BERNIE AND ME
THE CHARM INITIATIVE CONTINUES
By None Other Than:
Charles G. Koch
Some months back I read an article about how the Koch Brothers were mounting several initiatives to counter the generally negative view that most Americans have of them and their company, Koch Industries. Apparently, even from inside their chauffeured armored limos and from behind their security wrapped mega mansions, they've heard that a large swath of the American public doesn't like them, their personal philosophies or their corporate "strategies." Score one for the pervasiveness of our 24/7 media cycles, I guess. But here's a charming "charm" piece that's been published in several media outlets that - I'm guessing here - is designed to soften the "image" of the Koch Brothers and Koch Industries with the surprising title of "Bernie and Me." The author is Charles Koch, co-owner and CEO of their corporate empire.
The general tone, tenor and tack of the piece is that Charles Koch and Bernie Sanders have their differences but, according to Charles, also have a lot in common. (I guess from Charles’ point of view, the Sonoma desert Iguana’s have a lot in common with humans since both occasionally inhabit the same territory.) You really should read this: CHARLES KOCH AND BERNIE SANDERS]
In the Kochian world there is a divine convergence of philosophy with The Bern that says “America has evolved into a two tired society: the very rich and the rest of us.” So far so good. But the reasons, you could have guessed this, are so vastly different as to be from different galaxies in the universe. As you know, Bernie is a big supporter of using the government to correct this divide.
But here’s what Charles G. Koch has to say:
“Democrats and Republicans have too often favored policies and regulations that pick winners and losers.”
We’ve all heard this time and time again, you know, when the government bailed out General Motors after the crash of 2008 rather than letting the company die and now has record sales of 10 million vehicles and a 2015 record income of $9.7 billion. So I suppose Koch is correct in this case. GM employs 202,000 so I’m wondering how many people – you know, working stiffs, are mad at the government for helping GM?
Charles Koch is also against all Government subsidies: “Koch Industries opposes all forms of corporate welfare – even those that benefit us.”
A very magnanimous statement don’t you think? Of course as the nation’s second largest family-owned corporate conglomerate (Koch Industries had sales of $115 billion in 2014 and employs 100,000) I have a feeling that since they are a dominant force today – the company was founded in 1940 – they will continue to dominate their markets even without a penny in government subsidies. I doubt, however, this would be the case say back in 1950 or 1960.
“Consider America’s War on Poverty. Since its launch under President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, we have spent roughly $22 trillion, yet our poverty rate remains at 14.8% . Instead of preventing, curing and relieving the causes and symptoms of poverty, (the goals of the program when it began), too many communities remain in peril while even more tax dollars pour into this broken system.”
First, I have no idea where the $22 trillion figure comes from and Koch provides no backup. Second, he’s presenting a scenario with no comparison as to what the situation would be today without the however-many-trillions that have been spent. And Charles might want to consider how many working-poor folks there are today since conservative efforts to destroy good paying union jobs, support of right-to-work laws, outsourcing of jobs, and all the other conservative politics and practices that have caused folks to remain in poverty today.
“It may surprise the Senator to learn that our framework in deciding whether to support or oppose a policy is not determined by its effect on our bottom line (or by which party sponsors the legislation), but by whether it will make people’s lives better or worse.”
I hope you find this comment as laughable as I do. As I noted, it’s the Koch Brothers who are behind the unwarranted attacks on the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Agency from their “Protect America’s Consumers” MIS-INFORMATION AND LIES, the agency that was established by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to prevent the kinds of massive fraud perpetrated by Wall Street and Big Banks against ordinary Americans not so long ago. Then, too, there is the continued onslaught against unions that the Koch Brothers, aided and abetted by ALEC and Red State governors, has funded for decades. Or their war against Americans who want to install solar electrical panels to reduce our dependence on utility companies as outlined in Rolling Stone KOCH BROTHERS WAR ON SOLAR or maybe their long running war against the EPA and those pesky rules and regulations that prevent you and me from succumbing to the poisoning of our air and water by corporations. Like in Flint, Michigan.
“It is results, not intentions, that matter. History have proven that a bigger, more controlling, more complex government leaves the disadvantaged less likely to improve their lives.”
Really? Poverty peaked during the Great Depression which was followed by Roosevelt’s New Deal, declined from 22% in 1960 to 11% by 1980 and then began to rise again – unevenly – to the current 14%. Of course the anti-government, welfare cheats, personal responsibility, individual initiative and the age of the “government moocher” began around 1980 with the concomitant decline in public support for those in poverty, so maybe this had something to do with leaving the disadvantaged still disadvantaged.
So, no, Charles, you and Bernie really don’t see eye to eye on anything at all as far as I can tell. And here’s the big difference:
Bernie (I-VT) actually cares about the welfare of ordinary Americans and honestly and forthrightly addresses the issues we ordinary folks face. You, on the other hand, are spending lots of money on your “charm initiative” which underneath all the homy-domy, touchy-feely wordsmithing here and elsewhere, makes it abundantly clear that no, you don’t care about us. You care about you, your family and your maintaining Koch Industries continuing reach and profitably no matter who gets destroyed in the process.
And although your “Protect America’s Consumers” web site is still active with it’s “Your Source for Non-Partisan Info on Issues Concerning Consumers” and “Congress Needs to Reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau So That It Can Go Back To Helping The American People, ” and in irony of ironies “Americans Are At Constant Risk Of Being Taken Advantage Of By Unfair Practices” at least it doesn’t appear on my Facebook page any longer. And by the way, how would you, Charles Koch, characterize a “public service website” that gives no clue as to who created or funded it, that in the guise of “helping the American people” is in reality a veritable font of misinformation, that is basically a hit piece against one of the few government agencies that was created to protect Americans from consumer fraud and malfeasance (Remember the Great Worldwide Recession of 2008 that wiped out one-third of middle and working class wealth?) and yet is actually funded by one of the largest, anti-labor, anti-government, anti-regularity private corporations in the country who has a long history of polluting our environment, working against the interests of ordinary Americans and a singular focus on anti-government regulations of every kind? Just in case you don't know, Charles, it's a Koch Brothers connected web site. Frankly, Charles, I would call it an effort – charming or otherwise – that falls squarely within your “Americans Are At Constant Risk of Being Taken Advantage of By Unfair Practices” rubric.
End of story.