On August 28th, the Bridge Project released a report documenting the Koch brothers role in compounding the misery created by Hurricane Katrina, while they profited from the disaster. The report argues that:
The Koch brothers’ driving philosophy is to put their business interests ahead of everything else — as long as they’re growing their bottom line, nothing, and no one else, matters.
The study reveals how the Koch brothers helped exacerbate the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, and then capitalized on the aftermath. For example, the study states:
In 2005, Koch Industries was accused of decades of negligence resulting in destroyed wetlands from pipeline dredging, which allegedly compounded the effects of Hurricane Katrina on Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before the hurricane made landfall, the Kochs saw opportunity to profit from a vulnerable population in need of scarce resources, calling it “the right market to restart operations” at their newly-acquired Georgia-Pacific facilities in the region.
After the hurricane, Koch Industries immediately went to work taking advantage of the situation, participating in a subsidized federal bond program, and it was even investigated for price gouging during a time of crisis; though the FTC found in their favor, Congress was highly critical of the FTC’s investigation.
On top of their efforts at the time of the storm, more recently the Kochs have also actively pushed policies that would hurt residents in flood-prone areas like the Gulf Coast, attempting to make flood insurance unaffordable to all but the wealthiest Americans and thereby price many residents out of their homes.
The report was released to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. American Bridge notes that the Koch brothers are now engaged in a PR campaign to boost their image and to gloss over their role in compounding and then exploiting the Katrina natural disaster.
The Koch brothers see opportunity in natural disasters. In some cases, their actions can intensify the disaster’s impact, but more importantly, after the catastrophe unfolds they can exploit the tragedy to make more money. The Koch brothers are “disaster capitalists“ who see in other people’s suffering an opportunity to further enrich themselves. The Bridge Project report is hardly surprising, but it is highly disturbing.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.