Friday, October 15, 2010

A Look at Tea Party Sugar Daddies the Koch Brothers

By DJ Pangburn Thursday, October 14, 2010
In a recent “New Yorker” article, Jane Mayer looked into the corporate dealings of the Koch Brothers, the sugar daddies of the Tea Party movement.  The Kochs have contributed $100 million to a so-called movement of people that have no clue how well they’re being played by men whose only end is corporate profit.

This article will look at the Koch Brothers and their company, Koch Industries, oil barons who are manipulating a rabble of confused individuals in the bid to rid the country of Obama’s supposed socialist vision and lower taxes. If the Tea Partiers knew that Koch Industries does not pay corporate income tax, might they reconsider the money they receive from the Koch brothers when they themselves are taxed both by Democracts and Republicans alike? Ignorance truly is bliss for the Tea Party, or Reactionaries, as I like to call them.

A bit of history on the Kochs. In 1968, a year after the death of their father Fred Koch (an early member of the John Birch Society), Charles renamed his father’s company from Wood River Oil and Refining Company to Koch Industries. He then partnered with oil baron J. Howard Marshall II (Anna Nicole’s husband) in buying a controlling interest in Union Oil’s Great Northern Oil Company.  Great Northern had a subsidiary named Pine Bend Refinery (a Twin Cities refinery), which allowed Koch Industries to move into other industries such as ashphalt, heating fuels, jet fuels, chemicals, polymers, fibers and crop sprays. Money flowed into the Koch coffers.

Dating back to their father’s time as chief at Wood River Oil, the Kochs accelerated the acquisitions of oil pipelines until they controlled (privately) a 4,000 mile matrix of pipelines that transport, according to Koch Pipeline’s website, “crude oil and refined products, as well as natural gas, natural gas liquids and anhydrous ammonia (for fertilizer).”

Over the years, Koch Industries and its many subsidiaries have been fined for a number of environmental violations. According to EPA records, the Koch Petroleum Group paid the highest fine in Minnesota history. The company violated the Clean Water Act by discharging “aviation fuel into a wetland and an adjoining waterway.”  The EPA press release says Koch Petroleum Group did nothing to recover the discharged aviation fuel from the wetlands until 1997.

The same EPA press release also states:
“In a separate offense, Koch dumped a million gallons of wastewater with high ammonia content on the ground between November 1996 and March 1997 and also increased its flow of wastewater into the Mississippi River on weekends when Koch did not monitor its discharges.”  Must have been great news for the people living along the lands adjacent to the Mississippi River and the New Orleans delta.
Bill Koch, who attempted but failed to take over the company, claimed that Koch Industries was stealing oil from federal lands.  CBS News reported on the fraud, and received a letter from the company calling Bill Koch a “disgruntled family member.”  Ultimately, according to CBS News, Koch Industries reaped the whirlwind a bit:

“But in December 1999, the jury found that Koch Industries did steal oil from the public and lied about its purchases – 24 thousand times. The oil theft conviction was a heavy blow, but the troubles of Koch Industries don’t stop there. If the company was fattening its bottom line through theft – there is also evidence Koch was pinching pennies on safety and environmental protection – cutting costs with disastrous results… Former EPA administrator Carol Browner announced in 2000 that she was hitting Koch Industries with the largest civil penalty in the history of the federal Clean Water Act: a $30 million fine… She said, Koch Industries spilled over 3 million gallons of crude oil in six states.”

During the years of the Bush administration, Koch Industries’ criminal activities were exposed in court, where they were convicted and fined for dozens of oil spills, covering up environmental violations, again stealing oil from Native American lands, illegally exporting crude oil from Canada to the U.S., violations of the Clean Air Act and violations reported by Koch subsidiary Invista. Clearly the Koch Brothers do not give a shit about the environment and the human beings who make their homes around their industries. It stands to reason that they probably don’t care about the Tea Party either. They are merely a means to an end: the end being profit.  The ability to pollute land, water and air and conduct their business criminally with impunity.

The Kochs play around in other industries.  They own Matador Cattle, which, according to the “New York Observer,” utilizes a New Deal program which “allows ranchers to use federal land basically for free. Matador, one of the ten biggest domestic cattle ranching operations, has something in the neighborhood of 300,000 acres of grazing land for its cows—two-thirds of which belong to American taxpayers.”  So, we the taxpayers own that land.  Koch Industries grazes their cattle on it for free, and we see absolutely none of the profit. For a couple of Libertarians, they sure as hell have no reservations about profiting from the system.
“The New York Observer” covered seven such instances of the Koch brothers’ willingness to accept corporate welfare.  The only conclusion that can be made then about the Koch Brothers is that they are about as Libertarian as every other crooked corporate titan in the history of the United States and abroad.
As Mark Ames and Yasha Levine reported–later repeated by “The Washington Post”‘s Dan Eggen and Philip Rucker–the Kochs are behind the Tea Party cover group Americans For Prosperity, who are anti-tax and anti-regulation.  Whose prosperity?  The Kochs’ prosperity.

As G. K. Chesterton once noted, “The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.”

That is the aim of the Koch Brothers.  None of us enjoying being governed, but the Koch Brothers only object to it because it might cut into their profit margins.


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