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  #1  
Old 08-27-2010, 01:38 AM
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The Koch Brothers: behind the scenes money-men for right wing causes

My conservative friends pull out the name of George Soros like it's some kind of automatic slam on all things liberal - an example of the way left wing thought and policy is controlled by corrupt and wealthy liberals of questionable loyalties.

The Koch Bros. put Soros to shame in the molding public opinion category and they do it far more secretively.

Jane Mayer, a staff writer at The New Yorker, profiles the brothers and their political connections in the Aug. 30 issue of the magazine. Her article "Covert Operations" describes how the brothers' political interests "dovetail with [their] corporate interests."

Teri Gross interviewed her, link to audio and transcript:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129425186

From the transcript:

Ms. JANE MAYER (Staff Writer, The New Yorker): Well, they are long-time, very hard-line libertarians. So their private agenda is really the eradication of the federal government in almost all of its forms, other than the parts of it that protect personal rights.

They have been working to fight the federal government really since the 1970s. And their father was doing it before they were. So they're trying to get rid of federal regulations, particularly on energy companies like their own. They particularly have been at war with environmental regulations, and they have a history of serious and even criminal pollution problems. And they're very anti-tax in almost every form.

GROSS: Do you think that most of the people who see themselves as members of the Tea Party don't know about the corporate money behind it, don't know, for instance, that the Koch brothers are supporting a lot of the Tea Party activities?

Ms. MAYER: It's hard to tell. I mean, when I was down in the Austin convention talking to Tea Party people, there were a lot of people who had conspiracy theories about money flowing into American politics.

But, you know, ironically, none of those - the people that I interviewed, seemed to be focused on the Koch brothers. They were kind of obsessed with the possible role played by George Soros in particular.

So I didn't find anyone who seemed focused on the Kochs' role.

GROSS: You actually talked to one of Soros' spokespeople and asked them for their take on this because, you know, Soros is seen as, like, the great funder of liberal causes. And you quote his spokesperson as saying that Soros' funding is transparent. He doesn't secretly, you know, covertly fund things, and also, none of his contributions are in the service of his own economic interests.

Ms. MAYER: That was Michael Vachon who said that. And I can see out there on the Internet blogs that this is it had become kind of a war between red America and blue America about which billionaire, you know, creates more trouble in American politics.

And, you know, in some ways, I sort of think of it as choose your poison. The point is not to say that, you know, not to defend George Soros. It's to question, really, the role of these huge fortunes in flooding money into American politics.

And I actually wrote a very tough piece about George Soros for the New Yorker magazine also. So it's not that we're championing one over the other, necessarily.

But I can tell you one thing, which is when I did write about George Soros and the fortune - questioning the amount of money he was putting into politics, there was a big difference between writing about Soros and writing about the Koch brothers.

George Soros spent days talking to me and let me watch his operation pretty closely. And he puts out a lot of information about where his money is going.

By contrast, the Koch family refused to answer even the most fundamental question about their activities. They are, as I quote somebody saying who worked for them, they are not just under the radar, they are underground. And you cannot get this information out of them. So they prefer to be a much more closeted political force. [/I]

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Old 08-27-2010, 02:00 AM
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The Koch compound is pretty much a stone's throw from my parent's house (yes where I take all my photos) and across the street from my shop. You see them all the time and they blend right in. No flashy cars, etc.

They want to continue to grow their empire, and the liberal economic agenda of crippling taxes and heavy regulation directly threatens that. Wouldn't you be doing the same thing?

I just don't see anything wrong here. If they want to set up organizations and support candidates that share the same values of a free, low regulation market, why can't they. This is one of those companies with an upstanding reputation, and has given back so much to our community and many others. Not to mention tons of high paying jobs. This isn't one of those Wall Street firms ran by crooks and morons. My own Alma-Mater baskeball stadium is called the Charles Koch Arena. They completely funded the multi-million project.
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Old 08-27-2010, 02:46 AM
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No, I wouldn't be doing the same thing. The Koch brothers have more wealth than any 12 people could consume in 4 lifetimes. Their craving for more strikes me as pathologically greedy.

