Few people noticed a recent op-ed by a guy named Rick Whitbeck, who holds himself out as the Alaska Director for a group he calls Power the Future. The piece was unremarkable for the most part, but it caught my eye for its unhinged and juvenile attacks on anyone who cares about clean water, healthy salmon and wild Alaska.
Then I started to connect the dots. Not surprisingly, Power the Future is yet another manifestation of the sprawling Koch Brothers influence machine, which is now entrenched in all 50 states.
The Koch Brothers are famous for taking the millions they inherited from their daddy, and building it into a multi-headed monster with one basic goal: to transfer wealth from public hands to private coffers.
And they are very good at it. Today, the two brother’s wealth is estimated at over $100 billion, and in the aftermath of the Citizens United decision, they pour boatloads of cash into any election that implicates their corporate agenda.
For example, the Kochs reared their heads in the recent Stand for Salmon ballot measure, where the Koch-backed group Alaska Policy Forum manufactured damning stories about Alaskans fighting to protect salmon habitat. Americans for Prosperity – the Koch Brothers infamous “astroturf” group – also helped tilt the electoral playing field in Alaska.
At the national level, the Koch’s famously tried to whitewash the massive tax cut for the rich they helped push through, to persuade Americans that billions in profits for billionaires is a good deal for everybody.
So, now we have another Koch Brothers mouthpiece frothing about unfounded attacks on the Donlin Mine and the Pebble mine.
Because as we all know, these massive multinational corporations are truly the victims in the Alaska story, and if those of us who want clean water and healthy fish for our kids would just get out of the way, everything would be fine.
But seriously, here’s what Power the Future does: they represent the interests of the largest, richest and most powerful corporations on the planet, but they wrap themselves in the shameless veneer of the working man under assault from a fringe band of crazies hell bent on sending us all back to caves and candle light.
In other words, it’s all a lie, a standard divide-and-conquer strategy designed to confuse and mislead people, and to pit industry workers against everyone else. Yes, it’s disgusting and unethical and immoral. And it’s exactly how the Koch Brothers and their ilk operate to push projects like Pebble and Donlin in Alaska.