Tag Archives: Billionaires

Will Billionaire Koch Brothers Take Over Cato?

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.

The Cato Institute will soon be owned my the Koch Brothers

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.

Read More:  Battle For Control of Cato Institute Highlights Unusual Structure , Open Letter To Charles & David Koch, Could Billionaire Koch Brothers Ruin Cato?

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Methods Of Control Oligarchs Use to Gain Power

By Kourosh Behnam
March 28, 2012

Using the Koch Brothers as a symbol of oligarchic power.

Astroturf Organizations: Bankrolling the radical rights economic agenda has been a tradition in the Koch family for decades. In 1958 Fred Koch was one of the founders of the John Birch Society, an American political advocacy organization that “supports anti-communism, limited government, a Constitutional Republic, and personal freedom.” In 1984 David Koch established Citizens for a Sound Economy, whose sole mission is to fight for less government, lower taxes, and less regulation. However, in 2004 Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two entities: Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity. The Koch’s remain active in Americans for Prosperity and the individual in charge of FreedomWorks is Dick Armey (Republican Party GOP House majority Leader from 2003 to 2005). The Koch brothers use Americans for Prosperity to stimulate the Tea Party, and AFP organized the first national Tea Party movements in 2009. These organizations have the ability to mobilize, educate, and train people. From Koch donations, American for Prosperity was able to create a $5 million anti-healthcare campaign.

Wealth Defense Industry: A political action committee of Koch Industries, KochPAC (Koch Political Action Committee), has played a tremendous role lobbying in Washington D.C. Lobbyists of Koch Industries have spent much of their time shaping new policy for financial regulation. The Dodd-Frank Act was passed by Congress under the Obama Administration “to craft new rules to subject traders in the energy industry to increased regulation and transparency” according to the Koch Web of Influence by John Farrell. Congress and regulators are still detailing the necessary changes to implement this new law and Koch lobbyists have spent a considerable amount of time shaping the bill. A few weeks, after the bill was passed, Koch lobbyist Gregory Zerzan held a covert meeting with SEC Commissioner Troy Paredes and his counsel, Gena Lai to see how the government would apply the law. According to Greenpeace’s 2011 update report of Koch Industries, the KochPAC spent $2,645,589 in 2009-2010. KochPAC is also the number one oil and gas contributor in the U.S., out spending Exxon Mobil. American oligarchs use many specialized professionals to prevent wealth from being taken, and their wealth defense industry is comprised of lawyers, accountants, wealth management consultants, tax avoidance consultants, and lobbyist. When oligarchs hire them, their main purpose is to defend as much wealth as possible, and only oligarchs would have enough wealth to purchase these services. The industry is global, some of the key players are Whithers, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, White & Case, Milbank Tweed Hadly and McCloy, Weil Gotshal and Manges, and Freeman Freeman and Smiley are known as the “magic circle” firms.

Legislatures and Elected Officials: Mike Morgan, the previous Director of Public and Governmental Affairs of Koch Industries, played a significant role in promoting legislation for the Koch brothers. As of December 2011, Mike Morgan still sits on the Private Enterprise Board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is an organization that promotes limited government, free markets, and federalism. According to the American Association for Justice “ALEC campaigns have covered many issues, but all have either protected or promoted a corporate revenue stream.” ALEC has proposed legislation that benefits Koch Industries and is undermining climate change proponents. Major campaign contributions from the billionaire brothers can be seen in the makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Koch Industries is the largest oil and gas donor, giving $279,500 to 22 Republicans on the committee and $32,000 to five of its Democrats, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2010 KochPAC gave political donations to freshman members of Congress, such as Gardner Cory (R-CO) $10,000, Griffith Morgan (R-VA) $5,000, and Pompeo Mike (R-KS) $10,000.

Courts and Judges: Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission is a landmark case that will go down in history for poisoning our electoral process. This case has allowed corporations to flood our political marketplace and corrupt our democracy and the Koch Brothers themselves played a significant role in enabling this case to advance. Three years ago, Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia attended a political retreat organized by Charles and David Koch in Palm Spring California for wealthy conservatives. There is more speculation that Justice Thomas stayed on a four-day retreat which was paid by the Federalist Society. The Citizens United case that was supported by Justice Scalia allowed corporations to spend limitless amounts of money on elections with little public disclosure.

