In loving, living memory, John Melançon 1928 – 2007
We need to wage war strategically against the institutions at war with our rights to justice and liberty. An obvious case study for interests sharply and actively at odds with our common interest, that is getting some ink recently, is the brothers who currently own Koch Industries. (To be fair, the Koches are much more on the attack against economic and environmental justice than the more common perceptions of liberty; in the foundations they fund, at least, there's some internally coherent commitment to libertarian principles.)
First off, the Koches are leading the fight against life on planet earth, funding opposition to every possible too-little, too-late half-measure proposed to slow down global warming. (No, there's no way all life on earth will die, but many individuals are dying and will die and whole species are dying and many more will be killed off by global warming.) Then there's their opposition to universal health care and any sort of wage or fairness for workers laws.
Their motivation may be the oft-recognized sin of greed or pure ideological belief that their way is better for everyone. Who cares; it doesn't matter. Their effect is immensely harmful and must be stopped. Yes there is much else that is doing harm to the world and must be stopped, but thinking strategically, we cannot stop everything at once, and the concentration of evil effect seems particularly strong here. A campaign to reduce the influence of two of the richest people in the world is based on the same principle of equalizing power for all people: they are not generating their wealth directly. Their wealth comes from other people. Organized, we can deny the resources flowing to the Koch corporations, the brothers themselves, and the propaganda operation they operate.
The Charleston, West Virginia Sunday Gazette, on the second page of a two-page article on the parts of the Koch brothers millions in political spending that reach West Virginia, is the only source anywhere that i found named the brands they own and from which they presumably receive money:
The Kochs, who made much of their money operating oil refineries, also own a variety of companies including: Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific Lumber, Stainmaster Carpet and Lycra.
No organized effort that i could find to blunt the destructive effect of these anti-environment, anti-worker insanely wealthy activists, but at last some solid information from one thorough journalist named Paul J. Nyden. I should make my brother subscribe to the WV Gazette.
Nyden also supplied information on some of the organizations funded by the Kochs, starting with the Public Policy Foundation which supports the West Virginia Watchdog, and then mentioning the major non-WV organizations:
The Kochs helped create two conservative research institutes. Beginning the in the mid-1980s, they gave $11 million to the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank, and more than $30 million to George Mason University's Mercatus Center.
The Koch family spent millions more creating other groups to advocate conservative political positions, including: Citizens for a Sound Economy, Citizens for the Environment, the Economic Education Trust and Americans For Prosperity.
(Hint: As a general rule, take any name of a group funded by billionaires, and assume the group's goals are the opposite of their name.)
My research didn't turn up much – i cannot find anyone else thinking along these lines in this particular case – but it had one unexpected side effect. I may have fallen in love with the Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who two weeks ago slammed oil corporations for massively funding an initiative to stop a global warming. Incidentally, and how could this drama, a celebrity Republican governor going to war with huge businesses over the future of the planet, not make news everywhere such that it seeps into every consciousness like the story of the Chilean miners (itself lacking the context of wasted news resources not even covering the worker rights and safety angle) or the BP oil spill?
Here's Arnold, excerpts via Black Voices:
"This is a corruption of the democratic process," he said. "Texas oil companies have descended upon California to overturn a California law. There is a struggle playing out right here in California that the world does not know much about.
The effort is similar to the conspiracy hatched among oil companies in the 1920s to get rid of light rail systems. Then, the companies bought up the easements for light rail systems in 45 cities and then systematically dismantled them."
"Today, Valero and Tesoro are in a conspiracy. Not in a criminal conspiracy, but a cynical one about self-serving greed," "Does anyone think in their black oil company hearts that they want to create jobs?"
"Valero and Tesoro want to stop the movement from old energy to new energy because its means lost market share."
I was always against the Constitutional ban on foreign-born presidents. Now that sentiment is because of Arnold, not despite him?
Brothers Charles and David Koch, with a combined worth around $35 billion dollars, are waging a war against President Obama. The Koch brothers are the majority owners in Koch Industries, America's second-largest private company with revenues of $100 billion in 2009, and 80,000 employees in 60 countries. Koch Industries main source of revenue is from the manufacturing, refining, and distribution of petroleum.
Working through Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative political advocacy group, which was founded by David Koch, AFP reportedly is responsible for the rapid rise of one of President Obama’s main antagonists, the Tea Party. The AFP has financially and logistically supported the Tea Party. In addition, AFP launched a non-profit organization called Patients United Now (PUN). PUN to organize rallies against President Obama’s health-care reform in which supporters see as a government takeover of the U.S. health care system.
The root cause of the Koch-Obama war seems to be over the issue of global warming. The Koch brothers have donated millions of dollars to pro-industry groups and politicians that advocate that global warming is just a conspiracy theory. The Koch Brothers recently donated $1 million in support of Proposition 23, a ballot measure that would overturn California’s global warming law.
That's the best-written part (repeating information that is in many articles) from this post on Examiner.com. (In the section "foreign policy in San Diego"? But anyway...)
The White House at some point dared to wonder aloud about how much Koch Industries poured into corrupting democracy (in much less strong terms, i'm sure) than the company or its owners put into taxes to support the government that makes their corporate profits and lives of luxury possible (the difficulty of being an oil company without police and military protection – among much other government support for Koch – was probably also not spelled out by the White House). The response was for every good right-wing drone in the media (and at least one congressfool) to claim that the company's IRS tax records were illegally looked at (a charge based on no evidence at all). Another example of how the enemy already seems to be firing with all they've got, while we their targets may have barely identified them. Which is encouraging my naive hope that they don't have much to throw at us; i have no doubt that after the first wound the lashing out of the Koch business and propaganda empire will be frightful— and its death throes hard to contemplate.
Another obvious target is News Corp., and i'm not finding anything on a quick search for denying profit to Murdoch. A search for boycott News Corp. brought better results from supporters of Ron Paul angry at News Corp's exclusion of the libertarian Republican presidential candidate from 2008 debates. We really need to know the top enemies of the collective good and to be moving strategically against them. A boycott is only one step; non-violent disruption is another approach. Attempting to replace the function of targets we cannot support is a huge step (say producing locally or importing in bulk some staple normally bought at Wal-Mart— to name another obvious candidate with a combination of direct economic damage and indirect political corruption that needs to be stopped).
We need to be organized and able to explain what we are doing and why it matters. This is a purpose for which i hope to see Visions Unite communication tools used.
Related: Tides Foundation head (and target of an assassination plan by a man inspired by Glenn Beck's tirades against Tides) asked all advertisers to stop supporting Fox News as the only way to stop Beck (many ads had already been pulled from Beck's show specifically). Yet the only place this comes across as anything resembling a boycott threat is when the Huffington Post is the first to mention the advertisers targeted in their story on the letter, and at least one commenter begins to break this down into brands.
Of course, for the model of targeting one evil at a time with a specific achievable aim and great effectiveness, see the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.