Scott Walker, the Koch Brothers, and State of Wisconsin Owned Power Plants

I am trying to put together the new lefty meme of the day. Let me see if I can do it.

1) Koch Brothers give money to Scott Walker’s campaign
2) Koch Brothers are in the energy business
3) Scott Walker folds a no bid process to sell the state owned power plants into the budget repair bill
4) Koch Brothers get sweet deal on said power plants as payback for campaign contributions
5) ?

This is what I am gathering from my facebook friends and demonstrators and some articles I have read. Most of the usual suspects are trumpeting this black helicopter theory as the real deal. Many in the Wisconsin state assembly brought up this in the debate that finally ended on Friday morning.

So what is the deal, really? What about this Koch Brothers connection? Why on earth would they want the Wisconsin owned plants? Do they? Lets do a little digging and try to come up with some answers.

A preface, if you will. I am not an expert in power plants, or politics in general, but I do have a computer and the Google. I will do my best on this but expect to make some errors. Please correct me in the comments if you see a glaring mistake.

Before this kerfuffle at the capitol I had never heard of the Koch brothers, or their lobbying group. I saw some signs with their name on them when I went down there last Saturday and had no clue what the deal was. I honestly thought that Mayor Ed Koch was involved in some sort of protest. I am sure I was not alone in having no clue who the Koch brothers are.

Per wiki:

Koch Industries, Inc. /ˈkoʊk/) is an American private energy conglomerate based in Wichita, Kansas, with subsidiaries involved in manufacturing, trading and investments. Koch also owns Invista, Georgia-Pacific, Flint Hills Resources, Koch Pipeline, Koch Fertilizer, Koch Minerals and Matador Cattle Company.

Koch companies are involved in core industries such as the manufacturing, refining and distribution[1] of petroleum, chemicals, energy, fiber, intermediates and polymers, minerals, fertilizers, pulp and paper, chemical technology equipment, ranching,[2] finance, commodities trading, as well as other ventures and investments.

In 2008, Forbes called it the second largest privately held company in the United States (after Cargill) with an annual revenue of about $98 billion,[3][4][5] down from the largest in 2006. If Koch Industries were a public company in 2007, it would rank about 16 in the Fortune 500.[6]

That, my friends, is a big, big company.

From this different wiki, here is information on their political activities:

Charles and David’s father, Fred C. Koch, was a co-founder of the John Birch Society.[1] He gave a speech in 1963 warning of “a takeover” of America in which Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us”.[3][unreliable source?]

David H. Koch was a Libertarian vice-presidential candidate in 1980 on a platform that advocated the abolition of Social Security, the FBI, the CIA, and public schools.[3][5][unreliable source?] Koch put $500,000 into the race, and he and Ed Clark, his presidential running mate, won 1% of the vote—the best libertarian showing in a U.S. presidential race to date. But the experience caused David Koch to change course: “I had enough,” he said. “We are not a nation that debates issues. We vote on candidates’ personalities.” By 1984, David had parted company with the Libertarian party, because, he said, “they nominated a ticket I wasn’t happy with” and “so many of the hard-core Libertarian ideas are unrealistic.”[5]

Since then, Charles and David Koch have adopted a much less visible strategy toward advancing their libertarian and pro-corporate agenda.[citation needed] Jane Mayer says that they are now so secretive that “they are not just undercover, but underground”.[6] In 1986, David Koch helped found the Citizens for a Sound Economy, and has given over $21 million to the Cato Institute.[7]

[edit] Charles G. KochCharles G. Koch funds and supports libertarian and free-market organizations such as the Cato Institute,[2] which he co-founded with Edward H. Crane and Murray Rothbard in 1977,[8] and is a board member at the Mercatus Center, a market-oriented research think tank at George Mason University. Koch supported his brother’s candidacy for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.[9] After the bid, Koch told a reporter that conventional politics “tends to be a nasty, corrupting business … I’m interested in advancing libertarian ideas”.[9] In addition to funding think tanks, Charles and David also support libertarian academics[10] and (since 1992) Koch funds the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program through the Institute for Humane Studies which recruits and mentors young libertarians.[11] Koch is also chair of the Institute’s board of directors.[12] Koch also organizes twice yearly meetings[13] of Republican donors.[2]

In the August 2010 New Yorker, Jane Mayer writes that “As their fortunes grew, Charles and David Koch became the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America.”[9] The Koch brothers fund a multitude of groups opposed to fiscally left-wing policies, including Americans for Prosperity.

