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Examining the Kochtopus


Examining the Kochtopus

Jim Hightower

Multibillionaires Charles and David Koch want nothing less than to supplant America's core democratic principle of majority rule — the will of The People — with their core plutocratic principle of inviolable property rights, also known as domination by the wealthy minority. Their notion is that "property" (accumulated wealth and the means to get it) is sacrosanct and cannot be restricted by the pesky majority for the Common Good.


The Kochtopus makes the Southern Pacific Railroad’s control of California gubmit (subject of Frank Norris’ 1901 OCTOPUS novel) look like a fraternity prank by comparison.


This is a good overview, but I’m surprised and somewhat disappointed that Hightower didn’t mention Nancy MacLean’s excellent “Democracy in Chains,” which explores in depth the rise of the so-called “public choice” movement as a reaction by the plantation-owner class to the SCOTUS ruling in re Brown v. Board of Ed.

In any case, those who claim to be Constitutional “originalists” should be made to explain how, over just a few decades, our small-d democratic political process has devolved into a system where one dollar equals one vote.


The one governmental function they do cherish is insurance against pitchforks. In for a penny in for a pound to the Kochs and the Kochsuckers alike, I say.


All well and good to know the history and the consequences. But, one very important thing everyone is blind to: They have ALREADY won, what we are now seeing are small political skirmishes (the left are mostly losing) in which they are consolidating their victory.



Once the GOP completes stacking of all levels of Federal Courts with young right wing judges, many of whom will still be on the bench during the 2060’s, the Kochs and other 1%ers will use their tax cut windfall to challenge in Federal Courts any legislation they don’t like in order to have said legislation overturned by the right wing judges.

It won’t matter if Congress is comprised of 535 Green Party members, the Kochs and their ilk will use the courts to overturn any legislation they don’t like.


Within weeks of passing the tax-cut-for-the-1% bill, half a million dollars were sent to Paul Ryan, and a like amount to the RNC, by the Kochs. The money transfer closely skirt the Supreme Court definition of quid pro quo bribery. That audacity, my friends, is how the billionaires give us the finger and get away with it.

Also getting away with it, is the billionaire Mercer who funded and set up Cambridge Analytica. What this billionaire-front company did, in collusion with Putin, was memorialized in hidden video camera. What Mercer was up to amounts to treason, but few progressives are even aware of it, and this article does not mention it.

All this is in addition to what this article does say: A Kochtopus’ attack on our body politic. There is so much more, my friends. The only way out is to support the Bernie and Nixon message: Get rid of the establishment Dems, and vote for the 99%.


When money equals 'free speech", “corporations are people” and obscenely low (or no) taxation on the richest (and corporations) create dynasties of vast wealth, the consequences equal a completely stacked deck and manipulated politics - the end of any pretense of a republic and/or democracy in America.

I wonder what the framers would think of today’s new “King George”?.Of course the Constitution is “just a goddamn piece of paper” - whether or not Bush (dubya) actually said that, it is treated so by sellout scum from both parties!

"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." - John Adams

Under the charade that money equals free speech, some - those that control wealth - are more equal than others - those who do not; a theft of representation, sanctified by the scotus, that makes a mockery of “one person,.one vote” - to go along with “liberty and justice for all” at the fore of numerous others…

The manipulation and control of our press/media/ journalism via big-money is of course the icing on the fascist cake, with pre-meditated destruction of education another tool of domination of the many by the few, and endless war the jingoist rallying point for the ill-educated, ill-informed mob…and the beat goes on as the people sleep-walk into oblivion.


This whole article is built on fallacious nonsense. The author is either inexcusably ignorant, or else he’s being purposely deceptive.
America’s “core principle” is not, never has been, and was never intended to be, “majority rule.” The core principle is supposed to be the inviolability of the intrinsic, equal rights of each & every individual. Our rights are immutable & inalienable; they aren’t supposed to be subject to the whim of the mob.
And the principle of inviolable private property rights has nothing to do with “domination of the wealthy over the majority” or any such halfwitted nonsense. First it must be pointed out that ALL valid rights are property rights; beginning with our property right in our own physical bodies & the non-invasive use of all our faculties, and extending outward from there, as that right applies to the products of mixing our faculties (labor) with material goods (provided, again, we do not invade against the equal rights of all others to the same). Property rights are the rights of all individuals, as against any & all others, be they rich, poor, anywhere in between; it doesn’t matter.
Just a little suggestion: if you have to be intellectually dishonest and twist the words & ideas of someone in order to try to discredit them, then it’s most likely because you are the one who’s on the wrong side of the issue.


I’ll cut Jim Hightower some slack because he was (I think) just giving the elevator speech in this post, but you’re right–as I began to read, the first thing I thought of was MacLean’s thesis in Democracy in Chains.

Recently, I dug out Ominous Politics, written by John Saloma, a co-founder of the Ripon Republicans, a liberal Republican group. An early chapter outlines the big-money pool that has been funding the right-wing drive to ascendancy since the 1960s (and also given great detail in Jane Mayer’s excellent Dark Money). Writing in 1983, Saloma concludes that this right-wing movement is determined to remain in power for a long time. He was right.