Read More: Oligarchy, IFG Wealth and Power , Kochtopus: Koch Cash Influence

 

 

How to Reduce Gas Prices and Remove Barriers to Clean Energy: Ban Oil Derivatives

By: IFG
March 21, 2012

Some say higher oil prices are essential to ending our addiction to fossil fuels.

While true in principle, the reality of recent rising costs to consumers has so far been the exact opposite, with political barriers bigger then ever. IFG research shows it can only get worse if current trends continue.

That’s because a major force driving gas prices upward is rampant speculation in unregulated oil derivativesCharles and David Koch are dominant players who in turn plow their profits back in to preventing the phase out of fossil fuels having outspent Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute to kill climate legislation.

While the Koch’s family fortune has steadily expanded with the use of fossil fuels, not until recently did their net worth grow exponentially.  That’s due in large part to their inventing oil derivatives, and then deregulating their trade on Wall Street, and the worldwide.

IFG charts (below) the Kochs’ combined net worth over the past 25 years. It shows how their wealth skyrocketed as speculation on oil markets went wild, with the Kochs making money even when the price of oil goes down.

 Koch wealth for the years 1989, 1995-2000, 2002, 2012-2015 are estimates.

You can see that oil price and Koch wealth are very strongly correlated with a correlation coefficient of 0.94.

With no rules against insider trading, it’s no wonder that the guys who own so much oil infrastructure through which the commodity moves, and also invented the instrument by which traders gamble, can game the system to cash in on such a grand scale.  The Kochs’ combined wealth now ranks them third richest in the world, according to Forbes.

Goldman Sachs recently reported that oil speculation imposes an extra cost of as much as $.56 per gallon of gasoline in the US, an incredible irony when one thinks that this money is then spent to stop the costs of climate change from being included in the price at the pump paid by consumers.

The true price of oil must ultimately reflect its full ecological and social costs, and achieving that requires reducing, if not removing, the role of money in politics. Climate campaigners are currently unable to do that alone, and therefore must work with other movements whose interests are also being bulldozed by these billionaire brothers.

The trajectory of their profits today implies that the undue influence of the Koch brothers is set to soar even higher. Assuming that koch wealth continues in its exponential path their combined wealth will be $82.4 billion in 2015.  Their “shrink government” agenda—which comes amidst calls for massive market interventions to address today’s converging economic and ecological crises—is attacking the very right to clean air, the right to fair wages, and even the right to vote.

Unless key constituencies can come together to counter Koch cash, the implications for people and the planet could be devastating given the Kochs’ control over the current Congress has radically shifted US politics to the right and upcoming elections or ever more driven by cold hard cash.  The Citizens United ruling has spun open the spigot so Koch cash can flow even more freely.

The premise of IFG’s Plutonomy Program is that globalization has, as predicted, upwardly redistributed wealth, where Ultra High Net Worth Individuals are increasingly enabled to exert their own political power and economic ideologies on democratic decision-making everywhere.  Nowhere are the results more clearly expressed than in the rise of the Koch’s wealth and their increasing power over our lives.

Read More: How The Koch Are Fracking America, Charles And David Koch File Suit To Take Over The Cato Institute, Kochtopus Empire

Billionaires And Super PACs Endorsing Obama

By: Kourosh Behnam
March 3, 2012

Last month, the Obama reelection team endorsed the use of Super PACs. Super PAC’s are political action committees that have the ability to raise limitless amounts of money from individuals, corporations, and unions and spend it on behalf of political candidates – however they cannot directly be in contact with those candidates.  Super PACs have become the new campaign finance tool since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that allows unions and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in federal elections.

What is interesting to note here is that Obama has criticized the Citizens United decision and the use of Super PACs.  In addition, the White House believed that Citizens United could be a political opportunity for Obama, “a powerful rhetorical opportunity to decry the influence of corporate money in politics”.  But why has he changed his mind?

The reality is, running for President is not a easy feat.  It seems that every candidate this election needs a billionaire.  The pro Obama Super PAC Priorities Action USA has raised a total of $4,459,431 in comparison to the pro Mitt Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future which has raised $36,797,202.  The billionaire behind Priorities Action USA is Jeffery Katzenberg, chief executive of Dreamworks Animation who has donated $2,000,000.

Obama has contradicted himself.  I do not agree with the decision his campaign team has made.  According to Jim Messina, Obama’s  campaign manager, “We’re not going to fight this fight with one hand tied behind are back . With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules.  Democrats can’t be unilaterally disarmed.”  This is a big excuse to go after money.

