A group of about 50 people gathered at the Historic Y last night to view “Koch Brothers Exposed,” a movie on the role played by billionaire brothers Charles and David in setting our public policy. Many thanks to Mark, Matt, Sherry, Melissa, Ethan, and Alice for making this such a successful event!
The film documents how the Koch family wealth was built through father Fred’s petroleum contracts with the Bolsheviks in the late 1920s and early 1930s. An American family fortune that built refineries, trained Communist engineers, and laid down the foundation of Soviet oil infrastructure. That wealth, now greater than the gross domestic product generated by 48 of the world’s countries, continues to grow through polluting industries that poison the environment and sicken neighbors. The unprecedented profits are being used to change our social landscape in ways that benefit the top 1% and ask the bottom 99% to bear the cost.
Charles and David are funneling money to political candidates, think tanks, universities, and right-wing citizen groups (like the Tea Party or Americans for Prosperity) who will then champion legislation to shred social security, to bump up workers’ retirement age, to reduce environmental protection laws, to disenfranchise poor and minority voters, to degrade public education, and to destroy unions. The movie pointed out how a finely orchestrated echo chamber harnesses all these voices so the same message is repeated ad nauseum and the disengaged and unenlightened public is convinced what’s bad for them is, instead, desirable.
A discussion period followed, where viewers were asked for their reactions. Sherry used the familiar Occupy stacking method to facilitate the flow of ideas and Ethan wrote them on a board. Many commented on the effectiveness of the propaganda campaign and one viewer commented, “I’m surprised at how *cheap* it is to buy politicians!” We discussed what direct actions could be taken in response, and generated ideas to create our own echo chambers to spread information. These were also written down while folks sipped drinks and munched popcorn, carrots, candy, and Cracker Jacks.