It’s not real hard to figure out. Here’s what happened: so-called “progressives,” over the last century +, have succeeded in vesting more & more power over virtually every nook & cranny of our lives, especially so regarding our economic lives, into all levels of government, and especially the federal government. So now we have this massive Leviathan state that leaves no part of our lives untouched, & given the now-prevalent doctrine of practically unlimited state power, fallaciously rationalized under the doctrine of “the common good” (any government intervention can be painted as legitimate & Constitutional as long as a tenuous case can be made that it’s for the nebulous concept of “the common good”), which these “progressives” have built up over the decades, we now have a system wherein political rent-seeking is often seen as the easier, more practical route to economic success, rather than voluntary contract & exchange society under the discipline of market forces. Thus, it’s now just a rat race wherein those with the most means available with which to bribe politicians & bureaucrats will always be the winners, while the rest of us, the majority working poor/middle class, just work hard to get plundered & subjugated by the rich & powerful.
All the while, the same “progressives” who built this bastardized fascist/corporate-statist system by insisting on giving ever more power & control to government, are still out there insisting that our problems are due to “unregulated capitalism” and still not enough government power & intervention.
Thats how.


The usual Heritage Foundation bafflegab. Be gone, troll.


Not at all. I made actual arguments. Blithe dismissal is not a refutation. That’s what “trolls” do.


Your legal speak is nothing more than code for how you and your ilk are destroying the social safety net, including trying to take health care coverage away from millions of human beings. It boils down to the fact that you and your fellow plutocrats do not want to pay taxes that go to social programs which help the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the otherwise marginalized, nor do you want regulations that protect the people from fossil fuel pollution and corporate greed. Everything you promote is contrary to the teachings of all major religious traditions. You can try to justify it all you want with your arcane explanations and terms like “rent-seeking” and “Leviathan State,” but any informed person can see right through your heartless cruelty, and that which it is not remotely hyperbolic to call your crimes against humanity. Every other industrialized country on earth provides cradle to grave free or very low cost healthcare, strong protections for labor, free public education including college, a living wage, strong environmental regulations, free childcare for working parents, etc, but the USA lags behind on every single measure because of you and your ideologically deranged group. We the People will not accept this, even if it means another American Revolution; we reject your surreptitiously imposed oligarchic dystopia. Like the first Revolution, the second one won’t be pretty if this downward trajectory for the masses continues much longer.


Your legal speak is nothing more than code for how you and your ilk are destroying the social safety net, including trying to take health care coverage away from millions of human beings.

“Legal speak”? Hardly. I use precise language because I want to avoid the kind of hazy, emotionalist thinking which plagues you & your ilk. And I don’t want to “take” anything from anyone. In fact, that’s what you want to do. I object to all forms of theft. Saying I think all human interrelations should be voluntary & contractual is not the same as wanting to take anything from anyone. I don’t want to take healthcare from you or anyone else. I just don’t think you have the right to force anyone else to foot the bill for it.

It boils down to the fact that you and your fellow plutocrats do not want to pay taxes that go to social programs which help the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the otherwise marginalized

I’m not a “plutocrat.” I’m a middle class bridge painter who has worked hard for everything I have. Presumptuous much?
Yes, you are. Disgustingly presumptuous. You think just because I object to compulsory charity (which is not really charity at all), that’s the same thing as objecting to charity as such. Wrong. Me & everyone else are perfectly willing & capable of tending to our moral obligation to contribute to the care for those truly in need. You don’t believe in any such obligation. You only believe in coercion & compulsion; a gun in the ribs to take from others to satisfy your own perverse, vicarious generosity with the fruits of other people’s labor. You’re a sociopath.

nor do you want regulations that protect the people from fossil fuel pollution and corporate greed.

Of course; the same halfwitted, ignorant presumption. It pervades your entire worldview. You think in fallacious caricature.
I want simple, basic justice. I want laws that protect all people & property from initiatory force & fraud. The reams of bureaucratic minutia that you call by the misnomer “regulation” don’t really “regulate” anything; they just impose arbitrary compulsions & restrictions on everyone, typically to service the special pleading of some selfish interest group.
In a political environment where the laws are limited to protecting people & property rights -i.e., “free market capitalism”- then the only way any corporation can satisfy their “greed” is by allocating scarce productive resources toward satisfying the most urgent wants & needs of the masses; and doing so more efficiently, cheaper & better than the next business. Surely a horrible thing for society!!
I love how you people like to bitch about capitalism, while enjoying all the benefits what tenuous degree of capitalism we have left provides for you. Before the advent of the free market system, human society couldn’t produce enough food to support even a fraction of today’s population. Today, even the poorest of the poor in the capitalistic nations still walk around with cell phones in their hand & fashionable wardrobes.
If it wasn’t for what degree of capitalism we still enjoy, there could never be enough goods produced to supply your precious welfare state bureaucracies.

