Koch Brothers Exposed
The One Percent at Its Very Worst
With a fortune estimated at $49 billion each, the Koch brothers, Charles and David, tie for fourth on Forbes’ list of the richest Americans and tie for sixth on Forbes’ worldwide billionaires list. The billionaire Koch brothers have been described as “the poster boys of the one percent.”
Charles and David Koch got their money the old fashioned way, they inherited it. Their father, Fred Koch, was the founder of Koch Industries, an oil and gas conglomerate. Fred Koch was also one of the founding members of the John Birch Society, a radical right-wing organization.
By the time Fred Koch died in 1967, he had imbued his sons with his right-wing ideology. Over the ensuing years, Charles and David Koch have sought to promote their conservative views throughout society at large. The billionaire brothers have heavily financed right-wing front groups like ALEC and Americans for Prosperity.
With their extraordinary wealth, the Koch brothers have used their political influence to undermine environmental protection, education, and labor rights. Examples of Koch wrongdoing include:
- Efforts to delay climate action while promoting climate change denial: The Koch’s have directed more than $5 million to Americans for Prosperity in its campaign against efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The brothers have also given to the libertarian lobbying group FreedomWorks, which is suing the Environmental Protection Agency to block its finding that climate change threatens human health.
- Efforts to gut Social Security: Spending more than $28 million, the Kochs have funded hundreds of reports, commentaries and books which have popularized the fiction that Social Security is on the brink of collapse.
- Attempts at re-segregation: The Kochs have funded efforts to remake a North Carolina school district’s diversity policy, in effect re-segregating the schools.
- Attempts at voter suppression: Koch money has supported voter ID laws in 38 states. These laws are billed as a way to avoid voter fraud, but they are actually intended to make it more difficult for Democrats to vote.
- Promoting the Keystone XL pipeline: The Kochs have used their influence to sway legislation regarding the hazardous Keystone XL pipeline. Koch Industries has a significant financial interest in this oil and gas project.
- Politicizing higher education: The Kochs have given millions of dollars to universities, with the stipulation that the schools must hire Koch-sympathetic professors.
Among the public there is a growing awareness of these oil billionaires’ destructive agenda. This has led to increased scrutiny and resistance from people and organizations all over the United States.
“I think the fact that the Koch brothers are trying to take away the minimum wage is ridiculous. Thirteen million a day sounds wonderful and I couldn’t imagine anybody making that much even being concerned with somebody making minimum wage. It just doesn’t make sense to me how they could even consider taking [the minimum wage] away or lowering it.”
—Erica Jackson, minimum wage worker, commenting after being informed that the Kochs, who make over $13 million a day, support eliminating the minimum wage