Billionaires, money, and politics: Why you should be concerned

November 16, 2010

A compelling New Yorker article by Jane Mayer examines how, to what extent, and to what end two of this country's richest and most privileged individuals use their enormous wealth to influence its elections, governance, and general political climate. The article is entitled "Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama."

It details and dissects just some of Charles and David Koch's myriad financial contributions presently in excess of more than one hundred million dollar to a range of "right-wing causes." Among the numerous recipients are foundations, institutions, think tanks, universities, and various blandly-named organizations. The latter, with names such as Americans for Prosperity, work closely with Tea Party activists and/or advance or oppose views that mirror the Kochs'.

According to the article, the brothers' combined personal wealth stands at $35 billion dollars; the monetary largess they can distribute to further their personal and corporate political agendas is thus staggering in amount. Open for consideration by careful and concerned readers is the singularly important question of who exactly benefits from the Kochs' massive contributions and who is hurt by them.

Working women and men represented by the New York Hotel Trades Council should read this important article but they do not have to do so to understand how important their active participation in the political process is. They already know and regularly devote thousands of hours to working as volunteers for candidates who share their views about the problems working people face and how best to address them.