Know your enemy. Keep the Brawny boys in the news.


Interesting reader’s comment on a Crooks and Liars story about the Saturday rally in Madison, WI, that drew 100,000 protesters:

I think that the Koch brothers may finally have unwittingly jumped the shark. While it may be a bit premature to sharpen the guillotines, oiling up the tumbrels seems quite in order.

Damn. I guess he was using the guillotine as a metaphor, but the fact that he knows what the tumbrels were used for is unsettling.

It’s fun to fantasize about snuffing out the let-them-eat-cake crowd, but not productive. You might end up like Jean-Paul Marat, who wrote article after article calling for the execution of more and more French aristocrats. Finally, the sensible Charlotte Corday used a sharp knife to shut him up.

There’s rhetoric, and there’s reality. The billionaire exploiters of the working class exist in a realm far more remote from the poor than that of the French monarchists who stirred up the bloodlust of starving Parisians. Our fat cats spend multimillions buying politicians, creating think tanks and hiring ad agencies to do their dirty work. They’re untouchable except, possibly, in the areas where their money is generated.

It makes more sense to look into cutting into their profits, not chopping off their heads, even though boycotts alone won’t bring down the the Koch brothers and their ilk, whose holdings are “vertically integrated” into the economy.

I’m thinking of Jane Mayer’s quick sketch of the Kochtopus:

With his brother Charles… David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

We should stop buying Brawny, etc., and boycott banks and other businesses that aid Koch Industries and other corporations trying to re-establish the asset-grabbing Gilded Age-style of doing business — the status quo before Robert La Follette and other progressives began cleaning up Wisconsin politics in the early 20th century.

But we also should remember we have a long way to go. Wisconsin is an encouraging sign, but will workers fight back in states with puppet governors who aren’t as heavy-handed and ruthless as Scott Walker? Not unless we keep all aspects of the story in the news until it sinks in.

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