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Ta Nea, Greece

The Standard Oil of Our Time

By Giwrgos Angelopoulos

Translated By Peter Savvidis

15 April 2011

Edited by Nathan Ladd

Greece - Ta Nea - Original Article (Greek)

“The Kochs are on a whole different level. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation and obfuscation. They are the Standard Oil of our times," said Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, comparing Koch Industries to the American oil giant that became so powerful the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1911 that antitrust law required it to be broken up into 34 separate companies.

Multi-billionaires settled in Wichita, Kansas, the Koch brothers possess 84 percent of Koch Industries, which employs 70,000 people, and is the second-largest American corporation after Cargill. With an income of $100 billion from oil refining, natural gas, minerals, paper, chemicals and credit derivatives, the two brothers together represent the fifth-largest fortune in the United States.

They are also the main funders of the Tea Party and the American radical right in general, meaning the organizations that are against immigrants, Muslims and abortions. When it comes to ideology? As it benefits their pocket, the Center for Public Integrity concluded in research they have done on the two brothers.

In 2004 the Kochs spent (only) $857,000 to pressure politicians (lobbying), but in 2008 that amount increased to $20 million. The next two years they spent another $20.5 million. In Washington, they employ at least 30 lobbyists, and through them they have tried to modify more than 100 pieces of federal legislation.

They tried to loosen the prescriptive regulations on poisonous substances such as dioxins, benzene and asbestos. They opposed the enforcement of restrictions on gas emissions that cause the greenhouse effect, and funded organizations and institutions that try to discredit the scientific evidence about climate change. They tried to soften attempts on the enforcement of prescriptive regulations in the derivatives market, where the Kochs operate. Whenever a law affected the interests of the Kochs, the company’s lobbyists tried to repeal it.

The Center for Public Integrity claims that their real motive is simply money. Although they oppose any governmental intervention, which they view as anti-capitalistic, they shelve free market ideology and do whatever they can to benefit from the large government subsidies of ethanol. While they oppose emphatically the enforcement of a buyout system of rights for carbon emissions in the United States, in Europe they make millions by trading these rights.

As Paul Harris notes in The Guardian: “So when it comes to worrying about the Kochs' influence on the political system in the U.S., conservatives should really be joining liberals in getting nervous.”



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