I always thought that the Koch Brothers, Charles and David, were only trying to destroy any social programs that are currently inplace in the US. This presumption is probably true, but there is a more devious and alterior motive for their views. They are very heavy financiers to ultra-conservative groups and causes such as Americans For Propserity. Intersting to note that the only thing that Americans For Prosperity are for is the prosperity of the Koch Brothers.
After reading Peter Finocchiaro's article in Salon.com called "Our Patriotic Billionaire Challenge!", I decided to do a small bit of research about them. What really got me interested in finding out more about the Koch Brothers and Koch Industries was their answer to the Patriotic Billionaire Challenge.
As a quick recap the issue, Warren Buffitt wrote an op-ed in the NY Times where he stated his feelings that America's Super-rich are in a much better position to help with the economic recovery and that he and the other Super-rich should be taxed more fairly. Buffett wrote:
"I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. [...] Most wouldn't mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering."Salon.com then decided to contact the Top 19 wealthiest Americans, from the Forbes 400 list, and ask them if they would support paying higher federal income taxes. They heard back from 8 of the 19 and only George Soros said that he'd pay more and 6 of the 8 replied with "No comment". But what interested me the most was the answer that Salon.com received back from Charles Koch. Besides saying No (not a big surprise there), he stated
"Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good; this is particularly true over the past several years with the massive uncontrolled increase in government spending."Hmm, really? How? He goes on to say
"I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington."Wow!! What an altruistic guy. Maybe I'm reading them wrong. Maybe they are working for the benfit of society and the greater good. Unfortunately, there is no details as to what government spending they are opposed to. I don't want to assume that they are against all social programs, because maybe they aren't.
So, I did a bit of research and found some very interesting information. I found that the best source was Wikipedia because you can verify the information by the numerous ciations that are referenced. If I look up information there about something and notice that the citations referenced are extemely limited or not really verifiable, then I treat that information as suspect. But be that as it may, here is some striking information I located:
- Koch Industries was fined $35 million for 300 alleged pipeline spills across six states from 1990 to 1997, adding up to 3 million gallons of oil. The US Government had originally proposed fining Koch $71 million to $214 million in penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act by those spills.[Oil pipeline operator to pay fee. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. January 14, 2000.]
- Koch's Sterling butane pipeline had a leak in Lively, Texas, on August 24, 1996. Two teenagers on the way to report the leak drove into the unseen butane cloud, and were killed when the gas exploded and burned. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that severe external pipeline corrosion was the cause of the failure, and recommended to Koch to improve corrosion evaluation procedures. Although Koch distributed pamphlets about safety around the pipelines, they failed to maintain an up-to-date mailing list. Only 5 out of 45 residences in the area of the accident had received pamphlets. The families of the dead had not.["Austin news, sports, weather, Longhorns, business". Statesman.com. Retrieved 2011-07-23]
- In March 1999, Koch Petroleum Group, a Koch Industries subsidiary, pled guilty to charges that it had negligently dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of aviation fuel into wetlands near the Mississippi River from its refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota, and that it had also illegally dumped a million gallons of high-ammonia wastewater onto the ground and into the Mississippi River. Koch Petroleum paid the Dakota County Park System a $6 million fine and $2 million in remediation costs, and was ordered to serve three years of probation.[Environmental Protection Agency (9 March 2000). "Koch Petroleum Group Sentenced for Minnesota Pollution". Press release. Retrieved 2010-06-14]
- In 1999, a federal jury found that Koch Industries had stolen oil from government and American Indian lands, had lied about its purchases more than 24,000 times, and was fined $553,504.[CBS News, Blood and Oil, Nov 27 2000]
- In January 2000, a Koch Industries subsidiary, Koch Pipeline, agreed to a $35 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the State of Texas. This settlement, including a $30 million civil fine, was incurred for the firm's three hundred oil spills in Texas and five other states going back to 1990. The spills resulted in more than three million gallons of crude oil leaking into ponds, lakes, streams and coastal waters.[Environmental Protection Agency (13 January 2000). "Koch Industries to Pay Record Fine for Oil Spills in Six States". Press release. Retrieved 2010-06-14]
- In 2001, the company reached two settlements with the government. In April, the company reached a $20 million settlement in exchange for admitting to covering up environmental violations at its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.["Koch Pleads Guilty to Covering up Environmental Violations at Texas Oil Refinery". justice.gov. U.S. Department of Justice. 9 April 2001. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2001/April/153enrd.htm. Retrieved 30 May 2010.][Don Richards (22 January 2001). "DOJ Reduces Indictments Against Koch Industries". ICIS. http://www.icis.com/Articles/2001/01/22/130888/doj-reduces-indictments-against-koch-industries.html.] That May, Koch Industries paid $25 million to the federal government to settle a federal lawsuit that found the company had improperly taken more oil than it had paid for from federal and Indian land.[CBS (27 November 2000). "Blood and Oil". 60 Minutes. ][Russell Ray (20 June 2001). "Tribe Likely to Get Piece of Settlement in Osage County, Okla., Oil Squabble". Tulsa World.]
