Monday, July 15, 2013

Vast anti-worker Kochaganda machine exposed

Charles and David Koch spent more than $100 million to buy the government and convince the public that what they're doing is okay, according to a new report.

It took two years for the Investigative Reporting Workshop to uncover the extent of the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers' vast influence-peddling machine.

These predatory heirs to an energy conglomerate don't just buy politicians. They pay for phony grass-roots groups, colleges and universities. They underwrite an army of lobbyists and propaganda mills masquerading as nonpartisan think tanks. They fund "charitable" foundations to undermine workers' rights and lower their pay.

Five Koch-funded "foundations" contributed $41.2 million to nonprofits, $30.5 million to institutions of higher learning and $46.3 million to medicine, humanities and arts organizations (like PBS, which spiked an independent documentary critical of the Kochs.)

As if that isn't enough, the Kochtopus is spreading its tentacles in new directions. Recently it started to secretly donate to the Donors' Trust group, which funnels money to the corporate escort group for state lawmakers called ALEC. They are starting another corporate empowerment group called the Association for American Innovation, which of course tries to quash innovative new competition to entrenched businesses. And they set up a transparently political group called "American Commitment."

Let's be clear. The Koch brothers have no commitment to America. Their commitment is to greed. What's especially frustrating is that they are getting away with calling "American Commitment" a "social welfare nonprofit group." What it really does is take political sides and propagandizes against clean energy. If "American Commitment" were to succeed, the main beneficiary would be (wait for it) Koch Industries.

The law says private foundations can't "be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests." Yet Koch-linked nonprofits testified before congressional panels at least 49 times.

Guess it helps to own the government, right? Between 2007 through 2012,
  • The Kochs and their foundations gave $8.7 million to candidates and the Republican Party;
  • Koch Industries’ lobbyists spent $53.9 million to help the giant corporation loot American taxpayers. 
  • The Koch-founded phony Tea Party group, Americans for Prosperity, spent more than $36 million on political advertising in 2012, mostly to defeat President Obama. 
Here's what's even scarier: The Kochs are working hard to poison young minds with their corporate-empowerment agenda. They've given money to 221 colleges and universities, ranging from $1,000 to Wisconsin Lutheran College to $16 million to George Mason University.

Why doesn't the mainstream media do more reporting on the billionaires' influence? The Washington Post offers an answer today:
...aggressive tactics have become part of the playbook for Koch Industries and its owners, Charles and David Koch. Faced with news articles they consider flawed or biased, the brothers and their lieutenants don’t just send strongly worded letters to the editor in protest. Instead, the company takes the offensive, with detailed responses that oscillate between correcting, shaming and slamming journalists who’ve written unflattering stories about the company or the Kochs’ myriad political and philanthropic activities.
We're glad at least that groups like the Investigative Reporting Workshop and the Center for Media and Democracy are on the case. Because the Kochs are rumored to be interested in buying one of the most prominent newspaper chains in America.

Be very afraid.