Greed is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one’s self, far beyond what one needs for basic survival; for the wealthy it is in excess of any reasonable definition of luxurious comfort. Typically it is applied to those with a dangerous desire for, and pursuit of, status and unrestricted power that includes enriching oneself at the expense of others. There is a movement in America that transcends the normal definition of greed and selfishness, and not only do they desire to possess all the wealth, they are driven to impoverish the population with no apparent gain for themselves. It is not enough that they are rich beyond imagination, they subscribe to a philosophy that no-one in America except a certain class should have anything, and they are launching a nationwide campaign to eliminate public sector workers’ wages, pensions, sick pay, workers’ compensation because if they cannot have it no-one can.
It is no surprise that the funding mechanism behind the 50-state crusade to create a nation of peasants is headed by the Koch brothers, tobacco giant Phillip Morris, and Kraft Foods with model legislation provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The groups’ $83 million seed money is being funneled through various 501(C) tax-exempt “social welfare” organizations intent on illegally using dark money to lobby legislators and convince voters that no-one in America deserves anything other than a poverty existence. The purely libertarian-driven group, State Policy Network (SPN), describes itself as “free-market think tanks” and will initially targets six different states to eliminate public sector pensions, cut government wages to the federal minimum, privatize public education, and eliminate Medicaid. As an extra affront to the people’s rights to clean air, the seek to end regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
The 501(C) social welfare groups are staying out of election campaigns, and despite restrictions on their lobbying efforts, they will launch media campaigns to change state laws, advance ALEC model legislation, and “brief Republican candidates” in strategies necessary to achieve SPN’s goals; it is the definition of lobbying. One of SPN’S affiliates denied they engaged in lobbying and said, “There is never any lobbying, lobbying consists of convincing legislators and other policymakers to get a particular result on a particular issue, and we never do that.” The groups’ lobbying efforts are to achieve their stated goals that go beyond “a commitment to free enterprise” and include: “reforming” public employee pensions, eliminate taxation, promote private and home schooling through a voucher system, end worker and union rights, and eliminate Medicaid in Republican-controlled states.
Tracie Sharp, president of SPN, said that “as a pro-freedom network of think tanks, we focus on issues like workplace freedom, education reform, and individual choice: backbone issues of a free people and a free society.” It is an oft-heard reiteration of the Koch brothers’ “vision of a transformed America.” It is noteworthy that the group has close ties to Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) funded by the Koch brothers that is targeting state’s participation in Medicaid and featured Ted Cruz, a former executive, as keynote speaker at a national conference yesterday hosted by SPN and its sister organization ALEC.
The executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, Lisa Graves, recently issued a report on SPN and said that SPN’s local identity belied a larger purpose. “They appear to be advocating purely local interests but what they are promoting is part of a larger national template to radically remake our government in a way that undermines public institutions and the rights of workers;” particularly public sector workers. It cannot be overstated that eliminating public sector workers’ rights to their pensions, sick pay, living wages, and protections at the state level will not add one penny to the Koch brothers, Philip Morris, or Kraft Foods’ substantial riches any more than eliminating Medicaid, taxes, or public education at the state level, but adding to their personal wealth is not their intent. Their resolve is to deny public workers a decent wage, pensions, sick pay, and workplace protections to create an American labor force struggling to survive on minimum wages, no retirement, and no healthcare to achieve the Koch brothers’ stated mission of a nation where there is “unrestricted prosperity for the ‘wealthy class’ while keeping the poor productive and content.”
The Koch brothers and their fascist cabal face a barrier at the federal level to cut Social Security retirement, withhold healthcare from tens-of-millions of Americans, and eliminate worker protections, so they are taking their crusade to the states. It is unfortunate, but they will have success in Republican-controlled states to destroy public education, eliminate Medicaid, and decimate public sector employees’ pensions, wages, and worker protections as a crucial aspect of their campaign to eliminate the middle class. Republican voters in red states are notorious for voting against their own self-interest and survival, so it is no exaggeration to assume they will gladly support any attempt to drag public sector workers down into poverty to achieve what SPN and the Koch brothers’ portray as necessary for a nation of “a free people and a free society.” It is a sad commentary, but it is the price Americans pay for allowing fascists free rein to pursue unrestricted power that is borne of a form of greed founded on taking everything from the people just because they can.
Eliminating state public sector workers’ pensions, like federal Social Security pensions, will not enrich a few wealthy Americans any more than cutting their public sector employees’ wages, ending sick pay, or ending workplace protections, but that is not the Koch brothers, Philip Morris, or Kraft Foods’ intent. Their goal is transforming this country into an oligarchy with the masses serving the rich, and as long as there is even a dwindling middle class their vision of a transformed America will not be realized. They have successfully raped the economic life out of the private sector, and are now turning their undivided and well-funded attention to the public sector, and Republicans will dutifully serve their interests until they achieve their “vision,” or until Republicans are eliminated from the decision-making process. What is incredibly tragic is the Kochs and their wealthy cohort have announced their intent unabashedly and their ignorant supporters will give them the victory the seek; at least in Republican-controlled states.
This is just the opening salvo of the final push by the Kochs et al to realize their “vision” and “radically remake government in a way that undermines public institutions, the rights of workers” and destroy the middle class once and for all. Over the coming months, Americans will learn much more about how their nation, and well-being, is being threatened by the Kochs and their legislative arm the Republican Party, and this column will attempt to warn Americans how their existence is being threatened. Obviously the Kochs are confident their 2014 crusade will be successful and once they achieve their goal in Republican-controlled states, they will focus their full attention and substantial resources to the national level to transform America into their John Birch vision of a “free people and a free society” existing at the mercy of a few wealthy fascists.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.