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Koch Brothers Rev Up High-Octane Hypocrisy

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Cross-posted from Other Words

Lobbyists funded by Charles and David Koch want to punish homeowners for installing solar panels on their own roofs.
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Hypothetical conundrums can provide valuable learning experiences for students of corporate management and ethics.

Consider this one: Suppose you're a corporate chieftain who's a free-enterprise fundamentalist, despising government regulation, taxation, and intervention in the purity of the holy marketplace. But -- whoopsie daisy -- suddenly a new competitor to your old-line product pops up, and more and more of your customers are switching to the alternative.

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That's the conundrum: You're being out-competed. What else can you do besides try to compete better?

Well, if you're the reigning princes of anti-government extremism, you find that something else.

This is no hypothetical situation. It's a real one faced by the Koch brothers, the fossil-fueled duo. They feel threatened by the steady increase in the number of middle-class families installing solar panels on the roofs of their own homes.

Not only is this free, non-polluting sun power slashing families' utility bills, but families can also make money from this investment in climate solutions.

Today's efficient solar cells can produce more electricity than a home needs, and 43 states allow these rooftop energy producers to sell their excess production back to the grid. It's free enterprise at its most free-and-enterprising best.

Naturally, the Kochs and the utility monopolies hate this trend.

That's why these old-power behemoths are tossing their libertarian purity overboard and sending their lobbyists across country: to demand that state governments intervene in the marketplace to stop these pesky rooftop competitors from, uh, competing in the energy marketplace.

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Their hypocrisy doesn't stop there. They also want states to tax solar-powered homeowners to punish them for becoming innovative energy producers with some independence from their local utilities.

It sure isn't the American way. But it is a page from the corporate playbook. As the comedian Lily Tomlin says, "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up."


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Jim Hightower is an American populist, spreading his message of democratic hope via national radio commentaries, columns, books, his award-winning monthly newsletter (The Hightower Lowdown) and barnstorming tours all across America.

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