiders
- To ensure the continued success of their
malignant influence on the United States government, in 2005 Koch hired
a "Beltway insider". Matt Schlapp became their director of Washington
lobbying. Schlapp had been working in the White House's Office of Political
- Disturbingly, Elizabeth Stolpe, a former
Koch lobbyist, now holds a significant position on the White House Council
on Environmental Quality. Another former Koch employee, Alex Beehler (who
reported to David Koch), exerts influence on federal environmental policy
from his position with Environment, Safety and Occupational Health.
- Charles Koch has covered his political
bets going both ways. Very impressive, in a Machiavellian way.
- A criminal by any other name...
- Charles Koch also gets an "A"
for somehow manufacturing a respectable public image. On 3/13/06 Forbes
ran a story about Koch entitled "Mr. Big". Much to the discredit
of the publication, Forbes writer Daniel Fisher focused almost exclusively
on the buyout of Georgia Pacific and the "Capitalistic virtues"
of Charles Koch, a man who belongs in prison.
- Charles Koch is indeed an "American
success story" by the measure of those who still believe in the real
American Way, which is the suffering of the many for the pleasure of the
- For those who know the American Dream
is a nightmare, Charles Koch puts a human face on the ruthlessness of Capitalism
as it is practiced in the United States. Born into America's de facto aristocracy,
Koch is one of the privileged top 1% of Americans who hold a significant
portion of the world's wealth.
- While the poor and working class of the
world bleed, sweat, cry, and die to keep the money flowing from the spigot
for such men, Koch, his friends, and his progeny reside comfortably in
their secure castles and counting houses.
- No wonder Mr. Big smiled so brightly
for the Forbes photo.
- Jason Miller is a 39 year old sociopolitical
essayist with a degree in liberal arts and an extensive self-education
(derived from an insatiable appetite for reading). He is a member of Amnesty
International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human Rights
Watch. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org or comments on
his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.