The Little Kochtopus

The Koch Brothers are the greatest threat to our American way of life that has ever existed. They pour millions into political campaigns to support libertarian causes (libertarianism, of course, being the root of all true evil). They dominate our election cycle. Everything that has gone wrong for the last hundred years is their fault. Why, they probably …

… wait, what?

OpenSecrets.org tallied the top donors in federal elections between 1989 and 2014. Koch Industries — privately owned by the Evil Koch Bros — is on the list, to be sure, but doesn’t appear until the 59th slot, with $18 million in donations, 90 percent of which went to Republicans.

So who occupies the 58 spots ahead of the Evil Koch Bros? Six of the top 10 are … wait for it … unions. They gave more than $278 million, with most of it going to Democrats.

These are familiar names: AFSCME ($60.6 million), NEA ($53.5 million), IBEW ($44.4 million), UAW ($41.6 million), Carpenters & Joiners ($39.2 million) and SEIU ($38.3 million).

Three of the remaining four slots in the top 10 were taken by AT&T ($56.4 million), National Association of Realtors ($51.2 million) and Goldman Sachs ($44.8 million).

So, if money is the measure of evil in American politics and the Evil Koch Bros only come in 59th, who is really the most evil donor ever?

Turns out it’s Act Blue, with just short of $100 million in contributions during its lifetime, which only started in 2004, 15 years after the Evil Koch Bros in the OpenSecrets.org compilation.

Actually, that massively understates Act Blue’s impact. They’ve raised over $400 million for Democratic candidates. $100 million is their direct contribution.

All 16 of the top campaign donors are either Democrat or neutral. The Koch Brothers gave 90% of their money to Republicans. But that’s actually more even-handed than #1 Act Blue (100% to Democrats), #2 AFCSME (99%), #4 NEA (96%), #7 IBEW (99%), #8 UAW (100%), #9 Carpenter and Joiners (91%), #11 SEIU (98%), #12 AFT (100%) … you get the picture. All unions, all donating almost entirely to Democrats.

And just in case you think the Republicans are the party of Wall Street and the financial crisis: Goldman Sachs gave 44% of their money to Democrats, the realtors gave 47% to Democrats, JP Morgan gave 51%, Citigroup 50%. Wall Street really doesn’t care who’s in power and why should they? They get bailed out either way.

These facts, of course, will not change the opinion of the Koch-knockers. They have convinced themselves that big money is destroying our country … as long as it’s Republican big money. You see, you have to scale up. All that money going to liberal causes is good. All the money going to conservative causes is bad because it only takes a second to turn someone aside from the true and nobel path of liberalism.

How else can you explain what just happened in Tennessee? The workers at a new VW plant rejected union membership despite aggressive pushes from UAW and the political class. Most of the union workers signed cards when union reps were looming over them, demanding their signatures. But given an anonymous vote — one that union-bolstered Democrats would dearly love to take away — they voted against it.

What else can that mean but that the Koch monsters’ money goes further? That a single penny of conservative funding can undo millions in liberal funding?

We are at a delicate stage in the ascent to liberal utopia. We’ve already taken missteps — Obamcare, Dodd-Frank, the stimulus, alternative energy … really everything the Democrats have ever put their hands to. But if we can just shut up the opposition for a few minutes and turn the entire board of big campaign contributors blue, we’ll achieve paradise.

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  1. Xetrov

    The last paragraph about sums up unions today.

    “I just don’t trust them,” said Danielle Brunner, 23, who has worked at the plant for nearly three years and makes about $20 an hour—about $5 an hour more than new hires at GM, Ford and Chrysler plants.

    Unions once had a legitimate reason to exist in this country. That reason has been dead since before I was born.

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  2. CM

    Unions once had a legitimate reason to exist in this country. That reason has been dead since before I was born.

    Unions have a legitimate reason to exist wherever they can help to mitigate a significant power imbalance.
    You guys are staunchly on-guard to stop slippery-slopes happen when it comes to government over-reach. I think the same rationale applies here. If you let things go, they’ll go for sure.
    However workers should ALWAYS have the right to join a union and should NEVER be penalised either way. It should ALWAYS be voluntary, and voting should ALWAYS be anonymous. IMO anyway.

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  3. ilovecress

    ***Wall Street really doesn’t care who’s in power and why should they? They get bailed out either way***

    For the record, this is my problem with campaign finance. Not that it disproportionately helps ‘non liberal’ causes. It’s that it gives a disproportionate advantage to business over demos. The very fact that there are contributions to both parties suggests that it’s about buying favours, not supporting principles.

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  4. Seattle Outcast

    However workers should ALWAYS have the right to join a union and should NEVER be penalised either way.

