Taking on the Billionaire Koch Brothers
I don't want any penny of my money going to the Billionaire Koch Brothers. So I have been boycotting any and all of their products (mainly Georgia Pacific paper goods, see below).
There is also an Occupy The Koch Brothers movement, connected with Occupy Wall Street and trying to take the working and middle class message right to the Billionaire Koch Brothers. From Daily Kos:
The very name of a Washington conservative conference this weekend is the height of subterfuge. It's called the "Defending the American Dream" conference, which is not about defending the actual American dreams of most Americans (the focus of our own "Take Back the American Dream" conference), sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, which is not an organization that promotes what is needed for broad American prosperity.
This actually is the latest effort by the billionaire Koch brothers, founders and key funders of Americans for Prosperity, and their corporate and political allies to hijack our democracy and pillage our economy. It's their attempt to perpetuate an American nightmare of continued income inequality and a government held hostage to the whims of elites. It is thus a perfect target for the latest Occupy-style protest...
The conference itself brings together many of the players in and elements of their grand scheme. For example, there is James O'Keefe, the person who dressed up as a pimp in a scheme to get damaging video footage for his scurrilous slander of the group ACORN, doing a lecture on "investigative journalism." There's Grover Norquist on a panel on "pro-growth tax reform." (He's lately been championing Texas Gov. Rick Perry's "flat tax" plan, which would allow the wealthy to slash their tax payments and would explode the federal deficit, forcing Norquist's longtime shrink-government-and-drown-it-in-the-bathtub objective.) There's Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on a panel on the Environmental Protection Agency's "job-crushing regulatory assault"; he will be speaking on behalf of the Koch brothers, his leading campaign contributor, and the oil and gas industry, his biggest source of campaign cash. At least two Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, are also scheduled to appear...
Consider what the Koch brothers have actually been "defending":
• Their $45 million effort to buy control of Congress. That's the amount of money Forbes magazine says Americans for Prosperity spent in the 2010 elections. That money helped Republicans control the House with the most extreme group of conservatives elected in modern history. With this group firmly in control, every effort by the Obama administration to move legislation to revive the economy has been thwarted and previous successes in health care and financial reform have come under unrelenting attack. The stream of anti-regulation, anti-labor legislation passed by the Tea Party-besotted House is pretty much lifted straight from the Koch brothers legislative agenda.
• The destructive efforts of the American Legislative Exchange Council to co-opt state and local governments. Rather than promoting state and local governments as entities that are particularly equipped to respond to the public interest because of their proximity to the people, ALEC mounts campaigns that leave state and local governments facilitating private greed rather than serving the public good. In August The Nation's Lisa Graves explained that "of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding." Examples include legislation that allows energy companies to avoid fines for polluting, that push privatization of public education, and that prevent states and localities from regulating the rogue behavior of financial institutions.
• ALEC's efforts to suppress voter turnout. The Koch brothers' fingerprints are all over the efforts by various Republican governors and legislatures to pass voter ID laws that use trumped-up allegations of voter fraud to deliberately disenfranchise voters most likely to oppose their agenda. "It was ALEC’s draft legislation that inspired a spate of recently passed voter ID laws that, if allowed to stand, are expected to marginalize the impact of students and people of color at the polls in Texas, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kansas," Adele Stan reported for the AFL-CIO blog. Patrick Caldwell at the American Prospect wrote that "the rules are often configured specifically to favor the Republican base at the expense of excluding likely Democrats."
• Their assault on public workers. Scott Walker won the governorship of Wisconsin and the ability to execute his attack on public workers there with the help of $43,000 in direct contributions from the Koch Industries political action committee and indirectly through the $1 million that Koch's PAC gave to the Republican Governors Association. The Kochs are also major supporters of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who earlier this year credited "the strong support" of Americans for Prosperity for his now faltering attempt to strip Ohio state workers of their bargaining rights.
• The dominance of extremist candidates in the 2012 presidential race. Koch bothers money can be found in the pockets of at least three of the most extreme Republican presidential candidates: Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and, especially, Herman Cain. Rachel Maddow reported that the Cain connections include a campaign manager from the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a now ex-spokesperson from another Americans for Prosperity affiliate, and the economic advisor who came up with Cain's infamous "9-9-9" tax plan, who was a member of Americans for Prosperity's advisory board. This is no surprise, because, as the Associated Press has reported, Cain has historically been a shill for the Americans for Prosperity legislative agenda. The Kochs have said they will pour at least $200,000 into the 2012 presidential campaign. "At least" is the operative phrase; expect the Kochs to funnel millions of dollars into the 2012 campaign through a variety of channels, most of which—thanks in part to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling—will be unrestricted and largely untraceable.
• Their ability to violate the law with impunity, and to punish those who hold them accountable. A Bloomberg Markets magazine investigation published in October calls it "the Koch method," in which employees of the brothers' oil and gas companies "were shown by their managers how to steal and cheat." The stealing and cheating, according to Bloomberg, ranged from not paying royalties for oil extracted from federal land to bribing foreign officials to win contracts—and firing the company compliance officer who discovered the bribes and called them to the attention of top corporate officials. "For six decades around the world, Koch Industries has blazed a path to riches -- in part, by making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations. At the same time, Charles and David Koch have promoted a form of government that interferes less with company actions," the magazine wrote.
Unregulated, unaccountable corporations. Extremist elected officials who disdain the concept of a government serving the common good. Workers stripped of the ability to negotiate collectively for fair pay, working conditions and benefits. Hundreds of millions of corporate dollars drowning out the voices of working-class and middle-class people. Voters forced to jump over ever-higher obstacles to vote for candidates who represent them, assuming those candidates can even get on ballots. This is the Koch brothers' dystopia. What they are defending is indefensible...
I say after the Predatory Banks the Billionaire Koch Brothers should be our second target. To the best of our ability we should hit the Billionaire Koch Brothers in their rather massive pocketbook. The Koch brothers make a lot on construction material that most of us have no choice in. But we DO have a choice when it comes to some of the Koch Brothers' products: paper goods.
The Billionaire Koch Brothers own Georgia Pacific. I suggest spreading the word to boycott the following products:
Angel Soft toilet paper
Brawny paper towels
Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups
Mardi Gras napkins and towels
Quilted Northern toilet paper
Soft 'n Gentle toilet paper
Vanity fair napkins
Georgia-Pacific paper products and envelopes
Personally I buy recycled paper products from Marcel or Seventh Generation (both available at my local food co-op...before that we bought Seventh Generation on line).
I believe in hitting them with our power as consumers. We DO have choices in how to spend our hard earned money. Avoiding Georgia Pacific is one of the choices I make.
For those who can boycott them on a wider scale, click here for a much more complete list of their companies.
And don't forget that another part of the Occupy Wall Street Movement is moving our money. Divest from the four worst corrupt predatory lenders, Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank. Together, these two actions, divesting from the four worst banks and boycotting the Billionaire Koch Brothers, will make a big impact.
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