Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The New Koch Plan

The New Koch Plan!  It's a re-branded, better-tasting version of the Old Koch Plan which included the following goals:

To shrink the government to its  three pro-billionaire functions: 

a) to protect the billionaires against foreign invaders (allow the military to exist),

b) to  protect the billionaires against domestic robbers and thieves (allow the police to exist)

c) to protect the billionaires against legal attempts to get at their money (allow the courts to exist).

To kill all other government functions
a) because they must be financed by taxes and the Kochs do not want to pay those, and/or

b) because they hamper the wild and lawless ("free") pursuit of ever greater profits (so kill  environmental protection, health inspections, worker safety rules and so on),  and/or
c) because they are unnecessary for billionaires.  Billionaires don't need mass public transportation, public schools, old age pensions, unemployment benefits or government subsidized health care, what with being billionaires.

The problem with that old plan is its poor "optics."  It's hard to get non-billionaires to support these billionaire-class identity politics.  So the New Koch Plan has added extra nutrients:  Empathy!  Fighting for a fairer criminal sentencing system!  Keeping poor teenagers from gangs!  Offering translation services and help to Latinos who wish to pull themselves up by their bootlaces by starting enterprises!

Jane Mayer writes about the new flavors of Koch. I recommend that you read the whole piece.  Here's a taste to get you interested:

The Kochs received equally positive press that fall, when, in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, they began speaking publicly about the need for criminal-justice reform. In February, 2015, when Koch Industries joined a bipartisan umbrella group for sentencing reform, the Coalition for Public Safety, the news made the Times. The Kochs were coming together with such avowedly liberal groups as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. Among the most surprising of the Kochs’ new allies was Van Jones, a former senior fellow at the think tank, and the head of a criminal-justice-reform group called #cut50. Only months earlier, he had criticized the United Negro College Fund for accepting Koch money, arguing that “few people still alive have done more to promote policies that hurt African-Americans than the Koch brothers.”
It is true that, at least as far back as 1980, when Charles Koch enlisted David, then a company executive, to run for Vice-President of the United States on the Libertarian Party ticket, the brothers have publicly supported radical reform of America’s criminal-justice system. The platform of the Libertarian Party in 1980 called for an end to all prosecutions of tax evaders and the abolition of a number of federal agencies whose regulations Koch Industries and other businesses have chafed at, including the E.P.A., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Federal Election Commission, whose campaign-spending limits the brothers opposed. But the Kochs, as hard-line libertarians, have had goals quite different from those of many of their liberal allies. Their distaste for the American criminal-justice system is bound up in distrust of government and a preference for private enterprise. Until recently, the criminal-justice victims the Kochs focussed on were businessmen who had run afoul of the modern regulatory state—that is, people like them.

The bolds are mine.

Get it?  The new plan builds bridges all the way across the political spectrum, finds partners in the most unexpected places (after funding their praiseworthy activities with what for billionaires would be pocket money),  and creates new shared goals so that the Koch goals (get rid of punishments for rich white-collar criminals) seem to coincide with certain progressive goals (get rid of racism in the sentencing system and the police).

I love it!  I especially love the idea that the Koch Plan needs to be "re-branded," the corporate thinking behind all this ruthlessness, such as this:

Fink was brutally honest about how unpopular the views of his wealthy audience were. “When we focus on decreasing government spending,” he said, and on “over-criminalization and decreasing taxes, it doesn’t do it, O.K.? . . . They’re not responding, and don’t like it.”
But he pointed out that if anyone in America knew how to sell something it should be the successful business leaders in the Koch network. “We get business,” he told the audience. “What do we do? We want to find out what the customer wants, right? Not what we want them to buy!”
It's like putting a picture of a happy cow on the wrapper of a block of margarine when people suddenly want to buy more organic products.

The Koch Plan is gaining power because of the Citizens United decision of the US Supreme Court, the first step towards one-dollar-one-vote in this country.  If you are interested in learning more about dark money in the US politics, get Mayer's bookAn excerpt can be found here.  Do read it to the very end.