That is interesting stuff. I literally had no idea who these people were, yet they are very active in the Cato Institute, a place I have read from frequently.

Per Open Secrets, it looks like their PAC donates to Republicans by a ten to one margin over Democrats, at least on the federal level. They are without doubt a heavy hitter.

According to this (I know it is Mother Jones) Walker received $43,000 from the Koch Brothers in the 2010 campaign. Walker probably received some more Koch money “around the horn” from other groups that the Kochs donated to. Lets say the total, just for kicks, is $75 thousand. I have nothing to support that number, it is just a WAG.

So we have a governor who has received $75 grand in campaign donations. If I believe the heavy breathing going on all over the place I am supposed to grasp the concept that $75 grand is enough for Scott Walker to write no bid contracts of state owned power plants to the Koch Brothers companies, or subsidiaries into the budget repair bill. Sounds nice.

Lets talk about the state of Wisconsin owned power plants. Information on them isn’t easy to find, believe it or not.

This article says that the state owns 34 power plants, worth $235mm. But:

Several state power plants are under scrutiny because of their air pollution, raising a question about how marketable they may be.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency began an investigation to determine whether plants at UW campuses and prisons were in violation of the Clean Air Act. In addition, air pollution standards being implemented by the EPA are expected to result in older coal-fired power plants’ needing to add pollution controls or switch to cleaner-burning natural gas.

“The state knows darn well that it has got compliance issues with these aging coal plants, and so the violations are going to have to be corrected,” said Jennifer Feyerherm of the Sierra Club in Madison. “How the governor thinks he can put lipstick on that pig and sell huge financial and environmental liabilities to someone else, good luck. Bottom line, those plants need to be cleaned up.”

I wonder how well the Koch Brothers companies would play with the Sierra club. And that EPA investigation is not small potatoes. From this article:

The federal agency sent the state Department of Administration a letter Thursday requesting information about the plants. They include power plants on UW campuses at Eau Claire, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Menonomie, Superior and Whitewater.

Three Madison plants are included: Capitol Heat and Power, Mendota Mental Health Institute, and Hill Farms. Also included in the request for information are plants at the Northern Wisconsin Center, Waupun Correctional Facility and the Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

The state Department of Natural Resources has already notified the DOA that plants at the Mendota Mental Health Institute and on the campuses at Eau Claire, La Crosse, Oshkosh and River Falls are not in compliance and that five others may also be in violation of the Clean Air Act.

At issue is whether millions of dollars worth of upgrades at some of the coal-burning plants increased the potential for the plants to emit more pollution. The Clean Air Act, passed in 1970, grandfathered existing power plants but the law also required that those plants obtain new permits and install more pollution controls to meet standards if they underwent major modifications that increased emissions.

So it is apparent that many of these power plants would require millions of dollars of upgrades to be allowed to run at all.

OK. Lets imagine that the Koch brothers decide to buy the plants and are allowed to do so by the Walker administration. They don’t own the distribution! From what I have seen (I cannot find a complete list) most of these power plants are TINY and are made to power one specific institution such as Mendota Mental Health Institution here in Madison. Will M G and E, Alliant Utilities and the others in the state allow them on their grid? How much will that cost? Again, I can only imagine millions.

So I guess this all leads me to my point number five from above – why in the world would a company that has revenues of NINETY EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR want to screw around with a bunch of broken down, out of compliance, teeny tiny power plants???

Can anyone help me out here? Or am I correct in that this will be just another lefty talking point, something that someone just spews out without any thinking or trying to make sense of, like when we blamed Halliburton for all the troubles in the world in the years 2000-2008. I think I know the answer.

Cross posted at LITGM.

32 thoughts on “Scott Walker, the Koch Brothers, and State of Wisconsin Owned Power Plants”

  1. It would not surprise me if many of these power plants were built before the era of utilities and consolidation (i.e. New Deal era). The alternative theory of power generation and distribution was to have bespoke, mini-power plants, rather than the main power plant/grid that we all know today.