- In June 2003, the US Commerce Department fined Koch Industries subsidiary Flint Hill Resources a $200,000 civil penalty. The fine settled charges that the company exported crude petroleum from the US to Canada without proper US government authorization. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security said from July 1997 to March 1999, Koch Petroleum (later called Flint Hill Resources) committed 40 violations of Export Administration Regulations.[US Dept of Commerce, Commerce Dept Fines Kansas Firm, June 3, 2003 press release, http://www.bis.doc.gov/news/2003/kansasfirmfined.htm]]
- In 2006, Koch Industries’ subsidiary Flint Hill Resources was fined nearly $16,000 by the EPA for 10 separate violations of the Clean Air Act at its Alaska oil refinery facilities, and required to spend another $60,000 on safety equipment needed to help prevent future violations.[EPA Press Release, EPA Fines Flint Hill Resources Alaska, Dec 13 2006, accessed Aug 25 2010, http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/b0789fb70f8ff03285257029006e3880/6b191200b3ce87e2852572430062f987!OpenDocument]]
- In 2007, Koch Nitrogen's plant in Enid, Oklahoma, was listed as the third highest company releasing toxic chemicals in Oklahoma, according to the EPA, ranking behind Perma-Fix Environmental Services in Tulsa and Weyerhaeuser Co. in Valliant. The facility produces about 10% of the US national production of anhydrous ammonia, as well as urea and UAN.[Dan Voorhis (2010-12-16). "Fertilizer Helps Koch Grow". Wichita Eagle.]
- In 2010, Koch Industries was ranked 10th on the list of top US corporate air polluters, the “Toxic 100 Air Polluters,” by the Political Economic Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[Toxic 100 Air Polluters Press reelase, March 31, 2010, http://www.peri.umass.edu/toxic_press/]
Koch funds and supports libertarian and free-market policy and advocacy organizations such as the Cato Institute and Americans For Prosperity (the Koch Brothers prosperity) and David Koch was a Vice-Presidential candidate running on the Libertarian Party in 1980. Looking at the way they may perceive the government keeps getting them for numerous violations listed above, I can understand why they are Libertarians. They want to do anything and everything for the sale of their profits without regard for others or the environment. After all, if the area they live in becomes uninhabitable (remember Love Canal), they have enough wealth to move anywhere else.
I also don't believe that they are great believers of social issues. Yes, we have read where they have donated millions to hospitals and research institutes. But then, they didn't donate the funds in order for the average American to get use of it. They probably did it so that it would be available for themselves. If they are the major donar to a faciltity or institution then they have priority in being served. Regardless if anyone else's need is greater or not. Making donations to research faciltites also gives them the leverage to dictate what research is pursued. Of course, they'd prefer research where THEY can make a profit and preferably without any kind of oversight, regulation, or control. Wanting less government involvement would probably include the FDA and other government regulators.
The best thing that ever happened to the Koch Brothers was that Barack Obama was elected President. This so enraged some of the population that certain elements in the Republican Party were able to encourage the formation of the Tea Party. This in turn gave the Koch Brothers an inroad into the Republican Party. They are able to transition from a fringe party, The Libertarian Party, to one of the main stream ones, The Republican Party. They now have an opportunity to manipulate a major political party to reformat the American society into something they can make serve them better. Follow the news and see which states are trying to dismantle the major social gains from the last century - unioin, child labor laws, fair labor laws and you will more then likely find a major company in that state that is owned by the Koch Brothers and controlled by the Republican Party.
According to Forbes, the Koch brothers have seen their wealth rise $11 billion in recent years, making the Koch brother among the richest in the country by being worth around $22.5 billion each. Much of those profits, however, are due to soaring gas prices and the fact Koch Industries has avoided compensating the public for hundred million tons of carbon pollution the company produces each year. Other Koch companies also receive significant taxpayer subsidies, despite Koch’s supposed opposition to government spending. This company is among the country’s top sources of carcinogenic chemicals and air pollutants.
In conclusion, the Koch Brothers only support things that benefit the Koch Brothers and not the greater good. The only thing that the Koch Brothers are opposed to govenment give-aways is when the give-aways aren't to THEM. They spend millions of dollars to make you believe that their interests are your interests. That their wealth is for your benefit.