Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Koch Retreat

A group of wealthy conservatives are meeting in Palm Springs to discuss how they are going to influence the next election - to put Republicans into office and the right Republicans at that.

Hundreds march outside Koch brothers' retreat .

This is the Koch Retreat, organized by David and Charles Koch, the head of Koch Enterprises - an energy company that brings in nearly $100 billion per year and which spends much of it deciding who gets elected and what they do when they get there.

It is a gathering that has a bit more significance today than in years past because the Supreme Court has ruled it an unconstitutional violation of free speech to prohibit people from spending money - even through secret contributions - promoting a cause.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with people gathering to determine how they are going to influence the course of politics, and a prohibition on people spending their money to speak about a cause is, in fact, a violation of the right of freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, in this case, these people are gathering to plot a strategy that will allow them to pursue even more money for themselves through policies that will force injury, illness, destruction of property, and death on hundreds of millions - probably billions - of other people. They want to preserve the right to disregard the interests others have in their own life, health,and property in their own pursuit of a few more dollars.

For example, according to the Los Angeles Times, Koch Industries spend $1 million against California's law on greenhouse gas emissions. (Billionaire Koch brothers back suspension of California climate law ).

Mostly, this conclusion comes from their joint opposition to any policy that suggests that people who actually use carbon fuels pay for the harms that they cause to others. They want carbon-fuel users to continue to use carbon fuels - to continue to harm the lives, health, and property of others in doing so - without compensating the victims or taking any action to mitigate those costs.

Many of them likely do not BELIEVE that their actions will cause this type of harm. Yet, the fact remains that they do not care to find out. They have every reason to suspect that they are prone to believing that they want to believe, and to look at the evidence through glasses that allow them to see what they want to see. They should recognize an obligation to take a more objective look at the data to make sure that they will not be destroying the lives, health, and property of others.

But, they are too selfish for that.

Instead, they through up rationalizations - such as the self-deception of claiming that the protest is over "billionaires spending their money to influence elections" as opposed to "billionaires spending their money to preserve the power to pursue profits through activities that kill, main, and sicken other people.

So, through their denial, they will in fact organize to pursue projects that threaten to lead to the destruction of the lives, health, and property of countless people. They will not consider the harms they risk for others because it does not profit them to do so. They do not care enough to take an honest look at the evidence. They only care enough to try to find ways to bury the evidence so that they can continue to kill, injure, and sicken others and destroy their property in the pursuit of profits with impunity.

A final note: The standard disclaimers apply. The right to freedom of speech prohibits violence as a response to words alone, and prohibits anything other than a political campaign in response to a political campaign.

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