Sunday, August 21, 2011

Loony Charles Koch thinks he's helping society

Here's one of the Kochs' 'nonprofits': The Tea Party
Almost makes your head spin, doesn't it?

You may recall that Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, begged the U.S. last week to raise his taxes. In a New York Times op-ed, Buffett wrote,
OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate.
But that wacky Koch brother, Charles, thinks he better serves the American people by supporting the Tea Party than by paying taxes. In a recent statement to righ-wing meda, Koch said,
Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good; this is particularly true over the past several years with the massive uncontrolled increase in government spending. I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington.
Just a few little reminders are in order here. The Koch brothers are in the business of oil speculation, which is why gasoline is so expensive right now.

Their non-profit investments? Try the Tea Party, ALEC and the union-busting National Right-to-Work Legal Defense Committee, for starters. As ThinkProgress notes,
Among the Koch brothers’ other non-profit investments include far-right conservative think tanks dedicated to cheerleading the war in Iraq, spreading anti-science propaganda, and smears claiming that the poor do not really suffer. Koch has given money to educational initiatives, but in exchange for control over academic freedom that simply furthered Koch’s political beliefs.
Koch is partly right, though, when he says "much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good." Here's the part we think is harmful: The government spending that goes to the Koch brothers.

The Naked Capitalist today writes about how the Koch brothers answered a call 40 years ago to make sure that corporations dominate every major American institution. She captures the Orwellian spirit of the Kochs' attempt to inculcate their values in this passage:
“Freedom” is historically a political idea: freedom from oppression. The idea of economic freedom as promoted by libertarians (Eds note: the Koch brothers) and Chicago School economists, is ultimately hostile to political freedom. Chile under Pinochet, which was a Chicago School experiment, was proof: as one survivor said, “People died so markets could be free.” The Citizens United version of economic freedom means that businessmen can buy political influence with no restrictions. We can see how well that is working out in the US. The level of corruption has gone from being tolerable to rampant in a remarkably short period of time.
Naked Capitalist warns that the Kochs have gotten stealthier as they've come under scrutiny. Their latest gambit is to set up a "Freedom Center" in the Philosophy Department at the University of Arizona. Unlike their previous attempts to decide who gets the job at their academic outposts, the Kochs didn't attach any strings to the "Freedom Center." They just installed one of their longtime lackeys.

We'll take Warren Buffett, thank you.