Tag Archives: IFG Oligarchy Blog

See Americas Biggest Bank Run From Its Responsibilities

By: IFG
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.

Read More: Protesting The Wells Fargo Shareholder’s Meeting, 24 Arrested At Wells Fargo ProtestActivists Disrupt Wells Fargo Shareholders Meeting

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?

Koch Industries Involved In Fracking Boom

By: Kourosh Behnam
March 6, 2012

The construction of this facility was made for transporting crude oil and natural gas

The construction of this facility was made for transporting crude oil and natural gas

Lee Fang, at the Republic Report, has found convincing evidence that Koch Industries is involved in the boom in natural gas fracking.

Koch Industries has funded many of the pro-fracking think tanks , like the Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Koch investments have fueled the creation of these think tanks which promote climate denial.

A in house newsletter from October 2011 explains Koch Industries “discoveries” of crude oil and natural gas in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.

1. Koch Pipeline: is partnering with NuStar Energy to develop a dormant pipeline from Pettus, TX to refineries in Corpus Christi. The pipeline will transport natural gas from fracking sites in southern Texas. Koch Pipeline is a Koch Industries subsidiary.

2. Flint Hills Resources: recently purchased a small craft pier and wharf in Ingleside, TX to store shipments of natural gas from fracking operations in the Eagle Ford shale formation. Flint Hills Resources is a Koch Industries subsidiary.

3. Koch Supply & Trading: a Koch Industries company that deals with commodity trading and financial products, is “already trading Eagle Ford crude” to help supply Koch companies and other customers, according to a Koch Industries newsletter.

4. Koch Chemical Technology Group: is designing a processing facility near Yoakum, TX to help process natural gas fracked in southern Texas. Koch Chemical is a subsidiary of Koch Industries.

5. John Zink: a Koch Industries company, is providing flares for a natural gas processing plant in Helena to service the fracking industry.

6. Georgia Pacific: produces resins used for chemicals used to prop open micro-fractures, an important process for fracking to occur. GP is a Koch Industries subsidiary.

7. Koch Fertilizer: a Koch Industries company, has tapped into increased natural gas production from fracking to develop fertilizer.

As of November 2011 the combined wealth of Charles and David Koch is $50 billion.  There investments benefit from climate change and their influence networks block efforts to phase out pollution from fossil fuels.

Read More: Heartland Institute: A Manifestation of the Kochtopus Empire, How The Kochs Are Fracking America , Who Are The Koch Brothers

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

Obama Campaign: Sparring With The Koch’s Publicly

By: Kourosh Behnam
March 1, 2012

Obama Biden

The Obama re-election team has been trying to engage Charles and David Koch in a public argument which they hope can bring more donations to their campaign.  Last Friday Obama campaign manager Jim Messina accused the billionaire brothers of “jacking up prices at the pump” and bankrolling “Tea Party extremism.”

In addition, he also said the Koch Brothers have pledge $200 million to Americans For Prosperity, to defeat Obama in November.  Koch money has provoked the Solyndra Attack Ad on Obama.

Koch money is fueling the anti Obama campaign.  Earlier this year, the Koch Brothers held a private three-day retreat in California where 250-300 individuals pledged $100 million dollars to defeat Barack Obama.  Of that $100 million,  the Koch Brothers pledge $60 million.

Philip Ellender, Koch Companies spokesman, had a sharp response to Messina in a public letter.  He stated, “It is an abuse of the President’s Position and does a disservice to our nation for the President and his campaign to criticize private citizens simply for the act of engaging in their constitutional right of free speech about important matters of public policy.”  To the best of my knowledge, I didn’t think “bully ads” are important matters of public policy.

The Obama Biden Campaign has raised $118 million for the 2012 election which was mostly raised from individuals donors giving $200 or less, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.

Read More: Heartland Institute: A Manifestation of the Kochtopus Empire, Obama Campaign, Billionaire Koch Brothers Spar Publicly