It’s axiomatic that the rich oppose taxes. They believe that they’ve earned every penny in their many bank accounts, and that the government has no right to take any of their considerable fortunes, society be damned.
But it occurs to me, after reading a few pages of Jane Mayer’s new book, Dark Money, that the rich have another reason to lobby against taxation. By denying precious revenues to governments for the support of public goods and services—like transportation, education, and environmental protection—our nation’s plutocrats make beggars of desperate insitutions suffering from decades of diminished funding from Congress and state legislatures. In so doing, these great malefactors of wealth enjoy outsized influence over education, certainly, but also the arts, athletics (both college and professional), the “public airwaves,” and the political system itself, which, following a series of Supreme Court rulings, in particular Citizens United, has been thoroughly corrupted by the Koch brothers and their wealthy cohorts. One of them, Kenneth Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, said: “if it wasn’t for us fat cats and the endowments we fund, every university in the country would be fucked.”
As for politics, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz argues that “Wealth begets power, which begets more wealth.” Mayer’s book shows how the Koch brothers, especially, turned blue states into red by means of a vast, incredibly well-funded network of conservative ideologues and their operatives, stretching its tentacles into nearly every facet of the body politic, even down to the level of school boards.
The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza reports:
For the first time since Gallup began measuring party affiliation nationwide, there are now more red states than blue ones. Twenty states are either solidly Republican or leaning Republican, while just 14 are solidly or leaning Democratic. The remaining 16 are competitive between the two parties.
He notes that the rapid change since Obama was first elected is nothing short of “incredible. What he doesn’t mention is how that came to be. I’d say it had almost everything to do with the Koch brothers and their dark money.
That so many Americans are suspectible to the libertarian nostrums of the Koch brothers et al. is a testament to the power of vacuous propaganda over widespread ignorance.