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September 4, 2012
September 9th 2012
3543 18th Street, Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94110
(BART: 16th street station)
IFG presents a panel of five activists fighting Koch Cash and committed to ending rule by the super rich.
Lisa Graves, ALEC Exposed
Jotaka Eaddy, NAACP
Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition
Lisa Hoyos, Blue Green Alliance
Justin Wedes and Aaron Black, Occupy Wall Street
IFG’s Plutonomy Program presents this public event as part of its broader effort to expose “individuals of undue influence.”This event follows an IFG Convening of frontline activists and analysts, “Calling Out the Koch Cash Corrupting Democracy”Globalization’s extreme concentration of financial wealth is enabling the political power of super-rich individuals to play an unprecedented role in driving policy decisions. By far the biggest force financing today’s attacks against progressive policies is Charles and David Koch. The Kochsquintupled their combined net worth from $10B in 2005 to $50B in 2011, mainly by investing their fossil fuels fortune into oil derivatives, now making them the third wealthiest in the world after Carlos Slim and Bill Gates.
“Koch Cash” has since become the single biggest source of funding for attacks against collective bargaining, clean air, voters’ rights, and strong social safety nets, in almost all regulatory arenas. After radicalizing the House of Representatives via their Tea Party’s takeover of one third of available seats in 2010 elections, the Kochs are now leading a $1B blitz in 2012 to replace the President, seat several more Tea Party activists in the Senate, and seize swing states to gerrymander permanent hardliners. Further, the Kochs’ ideological focus on “shrinking government” has become Romney-Ryan’s main message, while their “economic freedom” narrative has captured many conservatives, encountering no cohesive intellectual counterforce from progressive constituencies.
Click here for flyer.
August 31, 2012
August 30, 2012
As David Koch is feted in Tampa as an “Entrepreneur Building America” by Americans for Prosperity (or AFP, the fake grassroots group he funds to advance his hardline agenda for “economic freedom”), IFG’s Plutonomy Program asks, who actually “built” Koch Industries’?
The answers emanating from AFP are about as clear as the air we breathe thanks to the Kochs’ family fortune of fossil fuels polluting of our atmosphere, and the “Koch Cash” corrupting our democracy.
Yet it will only get worse if the Kochs get their way: the thrust of Romney-Ryan economic plan is to exclude carbon from the Clean Air Act, a policy proposed precisely to defend the Kochs’ wealth.
The truth is that every living being that breathes air and exists in our rapidly destabilizing atmosphere has sacrificed to “build” the Kochs’ business by allowing them to take our planet over the edge: two thirds of America is covered in drought, Arctic ice is receding to record lows, and the Kochs’ own scientists are now undoubtedly convinced that our earth is warming. Poor people and future generations will pay the highest human price, even as entire ecosystems face extinction.
Others who helped to build the Kochs’ business include:
- Countless workers, who have made the billionaire brothers, together, the world’s third wealthiest individuals after Carlos Slim and Bill Gates.
- Communities with cancer clusters could be a legacy at some of the Kochs’ industrial sites, and a forthcoming report from IFG will explain more of this unexplored topic. Corpus Christie, Texas, is one place where Koch Industries brazenly leaked benezefrom its facility, only to award itself for environmental achievement when it eventually complied with the law.
- Crops crashing due to drought: The Kochs’ cheerleading for carbon emissions are leaving farmers in the lurch and countless people hungry as food prices rise globally. US taxpayers are now on the hook for another $14B in payouts for crop insurance due to this summer’s damage.
- Veterans of oil wars who went to serve their country but found themselves fighting for access to oil to feed the refineries that the Kochs and others built to support the fossil fuels infrastructure. Too much blood and treasure has been spent to secure supplies that keep oil flowing and the Kochs cashing in.
- US Taxpayers: who paid for the roads, bridges, tunnels, highways and other public infrastructure from which the Kochs’ oil refineries and other products make their money.
How wealthy are they? The Kochs quintupled their combined net worth in the last six years by investing their industrial earnings into oil derivatives speculation, in which an unregulated market with no ban on insider trading allows investors to influence energy supplies via manipulating their refineries, pipelines, storage, etc.
The Kochs’ economic freedom agenda poses that government has no role in regulating how things are produced, unless it harms others. Tobacco companies “willful negligence” led them to ignore their own scientific findings of the cancer-causing agents they produced.
Building a business shouldn’t be on the backs of people and the planet.
Stay tuned for original IFG podcasts and corresponding reports that will explore the Kochs and their political influence. They will be available HERE and via our emails next month.
New book by: Jerry Mander
May 29 2012
“What may have worked in 1850 and 1900 is calamitous in 2012,” says Jerry Mander, in “The Capitalism Papers”. A former advertising executive, Mander was Founder and is now Distinguished Fellow of the International Forum on Globalization. He argues that “the system is killing the planet, dismantling democracy, promoting wars and making people less happy, not more.”
In a departure from most previous writings about our two centuries’ old economic system, “The Capitalism Papers” presents a series of point by point arguments that capitalism is increasingly non-viable, and obsolete. The book makes the case that the problems are intrinsic to the model, and are not reformable.
“This system is utterly dependent on never-ending economic growth on a finite planet with limited resources,” says the author. He also elaborates on the inherent needs of capitalism to undermine and dominate democratic processes, social and economic equity, and global consciousness.
