Frederich Chase Koch, was the son of a Dutch printer born in Quanah, TX in 1900. A headstrong child, he once ran away to live with the Comanches for a brief period of time. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay.
He wound up with a chemical engineering degree from MIT and invented an improved process for refining gasoline from crude oil in 1927.
When he tried to compete with the major oil companies, they successfully tied him up in court with charges of patent infringement. He went abroad with his technology, eventually supplying the necessary technology, plans, and consultation needed to build 15 refineries for Stalin in the early 1930s.
A book called “Dark Money” by Jane Mayer elucidates a little-known aspect of Fred Koch’s career that the family would rather forget. It explains how Koch was tied to Hitler’s war plans.
The technology Koch had developed was useful in refining high octane fuel, which is exactly what Hitler needed to power the planes of his Luftwaffe. In partnership with a William Davis, Fred Koch provided the technical help needed for Hitler to build a refinery that processed one thousand tons of crude per day into high quality fuel and other products. Koch and Davis profited greatly from this venture. The money made from this, Russia, and an eventual court settlement after battling U.S. oil companies for fifteen years was the basis for Koch to start doing business in the U.S.
Although Fred admired Germany, his dealings with communism in Russia led to a fervent desire to see government have as little to do with everything in society as possible. One of the founders of the John Birch Society, Fred was a strict disciplinarian and conveyed his ideas to his children. Freddie was born in 1933, Charles in 1935, David and William (twins) in 1940.
Another, more recent book called “Kochland” by Christopher Leonard explains how his sons Charles and David took the business Fred left them and built it into an empire, leaving a trail of wreckage any plutocrat would be proud of.
With their dad being one of the founding members, it’s not a stretch that Charles and David would become members of the John Birch Society, an organization known for its connections to racism, keeping blacks from voting, and fierce opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is active even today but now denies ties to racism.
In 1980, David ran for vice-president as a Libertarian. Their platform was to do away with social security, Medicare, Medicaid, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, the FDA, FAA, EPA, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They also wanted to privatize all roads and highways, schools, and mail delivery. Oh, and do away with all taxes.
Charles had a penchant for business while David whitewashed the family name with huge contributions to universities, museums, and the like.
Already responsible for busting up unions in the Koch plants and funding legislation to weaken them further, they began to wreak further havoc on the fabric of American society. Besides massive clandestine pollution at their plants, they funded university research institutes, think tanks, and industry trade associations that would propagate and publish misinformation about climate change and government social programs.
From 1998 to 2008, their spending on lobbying increased from hundreds of thousands to many millions in their attempts to squelch climate change measures being considered by Congress. They funded the Tea Party and were instrumental in eliminating every moderate Republican from Congress.
As their spending on propaganda and its tools escalated geometrically, their wealth escalated exponentially. When Citizens United removed corporate restrictions on funding campaigns, the Koch brothers were able to kill a carbon control measure in the Senate after it was passed by the House. They had successfully perverted the U.S. government into a “pay to play” scheme with impunity.
Some of the think tanks and organizations the Kochs have funded are State Policy Network, Heartland Institute, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Pacific Research Institute, Independent Women’s Forum, Fraser Institute, George C. Marshall Institute, Capital Research Center, Cato Institute, Federalist Society, Mercatus Center, Institute for Humane Studies, Institute for Justice, Heritage Foundation, Institute for Energy Research, American Enterprise Institute, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, Aspen Institute, FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and Citizens for the Environment.
Articles written under the auspices of one of the above were distributed to news outlets as real news. Many newspapers, magazines, internet news sites, talk radio broadcasters, and television news broadcasts are duped into carrying fake news because it comes from some important sounding “think tank”. They are actually cesspools of misinformation.
Although Donald Trump was the only candidate the Koch brothers did not like, President Trump’s transition team held many members with financial ties to the Kochs. Pence and Pompeo have taken large sums of money from the Kochs. During the 2016 elections the Koch brothers’ political machine employed 1600 people in 35 states covering 80% of the nation’s population. They spent large amounts of money in forty-two House, nineteen Senate, four gubernatorial, and many lesser races all over the country to make sure the House and Senate stayed Republican in order to advance their corporate schemes for making more and more money and paying less taxes.
It worked. All the money spent on political campaigns and social media propaganda and official sounding think tank articles actually convinced a major portion of the American public in believing climate change was not man made. Unfortunately, climate change is real. Now, thanks in large part to the Kochs, it may be too late to nip climate change in the bud.
The Kochs have betrayed every man, woman, and child that walks the Earth. They have condemned our children and grandchildren to a harsh, increasingly life-intolerant world that will warm to temperatures we are ill adapted to. Animals, insects, and sea creatures are already experiencing up to a 60% reduction in population.
It is a modern cautionary tale of corruptibility through greed. Except who do we tell it to? Perhaps engrave it as pictographs in slabs of stainless steel and set it on a mountain high enough that rising seas won’t reach it. Passing beings from other stars can read it and be sad? Or laugh at our stupidity?
Or maybe humans will read it a few hundred thousand years from now when things cool off and we crawl our of our caves — again. Perhaps we will be that passing intelligence coming back from space to see how the old neighborhood looks now.
Maybe we should include on that slab of stainless steel not only the names of the Kochs but those members of the government that were in collaboration with them, took their money, and allowed this to happen. At least for the next several hundred years mankind will remember who to blame for what happens as the slow motion train wreck of climate change speeds up. And if we do make it through this rough patch (we are as tenacious as we are greedy) we will always have this message from the past as a warning of what can go wrong.
All Rights Reserved for Glen Hendrix