The United States of Koch: How The Koch Family Bought Our Democracy


Koch-Brothers octopus

There are many conspiracy theories out there. It seems that there’s a conspiracy theory for every tragedy this country experiences, and even some for ones that are only in the minds of the conspiracists. A vast majority of them are centered around the belief that the government has a grand scheme to control the unsuspecting public in some way. Even though they all get debunked, believers in the theories continue to support the conspiracies despite the overwhelming evidence against them. However, there is one grand scheme that is actually true, and it’s been proven true many times over. But instead of the government being at the center of the scheme, the perpetrators are concentrated within one family – the Koch family.

Some readers may recognize the Koch name. You may know that these ultra rich siblings made a lot of money through oil and gas. You may have read how these billionaire brothers have far reaching influence over politics. But many don’t know or understand just how far their reach is, and how long they’ve been pulling the strings of politicians who are only too happy to oblige. In order to understand how this came about, you have to go back to their father, Fred Koch.

Fred Koch got his money the old fashioned way. He earned it by taking it from the government. No, he didn’t take it from the U.S. government, but instead he got it from the Russian government. He was hired to set up the oil fields there. He was paid a cool sum for his work, and then went home to invest the money into his own venture – Koch Engineering. At first it was a small oil company, and it faced competition from very large and well established oil companies. Over time, Koch Engineering did well, and he passed the company onto his sons.

In addition to passing on the family business, Fred passed along his penchant for extreme libertarian ideas. He did this through his participation and funding of the John Birch Society.

John Birch sign

The John Birch Society is an organization that believes Communists and minorities are taking over America. Yes, Fred Koch helped to build that.  The Society was instrumental in bringing about the era known as McCarthyism. Fred Koch was a strident supporter of this paranoid belief, even going so far as to explain it in a pamphlet. In his pamphlet Business Man Looks At Communism, not only does he define his ideas, but he even explains how minorities play a role. In the section named Communists Incite Racial Strife he says

The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America.

Surely the Civil Rights Movement combined with an increase in government social welfare programs made this appear true. And for his sons, the election of president Obama, who is part African American, is the fulfillment of that fear.

Fast forward a few years and many billion dollars later. Fred Koch’s small oil company does well. Charles and David take over to grow the company into a multibillion dollar business known as Koch Industries. Not only is the Koch family swimming in cash from striking it rich in oil, but they also cash in on the riches to be found in half a dozen other industries. This includes paper, textiles, commodities and financial trading, and ranching, just to name a few.

So how have Koch’s sons David and Charles carried on their father’s legacy of paranoia of Communists and minorities? They take their paranoia to another level by pouring their money into think tanks and a “nonprofit” called Americans For Prosperity. The think tanks purport the ideas via legitimate looking reports, and Americans For Prosperity (AFP) becomes the vehicle to deliver the goods. The organization then goes onto fund what some still falsely believe is a grass roots effort – the Tea Party.

Watch here as David Koch boasts about the funding of AFP. The video also shows how AFP has worked to finance and support the birth and growth of the now stumbling Tea Party.

While the Koch brothers and their AFP can say that they didn’t necessarily pay people to join the Tea Party, it can be concluded that their money gave the Tea Party the resources and talking points to make it a reality. While we all know the influence of the Tea Party on the Republican party, most don’t know or understand the connections that the Koch brothers have. Not only is it extensive, but it’s also a dream come true for the vision of their father, Fred Koch. In the second piece in this series, I’ll go into more detail on how the Koch brothers have used their money to fund political candidates, their involvement in the drafting of legislation, as well as the extent of to which their paranoid agenda has all but hijacked our democracy.

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