Right-wing billionaire David Koch died on Friday and like so many other people who have died and wielded influence over our society, there is the desire to immediately whitewash their record and play up the good they supposedly did. Meanwhile we’re just supposed to sweep their malevolence under the table and definitely don’t mention it in polite company.
David Koch, along with his brother Charles, control Koch Industries. Koch is a multinational industrial mega-corporation. Among its many brands the most well-known is Georgia-Pacific.
Koch Industries is one of the worst polluters in American history. Over its 79 years of existence, Koch Industries have polluted the land all across America, pursuing financial gain for the Kochs and their families over the long-term health of the planet.
In 2000, Koch settled with the government and paid a $30 million fine for their practice of pollution, which set a record for the largest such fine in American history.
The company was sued for over 300 oil spills across facilities in 6 states.
Carol M. Browner, then the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator told the Wall Street Journal about how the Kochs tried to avoid paying for what they had done:
Calling it one of the “most difficult and contentious environmental cases ever,” she said Koch used multiple teams of lawyers and agreed to discuss settlement only after it appeared that two federal judges — one in Houston and another in Tulsa, Okla. — might grant summary judgments against Koch in the civil cases, meaning they could find the company liable without a trial.
The company refused to even show the government a map of all their interlocking pipelines transporting their toxic material across the country until it had signed the consent agreement – in other words, covering their rear ends.
The Kochs didn’t just stop there.
The company has a list of environmental violations affecting the lives of millions of people that goes on for years and years and years.
Chlorine dioxide chemical leak (2014), 17,000 gallons of crude spilled (2013), sending toxic dust into homes, soil and groundwater contamination, releasing hazardous chemicals including benzene, hydrogen cyanide, releasing millions of gallons of toxic paper mill waste (as much as 45 million gallons per day).
The company also illegally removed oil from federal and Indian lands.
It just goes on and on and on. Violation of the public trust, the Earth, and human health and safety, all so David Koch could line his pockets with billions of dollars.
In the process, he also donated money to ballets and museums. He even supported criminal justice reform.
The man and his brother were and are a malign influence on our society. The actions they engaged in are the worst sort of evil. They give those who purportedly support capitalism a bad name, because capitalism simply does not have to be this evil. The Kochs chose this evil path to pad their bank accounts. Why make 40 cents when you can make a dollar? So what if the ground is poisoned and children and families get sick and hurt? Who cares, right?
And yes, on top of all their gross defilement of the environment and our communities, the Kochs poured billions into American politics.
They backed policies like limiting how many people have access to health care, cutting taxes for the super-rich (like them), limiting government oversight of polluters (like them), and backing a whole host of policies designed to keep people like the Kochs wealthy while stomping on the faces of everyone else.
They even supported people advocating for violence against the duly elected American government.
The Kochs represent a level of evil intent, behavior, and action that would seem unrealistic in the pages of a comic book. The worst nightmares dreamt up by artists and writers cannot come close to what the Kochs did and bankrolled for decades.
For this, on the day of his death, David Koch is to be remembered merely as a humanitarian, or a philanthropist?
Hell no. The day of his death is the best day to speak about his evil acts, to remind the world of what he and his brother have done and to discuss the lingering aftermath of their wholesale rape and pillaging of the world for private gain.
David Koch should be remembered for being evil and to hopefully remind others – because most like him are beyond conscience – that society will and should judge you for the life you lived, so it’s best to live a good and moral life instead of one like David Koch’s.