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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/13/14

The Public vs. the Kochtopus

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Yesterday, one of my extended circle of activist colleagues wrote me in dismay about the long odds facing progressive causes.  His complaint was that few people were attending his classes on environmental/commons dangers, and possible solutions (such as taxing the use/abuse of the commons in the environment).
I pointed out that extrapolating that into general apathy is not accurate - there are literally thousands of progressive groups fighting along similar, if not identical, lines as him.  In fact, Americans are VERY concerned about the environment, about corruption in politics, big money infiltration etc. - all the things he is too.
However, the victories are extremely hard-won, and often fleeting since the corporations and even the wealthy have no expiration date as a whole.
I boiled it down to this: the 1% elite has:
- almost all the money
- almost all the connections
- almost all the power
- focus and coordination on their values and goals.  As George Carlin said, they don't have to meet in a Star Chamber to agree on what to do; they all went to the same schools, followed the same rules, and meet with the same people already.  They already know the playbook.

The 99% has:
- Numbers of people.  Even this is questionable once you really start talking to people about specific solutions.

If we can't agree on at least a broad set of common goals, there is no hope to defeat what Rep. Alan Grayson (below) calls the Kochtopus.  Grayson is currently being smeared by negative ads, though we are many months away from the November elections that Congresspersons must run in every 2 years.  The near constant campaigning that modern congressional representatives must do now is perhaps a subject for another time.  But, the fact is, despite Grayson's pleas for money below, the Koch Borthers can write a single check that would outspend all the contributions from the ordinary contributor twice over, and thanks to rulings like Citizen's United, there isn't even any restriction on the amount they spend - which would be the equivalent for them of buying a cup of coffee for any average American, except that in this case, the cup of coffee is an investment that pays them back several-fold if they get their wish and defeat progressive law-makers like Grayson.  Try getting that with your triple-latte from Starbucks!

And yet....and yet, the Right-wing/High Money crowd was disappointed in the work of Karl Rove, who was unable to put their man Romney into the White House; they have been disappointed in general on their return on investment (ROI) in smaller, local races too.  It really does seem that it takes over-whelming amounts of money to defeat the actual will of the people, maybe it's 10:1?  And, even then, there is no guarantee the ROI will win for them.

So, maybe contributions really do matter, if it really is 10:1....or 100:1 - the People vs. the Kochtopus.

Dear Scott ,

Yesterday I explained that vile attack ads already are running against me in my district.

I also said that whoever was running those ads must have money to burn.

Hmmmmm. Vicious, fraudulent negative ads. Money to burn. Who could that possibly be? Can you guess?

Right. It's the Koch Brothers. The Koch Brothers are running attack ads against me. Already.

The Koch Brothers, Charles and David, are tied for fourth place on the list of the richest Americans. Each of them has $36 billion. That's $36,000,000,000.00.

They own Koch Industries, which is one of the biggest polluters in America.

The Koch Brothers pledged and spent over $100 million in 2012, trying to defeat President Obama and the Democrats. That was roughly one one-thousandth of their wealth.

The Koch Brothers also spent $2 million to defeat me in 2010, through their front group "Americans for Prosperity" (AFP). And another $2 million through their front group "60 Plus".

In 2012, their front group AFP printed 80,000 door-hangers to distribute in my district, condemning me for voting twice to raise the debt limit. I actually had voted twice against raising the debt limit - on the very bills that they cited. But the Koch Brothers don't care. As far as they're concerned, the truth is whatever they say it is.

Well, now they're back, to try to beat me again. The ads in my district are paid for by the Koch front group "Concerned Veterans for America." Virtually every nickel that the "Concerned Veterans for America" has to its name comes from a group called the TC4 Trust. And the money for the TC4 Trust comes from the Koch Brothers. The Washington Post and Open Secrets laid it all out, nice and neat, earlier this month. In a Washington Post article called "The Players in the Koch-Backed $400 Million Political Donor Network," one of the "players" was "Concerned Veterans for America," which "was funded almost entirely by TC4 in 2012."

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a former blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former and current President of Common Ground-NY (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of (more...)

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