Billionaire Charles Koch puts a lot of effort into political manipulation. He also expends a lot of energy to convince Americans of his altruistic, freedom-loving idealism. His latest demonstration of this was published by the Wall Street Journal.
Charles De Ganahl Koch views himself as “fighting to restore a free society,” aiming to preserve or bring back “the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom” which are all “under attack by the nation’s own government.” He has devoted his life to trying to bring these ideas back into existence, and “only in the past decade” did he start to “engage in the political process,” to do so, despite having contributed nearly $18,000 to state-level campaigns from 1998 through 2002, and $96,250 to federal candidates and PACs from 1990 through 2004, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics.
Charles believes that collectivism refers to the ideology held by the Obama Administration and others “who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives.” They “promise heaven but bring hell,” and they “believe that the promised end justifies the means.” Collectivists do not engage in open debate; collectivists engage in “character assassination.” The collectivist character assassins are “the antithesis of what is required for a free society.” Instead of trying to understand his vision for society, they call him “un-American” and say that Koch Industries is trying to “rig the system” or that his company is opposed to “environmental protections.” To the contrary, Koch Industries has funded organizations that have given Koch Industries awards for environmentalism. And its 60,000 employees contribute to the economy. One third of its employees are union-members, according to Koch, whose PACs and SuperPACs funded Scott Walker’s efforts to bust unions in Wisconsin.
Charles is a man who has “spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs—even when [Koch Industries] benefit[s] from them.” Does this mean Charles would lobby against the $88,755,756 combined value of 139 tax subsidies which Koch Industries and its subsidiaries have received from states since as early as 1990? One would think so, considering Charlies believes that “cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished.” This belief, not the fact that his company stood to gain a larger market share if its smaller competitors cannot utilize a federal tax credit, is why “Koch Industries was the only major producer in the ethanol industry to argue for the demise of the ethanol tax credit in 2011.”
He knows that rather being the land of the free, “America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness.”
Rather than take Koch at his word, why don’t we dig a little deeper, push past the rhetoric and look at what he is saying for what it is worth.
First, Charles Koch has been active in politics for a longer than the past decade, he has just been relatively silent about it, and his activism did pick up considerably in beginning in 2004. From 1990 until 2004, in order to exclude the past decade, Koch has directly contributed over $100,000 to federal and state campaigns and PACs. Altogether, Koch Industries and its subsidiaries have contributed at least $8.6 million to state-level campaigns since 1990, according to data from FollowTheMoney.org. According to OpenSecrets.org, Koch and its subsidiaries have, through PACs and employees, contributed more than $18 million to federal campaigns since 1990. Then, you have to look at the $84.6 million Koch Industries and its subsidiaries have spent lobbying the federal government since 1998.
Furthermore, Charles Koch has funded candidates primarily from the Republican Party. The Republican Party holds the view that homosexuals do not have a right to marry, because they cannot reproduce and because God didn’t intend marriage to play out as such. Is this the equality under the law which Koch is speaking about? What about the public worker’s right to unionize and collectively bargain? Do only private unions deserve that right? How does financing candidates who support LGBT discrimination laws (meaning, you’re free to discriminate), forced ultrasounds and stand your ground laws support human dignity or respect for human beings? Is it not strange that not a single black man has avoided conviction of killing a white man using the stand your ground laws promulgated by The American Legislative Exchange Council, with which Koch Industries is very active? No, what Charles is referring to is the concepts of the dignity of wealth and power, the respect of wealth and power, the law not hindering wealth and power, and personal freedom to exploit natural resources and human beings (not to mention the government) for the sake of increasing wealth and power. Mr. Koch wants you to hear him tell you he is concerned about your equality, your freedom, respect and dignity. In reality, he just doesn’t want the government to get in his way.
Charles must have a real problem with the Collectivists over at Fox News:
Now, here’s the really juicy part, in Koch’s own words:
“Here are some facts about my philosophy and our company:
Koch companies employ 60,000 Americans, who make many thousands of products that Americans want and need. According to government figures, our employees and the 143,000 additional American jobs they support generate nearly $11.7 billion in compensation and benefits. About one-third of our U.S.-based employees are union members.
Koch employees have earned well over 700 awards for environmental, health and safety excellence since 2009, many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. EPA officials have commended us for our "commitment to a cleaner environment" and called us "a model for other companies."Our refineries have consistently ranked among the best in the nation for low per-barrel emissions. In 2012, our Total Case Incident Rate (an important safety measure) was 67% better than a Bureau of Labor Statistics average for peer industries. Even so, we have never rested on our laurels. We believe there is always room for innovation and improvement.”