    Except unions don’t like that. Unions aren’t even about workers any longer – they are about the union, and keeping the cash rolling in for union executives. That’s why so many of them are routinely associated with criminal activity: teamsters, dockworkers, construction, waste management etc are pretty much joined at the hip with the mob, and have been since their inception.

    Also, “right to work” doesn’t exist in much of the US. Join the union or no job is the law for much of the country. And having worked in a union factory, and as a major Boeing supplier, I see the effects of unions close-up, with the primary effect of it being a sense of entitlement amongst the union members (as if they had bought stock in the company) coupled with a deliberate antagonism toward “management” that keeps both sides pretty much wanting to take other out for summary execution against a wall. The typical union mindset is “fuck the company if we don’t get our way”, and most of them still think it is 1955.

    Unions as they currently exist in the US serve no legitimate purpose.

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  5. Xetrov

    Unions have a legitimate reason to exist wherever they can help to mitigate a significant power imbalance.

    And yet none of these situations have existed in the US since I was in diapers.

    You guys are staunchly on-guard to stop slippery-slopes happen when it comes to government over-reach. I think the same rationale applies here. If you let things go, they’ll go for sure.

    How so? This isn’t the 1920’s. Information is transmitted at the speed of light. If injustices were being perpetrated by a company, the nation would know about it almost instantly, and public pressure would be enough to stop it, especially with a liberal media.

    Face one fact – Unions ARE big business. Per the OP, Unions had more than a quarter of a billion dollars to donate to politicians who help keep them relevant and in power. They do not protect people from private business anymore, and in many cases make it harder for people to simply work (look at what happened to Hostess as one very glaring recent example).

    However workers should ALWAYS have the right to join a union and should NEVER be penalised either way. It should ALWAYS be voluntary, and voting should ALWAYS be anonymous. IMO anyway.

    I agree 100%. But that is not the case for many States today. Laws are on the books explicitly forbidding secret voting when union membership is in question. Laws largely passed by those benefiting from the object of the OP.

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  6. InsipiD

    This whole union situation is just one more example of how liberal policies misuse words or even use the opposite meaning. With card check only, VW would be union today. In the oddly named “Employee Free Choice Act,” card check would’ve been the law, and the employees’ free choice would’ve been ignored. I wish that Corker hadn’t put his foot so deep in it by talking about future product WRT the Chattanooga VW plant. I’m not a big fan of his anyway, and this was another example of him clearly doing something for himself and not the people he represents.

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  7. ilovecress

    ***How so? This isn’t the 1920′s. Information is transmitted at the speed of light. If injustices were being perpetrated by a company, the nation would know about it almost instantly, and public pressure would be enough to stop it, especially with a liberal media.***

    Not if I, or anyone that does my sort of job has anything to do with it. Misinformation is also transmitted at the speed of light, remember…

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  8. AlexInCT

    Not that it disproportionately helps ‘non liberal’ causes. It’s that it gives a disproportionate advantage to business over demos.

    Sorry Ilovecress, but I had a laugh at that one. What do you mean by demos? The problem isn’t with who donates what, but a system that has been set up specifically to encourage businesses to come to politicians to buy favors. If the system was not so broke that politicians profit massively from those that want to buy favors, then we wouldn’t have any of these issues. The fact remains that everything done so far has made it even more beneficial for the connected politicians and their friends, while the people get fucked. And by the people I mean those of us footing the bill. The cure is to remove the power government agents have abrogated themselves, as that will stop the whole favor buying scam, not what we have done so far which has served to only make it harder for the groups you don’t like to buy favors (allowing the politician to them charge even more for the favor).

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  9. CM

    I genuinely and strongly concur that access and favours are VERY much the wrong way to run a country. The system should absolutely not be influenced by those who have the best access and the most money. But yeah, that seems to be what happens in your country. I do sympathise with your complaints.
    We have unions here and they are a little political but not nearly as much – they’re still very much about assisting workers with bargaining power. We don’t have a ‘lobby system’ per se. Of course that doesn’t stop politicians favouring certain groups and companies and people, but until they do it in a subtle way it’s blindingly obvious and they pay the price.

    Not if I, or anyone that does my sort of job has anything to do with it. Misinformation is also transmitted at the speed of light, remember…

    Exactly. Many people make a living out of misinformation. Or arguing only one side of something.
    I don’t see how a large company, or group of them, wouldn’t just exert sufficient pressure in the right areas to relax some law here, some law there. There is a reason why basic Western labour conditions were hard-fought. And that’s not an ideological statement at all; it’s inarguable that a whole lot of people had to fight tooth and nail for a long period of time. There is constant pressure in the other direction.

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