Koch Industries

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Not just a river in Egypt


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A dirty dozen gems
Koch Industries (pronounced "coke," not "cock!"[1]) is a Kansas-based privately held corporation led by brothers Charles and David Koch, heirs to the Fred Koch oil fortune. Funds donated from the Koch Industries fortune are funneled through several money holes foundations, grouped as the Koch Family Foundations.


[edit] Meet the family

One associate recalls strolling down East 80th Street with Frederick on a sweltering summer afternoon in the mid-1990s. Crossing Fifth Avenue, Frederick noticed a nickel in the middle of the crosswalk; it had been run over so many times that it was embedded in the asphalt. His companion looked on in shock as Frederick took out his keys, stooped down and began trying to pry the coin loose. The multi-millionaire continued to work as the traffic light changed. Traffic bore down and horns blared, but Frederick kept digging, finally dislodging the nickel. "I got it," he said, holding the coin up with a beatific expression on his face. “I just was dumbfounded,” his companion recalled. ("I never pick up coins in the street," Frederick responds, "despite this apocryphal account.")[2]

Fred Koch was one of the founding members and major funders of the John Birch Society (yes, the crazy starts early), but his sons converted to libertarianism and set up and funded several major libertarian think tanks in the late 1970s, most notably the Cato Institute. The Koch brothers were also major funders of the Libertarian Party from 1976 to 1983, but they withdrew their funding after 1983 to focus on trying to spread libertarian ideas through major party politics and Beltway think tanks like Cato.

Their role within the Libertarian Party was initially welcomed — David Koch was even nominated as the party's 1980 vice-presidential candidate — but later controversial as they were felt by some more reasonable libertarian activists to be more interested in party machine politics than in libertarian purity, which eventually caused the 1983 split in the party when the Kochs and Cato's Ed Crane left.

[edit] Recent comedy tours actions and transactions

More recently the Kochs have been putting their money into the campaign coffers of politicians of both major parties, mostly incumbents, but giving far more to Republicans than Democrats. While they continue to fund some libertarian think tanks, they now fund wingnuts and have been a source of recurring controversy around their backing of global warming denialists and the Tea Party movement.[3] While one major Teabagger group, FreedomWorks, had its origins in a 2004 split between conservative and libertarian factions in the Koch-founded group "Citizens for a Sound Economy," the Kochs do not have any relation now to FreedomWorks and haven't for years. (FreedomWorks was the conservative side of that split, merged with "Empower America" — a group founded by neocons like William Bennett, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Jack Kemp — and is now led by Dick Armey). David Koch was responsible for founding Americans for Prosperity, a Teabagger astroturf group. Koch denied involvement but video later leaked of him at Teabagger parties.

It is also true that the Kochs joined with George Soros to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union to help them fight the PATRIOT Act after 9/11. Koch (and Soros) money has also gone to sentencing reform and drug policy reform groups. Both of these tend to be ignored by Koch critics who portray the Koch network as more conventionally conservative, as opposed to what they really still are: libertarians. Nonetheless, this hasn't stopped them from dumping large amounts of cash into the political campaigns of many Republicans and conservative Democrats alike who may not share their libertarian views on most things.

Among both hard-core libertarians and progressives wary of the influence of Koch money though, their network of organizations and funding has earned them a nickname, the "Kochtopus," and a watchdog group has called Koch Industries "the Standard Oil of our times."[3]. People or organizations supposedly or actually being bankrolled by Koch Industries are called by the endearing nickname Kochsucker, hinting at the deliberate mis-pronunciation mentioned at the top of this article.

Having failed to unseat Barack Obama in the 2012 election, the Koch political machine has trained its crosshairs on a less sophisticated target: Hurricane Sandy victims. Notably, Koch's group gave away free gasoline during the election in a last-second pro-Romney stunt. Now, David Koch, who lives on the Upper East Side, tried to prevent his fellow New Yorkers from having running water or heat.[4] Despite attempting to dice up Obama's aid package like an onion while keeping it mired in the Senate, the bill eventually passed.[5]

In 2013, the Koch brothers were instrumental in creating the fiscal cliff crisis — but once they realized it had spawned into the equivalent of cocking a shoulder-fired nuke at the New York Stock Exchange they tried to back off.[6] Pro-business, indeed.

[edit] Self-conscious?

The Kochs also give money to charitable organizations, no doubt in an effort to have their names associated with less damaging enterprises. These include:

  • A $100 million dollar "donation" in 2008 for the renovation of the New York State Theater at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, home of the New York City Ballet and the New York Opera. This donation also bought the naming rights to the theater, now called the David H. Koch Theater. The "donation" was supposed to help the companies housed there. But in May 2011, the opera company announced that they were moving due to financial difficulties.
  • "Grants" to PBS science series like Nova. However, many critics consider these "grants" to be the Kochs' way to influence any discussion of global climate change.

[edit] Bankrolling

The Kochtopus is known to include the following organizations and (un)think tanks. The apparatus has grown so tumorous that it resembles a political party in unto itself.[7]

[edit] Hypocrisy

For starters, the Koch brothers are staunch advocates of libertarianism and meritocracy; quintessential examples of "born on third base and think they hit a triple".

Their father's Bircher bent is particularly amusing when you consider that he made a considerable amount of money setting up the Soviet Union's petroleum refining industry between 1929 and 1932. Granted, he distanced himself from the deal after Joseph Stalin purged many of the engineers Koch's company had trained. Koch Industries is also one of the biggest welfare queens in the entire US, if not the entire world. Aside from dealing with socialist countries like Venezuela and profitting from the subsidies in the Ethanol market, they also had landowners disowned in order to build a pipeline on their rightful, inalienable property.[8] Despite their libertarian front, the Koch brothers are pretty much what Ayn Rand had in mind when she talked about looters.

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

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