Paul Sweeney: This superb, well researched article in the New Yorker by Jane Mayer is a must read for anyone interested in how world politics are being manipulated by the super rich.
Two of the wealthiest men in the world - septuagenarian brothers Charles and David Koch - are spending tens of millions funding far-right think tanks and lobbyists. They set up the the influential right wing Cato Institute think-tank in 1977, and are behind many other nfluential groupings in the US.
They are behind the Institute for Justice, which files lawsuits opposing state and federal regulations; the Institute for Humane Studies, which underwrites libertarian academics; and the Bill of Rights Institute, which promotes a conservative slant on the US Constitution and Citizens for a Sound Economy
They gave millions to established the Mecantus Center. The Wall Street Journal has called the Mercatus Center “the most important think tank you’ve never heard of,” and noted that fourteen of the twenty-three regulations that President George W. Bush placed on a “hit list” had been suggested first by Mercatus scholars, Mayer says.
Democrat Rob Stein says of Mercatus that “It’s ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington.” It holds that “grant-makers should use think tanks and political-action groups to convert intellectual raw materials into policy “products.”
Mayer says “The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.” Ironically, their vast wealth originated in Stalin’s Russia. Their father started his fortune when he set up oil refineries in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. He married another Mary Robinson.
Americans for Prosperity Foundation — an organization that David Koch started in 2004 - has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception. Indeed they funded the Tea Party too. Big fans of economist Fred Von Hayek, they are “at the epicenter of the anti Obama movement” and “are out to destroy progressivism.” David Koch says he realised that “big government was bad, and imposition of government controls on our lives and economic fortunes was not good.”
Charles Koch’s approached to both business and politics has the deliberation of an engineer. “To bring about social change, requires “a strategy” that is vertically and horizontally integrated,” spanning “from idea creation to policy development to education to grassroots organizations to lobbying to litigation to political action.” The project, he admitted, was extremely ambitious. “We have a radical philosophy,” he admitted.
You can read the company's own view here. One of the Koch subsidiaries is Georgia Pacific, the huge forest company which has a manufacturing subsidiary in Ireland, making Kittensoft toilet paper and more.
The company is very active in its anti government anti- environmental and anti progressive policy influencing. In its corporate “Perspectives” only a few weeks ago, it had an article by Michael Hofmann, Koch’s Chief Risk Officer, arguing against economic stimulation and for austerity. Hofmann was fulsome in his praise for the Irish Government’s “painful” programme of austerity.
It is perhaps naïve to believe that this is the extent of the influence of Koch Industries on the Irish Government and its Depts of Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and on our policy makers.