Everything you promote is contrary to the teachings of all major religious traditions.

Nonsense. That’s just your own ignorance speaking. You know even less about what I promote than you do about the teachings of major religions.
Thou shalt not steal. Ring a bell?

I’ll come back and deal with the rest of that confused mess of an ideological spiel in a couple hours, I have a life to tend to at the moment.
But I will be back shortly .


Oh funny. After attacking Hightower about his alleged distortions, you proceed with your own. Maybe use a less abrasive tone and grant that there are a variety of principles involved here?


A hearty Thanx!

2016 was a MYOB http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.php election.


It is more than a little obvious that you’ve been dispatched here to spew propagandistic talking points on behalf of the very Kochtopus under discussion. I’d recognize the lingo of economist James Buchanan anywhere. But just do us one favor: name one single country in the world where your libertarian worldview is a success. You cannot, because all of the great, thriving countries in the world have some form of social democracy. Surely you’ll tell me what a failure Venezuela is, because that’s what you guys always do. Well, nobody here is promoting Venezuela. We are comparing our failing country to places like: Germany, Switzerland, France, Scandinavia, Austria, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, Uruguay, etc, etc, etc. The UK is currently struggling because of recent austerity measures, which caused a major setback for the NHS. Austerity never works. Neoliberalism is a failure.


What you think constitutes reality, is a classic example of the 50 years of very successful, but subtle, “Free Market” Libertarian propaganda financed by the Kochs, Mercers, DeVos’s, Mellon-Scaifes and their allies. Don’t you see that they are the actual thieves? Do you really think they earned their wealth. I respect the fact that you are a working man. I really do. I too am a working man. The Kochs and their ilk are not your friends. Do not be deceived.


I think not…your post is replete with logical fallacies and lacks any objective evidence to support your claims.

Let’s begin at the beginning:

Logical fallacies: Alternative Truth (your statement relies on alternative truth, with no factual support), Blind Loyalty (your entire screed is related to your blind loyalty to the free market dogma and not on an analysis of facts, Dog-Whistle Politics (similar to blind loyalty, your statement uses (presumably pejorative in your view) terms meant to demean others – namely, “progressives”, Gaslighting (your statement is full of unproven (and, in fact, most likely false) statements of “facts” for which you have only generalizations but no specifics), Guilt by Association (similar to the blind loyalty fallacy, in that you would group “progressives” into a group who, in your view, are guilty of the ills you list, The Identity Fallacy (similar to the guilt by association fallacy, because you assume all progressives are “wrong” on the issues, The Non Sequitur – a critically important logical fallacy because you fail to establish the cause and effect connection between the “facts” you assert and their supposed consequences.

Here you really go off the rails. Contrary to your distorted world view, progressives tend to have exactly the opposite of rent-seeking behavior. Rather than seeking something without counter balancing value, they see societal problems in need of solutions and seek to balance those with societal commitments to solve them. Your religious commitment to market forces is quaint, but not well placed. In almost every case where we have loosened regulations to free up free market forces, what we have experienced is massive market failures, accompanied by, you guessed it, rent-seeking behavior. In fact, the capitalist system is design to move toward rent-seeking not away from it, which is why it is inherently difficult to use as a societal framework for government and commerce. Your “market force” discipline is a fantasy, but not a reality. Review the Great Depression and the Great Recession for apt case studies on this point.

I wouldn’t argue with you on this point.

Actually, it’s the neo-con, right-wing, free market crowd that brought to us the immense disparity in wealth and economic power, not the progressives you so blithely (to use your term) dismiss.

As for you assault on the common good, you seem to totally misunderstand what it is and why we need to address it. I recommend reading The Tragedy of the Commons by Garret Hardin. It demonstrates the need for having a concept of the common good to keep society from destroying the economic, ecological and environmental infrastructure that sustains us. More understandable examples of the common good are things like environmental protection (things like not poisining our air or water), worker safety (providing safety equipment and procedures to avoid undue worker safety risk), transportation rules (we don’t really want trucks driving on the left of the road and cars on the right side of the road do we?), location and maintenance of streets and roads and providing the funds to pay for that, etc. The list is long and the results are important to the success of our society.

People who push the free market religion, such as you have done here, have a belief system about the markets, often wrapped in terms like freedom and choice. Progressives, on the other hand, see real-life problems and seek to address them in the most economic way possible, while actually solving the problem – there is no ideological framework for progressives, although I know you believe there is. When markets can deliver the solution most efficiently, we’re happy to embrace that approach. When mandates are more efficient, we’d rather do that. For example, cap-and-trade (originally a Republican idea) can deliver efficient results for some kinds of environmental and climate change issues. On the other hand, markets have been an abysmal failure in the efficient delivery of healthcare.

It is quite possible that you believe progressives have an ideological framework, because that’s how you approach the world. Unfortunately, you are simply wrong. We tend to be pragmatic problem solvers, not ideologues.