Yes, we've heard all sorts of tales of the Koch brothers' malfeasance -- donating huge sums to institutions that spread scientific disinformation, funding the organizing of anti-regulatory (and pro-freedom! Freedom!) grassroots events, and lobbying Congress hard to pass (or more often, stall) policies amenable to their heavily polluting industrial operations, and so on and so forth. Do they do all of these things? Yes. But do you ever consider why they go to such lengths? It's self interest, of course, pure and simple. Their subsidiaries generate an estimated 300 million tons of carbon emissions every year. Of course they don't want to pay for that:Here's the Wonk Room:
... each year, Koch Industries is likely responsible for about 300 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution every year. Flint Hills Resources, Koch's refining subsidiary, processes 300 million barrels of oil a year. This one company -- with its refining, pipeline, chemical, fertilizer, cattle, and forestry operations -- is involved in up to five percent of the entire United States 7-gigaton carbon footprint.
So is it surprising that the brothers Koch don't want to take fiscal responsibility for that carbon pollution? Nope. Who would? If you were in the business of being a coal, oil, and manufacturing tycoon, chances are you'd be making the same moves -- using a tiny sliver of your vast wealth to protect the forces that would prevent that wealth from becoming even more vast. It's just what they do. And yes, the Koch brothers may be more activist than most billionaires who've made their fortunes in polluting industries, but at the heart of it, they're really just protecting their self-interest.
Which is why I'm fond of saying that the Koch Brothers aren't really villains; they're just really good at doing their jobs. If they weren't lording over oil refining and coal producing industries, someone else would be. We can try to hatch plans and write blog posts aimed at shaming them into cleaning up their acts (fat chance) -- but even if it worked, another plutocrat or industrious business magnate would slip in to fill the vacant shoes.
What we should be working to reform is not one billionaire's behavior, but the root of the problem -- an economic system that (gasp!) allows for such vast concentrations of economic power. Van Jones made this point in a recent speech -- for all the folks concerned about the excessive power of government these days, there sure seems to be a dearth of people concerned about the excessive power of corporations and the influence of a few very rich. More measures need to be put in place -- campaign finance laws among them -- to prevent a few very powerful interests from exerting an undue amount of interest in the democratic system.
More on Koch Industries
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'Financial Kingpin' of Climate Change Denial Exposed: Koch