More than a century later we still have the poor with us, of course, and the rich, not to mention the unspeakably super-duper-rich – many of whom comport themselves in ways that likewise provoke public concern, especially in an era of growing inequality and impoverishment.
National Memo editor-in-chief Joe Conason believes the time has come to revive a somewhat less charitable tradition that he and his late colleague, the great progressive journalist Jack Newfield, established at The Village Voice during an earlier era of avarice: “The Greediest Cases.”
This holiday season we will feature a series of profiles of America’s Greediest Cases, and we encourage readers to nominate deserving public figures in the worlds of business, government, media, entertainment, and sports who exemplify the grasping materialism and rank hypocrisy of our time.
You and your brother are tied as the fourth richest person in America with $36 billion in assets each, the fruits of owning the second largest privately owned corporation in the world. How would you spend your spare time and money?
Perhaps you’d donate millions to medical research, public television and the arts. Or maybe you’d dabble in politics and try to expose the “Science of Liberty” and economic freedom to help “the most vulnerable.”
That’s what the Koch Brothers do. And how are they helping the most vulnerable?
By attempting to rid the public of programs like Social Security, which has kept more Americans out of poverty than anything the government has ever done.
While the Kochs insist that their goal is freedom, their agenda seems entirely based on policies that increase economic inequality and make it easy for carbon polluters like Koch Industries to continue their unfettered domination of energy markets.
Perhaps the best example of the Kochs’ hypocrisy comes in their war on solar power.
While the Kochs spent millions to try to put politicians in office who have vowed to never raise taxes on the rich or anyone, the billionaires are aiding efforts to “tax the sun” in an effort to squash the nascent solar industry.
One of the main benefits of powering your home or business via solar cells, especially in a state like Arizona, is a process known as “net metering,” which allows you to sell excess wattage back to the utility. While the virtue of using a renewable resource that is essentially carbon-neutral is a decent selling point, it’s the economic value of net metering that has fueled Arizona’s solar boom and made it the top solar state per capita.
This boom hasn’t pleased Arizona Public Service (APS), which stands to lose as much as $2 billion over the next 20 years if solar adoption continues at the current pace. That’s why the state’s largest electricity provider has been fighting for new regulations that would raise the cost of solar by $50-$100 a month, effectively killing the benefits of net metering. And APS has been waging this battle with some very powerful allies.