I found this a tad disconcerting, if you will. Back in August, the New Yorker ran a lengthy profile on the Koch brothers, heads of the largest private company in the U.S., Koch Industries. The article focused mainly on David, the less reclusive of the two (the other, older brother, Charles, remains out of the limelight by not doing things like bestowing $100 million to the New York Sate Theater, as David did), and the company the two lead, which rakes in around an estimated $100 billion in annual revenues.
Over the last couple years, the brothers Koch have congealed into the epitome of the dark, shadowy figures that every pot smoker who's ever read the Illuminati trilogy, given a lot of thought to the overarching subplot to the X-Files or held a conversation about what's really going on the front and back of a dollar bill. What's crazy is that the Kochs are actually living up to the impossible standards that conspiracy theorists tend to hold for their shadowy figures.
It was David Koch who journalist Ian Murphy posed as when he called Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and got him to talk strategy over the phone during the protests over union busting among the state's legislature. The Kochs are the ones who funded Tea Party organizations and have a hand in directing the focus of their protests. The Kochs helped neuter the sole federal agency charged with overseeing the oil speculation market and made piles of cash by driving up gas prices. And, most recently, the Kochs were revealed to have had a direct hand in keeping the National Cancer Institute under their thumbs.
The August New Yorker profile revealed that David Koch was a member of the NCI's advisory board and that his company had spent money lobbying to suppress a study listing formaldehyde as a known carcinogen in humans. Koch Industries owns Georgia-Pacific, a major manufacturer of the chemical, which is also used in common consumer products it makes, like fiberboard and plywood. Following the New Yorker article, groups like Greenpeace made enough of a stink that Koch resigned from the advisory board in October. Last week, formaldehyde was officially listed as a known carcinogen by the NCI.
What makes me sad is that the Kochs have allied themselves with the Right, so any criticism of them is often taken as criticism of the GOP or conservatism. I predict with a fair degree of confidence that there will be accusations of me being a pinko, money hating liberal in the comments section below. But when we're all being manipulated by the uber-wealthy, it's not political; it's the most egalitarian thing in the world.