    Draw your own ironic comparisons to the fate of Insull, being the champion of the grid and the scapegoat of the last depression…

  2. I agree that most of these plants appear to be very small, probably under 100 MW which is baby food in the power industry. The one advantage that they may have, if they can be connected to the grid, is their locations. (I’m assuming that they are currently supplying facilities that are not on-grid; if they were, the plants probably would have been shut down long ago.) That $235M is probably the value of the property that the plants sit on; the value of the plants themselves is probably close to zero.

    So consider this: many of these plants are likely to be in areas where there are not large power plants nearby. As such, their potential value, if they can be converted to operated cleanly, is twofold: (1) They can operate as peaking plants during high-demand periods. And as such, they can supply their immediate vicinity with less transmission loss than plants farther away, improving the overall efficiency of the regional grid somewhat. (2) Many of them appear to be currently serving facilities where standby power is mandatory or highly desirable (e.g., the mental institution). In the event of a wide-area blackout, the plants could be taken off-grid and continue feeding the facilities that they are attached to. Thus, the facility gets a backup power source essentially for free.

    So what the Kochs may be interested in doing is acquiring the plants, cleaning up the sites, converting them to burn natural gas, and then putting them on grid and selling the power. As power generation goes, it’s a relatively small-potatoes operation, but it should turn a few bucks. So why a no-bid contract? I’m not totally sure, but it probably has a lot to do with what I said above about the present value of the plants being pretty close to zero. They probably all need a complete refitting — not just to change from coal to gas, but total replacement of all the boilers, turbines, and generators, plus the addition of modern electrical switchgear and control systems so that they can be put on the grid. That’s a pretty significant investment, and it will be a while before payback is realized. My guess is that the state regulators have already canvassed other operators and found no interest (it’s not the sort of thing the big power companies will bother with), and possibly one of the Koch companies has expertise at this sort of thing (speculation on my part; I don’t really know). Anyone else who would buy them would probably just scrap the plants and flip the properties — assuming they could; the titles may be bound up in such a way that selling the properties would be difficult. The properties may be encumbered with deed restrictions or special zoning that prevents them from being used for any other purpose. So it could be a win-win: the Koch brothers get something that will make them a few bucks, and the state of Wisconsin gets a potential liability off of its hands. If that’s the case, and there are no other interested parties, then competitive bid would just be a waste of time and money.

  3. Walnut Street Cogeneration Facility. A brand-new gas-fired combined-cycle co-generation plant built in partnership with Madison Gas and Electric. If that baby is up for sale in a no-bid contract at fire-sale prices it shows you don’t know what you are talking about.

  4. Paul – I freely admit I have no idea what I am talking about and state that in the front part of the post. And why would M G and E sell their part of the plant in a no bid deal? Or did they just want the distribution end?

  5. This is just standard Alinsky personalization and demonization. The Koch brothers have been totally up front about financing libertarian ideas. It would be interesting to compare what percent of the right the Kochs fund compared to what percent of the left Soros funds.

  6. I agree with Jim. This is all rule 12 stuff. It will amuse adolescent lefties, but it will not have legs. They have been searching for a personalizable target since BO took office. They used Limbaugh for a while, they even tried Boehner. This will continue for a few weeks until they realize that 98% of Americans neither know, nor care, who the Koch Brothers Are.

    I had heard of them, because their their brother Bill, who is on the outs with them, got stuck in a wine deal. All explained in:

    “The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine” by Benjamin Wallace

  7. Paul Milenkovic, where did you hear that the West Campus cogen plant (the Walnut street plant) is for sale? The plant was completed in 2005. No way thats for sale.

    They are talking about a different plant, the Charter st plant, which is an ancient coal plant used for heating (and only has about 9MW of installed capacity).

    All the plants listed are semi-derelict ancient facilities which would be money sinkholes to modernize (their plan to upgrade the Charter st plant costs $250 million, which is outrageously high and why Walker is opposing it and wants to sell it off). I would worry more about anyone wanting to buy this junk, rather than about doing Koch Industries a favor by unloading the plants on them.

  8. Hmmmm.

    I asked a liberal friend of mine about this. Response? “Are they related to Coke-A-Cola?”.