The radio piece points out some of the inconsistencies of their philanthropy:

Ms. MAYER: Well, at a certain point in his life, I think it was around 1991, he had a near-death experience, where he nearly died in a plane crash, and then he was also coincidentally diagnosed with prostate cancer. And he began to re-examine his life to some extent. And it was at that point he started to give away really spectacular amounts of money, particularly to cancer research and particularly to prostate cancer research.

You know, I think that David Koch has, you know, you don't want to take that away from him. But at the same time, I have to say one of the things that really shocked me in doing the reporting on this family was that at the same time that David Koch has been, you know, sort of portraying himself as such a champion of the fight against cancer and actually has given a tremendous amount of money to that fight, his company produces a chemical, formaldehyde, in many, many, many products, and they produce it in huge quantities, which the U.S. government has been trying to regulate as a known carcinogen in human beings.

And the Koch Industries, through its Georgia-Pacific subsidiary, produces tons of formaldehyde and puts it into tons of products, particularly things like plywood and laminates.

And the company has been fighting the regulation of formaldehyde, trying to hold off the EPA from keeping it from flowing freely into the marketplace. And, you know, I just don't know how they can reconcile these two roles.


Wealth that comes from extracting natural resources is sorta unbalanced IMO. It gives one the power to control larger and larger portions of land, and to extract the wealth from that land, often without regard to the overall viability of that land to sustain life. Money is a useful device but in cases like this, it provides someone like the Koch bros. with more power than they have the wisdom or the right to have.

And they are using large amounts of that money to prevent public policy from forcing them to behave in a more responsible way, and doing it deceptively. Did you listen to the show or read any of the transcript?
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:09 AM
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it isn't the left versus the right, the democrats versus the republicans, no it is about the HAVES versus the HAVE NOTS.

is having and making money evil? if so, there are a LOT of evil people out there. the working class will always throw rocks at people like the Koch brothers. the rich are seen as the evil ones, while the down on the farmers are champions of all that is right and good.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by HuskyMan View Post
it isn't the left versus the right, the democrats versus the republicans, no it is about the HAVES versus the HAVE NOTS.

is having and making money evil? if so, there are a LOT of evil people out there. the working class will always throw rocks at people like the Koch brothers. the rich are seen as the evil ones, while the down on the farmers are champions of all that is right and good.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:26 AM
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Soros? Oh that's right, the Israel hating billionaire who sticks his nose into everything, like some messianic manipulator...you have to wonder what his actual plans are....

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1203/mason_soros.php3
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:28 AM
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"Upstanding reputation". Uh huh... perhaps among the recipients of their largesse. Sort of like the way the drug cartels buy the allegiance of entire Mexican towns by building them swimming pools and clinics. Blood money and nothing more.There's nothing wrong with using your wealth to support political causes, but why be so secretive about it?
From wikipedia:

In March 1999, Koch Petroleum Group, a Koch Industries subsidiary, pled guilty to charges that it had negligently allowed aviation fuel to leak into waters near the Mississippi River from its refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota, and that it had illegally dumped a million gallons of high-ammonia wastewater onto the ground and into the Mississippi River.[24]
In 1999, a federal jury found that Koch Industries had stolen oil from government and American Indian lands, had lied about its purchases more than 24,000 times, and was fined $553,504. [25]
In January 2000, Koch Industries subsidiary, Koch Pipeline, agreed to a $35 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the State of Texas. This settlement, including a $30 million civil fine, was incurred for the firm's multiple oil spills in Texas and five other states going back to 1990.[26] The spills resulted in more than three million gallons of crude oil leaking into ponds, lakes, streams and coastal waters.[27]
In 2001, the company reached two settlements with the government. In April, the company reached a $20 million settlement in exchange for admitting to covering up environmental violations at its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.[28][29] That May, Koch Industries paid $25 million to the federal government to settle a federal lawsuit that found the company had improperly taken more oil than it had paid for from federal and Indian land.[30][31]
In June 2003, the US Commerce Department fined Koch Industries subsidiary Flint Hill Resources a $200,000 civil penalty. The fine settled charges that the company exported crude petroleum from the US to Canada without proper US government authorization. The Commerce Departmentís Bureau of Industry and Security said from July 1997 to March 1999, Koch Petroleum (later called Flint Hill Resources) committed 40 violations of Export Administration Regulations. [32]
In 2006, Koch Industriesí subsidiary Flint Hill Resources was fined nearly $16,000 by the EPA for 10 separate violations of the Clean Air Act at its Alaska oil refinery facilities, and required to spend another $60,000 on safety equipment needed to help prevent future violations. [33]
In 2009, Koch subsidiary Invista agreed to pay a $1.7 million civil penalty and spend up to $500 million to correct self-reported environmental violations at its facilities in seven states.[34][35] Prior to the settlement, the company had disclosed to the EPA more than 680 violations after auditing 12 facilities acquired from DuPont in 2004.[36][37]
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:16 AM
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Eh, I say shoot anybody with over $10 billion and use the money to build more happy camps

