America’s Favorite Billionaires

The Koch Brothers Exposed

Robert Greenwald (2014)

Film Review

The Koch Brothers Exposed examines the myriad of ways America’s favorite billionaires are using their inherited wealth to make themselves the dominant players in the US political system.

Their father Fred Koch made his fortune in the 1920s by helping Stalin establish the Soviet oil industry. On his death, Charles and David Koch used their inheritance to found Koch industries, the second largest privately* held corporation in the US. It has holdings in oil and gas, coal, paper products, plastic and consumer goods.

Koch Industries is notorious for breaking environmental laws (and other crimes, such as stealing 2 million barrels of oil from Indian reservations**). They have paid millions in fines in seven states for criminal pollution. Thanks to their generous campaign donation, George W Bush reduced the 97 counts in one federal indictment to one count – lowering their fine from $370 to $20 million.

Their Georgia Pacific plant in Crossett Louisiana, which discharges toxic chemicals to natural streams (illegal under the Clean Water Act), is responsible for more than a dozen cancer deaths. Yet instead of stopping the toxic discharges and cleaning up the streams, the Koch brothers bribe Republican politicians (through campaign donations and other perks) to weaken and discredit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the entity responsible for enforcing the Clean Water Act.

Determined to roll back the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the minimum wage, labor rights, electoral financing reform, environmental protection laws and federal and state workplace safety laws, the brothers have spent more than $80 million creating and funding conservative and libertarian think tanks and Astroturf organizations – such as Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party. They are also the primary funders, along with Exxon, of the climate denial movement.

They provided the financial backing in the Citizens United case***, in addition to sponsoring the attendance of two Supreme Court justices at an Americans for Prosperity conference. The prior involvement of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia in this Koch brothers group posed a clear conflict of interest. Both had an ethical and legal obligation to recuse themselves. Obviously they didn’t.

The Koch brothers are also major funders and backers of Canada’s tar sands industry and the Keystone pipeline, as well as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The latter writes model legislation for state legislators to use in creating vote suppression, labor rights and workplace safety legislation, as well as laws promoting anti-immigrant campaigns and prison privatization.

Meanwhile the Koch Foundation uses educational grants to over 150 cash-strapped colleges and universities to influence their educational policies. The grants are always conditional, ie dependent on hiring professors who share the Koch brothers conservative philosophy.

*A privately owned corporation is one in which partners provide the capital and share the profits, as opposed to publicly owned corporations in which shareholders provide the capital and share in the profits.
**Charles and David’s younger brother Bill blew the whistle on this operation in 1999.
***Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a constitutional law case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations and labor unions. According to investigative reporter Greg Palast, a major agenda behind the decision was to retroactively decriminalize extensive past donations the Koch brothers had already made to Republican campaigns – in other words to keep them out of jail.

13 thoughts on “America’s Favorite Billionaires

  1. How odd … I don’t seem to HAVE any favorite billionaires. But these jerks aren’t even contenders. I don’t even want to BE a billionaire — the planet can’t really afford them. Clearly, I don’t watch enough television, or I’d have a better grasp of why I’m supposed to idolize the filthy rich, and thank them every day for their gracious condescension in letting me breathe the same atmosphere as such exalted beings.


  2. I like the comment by I. I. Frederick. We are all supposed to idolize the filthy rich, and thank them for our well being. Never mind filthy water and filthy atmosphere. We’ve never had it so good, right? 🙂
    I too wonder, how many billionaires the planet can afford.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 0bama’s main financial backer, George Soros? He’s a good billionaire right?
    Oops, I forgot. We’re suppose to believe the left/right paradigm. Good guys/bad guys. Black people/white people. Democrats/Republicans. Conservatives/Republicans. Christians/everyone else. Hey, don’t forget Bill Gates, I’ve got a vaccine with your name on it, known promoter of world harm, genocide, and eugenics. Master race and those allowed to survive will serve the masters. And he’s funding the push for federalized manipulation and control of U.S. Pre-K through 12 public education. American colleges, particularly the big Ivy League (criminal factories) are nothing more than outrageously expensive indoctrination centers that also help to enslave young people with mountains of debt and the real kicker- those indoctrination centers mold those receptive young minds to appreciate (never question) their enslavement.

    Gosh, what kind of world might we live in without a Rockefellar behind every institution and organization? The United Nations? A reflectively small group of people who are the global elites – wealth and power beyond imagination- making the decisions that determine the reality we all live in. This decade- be kind to homosexuals; annihilate Muslims. Root for the black man; crucify Christians.
    Focus on police brutality; let the medical industry and CPS kidnap children for experiments and profit. Human trafficking, sex slaves, child sex slaves -all disguised and hidden by the benevolent sounding extremely well funded and politically connected non-profit groups, think tanks, and government organizations/agencies. Drug war? Hell, damn right it’s a war. The government doesn’t like competition.

    Got to love those labels though! My billionaire is better than your billionaire because that is what the propaganda told me! The battle of one collective against another will be the never ending battle that will ultimately destroy all of us. If you haven’t figured it out yet, NO ONE becomes a billionaire unless that person has been chosen to become one.

    Until we have a justice system that holds the individual commiting the crime accountable (one that doesn’t provide excuses for the criminal or values the criminal or the victim) and legitimate punishment is served, we will be at odds. The propaganda and deception is enormous and the corruption is all encompassing. You don’t have to believe in God to know right from wrong. There is no justification for harming innocent people for profit or otherwise. Steal- looting to fraud, rape- of another human, the Earth, or another person’s hard earned income, murder-by abortion, war, police brutality, genocide, or just for kicks (anything other than immediate self-defense), etc. no matter who you are nor what your life circumstances (privileged or not) is WRONG. No excuses. All lives matter.


    • Obama is a “designer liberal,” ie someone the CIA propaganda network and corporate media try to disguise as a liberal. In my view, Obama is the most conservative, neoliberal pro-corporate president the US has ever had. In my view, Nixon was far more typical of conventional American liberalism. Moreover I fully believe Wayne Madsen’s and Webster Tarpley’s claims that Obama is a CIA president. I published an article about this back in 2010:

      Likewise the media tries to pass off Soros as a liberal when it’s widely known that he helped the CIA fund most of the so-called “color” revolutions in Eastern Europe – the so-called spontaneous CIA- instigated revolutions in which pro-Russian dictators were replaced by even more totalitarian pro-US puppets. I don’t know if Soros played any role in the latest Ukrainian “color” revolution – but he sure did in the first one.

      The notion of a “liberal” billionaire is an oxymoron. And you’re right. You have to be chosen to be a billionaire. I had a friend who used to work in the CIA who told me they closely monitor everyone in the 1% (total wealth about $800,000). And those whose political views pose a significant threat are dealt to.


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