Posts Tagged ‘Koch Brothers’

Coat Of Many Colors

December 16, 2015

[Analysis will let the reader stitch the threads together]

11-19-15 Ohio House Of Representatives guest column Representative Barbara Sears                                                                                                        “As a legislator, one of my biggest goals is to ensure Ohio provides the best economic opportunities for both employers and employees.”

11-9-15 Ohio House Of Representatives Newsroom release [Barb Sears sponsor of 394]                                                                                               “House Bill 394 would make changes to the law to boost the state’s trust fund and address its overall solvency. First, it would temporarily increase the taxable wage base for employers from $9,000 to $11,000 until the fund reaches the minimum safe level. Second, it would create an adjustable scale to determine the number of weeks a claimant is eligible for unemployment benefits. When unemployment is low, the number of benefit weeks is low, and likewise, when unemployment is high, the number of benefit weeks increases. These measures save the unemployment trust fund money and, ultimately, help the state reach a positive balance more quickly.”

[ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.] Excerpts from his blog:

WHY THE SHARING ECONOMY IS HARMING WORKERS – AND WHAT MUST BE DONE 11-27-15                                                                                “The so-called “share economy” includes independent contractors, temporary workers, the self-employed, part-timers, freelancers, and free agents. Most file 1099s rather than W2s, for tax purposes. “

“It’s estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will be in such uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.”

THE REVOLT OF THE ANXIOUS CLASS 12-14-15                                    “Start with the fact that the middle class is shrinking, according to a new Pew survey.”

“The odds of falling into poverty are frighteningly high, especially for the majority without college degrees. “

“Two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Most could lose their jobs at any time.”

“Many are part of a burgeoning “on-demand” workforce – employed as needed, paid whatever they can get whenever they can get it.”

“Safety nets are full of holes. Most people who lose their jobs don’t even qualify for unemployment insurance.”

THE KOCH BROTHER’S GRAND PLAN TO LIBERATE THE POOR          The Plum Line By Greg Sargent 12-14-15 Washington Post

“The political operation created by the billionaire conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch is quietly investing millions of dollars in programs to win over an unlikely demographic target for their brand of small-government conservatism ― poor people.”

“The outreach includes everything from turkey giveaways, GED training and English-language instruction for Hispanic immigrants to community holiday meals and healthy living classes for predominantly African American groups to vocational training and couponing classes for the under-employed. The strategy, according to sources familiar with it and documents reviewed by POLITICO, calls for presenting a more compassionate side of the brothers’ politics to new audiences, while fighting the perception that their groups are merely fronts for rich Republicans seeking to game the political process for personal gain.”

“The efforts include a healthy dose of proselytizing about free enterprise and how it can do more than government to lift people out of poverty.”

FREE TURKEYS, HOLIDAY PARTIES, CLASSES IN ‘DINNER ON A DIME,’ WITH A SIDE DISH OF CONSERVATIVE PROSELYTIZING.          by Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico 12-14-15

“ “We want people to know that they can earn their own success. They don’t need the government to give it to them,” Koch network official Jennifer Stefano told activists and donors during an August rally in Columbus, Ohio, at which she introduced one such project, Bridge to Wellbeing.”

“Housed within the foundation arm of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch network’s largest group, the program represents “the new way to advance freedom,” Stefano boasted. “And so that’s why, today, you’ll see Americans for Prosperity Foundation reaching out to new communities offering not just classes on the Constitution, and knowing your rights, but on couponing and how to turn your passion into profit by helping other people be successful, to not just tell them about the economy and economic freedom, but to show them that we want them to economically thrive, and how to do it.””

“Charles Koch has long argued ― mostly privately until recently ― that government welfare and regulation actually hold back many of its ostensible beneficiaries. His network’s goal, he told hundreds of ultra-rich conservatives he had summoned to a tony Southern California resort this summer, “is to remove the shackles preventing all Americans, especially the disadvantaged, from pursuing their dreams. That’s what’s happening in this country. We are crushing ― these policies are crushing peoples’ dreams,” including by making “it nearly impossible for the poor to start a small business or, in many cases, even work.””

“At a June 2014 network gathering, donors were given the option of attending breakout sessions entitled “Well-Being: What It Is and Why It’s Important” and “Value-Added Events: Engaging the Middle Third.””

WHEN THE GOVERNMENT TELLS POOR PEOPLE HOW TO LIVE Residents in some public-housing units in Worcester, Massachusetts, must now get a job or go back to school. If they don’t, they’ll be evicted. By Alana Semuels, The Atlantic 12-14-15.

““We tend to be patronizing about the poor in a very specific sense, which is that we tend to think, ‘Why don’t they take more responsibility for their lives?’ And what we are forgetting is that the richer you are the less responsibility you need to take for your own life because everything is taken care of for you,” she [MIT economist Esther Duflo] said in a widely quoted talk at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. “Stop berating people for not being responsible and start to think of ways instead of providing the poor with the luxury that we all have, which is that a lot of decisions are taken for us. If we do nothing, we are on the right track. For most of the poor, if they do nothing, they are on the wrong track.””

“Residents of public housing often have little incentive to work at minimum-wage jobs because their rent is calculated as a percentage of their income. When they work, they pay more rent and they additionally have to pay for childcare and transportation. Sometimes, they end up in a worse financial situation than before they started working, have less time with their families, and are stuck at grueling jobs with little opportunity for advancement.”

