Two Multibillionaire Brothers Are Remaking America for Their Own Benefit

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Published on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 by

Two Multibillionaire Brothers Are Remaking America for Their Own Benefit

by Jim Hightower

There's a difference between being paranoid and being suspicious. Paranoia is mental disturbance;
suspicion is a rational deduction.

For example, if you suspect that America's economy, politics, government, media, judiciary and practically
every other sys
tem has been wired to favor corporate interests over every other interest in our country,
you're deducing, not hallucinating. From the infamous Wall Street bailout to the Supreme Court's
shameful decree that corporations have more
political rights than hum
ans, we see again and
again that corporate might overwhelms what's

This is not by accident, but by the deliberate,
relentless efforts of corporatists to bend our
nation's institutions to their will. Take one huge
corporation you've probably never h
eard of,
even though your consumer dollars are
financing its right
wing agenda.

Do you buy Northern tissue, Brawny paper
towels, Dixie cups or Vanity Fair napkins? These
known brands are owned and produced by
Koch Industries (pronounced "coke") in Wic
Kan. Koch is also a major producer of oil, gas,
timber, coal, cattle, refined petroleum, asphalt,
polyethylene plastic ... and much, much more.

Charles and David Koch, who control this family
owned empire, have a net worth of $14 billion
each, rankin
g both in a tie for the 19th richest person on the planet. They boast of being "self
billionaires, though they had a little help from Daddy. Fred Koch started this namesake business, and his
sons got a leg up on their climb to billionairedom by inher
iting Fred's company. They also inherited
something else: a burning ideological commitment to right
wing politics (Daddy Fred helped found the
John Birch Society).

Charles and David have used the wealth they draw from Koch Industries to fuel a network of t
hree Koch
Family Foundations, which have set up and financed a secretive army of political operatives dedicated to
achieving the brothers' antigovernment, corporate
controlled vision for America.

This force includes national and state
level think tanks, As
troturf front groups, academic shills, university
centers, political
training programs, fundraising clearinghouses, publications, lobbyists and various other
units useful to their ideological cause. They spend freely on dozens of ideologically grounded rig
groups to influence schoolteachers and high
school curricula, state and federal judges, lawyers and legal
scholars, conservative policy thinkers and media producers, city
council candidates and local party

Their aim is to shove the count
ry's national debate to the hard right, discombobulate the public's
progressive wishes, and alter government policies to advance corporate interests generally and the
Kochs' own interests specifically.

Americans for Prosperity, the third
largest recipient
of Koch foundation largesse, is the brothers' overtly
political unit. Essentially, it is a front group for mass
producing front groups. Much like McDonald's churns
out Big Mac franchises, AFP can pop out a grass
looking, cookie
cutter political oper
ation on
demand. Its menu includes such garnishes as hoked
up studies, alarmist talking points, deceptive attack
ads, divisive hate messages, celebrity and religious endorsers, and a menagerie of media stunts.

Consider the "tea bag" rebellion. No one profe
sses more hatred for the two
party, business
political system in Washington than those angry Americans who're caught up in the tea
bag rallies. Yet
unbeknownst to most of the mad
hellers who have showed up, it was AFP's Republican
tied lobbyist
and political functionaries who cynically financed, organized and orchestrated the very first tea
protest. AFP has steadily co
opted the tea
bag faction to make it a front for the corporate agenda, and
many of the tea
bag groups have devolved into su
bsidiaries of the Republican Party.

Indeed, AFP has become the Astroturf
Go Store, fabricating and spreading fake grass
organizations all across the country, including Patients United Now (anti
health care reform), Hot Air Tour
global warmin
g), Free Our Energy (pro
offshore drilling), No Stimulus (tried to kill Obama's economic
recovery plan) and Save My Ballot Tour (tries to keep workers from joining unions).

It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you

and they are! While such corp
orate elites as the Kochs
are a tiny minority of Americans, they are able to hide their own selfish agenda behind front groups,
surreptitiously skewing our public debate, agenda and policies to serve themselves. Ultimately, what they
are out to get is noth
ing less than America's essential uniting ethic of the common good, replacing our
democracy with their corporate kleptocracy.

© 2010

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book,
Swim Against The Current:
Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow

, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers
That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be

consumers, working families,

small businesses, and just