Did I say $10 billion? I mean $1 billion.
No wait make that $100 million! no, um say anybody with over $10 million is a parasite and must be eradicated.
Wait a minute there are an awful lot of millionaires out there, where did they get that money? To the camps with them!

Hey, did you say you have $100,000?
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TylerH860 View Post
...They want to continue to grow their empire, and the liberal economic agenda of crippling taxes and heavy regulation directly threatens that. Wouldn't you be doing the same thing?...
Hell no, I wouldn't be doing what the Koch brothers are doing. That does not make them bad people, but you seem to take it as a given that they are fighting against a "liberal economic agenda." From what I've seen, they are fighting against anything that is not a hard-right, libertarian agenda, which, IMHO, would be a complete disaster for the country.
Quote:
I just don't see anything wrong here.
I agree. There is also nothing wrong with people exposing them for who they are.

The New Yorker magazine has an interesting article about these secretive people: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer
Quote:
...This is one of those companies with an upstanding reputation...
As elchivito pointed out, you will get differing opinions on that.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:53 AM
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Any company this large is going to have screw ups. You really can't expect perfection, especially in the energy field. They post the crap right on their website...

http://www.kochind.com/kochfacts/default.aspx

So, because its a privately owned company they are not allowed to grow, become more obscenely wealthy, but also bring a bunch of high paying jobs to here and elsewhere?. A publicly traded company can do the same thing and its not a big deal?
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:54 AM
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quick check

Just doing a minute of checking, I learned that D. Koch has given away almost $300 million to charities. Somebody else please check Soros's philanthropy.
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by LUVMBDiesels View Post
Hey, did you say you have $100,000?
Two Irish communist were talking.

"Mike, if you had two mansions, you'd give me one wouldn't you?"

"Certainly Comrad Pat!"

"Mike, you had two limos, you'd give me one wouldn't you?"

"Definately Comrad Pat!"

"Mike, if you had two beers, you'd give me one wouldn't you?"

"Go to Hell Pat! You know I just bought a six-pack."
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:21 AM
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Now that we, as a society, have learned to hate the rich and successful, what next? Do we imitate the stupid and jobless?
This class warfare---so well coordinated by the political left, for their benefit--is another nail in the coffin of the USA.
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by LUVMBDiesels View Post
Hey, did you say you have $100,000?
Those who would rob Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

Interesting that today Douglas Schoen has a piece in the WSJ speaking about the failings of populism as a political argument in America.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703959704575453450250159546.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_h
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:28 AM
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Just doing a minute of checking, I learned that D. Koch has given away almost $300 million to charities. Somebody else please check Soros's philanthropy.
According to PBS via wikipedia, his philanthropy world wide is more than 6 billion dollars. This is charity money, not political contributions.

negligent leaking
intentional illegal dumping of contaminated wastewater
stealing oil from Indian lands and lying about it 24,000 times
admittedly covering up environmental violations
ad nauseum.....

These are "screw ups"??? Nothing like being an apologist

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