SEE: What $92 Billion Buys, In A Single Image

Koch-topus: See what $92 billion buys, in a single image

Why does Harry Reid have it in for the Koch brothers? While we were out, our country got taken over by the most powerful rich men we’ve never heard of. Behold the Kochtopus. Image adapted from the International Forum on Globalization’s Kochtopus: Mapping the Influence of Koch Cash.

Have you ever wondered why we’re still fighting battles we thought we’d already won? Not long ago, most of us took basics — like Social Security, a living minimum wage, a modest safety net, and clean air and water laws — for granted. Even wish list items like health care for all and equal pay for women seemed within our grasp. Now, the economic security and natural resources we once enjoyed are under attack by a couple of rich guys you’ve never seen nor heard of: Charles and David Koch.

Over the past 30 years, the Koch brothers have slowly but surely used their wealth to infiltrate and take over our political system and processes. Because for them, $92 billion isn’t enough. They will not be satisfied until they’ve polluted all of our air and water, and have left us so economically desperate we’ll toil away in their coal mines and oil fields 80 hours a week for just pennies per day. No wonder Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) keeps bashing them.

With the canny Koch brothers, $92 billion goes a long way.

Charles and David Koch own Koch Industries, a vast energy conglomerate. Their vast wealth — $92 billion at IFG’s last count — comes from sources that do not bode well for clean air, clean water, and our other shared resources from Mother Earth. They include: Gas, oil refining, fracking, tar sands, chemicals, ranching, fertilizers, “forest products” (chopping down trees), oil derivatives, and “commodity speculation” (making bets on industries they control). They also own a host of other ventures, including some of the companies that make our toilet paper.

Like French farmers fattening their fois gras geese for market, the Koch brothers cram funds into the overfed, right-wing gullets of the following cast of characters: Academic agents (sponsored chairs at universities); courtroom collaborators (judges like Clarence Thomas and those who appoint them); congressional collaborators (lawmakers and governors); wealth warriors (lobbyists, accountants, and tax lawyers); “astroturf agents” (fake grassroots groups), think tanks, and media manipulators (Rush Limbaugh, et al).

By contrast, the majority of left-leaning thinkers, journalists, think tanks, groups, and political candidates toil away endlessly for little or no money at all. No wonder so many folks flock to the Tea Party (the grand daddy of fake grassroots movements backed by the Koch-fueled group, FreedomWorks), while the more robust and genuine Occupy movement appears flimsy in comparison.

Photos of the Koch brothers Charles and David, and the Coke brothers Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen.

Their name is pronounced “Coke.” But that’s KOCH brothers, not COKE brothers, okay? And feel free to call their beneficiaries “Koch suckers.”

When liberals complain about the Koch brothers’ undue influence on politics, right-wingers often cite George Soros as a backer for left-wing causes. But George Soros is “only” worth $8 billion, compared to the Koch Brothers’ $92 billion.

Behold the Kochtopus.

But instead of using an actual funnel, Charles and David Koch use their DonorsTrust — a 501(c)(3), non-profit, “philanthropic capital” venture they founded to promote the ideals of “limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.” Think Progress reports the Koch brothers raised at least $407 million for the 2012 elections. Sen. Paul Ryan’s campaign pocketed $58K from Koch industries alone  – not to mention all the fake grassroots groups. The union-busting TN Senator Bob Corker raked in $211,097 in Koch cash. You name ’em, they’ve got money from groups related to the Koch Brothers. (For detailed reports, the full Kochtopus chart, and other info, visit KochCash.Org. You can also look up how much cash lawmakers get directly from Koch Industries and other energy companies at Dirty Energy Money.)

Oh, and remember last year’s government shutdown? The Koch Brothers were behind that too.

Here’s the original Kochtopus infographic from IFG so you can trace the flow of Koch cash through our political system. It’s shocking to see how many of the lawmakers, judges, pundits, and groups we hear about every day are bankrolled at least partially by Koch-backed groups. The only individual who rivals David and Charles Koch’s level of influence is Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the right-wing propaganda machine we call Fox News.

The Kochtopus is so huge it won’t even fit on most people’s computer screens, but this image has features so you can pan out for an overview, and zoom in for a closer look.

What do the Koch brothers want for their money?