    Going to need some serious MSM education on this to generate the proper level of hate.

  9. I remember some 40 years ago Stanley Works had a very old and small power plant on the Farmington River about 25 miles from what at the time was a huge manufacturing facility in New Britain Ct. They had power lines running all the way to their manufacturing plant, even though it didn’t nearly cover consumption.

    I was told the reason for keeping the power plant active was that by doing so, they qualified as a utility and could purchase electricity at cost from Northeast Utilities.

    Perhaps this would be a similar type situation.

  10. I knew about them because they funded an America’s Cup program a few years ago. It turns out it was the Brother Bill and he won the cup in 1992.

    When I was a kid, we used to drive down to St Mary of the Woods in Terra Haute, Indiana. My great aunt was the Mother Superior of the order and we would stay in the dorms in the summer for a few days or a week. It was an idyllic place and I have no idea of its status now. It was totally self sufficient. The only men permanently in the place ran the small power plant and the coal mine. They had farms surrounding the school and all the food, I believe, was, at the time, grown on the place. They baked every morning and I can still remember the fresh rolls.

    I suppose that was one of those small power plants, probably long closed. I haven’t been there in 60 years.

    Much is made of the father’s association with the John Birch Society. In the early days, it was not the bete noir it became. A room mate of mine asked me about joining around 1957 or 58. I told him that groups like that often have one nut who can do something crazy and screw everybody else up. He didn’t join. Later, the stuff about Eisenhower began to leak out and I was glad I had stayed far away from it. However, one of the officers showed a movie for the JB Society to us in the Air National Guard around 1959 or 60. It was shown on base.

    Interestingly enough, the headquarters was ion SOuth Pasadena, a small suburb of Los Angeles where I lived for years. The only JB Congressman was my Congressman and I met him at a party one time. Nice enough guy. He walked with a marked limp which might have led to some odd ideas.

  11. I would hope some utility experts (cough Carl from Chicago cough) would chime in on this to help me, but I am thinking that what cjm said might be right. I assume that the Koch brothers, IF they even want these old plants – and they have publicly said that they don’t – probably want to see their investment pay off, oh, before they die. To get those plants up to snuff, epa legal and fighting the Sierra Club would take at least a half a decade, and that might be on the low end. I am starting to lean toward the real estate idea.

  12. So it could be a win-win: the Koch brothers get something that will make them a few bucks, and the state of Wisconsin gets a potential liability off of its hands.

    Can any owner ever become a non-PRP (Potentially Responsible Party – i.e., someone who will be forced to help foot the cleanup bill should any property attract EPA Superfund status) once they’re in the title chain? It’s not a designation that can be contracted away unless the contract is directly with the EPA.

    The state’s interests might be best served by making sure that these properties get placed in the hands of an entity with the financial and legal clout to ensure that they never do become a ward of the EPA – someone who can afford to clean up decades worth of ??????, who has dealt with EPA before, and who won’t go belly-up and walk away from the property in the face of possible huge expense. Remember, being a PRP means you’re on the hook forever. The state’s best protection, aside from keeping the property and spending BigBux to clean it up, would be to sell it to someone huge and smart and rich. And loyal.

  13. One possibility might be that power plants are not the benefit themselves but rather a quid pro quo for something else i.e. Koch industries takes these off the state’s hand and receives some other consideration.

    Because of all the regulations, grandfather clauses and emission’s credits, it is possible that that plants have some value that is not apparent. One possibility is that Kochs could take the plants offline and gain credits against one of their other operations.

    The 1970s Clean Air act is the major cause of air pollution today. The act grandfathered in a lot of dirty, old tech plants but then booby trapped them by saying that if any upgrades were made to the plant, the upgrades removed the grandfather protection and the plants had to be entirely retrofitted with the latest and greatest pollution controls. This created a massive incentive to never upgrade any of the tech in the plants.

    By analogy, imagine that you had to replace a window in your house. You have choice between replacing it with exactly the same type of window or replacing it with a new energy efficient window. Now imagine that a law exist that says if you install the new type of window, you must then replace all your windows with the new type, increase all your insolation, replace your water heater and replace you heating and cooling systems. Since you couldn’t afford that, you would just replace the window with the older less efficient tech.