Driven solely by its hunger for profits and wealth accumulation, even promoting “war as an economic strategy,” the system is amoral. Worst of all, the book points out, for all its excesses and indulgences, the system fails to produce a contented, happy society, as studies confirm. Many organizations are already anticipating an ultimate breakdown, and are defining new hierarchies of democratic and social values that will respect the planet, and sustain us for the future.
April 25, 2012
Hiding behind riot police and scurrying into alleyways, executives from America’s biggest bank, Wells Fargo, entered their April 24 shareholders’ meeting in San Francisco while hundreds of peaceful protesters stood outside demanding accountability and justice. Inside, several proxy shareholders were arrested as they called to end Wells’ fraudulent foreclosures, tax dodging, predatory lending, profiting from private prisons, and paying-off politicians to rig the rules.
IFG’s Plutonomy Program posits that globalization’s extreme concentrations of wealth and power require people to deal more directly with the individuals at the very top. So we stood in solidarity with over400 events organized by Occupy, families fighting foreclosure, indebted students, immigrants’ rights groups, and even Wells’ own workers, as they blocked-off several streets in SF’s Financial District. See this video of a foreclosure fighter sharing her story at IFG’s recent Teach-in on Wells Fargo.
John Stumpf, American banking’s highest-paid CEO who made almost $20M in 2011, called the shareholders’ meeting to order inside while, outside, janitors who clean Wells’ offices told the crowd how profits were squeezed from cutting workers’ healthcare and holding down wages. But the bank’s record profits in 2011 were driven mainly by mortgages, where Well’s ruthless “Robo-signing” practices continue to foreclose on families, 84% of which in SF were found to be “clear violations of law” by a recent report from the City Attorney.
Warren Buffet, Wells’ single biggest shareholder, owns almost twice as many shares as any other investor. His legendary investment fund, Berkshire Hathaway, has made him America’s second wealthiest man (after Bill Gates) with a personal net worth of $44B. Buffet has been in the news lately as the namesake of President Obama’s proposed “Buffett Rule” which would begin to reverse years of regressive taxation in America. Buffett says his secretary now pays taxes on a higher proportion of her income than Buffett himself pays. That’s because capital gains are now taxed at only 15% while wages are taxed at almost double the rate. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo avoided ALL taxes from 2008–2010.
The current U.S. tax code’s discrimination against workers’ wages in favor of capital investment has been a driving force of increasing inequality in America, where now almost 1 in 2 Americans is either in poverty, or near poverty. While Buffett positions himself to champion more progressive tax policies, he is even more powerfully poised—as the most influential shareholder of America’s biggest bank—to reduce record inequality by lowering his expectations on the earnings from his own investments. Otherwise, shareholder profits made by reducing the healthcare costs of Wells’ janitors could, strangely, shift from Buffet to the Gates Foundation, whose philanthropy aims to “improve healthcare.” The Buffet Rule would work more effectively if Buffet ruled less ruthlessly by insisting on more realistic returns for his investments.
IFG and allies will continue to call upon those corporations and individuals who benefit most from—and are therefore most responsible for—today’s financial system that is destroying people and the planet.
By: Kourosh Behnam
April 25, 2012
Depending on your political views, Charles and David Koch have recently become famous or infamous for their influence, supporting libertarian and conservative causes.
Recently the Koch Brothers filed a law suit against the Cato Institute. Founded by Charles Koch 30 years ago, it is the leading libertarian think tank in Washington D.C. The Institute primarily promotes limited government, and free markets. Leading scholars at Cato such as Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies, believe the suit would give the Koch’s full power over the institutions research operations.
The Cato Institute is unique in that it is controlled by shareholders. There are four people who hold equal shares in the organization. The Koch Brothers hold 2 of those shares meaning that they own half of the organization. However, ownership of the institute can be bought and sold for cash under certain circumstances. This is only applicable to a number of states in America which is shunned upon by the Internal Revenue Service. Charles and David Koch are suing to increase their 50 percent stake in Cato to propel their ideological agenda. This lawsuit, to gain control of Cato, displays that the brothers see ideological political think tanks as a crucial part of their on-going agenda to create a permanent American oligarchy.
If these billionaire brothers prevail then they will own the biggest libertarian think tank in the world. If this happens, the Cato Institute will loose its reputation in the political realm and it will always be known as a organization coddled by the Koch Brothers.
April 17, 2012
Last week, IFG partnered with San Francisco’s community based organizations and local Occupy activists to organize a Teach-in about America’s biggest bank, Wells Fargo, in preparation for their shareholders’ meeting in SF on April 24.
Check out this three-minute video to see why grassroots groups want to shutdown Wells. The free public event provided a platform for families fighting foreclosure, indebted students, immigrants’ rights advocates, private prisons critics, Occupiers, and others impacted by Wells Fargo, to tell their stories. Participants also heard about how to get involved, including training in non-violent direct action.
IFG’s Plutonomy Program works with grassroots groups to address globalization’s extreme concentrations of wealth and power that are corrupting democracy and destroying the planet through a financial system out of control. America’s biggest bank deserves everyone’s attention.
See: http://stopwellsfargo.com/en/ for more about the actions around Wells Fargo’s Shareholders meeting
Tuesday, April 24, 10:00am
Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco