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Opinion

Opinion

Reader disputes view of Kochs

April 7, 2012

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While reading Dolph Simons Jr.’s Saturday Column supporting the Koch family (March 31) I couldn’t help but think how much the Journal-World parrots Koch industry guidelines. You say the Kochs are a tremendous asset for our state. I contend they are not, by any means.

You decry the fact that the Kochs are maligned (especially in Kansas) and that “the name Koch, particularly here in Lawrence and Kansas, seems to trigger such angry, passionate and negative responses from a certain segment of the community, particularly among some at Kansas University?”

Among other things, from what I’ve read, the Kochs do not support education at any level unless it’s the “right” kind of education and in the “right” locations. You mention Koch support of cancer research at many locations, but not at KU Medical Center. Why do you list locations elsewhere but not here? If the Kochs are so good for Kansas, why aren’t they using their billions to make KUMC’s classification as a National Cancer Research Center much easier.

You don’t mention the CATO Institute, where you mention Astroturf organizations (groups that appear to be grass-roots but are funded by large corporations). Granted the CATO Institute leans libertarian, but it also supports same-sex marriage (http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/moral-constitutional-case-right-gay-marriage) and guest immigrant-worker programs (http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/us-needs-let-more-workers). The CATO Institute opposes sweeping Patriot Act counterterrorism powers, the aggressive use of American military intervention, and the criminalization of drugs. The March 6, 2012, New York Times has an interesting article citing the many of these things; articles and op-eds are also available at www.cato.org.

On March 1, the Journal-World reprinted an AP article outlining the Koch brothers’ attempted takeover of the CATO Institute. The article reads as if the Kochs were the oppressed — “pity the billionaire” — when in fact they are not. The attempted takeover is a thinly veiled attempt to control the CATO Institute and its research; in essence they want to buy CATO.

As a note, Koch donations to CATO dwindled to zero this past year. If they did in fact support CATO as you say, wouldn’t their donations increase rather than dwindle to nothing?

You say the Kochs support Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Freedom Works (FW). CSE was not just Koch-supported; it was Koch-founded and industry-supported (85 percent of their money) supporting deregulation. Some of their “citizens” are huge conglomerates, some “too big to fail:” Amoco, GE, GM, Citibank, and so on. They’re citizens simply because of the “Citizens United” ruling; a ruling, by the way, which makes it rather useless for a true citizen (one person) to donate for a political cause. CSE is now FW because of an internal rift dissolving CSE and creating FW.

AFP is an Astroturf front group started David Koch and Richard Fink. As with any other Koch Astroturf organization, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, cap-and-trade legislation (making industries pay for the air pollution they create) and international climate talks.

The AFP, CSE and FW are just some of the front groups funded by the Kochs. Jane Mayer indicated in the Aug. 30, 2010, New Yorker that it’s difficult to know just how much the Kochs have their hand in politics because they’re so slippery and leave no tracks; they dispersed their money, “creating slippery organizations with generic-sounding names.” Sounds like a good, honest, trustworthy family, doesn’t it?

You say Koch Industries follows a list of principles: integrity, confidence, value creation, principled entrepreneurship, customer focus, knowledge, change, humility, respect and fulfillment. The principles you mention are outlined in part of the Koch Market Based Management® philosophy, which you don’t cite. I agree with most of them, however. You say confidence where they use compliance, “100 percent of employees fully complying 100 percent of the time.” There is a distinct difference between the two. Confidence is the internal fortitude to do and fight for what is right; compliance presents a “yes, sir, thank you, sir, may I have another,” attitude. The trademarked “Principled Entrepreneurship” is little more than a self-serving title to make what they do more palatable.

As a note, I see you use the principles as a nice dig against education. This indicates to me you don’t support the public education system in Lawrence, nor do you support having the state fund schools the way they are constitutionally required to. I can only assume you support the ongoing attempts of Gov. Brownback and Speaker O’Neal to grind education (as many other things) under the heal of an autocratic, theocentric plutocracy.

— Ralph Reed is a long-time Lawrence resident.

Comments

Scott Morgan 2 years ago

Amerikuns do away with laws to reinforce the ignorance of this society. Read much????

Actually I do read a great deal. Anybody including libs realize our government, local, state, and federal is in business to make laws. Tweak here, help a group there, much done without thought of the effect it can have. Think Detroit. Think California a state in which new business start ups are nearly impossible. Over regulation is strangling our economy.

The result, the state is broke and L.A. (money) has moved to Arizona.

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Mike Ford 2 years ago

Actually wissmo Germans have a partitioned government in the Bundestag with representation divied out in proportion to the amount of seats held in the Bundestag by each party involved. Kind of like the the representation that took place in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy with each tribe having representation according to the size of the tribe (Mohawk, Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, Onandaga, and Tuscarora). Benjamin Franklin observed it's function in the 1750's and admitted it as an influence when authoring the US Constitution in the 1780's. Furthermore what you say about laws and cars isn't correct. The Green Party in Germany lobbied and got all German auto manufacturers to adhere to a governed top speed of 155 mph for German cars even if they're capable of more like the BMW M series and the Mercedes Benz AMG series of performance cars. Germans enact laws to reinforce intelligence in their society. Amerikuns do away with laws to reinforce the ignorance of this society. Read much????

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lunacydetector 2 years ago

as i skim over the comments, i didn't see two words: george soros.

he has his hands in everything.

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booyalab 2 years ago

For the people who can't stand the thought of someone using their money to influence: Why? Do you think any sort of political donation should be illegal? Or just the donations to political groups you dislike? If every politically charged donation should be illegal, where do you draw the line? If I buy a tote bag that says "Save the disadvantaged squirrels" and a portion of the profits go to a group that lobbies for the rights of squirrels in rough neighborhoods, is that a type of donation that shouldn't be allowed? What if I'm rich and I donate to the squirrel rights group? What if I'm rich and I donate to NAMBLA? We probably all agree that the last type of person is distasteful, but should there be a law against rich people donating to NAMBLA? I would say no. In fact, hearing about said person would not even inspire the level of vitriol I see about the Koch brothers who haven't even done anything that most people would consider immoral. So I'm curious if there are any objective principles at the heart of the views on the Kochs. I haven't seen any yet.

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mikekt 2 years ago

The Koch Brothers act as if they are entitled, socially irresponsible, brats. Their daddy, Fred Koch, a petroleum engineer, handed them a ready to run business (to get started with-they didn't have to build it from scratch), educations & was himself, the victim of dictatorial oil industry monopolies, that used the court system to run him out of business in this country back around the 1930's thru groundless law suits; which were the 20's & 30's versions of todays massive, underhanded lobbying schemes, that carve up the financial pie,... minus the law suits. When did libertarian come to mean that "we should be allowed to do anything we want- because we are rich-with no exceptions, social conscience or obligation to a society that makes us rich, gives us ready made markets & protects our wealth from outsiders, who might simply take it away from us, if our system wasn't there to protect us"? Well,...Have your cake;... eat it too .......and send the bill to whoever?! That's a great idea for social dictators, who actively dictate to the rest of us thru the power of lobbying, Political Election PACs and their sheer indifference to the fates of others!

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seriouscat 2 years ago

Responsible corporations -- or, at the very least, corporations that do not want to lose market share in the face of consumer boycotts -- are exiting ALEC.

But the group's most extreme backers are doubling down. A representative of the Koch Companies announced that, "Yes, we plan to continue our membership in and support of ALEC."

Since the Center for Media and Democracy's "ALEC Exposed" project was developed last summer in cooperation with The Nation, millions of Americans have become aware that ALEC uses corporate money to craft one-size-fits-all "model legislation" that its member legislators then propose and pass in the states.

The "ALEC Exposed" project revealed the backstory of how this 40-year-old group uses an elaborate system of corporate-guided "task forces" to promote:

  • Restrictive Voter ID laws and array of related initiatives that threaten to suppress voting by residents of rural regions, students, senior citizens and people of color.

  • Anti-labor laws designed to limit the ability of Americans to organize and have a voice in their workplaces and the public life of their communities, states and nation.

  • Tort "reform," deregulation and corporate tax-slashing schemes that eliminate tools to assure multinational corporations act responsibly and contribute to the communities and states where they operate.

  • Money-in-politics initiatives that seek to remove barriers to domination of elections by corporations and billionaire right-wing donors -- such as longtime ALEC supporters Charles and David Koch.

  • Privatization schemes that undermine public education and public services, posing particular threats to rural communities and urban neighborhoods that rely on strong public institutions.

  • Kill-at-Will laws that prevent police and prosecutors from effectively investigating shootings such as that of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Bo Morrison in Wisconsin and others who have been killed since states began to enact so-called "Castle Doctrine" and "Stand Your Ground" laws.

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Scott Morgan 2 years ago

BTW..........the Germans have some socialist leanings. They also do not shoot themselves in the foot with massive anti business regs. Germans understand business is the lifeblood of a healthy economy.

They laugh at what we do to companies like Honeywell, of our auto industry. They cheer when we write silly law after silly law. For instance want a vehicle bigger than a shoe and get a bit of power as well. Don't look here, but try a clean diesel turbo charged German/Italian made vehicle 55mpg........in Europe. Why not hear? Against the law.

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blindrabbit 2 years ago

Watching a great program on KCPT the other night and upon it's conclusion the name of the main sponsor "The David Koch Foundation" appeared on the screen. I like Rick Santorum almost had a case of "projectile vomiting" at the sighting! Needless to say, that is the only Santorum revelation that I have in common with him. This is a case where Koch gets to appear to be a patron of the arts and a friend of the common man while still sticking us in the back!! Kinda like the premise in Thomas Franks "What's the Matter With Kansas".

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Scott Morgan 2 years ago

Okay for the far left......................For sure. It's always for the children, or the weak and impoverished.

There are some of us who see this agenda. There are some of us who know the difference between tax funded jobs and private industry. There are some of us watching this nation self destruct. There are some of us who shudder hearing President Obama whisper his intentions to Russian journalists. There are some of us who realize we did a pretty good job of educating American youth for decades until the feds decided to take over. There are some of us who now see the same ideals taking over our private medical needs. There are some of us who wonder why a city of 100 K can't afford to turn the lights on or put out a fire. There are some of us who do not wish to bail our liberal wacko California........again.

Yet, here we go at break neck speed into everybody deserves everything.

Socialism does not work, ask a tax paying German citizen how he or she feels paying for the Greek and soon to be Spanish lazy gimme more style socialists. Ireland and Portugal next. Maybe France soon enough.

Thanks American liberals.

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dlkrm 2 years ago

Lots of hate directed at a family using its money to influence. Okay for the far left, not for the right. Hmmm.

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booyalab 2 years ago

For those who didn't feel like reading the whole article.....highlights include: he read something, he only likes to provide sources for things that don't advance his argument like Cato Institute views on same sex marriage and the opinions of New Yorker columnists, his best argument against their business philosophy is that they use nice-sounding buzzwords to make people feel good, he likes concluding sentences that state assumptions, he's a long time resident of Lawrence

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Thomas Kurata 2 years ago

Hi Ralph,

It's been a long time since we last delivered pizzas together at the Green Pepper in the spring of 1974 when we were both at KU. I very much enjoyed reading your response to Dolph Simon's Saturday Column concerning the Koch brothers. Kudos to both you and the Journal-World to air opinions about the Kochs. For the space allotted to you, your views were expressed concisely and, I believe, hit the nail on many heads. I don't know if you have heard about the university donations the Koch brothers have been making but I attach the following link for your interest: http://www.bravenewfoundation.org/topics/college-donations/ It seems now there is push back from those universities that accepted donations from the Koch brothers due to infringements on academic freedom. It appears a lot of the Koch donations come with strings attached, i.e. the Kochs wish to influence faculty hiring decisions to support the Koch's philosophies. Having been in Florida recently, I learned that Florida State University is suffering severe buyer's remorse for having accepted Koch donations. I recently contacted KU about this and was informed that none of the Koch donations to KU had strings attached concerning faculty hiring. Controversy is one of the greatest spices of life, and I thank and salute you for having the courage of your convictions to express your views out in the open, and not from behind the cloak of anonymity. Well done!

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its_just_math 2 years ago

Oh Ralph, you have your Soros. Let us have our Kochs.

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Armstrong 2 years ago

Ahhh, another weekend of 3rd grade rants.

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tomatogrower 2 years ago

Can someone tell me how all these government rules and regulations that have picked on the poor, oppressed Koch family have held the family back? I mean haven't they prospered enough? And how much of that money spent on buying our government could have provided real jobs, or at least raises for the people who already work for them? Just more money invested in unproductive work. Try producing something. I'm sick of people who don't produce anything.

The Koch industries produce, but instead of taking their profit and producing more, they waste it on buying the government. I guess they produce BS. And "Can't" (always negative, those conservatives), it sounds like cleaning portapotties are going to be needed with the likes of the Kochs running this country. And your stupid class envy parry is getting old. Try addressing the issues for a change. Or are you really clueless about the issues?

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Windemere 2 years ago

Good point -- if they or /their businesses are held accountable if they do something illegal, great -- as it should be. Lots of liberals and people of all political stripes have done something against the law. Hold them accountable. I don't think that leads to the conclusion that any group they found or support is evil or should automatically be condemned. Or their speech stifled.

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CrimsonBlossom 2 years ago

Feel free to leave, then. Don't let the door hit you where the Lord split you.

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Windemere 2 years ago

Not sure if publishing it shows class, but it does show a lack of quality control. It's an unfocused, meandering rant. I would have rather seen a cogent argument in its place. As for the Kochs, I've never seen anything alleging that they do anything illegal. Seen no evidence that they engage in "hate speech." They seem to be rather extreme libertarians. They make people who want big government angry. Let free speech flourish.

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brewmaster 2 years ago

I despise the Kochs. They are manipulative, sociopathic, modern day robber barons.

However, I must extend a tip-of-the-hat to Mr. Simons and the LJW for publishing Mr. Reed's opposing response to Mr. Simons' own article. That act shows journalistic class.

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Michael LoBurgio 2 years ago

                               ALEC Exposed: The Koch Connection

Hundreds of ALEC’s model bills and resolutions bear traces of Koch DNA: raw ideas that were once at the fringes but that have been carved into “mainstream” policy through the wealth and will of Charles and David Koch. Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding. http://www.thenation.com/article/161973/koch-connection

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Michael LoBurgio 2 years ago

         The Koch brothers…fund the Tea Party, make billions, lay off workers.

As Tea Party Koch Brothers Earned An Extra $11 Billion In Recent Years, They Laid Off Thousands

However, at a time when the Koch brothers were enjoying spectacular financial gains, Koch Industries laid off well over 2,000 people. Using the same approximate “jobs multiplier” Koch Industries used in its study last week, that means Koch Industries extinguished nearly 8,000 jobs in recent years:

http://www.dirtandseeds.com/the-koch-brothers-fund-the-tea-party-make-billions-lay-of-workers/

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Michael LoBurgio 2 years ago

                         How The Kochs Are Fracking America

The October 2011 issue of Discovery, the in-house Koch Industries newsletter, explains how the Koch Industries empire is profiting from the “really exciting” fracking boom:

– 1. Koch Pipeline is partnering with NuStar Energy to develop a dormant pipeline from Pettus, TX to refineries in Corpus Christi. The pipeline will transport natural gas from fracking sites in southern Texas. Koch Pipeline is a Koch Industries subsidiary.

– 2. Flint Hills Resources recently purchased a small craft pier and wharf in Ingleside, TX to store shipments of natural gas from fracking operations in the Eagle Ford shale formation. Flint Hills Resources is a Koch Industries subsidiary.

