Monday, June 24, 2013

The Koch Brothers and the Destruction of the Middle Class






The Koch Brothers and the Destruction of the Middle Class
          The influence of wealth in politics and the way of life of Americans is oft times ignored or covered up by well-meaning fronts. The Koch Brothers are no different from other corrupt people of wealth, but their war on the Middle-Class American and the Poor is well documented and utterly disgusting. The Koch Family has been waging a systematic attack on American values and defining the lives of ordinary Americans under the radar for over 50 years (Greenwald, 2012). Koch Industries is the second-largest privately owned company in the United States according to the LA Times. The Koch Brothers use their vast billions to fund and promote a vast network of organizations that work to undermine the 99% on issues ranging from Social Security, the environment and civil rights. 
          According to Senator Bernie Sanders, the brother’s war on Social Security involves 3 tenets: 1. the need to raise the retirement age 2. the lie that Social Security is going bankrupt 3. the need to privatize social security. Their very public war against public education is evident with their support and influence over candidates for school boards school boards themselves. They offer many grants and scholarships to varies colleges and universities in the United States, with some hefty strings attached, all in effect spreading its message of libertarian ideals and control of policies and programs. Their message is spread by the front group Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, and others. Money is a huge driver of influence and policy in the United States and that influence is very evident with the Koch Brothers. 
          Politically the Koch Brothers support many candidates for public office, mainly Republican candidates and others they feel can extend their message and change policy and laws in their favor. Representatives such as Fred Upton, who received much of his campaign funds from the Koch Brothers, introduced bills in Congress to distort and prevent many programs such as the EPA from regulating them. This deregulation lets them do as much damage to the environment as they would like in the betterment of the industry. Other than these blatant ethics violations there are others that are more subtle versus the mainstream. 
          From 1999 to 2003, Koch Industries was assessed "more than $400 million in fines, penalties, and judgments" (Loder, 2011). These fines are a long list of environmental and safety violations that get no more than a slap on the wrist. $400 million is a drop in the bucket with the billions of dollars the Koch brothers have and this deregulation encourages bad behavior by Koch Industries. In 2000, for its 300 reported oil spills which had taken place across six states, Koch paid the largest civil fine ever imposed on a company under any federal environmental law for the illegal discharge of crude oil and petroleum products. In a settlement with the US Department of Justice and the state of Texas, the company agreed to pay a "$30 million civil penalty, improve its leak-prevention programs and spend $5 million on environmental projects" (Loder, 2011). In 2000, the United States Department of Justice issued a 97-count indictment against Koch Industries for illegally covering up the emissions of 91 tons of a known carcinogen benzene which the Environmental Protection Agency added to its list of hazardous air pollutants in 1977 based on scientific reports that strongly suggested an increased incidence of leukemia in people exposed to the chemical (Times, 2000). 
          In conclusion, the Koch brothers and their network of organizations in violating ethics of the nation and civil rights, are the problem and not the solution to the perceived problems that they themselves propagate. The best way to get your points across are money and fear mongering and the Koch brothers seem to have mastered both. Regular Americans that fall victim to the lies and deceit of these billionaires, do nothing but hurt the very Americans, including themselves they think they are protecting.



Reference List
Greenwald, R. (Director) (2012). In Koch Brothers Exposed. Brave New Films.
Loder, A. (2011, October 11). Koch brothers flout law with secret iran sales. Bloomberg Markets Magazine,
Times, N. Y. (2000, September 29). U.s. indicts koch industries on pollution violations in texas. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/29/business/us-indicts-koch-industries-on-pollution-violations-in-texas.html


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