    Something like 90% of power plant related pollution comes from under two dozen large coal burning plants that are frozen in the technology of the 60s.

  14. In making these claims of corruption and payback, the Left is making the case for privatization.

    I can’t think of a stronger argument for privatization than the claim that a corporation could get a sweatheart deal worth untold millions just for a $75,000 donation. No private actor or entity would make such a bad deal but governments do things like this all the time. After all, it’s not the politician’s or bureaucrats’ money and they have no fiduciary responsibility for political decisions.

    It would seem unlikely that the Kochs are the only players. If the Kochs get powerplants for $75,000 just think what unions can get with their millions.

    As P.J. O’Rouke pointed out, when legislators control buying and selling, the first thing bought and sold is legislators.

  15. There’s no proof that Koch Industries is interested in these “plants”. Second, there is no one who would be interested in buying these plants, as they are auxiliary plants a specific locale, for the purposes of selling electricity. They can sell electricity to the grid, but it is all insignificant amounts. There are probably over 100 such micro plants throughout Wisconsin (and any other state).

    In all likelihood the state is desperate to sell off these microgen. plants at state-owned facilities which it can’t hope to operate or modernize. But its sounds like a terrible investment for anyone to buy into. For example, the Charter st. plant providing heat to U Madison is already superseded by the new West Campus plant, and there’s no reason for the state of Wisconsin to continue to operate a redundant plant which is falling apart. Of course, state and university bureaucrats think its a great idea to spend $250 million to modernize this now redundant plant, which should outrage any Wisconsin resident.

    I wasn’t aware that states were in the business of operating such facilities, even for their own uses, but it certainly makes sense to privatize them asap.

  16. “One possibility is that Kochs could take the plants offline and gain credits against one of their other operations.”

    It is possible, but I’d bet the combined total of all these plants won’t even crack 20MW of installed capacity. They’re probably also seasonal in operation or emergency backups, which means they are rarely used. Their “carbon credits” of sort, would be insignificant.

    “Something like 90% of power plant related pollution comes from under two dozen large coal burning plants that are frozen in the technology of the 60s.”

    Well, if we count CO2 as “pollution”. These coal plants are incredibly clean when it comes to “real” pollution. I wonder how many hippies at U Madison were aware they they were being kept warm all winter by a coal plant only feet away from their dorm rooms.

    I live in Green Bay WI. My husband works at Georgia Pacific now owned by Koch (since 2005). I feel like this Scott Walker disaster is happening in my front yard and I am powerless. I am also in shock as to how America vanished without me knowing it. I’m referring to the brazen, disrectful, and control freakish republicans who think they are above the rest of us and can make up their own rules as they go along.

    I don’t get into politics much. I research issues and candidates and vote. That’s about it. I have changed my initial views on some very important issues after researching with an open mind. I also have an inherent sense of fairness and common sense.

    First I will describe what happened at GP after Koch bought them Then I will list some interesting and scarey connections I have discovered while googling. I hope someone “in the know” reads this and can help sort this out. I am way too personally involved. I hope what I am seeing can be rationally explained. Or reported it to the proper authority.

    The paper industry has been major part of Green Bay………like forever. Firt it was Fort Howard Paper, then Fort James, then GP. You were darned lucky to work there. The wages were decent, bebefits were decent, …it was a tradition. Lean times came and went but we always pulled through. Some took early retirement, or severance packages, but nothing was forced. You had a choice, options. The West side mill was nonunion the East side was unionized. Aside from a few minor points you really could not tell the difference. Enter Koch.

    Many long time employees positions were totally eliminated. Others were demoted. FORCED RETIREMENT. LOSS OF BENEFITS, LOST or REDUCED PENSIONS (after counting on them for 40 years) union problems (of course), internal upheavel and discord. An unequaled sense of insecurity. Impending doom. Thank God all we lost was decent medical insurance. That was hard enough with 3 kids but it could have been worse. Oh we still pay for our coverage $400.00 per month…but instead of medical and Rx copays we now have a $6000.00 family deductible. Virtually useless. We now exist knowing in our hearts that our work is promoting these self serving aholes and we feel like traitors but are trapped by our age. No choice. No, there’s not. I think this is how workers in communist countries must feel.