– 3. Koch Supply & Trading, a Koch Industries company that deals with commodity trading and financial products, is “already trading Eagle Ford crude” to help supply Koch companies and other customers, according to a Koch Industries newsletter.

– 4. Koch Chemical Technology Group is designing a processing facility near Yoakum, TX to help process natural gas fracked in southern Texas. Koch Chemical is a subsidiary of Koch Industries.

– 5. John Zink, a Koch Industries company, is providing flares for a natural gas processing plant in Helena to service the fracking industry.

– 6. Georgia Pacific produces resins used for chemicals used to prop open micro-fractures, an important process for fracking to occur. GP is a Koch Industries subsidiary.

– 7. Koch Fertilizer, a Koch Industries company, has tapped into increased natural gas production from fracking to develop fertilizer.

http://thinkprogress.org/green/2012/03/02/436669/how-the-kochs-are-fracking-america/

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Michael LoBurgio 2 years ago

Business lobby, aided by $36,000 from Koch Industries, targets eight Republican incumbents in state Senate for defeat

The Chamber said a majority of Republicans in the Kansas House and Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, support a pro-business agenda.

The Chamber PAC’s campaign finance report filed Tuesday illustrates the effort by Brownback’s supporters to wrest control of the Senate from so-called moderate Republicans. The Chamber PAC collected $163,000 in contributions last year with the biggest donors being Koch Industries, which contributed more than $36,000. Among other large contributors was The Lawrence Paper Co., $15,000; and Murfin Drilling Co., $10,000.

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/jan/10/business-lobby-targets-eight-republican-incumbents/?utm_campaign=ljpgtweet&utm_source=ljpgtweet&utm_medium=ljpgtweet

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Michael LoBurgio 2 years ago

Koch Brothers Behind Efforts to Overturn Health Reform Do all roads lead to Koch?

Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group financed by industrialists Charles and David Koch. The billionaire brothers provided the seed money to get this organization off the ground and have donated at least $5 million overall (possibly a lot more) to its operations. David Koch still serves as the group’s chairman.

These facts belie the image that Americans for Prosperity would like to present as a humble grassroots organization. The stories we see today about regular Americans coming to D.C. to protest evil health reform are directly attributable to the corporate interests that the Koch brothers represent.

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/872895/koch_brothers_behind_efforts_to_overturn_health_reform/

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years ago

You decry the fact that the Kochs are maligned (especially in Kansas) and that “the name Koch, particularly here in Lawrence and Kansas, seems to trigger such angry, passionate and negative responses from a certain segment of the community, particularly among some at Kansas University?”

Ralph Reed = "certain segment of community"

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years ago

Sounds a lot like class envy to me. Ralph, if you would spend as much time trying to do something to better yourself instead of whining, you too, might aspire to something more than cleaning porta potties.

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ihatelv 2 years ago

"AFP is an Astroturf front group started David Koch and Richard Fink. As with any other Koch Astroturf organization, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, cap-and-trade legislation (making industries pay for the air pollution they create) and international climate talks."

Those are all great reasons why you should SUPPORT them.............

I hate you hippies in Lawrence more and more every day!

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cato_the_elder 2 years ago

This piece of tripe is the most lame attempt at analysis that the J-W has published in some time.

Dolph Simons, Jr. doesn't "...support the public education system in Lawrence?" Are you kidding? If the author of this piece of drivel is really a "long-time Lawrence resident," then he's been living under a rock.

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RogersState80 2 years ago

Thank you watchdog. Im sure Koch is losing sleep at night because of your barking. Let us know if there is anything else we need to know.

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pace 2 years ago

Good sound letter. I think the naming of the special Koch "citizens grass root" industry funded fronts should have been mentioned in the rather bizarre editorial lauding them. I am really sick of Koch words coming out of a "concerned mother's mouth". It is insulting to moms.

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prairiemermaid 2 years ago

Great comment! Thanks for the informed evaluation of the Koch family business. We need watchdogs like you, especially now...

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