When you’ve got enough of it, green means being able to influence elections, muddy the water on issues of the day, even fund fake grassroots movements, aka Tea Parties (R.I.P), all to stoke your corporate agenda while you call it libertarianism. Huzzah! Jane Mayer has a well-written and well-reported piece in The New Yorker on the Brothers Koch and their exploits. You should read it all; it’s like contemporary American history in the making:
In a 2002 memo, the Republican political consultant Frank Luntz wrote that so long as “voters believe there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community” the status quo would prevail. The key for opponents of environmental reform, he said, was to question the science—a public-relations strategy that the tobacco industry used effectively for years to forestall regulation. The Kochs have funded many sources of environmental skepticism, such as the Heritage Foundation, which has argued that “scientific facts gathered in the past 10 years do not support the notion of catastrophic human-made warming.” The brothers have given money to more obscure groups, too, such as the Independent Women’s Forum, which opposes the presentation of global warming as a scientific fact in American public schools. Until 2008, the group was run by Nancy Pfotenhauer, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. Mary Beth Jarvis, a vice-president of a Koch subsidiary, is on the group’s board.
Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego, is the co-author of “Merchants of Doubt,” a new book that chronicles various attempts by American industry to manipulate public opinion on science. She noted that the Kochs, as the heads of “a company with refineries and pipelines,” have “a lot at stake.” She added, “If the answer is to phase out fossil fuels, a different group of people are going to be making money, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re fighting tooth and nail.”
I’m as guilty as anyone of narrowing my focus at times and missing the big picture. But the big picture is huge and often difficult to grasp, and it’s good to be reminded that it’s not conspiratorial to think know that some people with means count on this, too, as just another tool in the pouch. Remind yourself that it takes some work to stay informed, that the 1st amendment is a kind of cautionary note, freedom in reverse – not to do nothing, but a responsibility to do more. Way more. Just to find out what you need to know. Especially when we’re as peopled with highly motivated oligarchs as we are. Besides the many other things they are, the Kochs’ activities equal exhibit A for the estate tax. 99.3% at least.