    So I’m googling around reading about Scott Walker and Koch. I’m following lots of different news, blogs and other sites, as well as clicking through on footnotes. I think I keep seeing some of the same names showing up on various company lists, board of directors, contributors, affilliations, past jobs, etc., in both private sector and government areas. OK so I happen upon the name Simon Sinek.
    Who is being paid by our government to teach leadership techniques to the USAF and others: 5/6/2010 – Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker and author of “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” discusses pre-flight information with Lt. Col. Gary Spillman, 22nd Maintenance Group vice commander, April 29, 2010, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Mr. Sinek joined Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing on a KC-135 Stratotanker for a refueling mission. Mr. Sinek has spoken at various bases around the world, hoping to enhance the Air Force’s future by teaching Airmen the art of inspiring people. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea Salazar)NOTE KANSAS. Koch Bros home.
    Looking at Simons bio….a main affilliation of Sineks is with Richard D. Parsons Esq. remember this name.
    Koch is bigger than Microsoft, Merrill Lynch and AT&T
    Despite its size and political largesse, Koch is able to dodge the limelight because it is privately-held, meaning that nearly all of its business dealings are known primarily only by the company and the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, it is the second largest private company in the country, trailing only food processing giant Cargill.

    Koch also prefers to operate in private when it comes to politics and government.
    Although it is both a top campaign contributor and spends millions on direct lobbying, Koch’s chief political influence tool is a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups funded by foundations controlled and supported by the two Koch brothers.

    Among those groups are some of the country’s most prominent conservative and libertarian voices including the Cato Institute, the Reason Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Federalist Society. All regularly beat the drum in official Washington for the causes the Koch’s hold dear—minimal government, deregulation, and free market economics.
    For the Kochs, conservative and libertarian views are a family tradition. Fred Koch, who founded the company’s predecessor in 1940, helped establish the ultra right-wing John Birch Society.

    Koch’s knack for getting criminal charges dropped and huge potential penalties knocked down.
    In late 2000—as the Clinton Administration was preparing to leave office—Koch was hit with a 97-count indictment for covering up the discharge of more than 15 times the legal limit of benzene, a carcinogen. Three months after the Bush administration took office—and just before the lawsuit went to trial—the Justice Department abruptly settled the case.
    Former Time Warner CEO Richard D. Parsons – BusinessWeekMay 6, 2010 … The former Time Warner CEO reflects on his decision to become chairman of Citigroup during the financial crisis.
    President Barack Obama named representatives from business and labor to his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Richard D. Parsons, chairman of CitiGroup Inc.,

    OK now check out Aspen Institute board of directors.

    Koch Bros various think tanks international security management,

    CFR Trilateral Connection

    There are many more ………
    All of these places have one name in common….KOCH!!! Maybe this is true:
    If the Goals of the CFR Trilateral Connection Are Realized, America’s Sovereignty Will Soon be Lost to a Totalitarian New World Government.

    Wisconsin was the first state to organize a union. The first to have unemplyment compensation. The first to have Worker’s Comp. This is why the Kock’s want WI….we are everything they hate

  18. Thats one elaborate conspiracy theory. The interesting thing is that you view the fact that the Koch family turned their business into the largest and most successful private enterprise in the US, through free market principles, as a point of criticism. I find that to be an astonishing achievement, and I’d rather like to hear more from them on how to run a business than from the likes of Buffet.

    Secondly, I feel sorry for the hardships of your family through job loss etc. But hey, we all go through these things. There’s nothing that entitles you to a permanent job and permanent benefits. Least of all, in the paper industry which is a dying industry anyway. Why do you think your plant was up for sale? Because it was a successful enterprise? The “entitlements” unions create cost the rest of us who aren’t in them, money. And they degrade and destroy businesses (and I’ve been through battles with private sector Unions before, where they tore to pieces the company I was forking for for 2 years). I’m not sure what your point is, or what the Koch brothers have to do with it, but I do sympathize as I’ve gone through similar ordeals. Except that my ordeals were because the Unions destroyed my company. So what do you propose to tell to the rest of us who aren’t Unionized and who compete in the free market, and have to pay for Union “entitlements”?