The oligarchic influence is too powerful to deny.  These Oligarchs don’t care who wins the election.  They have bought both sides and average people will have to suffer from their decision making . They have set up a “show election” for us and Obama is part of this production.

Read More: Obama Gives Blessing To A Super PAC, We Will Not Play By Two Sets of Rules , Obama Plays The Super PAC Game, Endorses Priorities USA

Forbes Journalist Mis-interprets IFG Oligarchy Report

By: Kourosh Behnam
February 25, 2012

Fails to understand who is blocking climate change.

Fails to understand who is blocking climate change.

On December 8, 2011, Tim Worstall took a chance at understanding the meaning of IFG’s new report “Outing The Oligarchy: Billionaires Who Benefit from Today’s Climate Crisis”.  I’m responding to his post because he completely and utterly failed.  He says, “For the people who most profit from and are most responsible for the deepening climate crisis are not the people who supply fossil fuels. It’s the people who use fossil fuels: that’s you and me by the way.”  This is a horrible interpretation of the report.

What he missed in his review are the following:
1. We all benefit from and participate in the serious degradation of the environment by the lifestyle we engage in. Majority of Americans (65%) are concerned that climate change is affecting US weather.
2. However, there are few individuals who benefit considerably more than the rest of us; by accumulation of wealth and political power.
3. A large majority of Americans (66%) believe that the US should sign an international treaty requiring emissions cuts of 90% by 2050;  most of us are willing to make changes in our own lives but we require our government to facilitate change.
4. Oligarchs have the power and wealth to prevent governments from deciding on crucial climate policies; they use their power to influence democratic decision making to maintain their own postions of power and authority.
5. Oligarchs understand the destruction they are causing to the planet and its people or perhaps they fully do not understand the consequences of their actions and should take a honest look at the evidence.  They would rather retain their wealth and power than use their significant influence with governments to support what most of us want (climate change).
6. Many of us have woken to the fact that these oligarchs are preventing these urgent changes because of their greed and drive for power.  People are uniting to force these oligarchs to make the right decisions that are important for human survival.
7. IFG’s report is an appeal to the oligarchs to make sustainable decisions.  It’s also for the rest of us to note who is blocking progress on the changes we need.

We cannot be cynical about climate change.  I’m afraid that Mr. Worstall should do his research and take a look at the evidence thoroughly before writing any other response.

Read More: The Billionaires Who Benefit From Today’s Climate Crisis  , Outing The Oligarchy: 50 Billionaires Who Profit From Todays Climate Crisis , What’s Next Now That the Durban Climate Negotiations are Behind Us?

New York Town Bans Fracking

By Kourosh Behnam
February 23, 2012

No Fracking

No Fracking

Yesterday, New York judge Philip Rumsey ruled that the town of Dryden’s ban on fracking is legal. This is a significant victory for all environmental groups fighting to keep water clean in Tompkins County. I say job well done comrades!

This lawsuit was initiated by the Anschutz Exploration Corporation, owned by the oligarch Philip Anschutz. His corporation has leases on over 22,000 acres of land in the town of Dryden, investing $5.1 million in drilling operations.

As of September 2011 Philip Anschutz’s  wealth is at $7 Billion. His Exploration Corporation currently has projects in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Two drilling rigs in North Dakota are under a long term contract. Since 2010 his corporation has instated drilling plans in all six states.

I foresee other battles in each state where Anschutz Exploration Corporation has drilling operations. I only hope that we obtain victory!

Read More: New York Towns Can Ban Fracking Even If State Doesn’t, Judge Rules, New York Court Decision Bolsters Anti-Fracking Movement, Who Is Philip Anschutz

Oligarchs Funding GOP Candidates

By Kourosh Behnam
February 22, 2012

Do you really know who’s running for the presidential election?

One intelligent Man

One intelligent Man

Today Robert Reich shed light on a few oligarchs who are the real individuals running for the Republican nomination for president.

All of us think that Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul are running but they are the puppets of the undeniable machine.

These political candidates are being funded by oligarchs such as Harold Simmons, William Dore, Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson, Peter Thiel, and Bruce Kovner. I know you have never heard of these names before but these individuals are using their money to influence our votes.

Yes, Super PACs and Union’s are influencing our elections as well but the real beast are these Oligarchs!

Read More: The GOP’s Big Investors , Oligarchs Funding Super PAC’s