TOP KOCH STRATEGIST: “GET OFF YOUR ASS AND WORK HARD LIKE WE DID” Posted on September 2, 2014 by Lady Libertine [Transcript of audio obtained from source who was present at the June network meeting]

[“longtime lieutenant Rich Fink. An executive at the brothers’ multinational industrial conglomerate Koch Industries, Fink advocated for the creation of Stand Together for America, and has sat on the boards of Charles Koch Institute and Americans for Prosperity Foundation, though he left the AFPF board at the end of last month.” Kenneth Vogel Politico]                                                                             Richard Fink [from his speech] “The Long-Term Strategy: Engaging the Middle Third”:

“So the big danger of minimum wage isn’t the fact that some people are being paid more than their valued-added — that’s not great. It’s not that it’s hard to stay in business — that’s not great either. But it’s the 500,000 people that will not have a job because of minimum wage, because there is no such thing as a dead end job. As Martin Luther King said, “(Inaudible) every job is an opportunity.”

The Era After Communism

April 14, 2015

April 8, 2015 an essay by Robert Reich, which originated on his blog, spread throughout the online news. The Christian Science Monitor ran it with the headline “How the Koch brothers and the super-rich are buying their way out of criticism”. Reich starts writing with “Not long ago I was asked to speak to a religious congregation about widening inequality. Shortly before I began, the head of the congregation asked that I not advocate raising taxes on the wealthy. He said he didn’t want to antagonize certain wealthy congregants on whose generosity the congregation depended.” This is followed by a barrage of lived experiences where the request is continuously remade to avoid antagonizing donors, funders and financial backers by colleges, churches, non-profits, think tanks, universities, etc. “It’s bad enough big money is buying off politicians. It’s also buying off nonprofits that used to be sources of investigation, information, and social change, from criticizing big money. Other sources of funding are drying up. Research grants are waning. Funds for social services of churches and community groups are growing scarce. Legislatures are cutting back university funding. Appropriations for public television, the arts, museums, and libraries are being slashed.” Reich commiserates “And more than at any time since the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century, the money is now in the pockets of big corporations and the super wealthy.” (Why do you think they are called the “Carnegie Libraries”?) Like the lubricant it can be, big money eases what is said, or rather, not said. “When Comcast, for example, finances a nonprofit like the International Center for Law and Economics, the Center supports Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner.” This is then followed by a litany of practices by the brotherhood of Koch: “When the Charles Koch Foundation pledges $1.5 million to Florida State University’s economics department, it stipulates that a Koch-appointed advisory committee will select professors and undertake annual evaluations. The Koch brothers now fund 350 programs at over 250 colleges and universities across America. You can bet that funding doesn’t underwrite research on inequality and environmental justice. David Koch’s $23 million of donations to public television earned him positions on the boards of two prominent public-broadcasting stations. It also guaranteed that a documentary critical of the Kochs didn’t air.” “David Koch has also donated tens of millions of dollars to the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and sits on their boards.” which has prompted dozens of scientist and environmental groups to interrogate these ties by declaring ““When some of the biggest contributors to climate change and funders of misinformation on climate science sponsor exhibitions … they undermine public confidence in the validity of the institutions responsible for transmitting scientific knowledge,” their statement said.” (Pittsburg’s Carnegie Museum’s public has confidence the dinosaurs won’t topple over on them. What’s the big deal?) Reich concludes with “Our democracy is directly threatened when the rich buy off politicians. But no less dangerous is the quieter and more insidious buy-off of institutions democracy depends on to research, investigate, expose, and mobilize action against what is occurring.” That same day the Columbus Dispatch’s Randy Ludlow headlined “Kasich to talk economics at Washington D.C. summit”. Mr. Ludlow reports “Kasich will be among the speakers at an economic summit in Washington, D.C., on April 23, according to the sponsor of the event, The Atlantic magazine.” ““Conversations will dive deep into the factors driving economic conditions at home and around the world — jobs, debt, income inequality, plus geopolitical uncertainty abroad,” The Atlantic said in a news release.” Ludlow’s final say on Ohio’s presidential wannabe’s economic foray reads “Conservative energy conglomerate Koch Industries is underwriting the D.C. summit at which Kasich will appear. David Koch, one of the “Koch brothers” prominent in political circles for the money they spend backing conservative causes and candidates, was a maximum $12,155 donor to Kasich’s re-election campaign last year.” Writing for a Washington Post blog entitled Plum Line, Greg Sargent headlines “GOP resistance to Obamacare is working brilliantly” (4-13-15). The essay expands on the recent Gallup-Healthways poll revealing the dramatic decrease of uninsured in the US since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2013. It also tracks the slowdown in the rate of decline due to the resistance of individual states to engage with the new law. “After a number of states expanded Medicaid last year, in 2015 the push for the expansion has stalled in places like Florida, Tennessee, Alaska, Missouri, and Utah, due to conservative legislative opposition and an aggressive campaign against it by the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity.” Recently we’ve found the “Koch-founded Americans” dipping their fingers into the upcoming open primary for mayor in Columbus, with one of the candidates (Sheriff Zach Scott) embracing the “Americans…” position (like Governor, like Mayoral aspirant…). ‘Nuff said.

OK, OK. In this celebrity obsessed culture, is it any wonder that the bat beacon appears with every easily identifiable Gotham City villain? But that created distraction only obfuscates and elides the grotesque historic turn that Reich points out. Given the current local as well as international trend that ““There’s really no choice,” a university dean told me. “We’ve got to go where the money is.” (Reich), our K-12 as well as college students are interpreting a world where biological entities do what they do because it “profits” them, and chemicals interact for the sake of profit, while the laws of physics stand as equal with those of economics. And musicians make music only for financial gain, artists are entrepreneurs, and plays/movies are created solely for product endorsement and promotion. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. Once American culture and science prided itself on being genuine, without taint of “ideological” restraint/censorship (unlike the disparaged state run “sciences and cultures” of past totalitarian regimes). Today? Well there’s only one party, one ideology. As Rudi Giuliani put it “This is a free-market economy – welcome to the era after communism.”