  19. It took me about 10 mins to read Msgreenbaywi post. Those are 10 mins I can not get back. Why didn’t she put the ‘Trilateral Commission’ statement at the beginning so I could have more constructive use of those 10 mins.

  20. Msgreenbaywi, I am sorry to hear that you and your family are suffering.

    Times are bad for many people, which does not make it any easier on you, I know.

    When times get tough people start believing in conspiracies. If something bad has happened, the usual first reaction is that it must be somebody’s fault. I am not sure I understand the conspiracy you are proposing here. It sounds like the Koch’s are using their money to promote their businesses, as well as their beliefs. There is no reason to think the paper industry would last forever.

    “…the Koch family turned their business into the largest and most successful private enterprise in the US, through free market principles…”

    Any company that big is well-armed with lobbyists and lawyers and has worked the machinery in its favor. I don’t see any reason to make heroes out of these guys, either.

  21. David Obst, Michael Kennedy, Dan from Madison:
    So sorry I don’t conform to your standards. What you and Koch seem to forget is that we are fellow human beings. It does not behoove one to insult the other. Nor does it make you any better because you already knew about the Trilateral Commission. Or because you don’t have 10 minutes to spare. Was someone holding a gun to your head? If you are so all fired informed why do you even read comments?
    I was speaking from the heart. I am seriously concerned. Why else would I be typing at 2:00 am? After 3 hours of sleep…
    And yes we all go through bad times. But this seems so much bigger. This is America. How can we be losing her to these rapists? I guess my patriotism has blinded me to the erosion. I must have been in denial. My husband and I are both the corny old types who cry when singing the National Anthem. And have always been grateful and proud to be an American.
    And …we are NOT union. We have never had any guarantees. We are the working class in the heartland of America and know all too well why unions had to be started in the first place.

  22. Msgreenbaywi: first and foremost, get some sleep.

    Secondly, your original comment sounded a lot to me like something that a person wouldn’t write if they were just sitting down to engage in others in a normal exchange of ideas. I saw this statement in your comment and it set off some alarm bells:

    “Despite its size and political largesse, Koch is able to dodge the limelight because it is privately-held, meaning that nearly all of its business dealings are known primarily only by the company and the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, it is the second largest private company in the country, trailing only food processing giant Cargill.”

    You do not have this in quotation marks so we are led to believe that this is your own research and are your own words. I took the liberty to plug that phrase into Google.,or.&fp=192b3650e03511a3

    And I was not surprised with the results. All the usual suspects – Kos, DU, others.

  23. Msgreenbaywi,

    I’m happy to see that you’re so self-sacrificing that you want to pay much higher taxes so government employees can continue to live high on the hog forever. Good luck with that. I doubt that will help your own financial problems, but if that’s what you want…

    That aside- if you haven’t noticed what’s been happening in the United States since at least the 1970s shame on you. Living in Michigan I couldn’t miss it.

    Again- shame on you. Where were you when the steel industry collapsed in the 1990s causing hundreds of thousands of people to lose their jobs and pensions? Or the auto industry?

    Oblivious, apparently. So now you’ve just discovered google and found out about the Koch brothers? Just after the political left decided they needed a right wing villain to distract people from the reality of George Soros?

    Sure. Ever hear the term “Moby”?

    Google it.

  24. Msgreenbaywi,

    I would say I’m sorry about the travails of your family but, honestly, they are largely self-inflicted.

    People like you are takers i.e. you seek to improve your own lot by forcefully taking from other instead of trying to improve your lot by making other people

    There are two types of people in the world: makers and takers.

    Makers seek to improve their lot in life by making other people better off. Makers try to build a better mousetrap so that people who need a better mousetrap will give them money for it. Makers seek to improve their skills so that employers will find more value in their work and pay them more. Makers start business that fill a need that people will pay for. Makers lives only get better when they make the lives of other people better to. Makers are why we no longer live in grass huts. All that is good in the world comes from makers.

    Takers seek to improve their lot in life by taking from others and leaving the others worse off. Takers make it illegal for anyone to use a mousetrap except the one the taker sells. Takers use violence and eventually law to establish cartels such that their employers will have to pay them more for the same or less work. Takers lives only get better when someone else’s lives get worse. Takers are the reason so much of humanity still lives in grass huts and why parts of America are headed that way. All that is bad in the world comes from takers.