What do the Koch brothers want for their money? Everything! When do they want it? Now! Here are the 15 things Charles and David Koch want for their money, with a huge assist from Sen. Harry Reid’s “Koch Facts” page:

(1) End social security. The Koch brothers spent $28.4 million on bogus commentaries, reports, studies, and books to convince Americans that Social Security is evil, badly run, and about to run out of money.

(2) End minimum wage laws. Why did the Charles Koch Foundation bother with spending $200,000 in Wichita, KS on an anti-minimum wage ad campaign? Or join the fight against Seatac, WA’s minimum wage hike to $15 per hour? Because they like slave labor, that’s why.

(3) Deny extended unemployment benefits to laid off workers. Through their front group Americans for Prosperity, Charles and David Koch fought against having congress fund extended jobless benefits to desperate workers who lost their jobs after the Koch brothers’ cohorts on Wall Street destroyed the economy in 2008.

(4) Influence elections. In 2012, the Koch brothers and their allies spent $412 million in unregulated, indirect campaign finance dollars on getting us to vote against our own interests and put more teabaggers in office. In contrast, the ten biggest unions spent “only” $24 million.

(5) Ditch Obamacare. Charles and David Koch-backed groups have played a huge role in funding the fight against healthcare for all. Their Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce alone spent over $200 million. And Americans for Prosperity paid for the false Julie Boonstra ad. And what’s so bad about the ACA? Because it takes away employers’ control over their workers’ healthcare, and the Koch brothers like their employees nice and docile.

(6) Deny women equal pay for equal work. Who keeps spreading around those bogus claims about women not earning equal pay for equal work because they’d rather be home with the kids or selling homespun beanies on Etsy? The Koch-funded Independent Women’s Forum, that’s who.

(7) Get more tax breaks for the rich. Rich people and the corporations they run are not greedy scumbags and money hoarders, they’re job creators. Or so all those Koch-fuelled think tanks, studies, and fake “tax reform” groups would have you believe.

(8) Sell stuff to terrorists. While right-wingers yammered on about fake terrorist plots, the Koch brothers found sneaky ways to sell millions of dollars worth of “petrochemical equipment” to Iran, a country that sponsors actual terrorists. Like father, like sons… Fred Koch sold oil to Nazi Germany even after the US barred him from doing so.

(9) Push cancer-causing formaldehyde. The Kochs make a lot of money selling formaldehyde. No wonder they’ve spent beaucoup bucks to prevent the Feds from declaring the stuff as a cancer causing substance. Cancer-causing substances don’t sell.

(10) Keep polluting. Koch Industries ranks 14th amongst the 100 most toxic air polluters, and a big-time polluter in general. No wonder their bought-and-paid for lawmakers go on and on about how there’s no climate change or need for environmental laws.

(11) Stay on the dole. The Kochs and their right-wing groups have nothing but sneering contempt for the lazy, welfare-mooching poor. Yet Koch Industries has mooched over $88 million in subsidies from the US government since 1990.

(12) Influence our judges and court systems: The Kochs help elect officials who appoint judges, and also directly influence the judges, including US Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. The US Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling opened the floodgates to lavish spending from the Kochs and their allies so the Tea Party could take over Congress.

(13) Own the media: The Koch brothers even tried to buy the Tribune Newspapers chain. Luckily, this plan didn’t work out and they dropped their bid. They also fund the Cato Institute, whose “research” is often reported by the media, including the big four TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox). They briefly had a rift in 2012 with the libertarian think tank they’ve bankrolled, but reached an agreement.

(14) Bust unions: Charles and David Koch were also behind WI Governor Scott Walker’s aggressive union busting, and backed him up with huge wads of cash during the recall campaign. No wonder the people of Wisconsin couldn’t get the bastard thrown out.

(15) Shut down the government: So how did we wind up with the government shutting down in Oct. 2013, even though nobody in their right mind wanted things to go that far? Because the Koch brothers and their allies had been planning to shut down the government over the ACA for months.

Keep an eye out for Koch Brothers Exposed, an upcoming documentary/work-in-progress that will feature an interview with Sen. Harry Reid. meanwhile, this video with The Young Turks‘ Cenk Uyger (then with MSNBC) is from 2011, but it still does a great job of explaining how the Koch brothers have used their money to attack our political system.

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11H4M-PqAWM]

More from AI on the Koch Brothers.