America Has a Koch Problem
This country has been the victim of a slow-motion corporate coup, by not only the Koch brothers but other billionaires with the same anti-government agenda. Charles and David Koch are America’s 5th and 6th richest people, each worth about $50 billion. Koch Industries is the nation’s 2nd largest privately held corporation (Cargill is #1). If you use paper products by Georgia-Pacific, Brawny paper towels, Great Northern quilted toilet tissue, you’re putting more money in their pockets. They are also huge funders of Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Partners, the State Policy Network, and ALEC, the American Legislative Executive Council. ALEC is a group of lobbyists and legislators (nearly all Republicans) who craft bills ready to introduce. They’re the ones behind all those voter ID laws, and now new ones being introduced in 18 states, that would criminalize peaceful protest. That’s the very definition of fascism, the merger of state and corporations. Their tentacles reach so far and wide it’s known as the Kochtopus.
Look again at the new Cabinet. Betsy DeVos, the billionaire advocate of private charter schools and the end of public education, heads the Dept. of Education. Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, Alabama racist supreme heads the Dept of Justice. Greg Pruitt, who has sued the EPA 14 times, now heads that agency, and look at all the regulations being done away with already. Then there’s Rick Perry to head the Energy Dept. Perry, who doesn’t even know which end the bullet comes out from, didn’t even know the agency’s first priority is to monitor the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The list goes on and on. Now think about what de facto president Steve Bannon said publicly at the conservative CPAC convention in February, that their goal is “deconstruction of the administrative state.” That means the end of Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, the IRS (libertarians hate taxes), the EPA, FDA, and everything else but police, courts, and the military. This has been a long term dream for the fascists, and I’ll give them this; they do know how to play the long game. In 1980 David Koch ran as VP candidate for the Libertarian Party’s quest for the presidency. I’m going to list some items from the official party platform, which you can easily find. I want you to see how much of it sounds like what is happening now, and what is about to happen.
We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Elections Commission.
We favor the abolition of the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.
We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in it should be made voluntary.
We propose the abolition of the government Postal Service. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.
We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.
We advocate the complete separation of education and state. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.
We support the abolition of the Environmental Pollution Agency.
We support the abolition of the Department of Energy.
We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Agency.
We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.
We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.
We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and “aid to the poor” programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.
We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.
We support repeal of all law which impedes the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws and unemployment insurance.
Grover Norquist has long ties with the Kochs. He runs Americans for Tax Reform, which demands all Republicans sign the pledge to never raise taxes of face a primary challenge in the next election. He’s famous for saying he wants to shrink government to the size where it can be drowned in the bathtub. He has also said, as regards the presidency, “All we need is someone who can handle a pen,” a useful idiot. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a more useful and idiotic president than this pussy grabber-in-chief. Ironically, he wasn’t even backed by the Koch brothers, who in the spring of 2015 brazenly announced they were going to sink $889 million into the general election. At one point they even said they may back Hillary rather than Trump. And when the Republicans’ replacement bill for health care was about to be voted on in the House, the Kochs promised members of the Freedom Caucus (formerly the Tea Party Caucus) that if they didn’t vote for the bill, the Kochs would fund their reelection campaigns in seven figure amounts. The bill wasn’t severe enough for them.
But Trump doesn’t need the Kochs. He has his own billionaire sugar daddy, Robert Mercer, another secretive, high-functioning psychopath. Mercer made his fortune by revolutionizing computational linguistics and using it in hedge funds. He’s a major funder of Cambridge Analytica, a big voter data mining operation. Though he doesn’t give interviews, Mercer has said that anyone on welfare represents a “negative asset” and that someone making 1000 times the salary of a teacher has 1000 times the value. The clinical language in reference to the needy is typical of the sociopathic personality.
After Andrew Breitbart died in 2012, Steve Bannon took over Breitbart News, and Mercer donated $10 million to rejuvenate the site.. Today it’s the primary alt-Right website, and the 29th largest website in the U.S.by traffic usage. His daughter Rebekkah is one of Trump’s White House policy advisors. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s spokesbimbo, formerly ran one of Mercer’s Super PACs, when he was still supporting Ted Cruz.
The point is that the Kochs, Mercers, and other billionaire pillagers of the economy like Paul “the Vulture” Singer, Sheldon Adelson, Harold Hamm, Peter G. Petersen, have the same ultimate goal: rendering government impotent to protect the people from their predations. That poor man dragged off a United Airlines because they’d overbooked? That’s how all corporations can treat us, without federal regulations to contain them. And now they’re holding all the cards. This would all be bad enough by itself, but wait — it gets even worse. You need to know about something called the convention of states. Since that first constitutional convention in 1787, when the founders drew up the original document with the first ten amendments — The Bill of Rights — every new amendment was drafted and passed by the House and Senate, by the required 2/3 vote. Then ¾ of the states, or 38, would have to ratify it. But Article V mentions another way to pass amendments — by a convention of the states. Again, a 2/3 vote would be required, or 34 states. Congress is not involved, but any amendment must again be ratified by 38 states. Right now Republicans have control of both legislatures in 32 states. They only need two more. Governors don’t come into it at all, neither does Congress.
This is what the Kochs have been working on for decades, between funding of both ALEC and the State Policy Initiative. The long term goal is to change the Constitution. For example, the stats could abolish the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of the press and of the people to freely assemble. They could abolish the 4th, which guarantees us freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures, though one could say that one’s pretty much gone, anyway. They could do whatever they wanted. By the time this convention of states happens, I can assure you they will have the 38 states needed to ratify. If we are going to stop this creeping fascism, we’re going to have to get active on many levels. I’m not sure it will do any good, but all we have left to fight with is massive civil disobedience. It’s an inconvenient truth, but no authoritarian government has ever given up power without bloodshed. I hope it won’t come to that, but I’m pretty sure it will. These kinds of tyrannies never last, because people refuse to be treated like rubbish. But they always do a lot of damage before they fall. Here’s an idea: maybe those 91 million Americans who sat on their fat asses instead of voting last November can get a little more involved next time.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
— John F. Kennedy, 1962