Pulling the Strings

Film Recommendation

Citizen Koch (2014)

Under the Influence

The Koch family is the USA’s second richest. Their wealth is predominantly based in companies that specialize in fossil fuel exploitation. From coal and petroleum to pipelines and natural gas, the Kochs are heavily implicated in carbon. In addition to these, they also own companies that operate in manufacturing, mining, and investment.

There are four Koch brothers in total, but those that get the most attention are the current heads of Koch Industries, Charles and David Koch, aka “The Koch Brothers.” They are individually worth in the tens of billions of dollars, and they leverage their considerable wealth to advance their political agenda. This consists mainly of ensuring that the USA remains fossil fuel dependent.

The Koch Brothers, Charles & David.
Charles and David Koch own a fossil fuel empire.

Brothers on a Mission

It’s no secret that they donate vast sums of money to the (mainly Republican) political establishment. Their dollars work to help entrench the economic status quo, ie. subsidies and tax breaks for the oil companies, with limited protective legislation for the environment (see also Editing Out the Truth).

In addition to what they contribute to political lobbying, the Kochs also spend hundreds of millions of dollars on media campaigns and funding organizations that support their agenda (see Politico).

A complex web

The Shadow Network

They bankroll this extensive communications network with the obvious intent to influence public opinion on climate change (see Dealing in Deception). According to their mantra, climate change is dubious and government action is a threat to freedom.

This belief needs to be widely accepted if they are to continue building their fortune at the expense of the environment. So far, they have been extraordinarily successful in their destructive and greedy ambitions.

Gaming the System

The documentary examines the role of money in politics, as viewed specifically through some of the practices used by the Koch Brothers and their representatives. One example is elections in the state of Wisconsin. There, Koch Industries’ money supported the union-busting (Republican) Governor Scott Walker. Their financial support helped to ensure that new legislation will continue to favour Koch companies, at the expense of the middle class.

What’s especially frustrating throughout the process is knowing that there are citizens out there who might support Koch-propagated legislation because they themselves have been misinformed by Koch-funded organizations and spokesmen.

Koch Industries is a major owner of the Canadian Tar Sands.
Click on the image to view “The True Cost of Oil,” a TED Talk covering the exploitation of the Canadian Oil Sands, of which Koch Industries is a major owner.

Evil Corp Unlimited

This documentary offers but a glimpse into the vast network that makes up the Koch web of influence. To learn more, I would strongly encourage you to read “Inside the Koch Brothers Toxic Empire.” It’s a thoroughly enlightening article from Rolling Stone. Despite being best known for its coverage of music, the magazine has some brilliant and refreshing investigative pieces.

The more you learn about the role of money in politics, and where the money is coming from, the better understanding you will gain of what is truly obstructing the global movements towards social justice and sustainable environmental practices.

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