By Ryan Cooper
The Week (8/23/19)
David Koch, one of the two infamous billionaire Koch brothers, died Friday at the age of 79. The Wall Street Journal is quick to point out that, in addition funding a vast conservative political network, Koch gave about $1.3 billion of his nearly-$60 billion fortune to various philanthropies. But what Koch may ultimately be most remembered for is helping to seed the climate-change denial movement in the 1990s. Indeed, David Koch was one of the most powerful people in the world over the last three or so decades, and he did his level best to stymie any effort to stop the biggest threat to human society.
Today a senile climate change denier is president of the United States, where he (wittingly or otherwise) has done the Kochs’ bidding.
The Kochs’ place in funding climate denial is covered well in the recent book Kochland by Christopher Leonard. They were big funders of a key 1991 Cato Institute conference, which mobilized furiously after President George H.W. Bush announced he would support a climate change treaty. They went on to spend gargantuan sums boosting up the handful of credentialed scientists who deny climate change, funding climate-denying “think tanks” and publications, donating to climate-denying politicians (and refusing money to those who don’t), and so on. Greenpeace estimates that between 1997 and 2017 the Koch family spent more than ExxonMobil funding climate denial, and thus established climate-change denial as conservative dogma. While conservative parties in almost every other country have endorsed at least some kind of climate policy; the reason Republicans still do not is to a great degree the responsibility of just two men.
The Kochs were also key players in the successful effort to beat back a cap-and-trade bill in 2010, the closest the U.S. government has ever come to any kind of emissions policy.
The main reason they did all this, of course, was to protect and expand their gigantic fortunes — which were and are heavily based on fossil fuels. (In classic libertarian John Galt fashion, they inherited their money from their father, who was a founding member of the John Birch Society, and made most of their additional money paying other people to dig up natural resources they neither created nor found.) As Jane Mayer writes in a review of Kochland:
“Leonard also quotes Philip Ellender, Koch Industries’ top lobbyist, as claiming, in 2014, that the Earth had gotten cooler in the previous eighteen years. In fact, according to NASA, eighteen of the nineteen hottest years on record have occurred in the past two decades. Yet the Koch machine bought its way into Congress and turned climate-change denial into an unchallengeable Republican talking point. Meanwhile, after the cap-and-trade bill died, the planet continued heating, and the Kochs’ net worth doubled. [The New Yorker]”
One underrated part of extreme inequality is how it warps the public discourse. In this case, two ultra-rich men with a bottom line to protect were able to spend so much on propaganda, campaign donations, university donations, and so on that they turned the brains in one of two American political parties to rancid tapioca. A nation with an egalitarian income distribution is one in which regular people have a much greater freedom to think. …
- The Theme Song Of The American Worker: “I’D LIKE TO BUY THE KOCHS A WORLD, THEY’RE THE EVIL THING”: Link to 1+-Minute Video
David Koch, The Man Who Did No Good For America, Dead At 79
“A politician is the best thing you can buy in America.”
The Young Turks (8/23/19)
“Billionaire industrialist David Koch — who worked with his brother Charles to shape conservative ideology and politics for decades through massive donations to libertarian causes, only to watch in shock as the Republican Party under President Donald Trump drifted toward populism and protectionism — has died. He was 79. His death was confirmed to media in a statement from Koch Industries, the massive Kansas-based conglomerate he helped build and lead, which is involved in the production of a wide range of products from manufacturing paper to refining oil.”
Documentary: ‘Koch Brothers Exposed’
Brave New Films (1/21/15)
The last time we exposed the Koch Brothers’ dealings to the world we here at Brave New Films wound up in their crosshairs. They produced online ad campaigns attacking us, but, it takes more than a banner ad to slow us down.
We’ve reissued Koch Brothers Exposed in an updated version, Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition, to shine a light on them. We’ve delved even deeper into where their money is going, who their money is hurting, and how much they are making during this whole process leading up to the 2014 Elections.
Two years ago when we made this film very few people knew who the Koch Brothers were or what the Koch Brothers were doing. But now, we so strongly believe that everyone should know what is happening that with your help and donations we are able to offer the film for free. We want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to see the truth. …
“I see some celebrating David Koch’s death. I’m not. I wish every major climate change denialist lived to be 200 years old, so they can see the horrors they are unleashing on the rest of us.”
— Amanda Marcotte, Twitter.
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )