Busting the Kochtopus

There is a great piece out in the August 30, 2010 New Yorker entitled, "Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama," that describes two siblings who've managed, on the whole, to remain invisible to the vast majority of Americans despite their tied-ranking as the 3rd richest people in the United States.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

This story is a long one, stretching for decades across the foundation of an incredible accumulation of wealth.
 
It's about the damage that can be done when the owners of the largest private American company (a conglomerate with substantial holdings in energy, no less) want to remain hidden while manipulating not just the politics, but the very culture of these United States.
 
While the company and the family has been around for decades, the telling of the story has only just begun. I've never liked the phrase, but "read it and weep" is entirely appropriate here.
 
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"Charles Koch seems to have approached both business and politics with the deliberation of an engineer. “To bring about social change,” he told Doherty, requires “a strategy” that is “vertically and horizontally integrated,” spanning “from idea creation to policy development to education to grassroots organizations to lobbying to litigation to political action.” The project, he admitted, was extremely ambitious. “ We have a radical philosophy,” he said."

From the Washington Independent

At Friday’s Defending the American Dream summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) in Washington, D.C., not only is David Koch not the proverbial elephant in the room, but organizers are hitting back against Jane Mayer’s recent New Yorker profile of the Koch family.

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