PolitiFact checked into this, rating the claim “mostly false.” Here are some examples which they provided to let us know just how environmentally sound Koch Industries is:
“While those positive quotes about Koch Industries and their subsidies are at least partially accurate, it’s a lopsided picture of the EPA’s dealings with the company in the last two decades.
Since the late 1990s, Koch companies have repeatedly found themselves in the crosshairs of the EPA for various environmental violations. On numerous occasions they were forced to pay hefty fines and settlements and change their practices as a result of EPA and Justice Department action.
The bulk of the more serious violations occurred years ago, but there have been other actions taken recently as well. Here’s a sampling:In 1999, Koch Industries was found guilty of negligence and malice after two teens in Texas died as a result of an underground pipe leaking butane, according to reports.In January 2000, Koch Industries was forced to pay a $30 million civil penalty, "the largest civil fine ever imposed on a company under any federal environmental law" and $5 million in cleanup efforts to resolve claims of more than 300 spills from oil pipelines in six states."This record civil penalty sends a clear message to those who transport hazardous materials: You cannot endanger public health or the environment," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "We will not let you foul our water and spoil our land by breaking the law."In March 2000, the Koch Petroleum Group was sentenced to pay $6 million in criminal fines and $2 million in remediation costs — the largest federal fine ever paid in Minnesota at the time — after it was found that one of their refineries polluted waterways and wetlands in Minnesota before 1997. According to a press release, "Koch admitted that it negligently discharged aviation fuel into a wetland and an adjoining waterway. Even though Koch was aware of the problem, it did not develop a comprehensive plan to recover between 200,000-600,000 gallons of released fuel until June 1997."In September 2000, Koch Industries was indicted for environmental crimes at a refinery the company owned in Texas. They eventually paid a $25 million fine after pleading guilty to one criminal charge."Companies that produce dangerous pollutants simply cannot focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of a community's health," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the environment at the Justice Department. "We will continue to find and prosecute those who would flout our environmental laws."In February 2013, Koch Nitrogen Company paid a $380,000 fine for failing to create a risk management program for facilities producing and storing ammonia products in Iowa and Kansas.In March 2014, Flint Hills Resources paid a $350,000 fine for leaky equipment at a Texas chemical plant that allowed hazardous air pollutants into the atmosphere. Though the EPA also credited the company for implementing what it described as "innovative technologies" in the plant to capture pollutants.Our ruling
In his op-ed, Charles Koch wrote that "EPA officials have commended us for our ‘commitment to a cleaner environment’ and called us ‘a model for other companies.’ " Actually, the EPA was focusing on very limited aspects of Koch Industries and not the company as a whole. Further, Koch Industries has a history with the EPA that was completely glossed over, and it includes multiple violations of rules.The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.”
If Koch wants to end cronyism, he needs to pull Koch Industries out of ALEC and cease its PACs federal operations. But that would be harmful to his personal coffers: Koch Industries and its subsidiaries have received nearly $90 million in subsidies from the states alone, according to Good Jobs First. No, Koch can argue he’s against cronyism because he does not believe that influencing the government to heed to your personal whims is “rigging the system” but it is just a standard corporate strategy utilized to increase market share, profits, and power. This is the same reason that Koch Industries opposed the extension of the ethanol fuel tax credit, which is the same reason that JP Morgan lobbied against the bailout: both companies saw an opportunity to allow the relative hurt of other companies to increase market share and profits, and so they opportunistically lobbied against welfare for those other groups.
“Instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves, America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness.“ This system was set up in large part by the Reagan-Bush-Clinton consensus in the White House, that trickle down economics would save the world, that anti-poverty measures should be cut to balance the budget, that environmental and human rights regulations should give a wide berth for economic expansion and globalization. This is the cause of billionaires hijacking our political institutions for their own profit-seeking goals. They are acting no differently than King George III: entitled by way of his God-given access to wealth, the royal individual sees nothing as more powerful than he, he sees the Church and the State as instruments for his personal enjoyment and self-aggrandizement. We are living in a world with Princes pulling the strings of public figureheads, who we believe are really in control. Charles Koch does not want his strings shown from the shadows.
Read the op-ed here.