    You are taker and you probably come from a long line of takers. Your entire economic life has been built around using a union cartel to extort above market wages and benefits from the people who consumed the products you made. My family, who were all self-employed rural makers, have for decades been paying above market prices for paper products in order to fund your comparatively safe and cushy lifestyle.

    In the aftermath of WWII the Great Lakes region was the primary industrial center for the free world and had no major competition for 20 years. During that time, takers there figured out they could demand just about anything they wanted and get it because no consumer had any choice. Want to buy a car? You’re going to buy it from a company controlled by the UAW and you’re going to pay the labor cost of the car that the UAW dictates. Want to buy anything made of steel? The USW set the price. And so on for every unionized industry.

    All the you takers got so used to this state of affairs that they completely forgot the market existed. You thought wages were something you forced someone to pay you and not something you honestly earned because you were the person who could do the job most efficiently. When the freakish effects of WWII wore off in the 60s, you had no idea how to work and compete within a free-market. Instead, your solution to everything is still take, take, take.

    When people like me, your customers, found ourselves with choices we began to choose the products that best fit our needs and left us better off. We gave our money to makers we helped us, instead of takers who hurt us. This should have been obvious but you are so trapped in your taker mindset that all you can is to thrash around for someone else to blame so that you can create a justification for taking what you want. When faced with real fair competition your response was to dig in your heals and try to take even more until you destroyed the very industries that laid your golden eggs.

    So, we come to the Kochs or some other rich person or group. You want to blame someone else for the destruction your own greed and selfishness bought down on you. You chose not to make but to take. You are angry at the-rich-guy-du-jour because you think you should be able to take from them and buy extension all their customers. You see life as a sinster conspiracy because deep down, you think everyone is a taker like you. You think that if someone is richer than you, then they are just better takers than you are. You think if you turn them into Orwell’s Goldstein, you can put yourself into a position to take from people like me again.

    Nice try.

    The reason you’re in the straights you are now is because you can’t take forever. Since takers make other’s worse off, the other’s try to escape from the takers. Makers eventually runaway from takers. Your papermill was sold because its customers did want to be taken from anymore. The Kochs used the sell to make the labor cost something closer to the free-market so that paper consumers weren’t loosing so much from buying the plants products. Now, I’m better off and your worse off but your actually making more of what you earn instead of taking it from me.

    So, grow the @#$%! up. You can’t take anymore. Stop thinking and acting like a taker and start thinking and acting like a maker. Only then have true and honestly earned prosperity and stability.

  25. I did not intend to make anyone think those were my words. I prefaced that whole section saying that this is what I found by googling. I listed some of the places…………

    I am not a taker. Republicans are and always have been. They stand for money, Democrats stand for the working class. Everyone knows that. You think you can browbeat people, hoping to make them feel inferior, throw in some strong double talk, LIE about facts, and expect them to bow down to your delusions of gradeur. You should realize you are not fooling anyone. Why not tax the billionaires who can afford it? Bush lowered taxes by over 4%. Why do all this other BS and involve the unions?

    The 1990’s? Good grief…what about 2 years ago? So you conveniently foget yesterday and have to go back to the 90’s to make a point? Did you forget what the previous 16 years of Bush Jr and Sr did to this country. Obama inherited this mess. He just got elected Nov. 2008!!! He’s is supposed to “fix” 16 years overnight? Were you living in a cave or just uninformed when the stock market crashed in 2008? FACT ” In the United States, 15 banks failed in 2008, while several others were rescued through government intervention or acquisitions by other banks. On October 11, 2008, the head of the International Monetary_Fund (IMF) warned that the world financial system was teetering on the “brink of systemic meltdown.” See the quotation marks?

    Don’t you remember the collapse of the housing market? Record foreclosures and the highest unemployment rate EVER. Gas was $4.61 per gallon? The major banks failed, the auto industry failure? Credit card restructuring for your protection? While insurance companies and oil companies had record mulit-billion dollar profits at our expense? What more is there? IT ALL FAILED. And now with a the bit of relief that Obama has offered you are ready to go to do it again? I’m afraid you are learning disabled.

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