Brothers of a feather, Charles and David Koch, are once again spreading their wings, not in some benevolent embrace to aid their 120,000 workers worldwide, but instead to hover over the 2018 Congressional election and elect stooges who have pledged to kiss their bony talons.
That may seem a bit harsh. It’s not fashionable to criticize two craggy-faced zealots worth about $100 billion, who own the second largest (after Cargill) privately held firm in the U.S.A.
The Kochs will spend big bucks in 2018 – reportedly some $889 million – a lousy one percent of their total wealth, but enough to buy elections.
The Koch “investment” in 2016 was slightly less – $800 million, but compare that to $80,000 in 2016 ads by the Russians to influence the same election.
This proves American tycoons meddled best – the Kochs spent 10,000 times as much as cheapskate Vlad.
The Koch money for 2018 won’t go to just some extreme Republicans, who have secretly pledged to privatize Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, highways, police, firemen, schools and partially even the military. Cash will also pass to Democrats, including:
- Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
- Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA)
- Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
- Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
- Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
Dems have already been gifted huge mailings, thanking them from Libre, a Koch front group, for their stance for illegal immigration and against strong border enforcement. More money will come, plus the efforts of 1,200 staffers of advocacy groups in 107 offices across the nation. This army of influence peddlers is three times the staff of the Republican National Committee.
The Kochs, and allies like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, want a steady flow of low-wage immigrants into the U.S. to squelch job opportunities for Americans. It makes business sense to hire a very grateful, even subservient worker, who is overwhelmed by earning even a lousy $7.25 an hour. (Mexico’s minimum wage, for example, is 59 cents an hour.)
Both Democrats and Republicans should be wary of accepting “help” from the Kochs. Nothing is free in politics and every favor will be repaid.
What are the goals of Kochs’ interference in our elections?
Let’s go back in time 50 years to examine the early days of this ultra-conservative family.
It’s the late 1960s and Conshohocken Borough is facing decay, decline and desperation. Business has fled to nearby suburbs, along with more affluent residents. The town can’t afford the millions necessary to revitalize roads, dilapidated structures and the failing bridge over the Schuylkill River in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
The only answer then was Urban Renewal to build downtown parking garages, repair the bridge and attract investors in office buildings and upscale retail stores. Some $24 million was necessary, including federal funds, but developer after developer had backed out of the program, because of community opposition.
Why would anyone fight against improving their town?
I was editor of the local newspaper, The Recorder, and each week I would be visited by one of the members of the local John Birch Society, the group that spearheaded opposition. Conversations often lasted an hour or longer, as Birchers explained their position to me, hoping the newspaper would join their odd bandwagon.
They even presented me a copy of the “Blue Book”, the Bircher guidebook on how to think.
And this is what they advocated:
- If Conshohocken accepted any federal money it would be beholden to the federal government and that was dangerous, because it took away the freedom of local residents.
- Anything the government did, it did poorly, and Conshohocken would fight federal bureaucrats’ efforts to run the town.
The Birch Society had a religious belief that it was better for Conshohocken to become a ghost town than to have federal help.
While I was young at the time (27), I could smell a rat. One of the requirements of the renewal plan was construction of 124 low-income housing units.
One day, I took one of the local Birchers aside and asked:
Suppose they could drastically limit the number of housing units, would you stop actively campaigning against renewal?
The answer: “yes”, but it would have to be a drastic cut in family units, because “we don’t want a bunch of ni—rs coming into town.”
Conshohocken had a small Black community that was hit hard by closing of both Alan Wood Steel and Lee Tires. Many were unemployed, and a few would qualify for public housing.
Once I realized the holier than thou attitude of the opposition was really from exclusion, not political principle, the mayor and council had the ammunition to leash in the loonies.
A small number of family low-income units were approved for urban renewal, but a high-rise building on the town’s main street was also included. This would be only for the elderly, and the council named it Marshall Lee Towers – after the late Rev. Marshall W. Lee, a famed black minister in town.
When the Birchers grumbled about even that compromise, a provision was included so Conshohocken residents would have first priority, then county residents, and after that Philadelphia and the surrounding region. Over the years the Lee Towers waiting list was not surprisingly always filled by only borough seniors.
Fred Koch, father of the Koch boys of today, was one of the founders of The John Birch Society, and a mastermind in crafting a selfish, libertarian philosophy that even today believes in no public services and near elimination of the federal government. His sons are even worse, because they have more personal wealth to dispense than any U.S. family in history, except the Waltons.
While Fred Koch’s spawn – David and Charles – are on my list of most devious denizens of the swamp, it seems appropriate to compare them to Olive Lee Banks, the youngest daughter of the honored Rev. Marshall Lee. She was a local black woman known for her accomplishments in beating the odds.
Mrs. Banks was born in 1911, attended the Conshohocken public schools from first to 12th grades, and graduated in 1929.
She loved drawing, and was encouraged to attend Dobbins Vocational School, where she earned a drafting and engineering certificate. She was the only black woman in her class.
One of her teachers recommended her to the E.G. Budd Manufacturing Company. She was the first black female to work at Budd, and she designed rail cars for trains.
Later, she was the first black woman hired for drafting at the Montgomery County Court House and worked there for 27 years.
Mrs. Banks passed away at 104, coincidentally the same age as her grandfather, Abram Lee, had died. He was a slave, freed after the Civil War.