A few days ago I posted “Scott Walker, Conservative Hero Propped Up By the Koch Brothers” wherein which I laid out the bare facts behind the brothers Koch and their involvement in the anti-public employee union battles currently taking place in the Midwest. I detailed how the Koch’s had increased by over five times the budget of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), showing how “The organization has taken up a range of topics, including combating the health care law, environmental regulations and spending by state and federal governments. The effort to impose limits on public labor unions has been a particular focus in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all states with Republican governors…” In fact AFP was founded by the Koch brothers with a $1 Million dollar grant of seed money a decade ago. I revealed that Walker and other Republican governors received guidance from the American Legislative Exchange Council, another Koch funded organization that aims to fight unionization. I also pointed out that even before Scott Walker was sworn in agents of Koch funded organizations were at work in Wisconsin setting up the showdown presently in it’s third week. I quoted AFP president Mr. Tim Phillips showing that he felt that taking on the unions in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania was “an important thing to do.”
Some of my good friends on the right seemed flummoxed by the assertion that the billionaire Koch brothers, major financiers of the Tea Party Movement as well, could actually have a interest in destroying public sector unions. This misconception is based on the fact that the Koch brothers, being private sector businessmen could not possibly have interests beyond their day to day business operations. My right leaning colleagues have vainly attempted to pursue a line of reasoning that suggests breaking public unions does nothing to further Koch business interests so it would be of no interest to them in the first place. They have implied that the facts put forth in the abovementioned piece either don’t adequately make the case or are “too fuzzy” in their linkage of the brothers Koch to the situation in Madison.
This is of course a straw man argument as people of vast wealth often have interests beyond the mundane and pedestrian endeavors of making money. Take for example Rupert Murdoch, owner of the News Corporation. His tabloid, The New York Post continues to lose money with no end in sight yet he keeps it going because it’s his primary organ for promoting his conservative ideas in New York City and the surrounding region. If his motives for running the Post where purely economic it would have been closed long ago. Then there is what used to be the preeminent conservative news magazine in America, the National Review. Since its inception the National Review has never been profitable, relying on generous donations from wealthy conservatives to stay afloat. Likewise there’s George Soros and his Open Society Foundation which “promotes work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens”, an endeavor that has absolutely nothing to do with shorting the stock market or currency arbitrage. Over a century ago, there were such titans of industry like Cornelius Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie who built universities and centers for the performing arts. In fact David Koch himself donated so much money to renovating the New York State Ballet Theater at Lincoln Center that the place is now named after him! Needless to say, this argument that the Koch brothers couldn’t possibly be interested in destroying public unions as part and parcel of a wider right wing agenda simply won’t stand up to the evidence at hand. Nor are their present actions in any way at variance with the past history of how the rich employ their personal wealth for both political and cultural reasons.
It would appear that my conservative friends will benefit from two news items that appeared on February 25 that unequivocally link the brothers Koch to the anti-union campaign underway against public employees, that is if any honest person really needed further evidence. The first was aired on NPR’s morning broadcast “Billionaire Brothers In Spotlight In Wis. Union Battle” by Peter Overby. Notice what David Koch says: “Five years ago, my brother Charles and I provided the funds to start the Americans for Prosperity…And it’s beyond my wildest dreams how AFP has grown into this enormous organization.” Likewise there are the comments of AFP’s Scott Hagerstrom: “We fight these battles on taxes and regulations, but really what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees, so they don’t have the resources to fight these battles.” I have already established the fact that that AFP’s agenda contains an “effort to impose limits on public labor unions” so if the Koch brothers are the cash behind AFP and if fighting to undo public sector unions is a plank in the AFP platform, then ipso facto the Koch brothers harbor anti-union sentiments and have gone so far as to put their money where there mouths are, so to speak. For those on the far right who don’t like the idea of listening to an NPR rebroadcast then they can see the actual video of Mr. Hagstrom’s speech at http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/25/afp-union-knees/
So there you have it, the proof positive is too real to deny. For those who were so unwilling or unable to come to terms with the fact of the billionaire brothers involvement, they can now no longer deny that the Koch’s have shown themselves to be central players, if not the most important participants, in the current anti-union campaign. The proof of the pudding is in eating it and there is no denying the role of the Koch brothers in the controversy in Madison or beyond Wisconsin. Perhaps some of my conservative friends are having a problem with the fact that the richest on the right may have already taken control of what they all believed to be a “peoples” grassroots movement. Maybe they don’t cotton to the fact that they are no longer the driving force on the right that they thought they were, if they ever were. Perhaps they have yet to realize that they are merely along for the ride with no effective means of reaching the controls. But one thing’s for sure and beyond question, and that is that the Koch brothers are the puppet masters and the newly elected Republicans are the puppets. Oh and one more thing, we all know how much the full mooners on the far right hate NPR / PBS, well ironically the Koch brothers are contributors to the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer. Now if that doesn’t set the full mooners to howling at the heavens, nothing will.
Steven J. Gulitti
Scott Walker, Conservative Hero Propped Up By the Koch Brothers
Billionaire Brothers In Spotlight In Wis. Union Battle
Koch Front Group Americans For Prosperity: Take The unions Out At The Knees