Yesterday, our old friends the Koch brothers were back in the news. The DeSmog Blog exposed how some of the most rancid trolls in the world of climate change-denialism are on the payroll of the Heartland Institute, one of the Koch Cartel’s early propaganda mills set up during the Reagan Era.
Among the Heartland Institute’s disinformation projects: paying schools to spread pro-pollution lies to K-12 students by “providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain.” Also memos exposed direct funding deals from the Heartland Institute to pseudo-contrarian “scientists” like S. Fred Singer, named one of America’s top climate change-denialists, who also serves in a variety of Koch propaganda mills like the Cato Institute, the Institute for Humane Studies and George Mason University.
The main thing to remember in any story involving the Heartland Institute is that it is a direct project of the Koch Cartel (you gotta admire the Kochs’ ability to generate so many bland names for their propaganda outfits, that blandness acts like a wizard’s cloaking power).
Heartland’s founder, David Padden, was an early member of the Koch Cartel. In 1977, when the Charles G. Koch Foundation of Wichita rebranded and renamed itself the Cato Institute, David Padden was a founding board member of the new Cato Institute. Padden headed a financial services firm in Chicago, Padden & Co. Chicago is the “heartland” of financial derivatives, the “financial weapons of mass destruction” that are screwing America and the world, so you can imagine the Kochs and Padden had plenty of work in Chicago. The Chicago Board is the largest financial derivatives exchange in the world—Koch sockpuppet Rick Santelli launched his Tea Party Rant while standing on the floor of the Chicago Board, blathering about “losers” who lost their homes. Another banker who was a founding board member of the Cato Institute was Sam Husbands, an executive at Dean Witter Securities, now part of Morgan Stanley. And of course, heading Cato was Charles Koch, heir to his father’s oil and chemicals fortune.
Yep, they were underdogs and rebels all right, these “radicals for corporate pollution.”
Like a lot of libertarians in the 70s and 80s, Padden styled himself as an anti-EPA hippie for capitalism, forming his own zany libertarian outfit called—get this—the “Loop Libertarian League.” Krazy Koch-heads, those guys! Of course, there’s a practical use for putting a hippie front-group on your resume: Gives the impression that when Padden and his Heartland Institute comrades promote climate change lies and pro-pollution corporate propaganda, what they’re really doing is “bucking The Establishment” and “stickin’ it to The Man.” Cuz you know, you environmentalists and anti-poison types are just so conformist, man—only a true rebel spends tens of millions of dollars poisoning the public’s minds, so that it’s easier for corporations to poison the environment.
In 1984, the Kochs expanded their corporate-hippie libertarian network with a handful of new propaganda mills.David Padden must’ve done something right at Cato because he was installed as the head of one of these new libertarian mills, The Heartland Institute, headquartered in Chicago.
Padden joined the board of another Koch libertarian propaganda mill set up that same year, “Citizens for a Sound Economy” (later renamed “FreedomWorks”). The Kochs installed Ron Paul as the first chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy—yep, that Ron Paul, the “maverick” Ron Paul. Sorry, folks, but it’s true: Ron Paul and David Padden go way back too, as does Ron Paul with the Koch brothers.
Here’s a snapshot of an article from 1985 about Ron Paul, head of Citizens for a Sound Economy/FreedomWorks, as he’s putting together a campaign to try to convince Ronald Reagan to enact a flat tax. (Steve Forbes, who later became a major force in FreedomWorks, took up the flat tax issue in his presidential run. The Heartland Institute identified Forbes magazine as a pro-pollution propaganda mill that should be pressured to keep out any real science from its pages.)
Ron Paul, serving Master Koch, in May, 1985
Yep, read it ‘n’ weep. Remember this the next time some poor libertarian sucker tries telling you about how Ron Paul is so edgy and dangerous that the Kochs couldn’t handle him and banished him in 1981.
Cuz you know, all these “radicals for corporate pollution”—they’re all so goddamned principled. It’s all about Liberty, Freedom and fighting The Man. And it’s all made possible thanks to you, the little suckers.
Would you like to know more? Read Mark Ames’ article “The Koch Whore Archipelago” and Yasha Levine’s article “How Taxpayers Are Forced To Subsidize Billionaire Koch Brothers’ Right-Wing Libertarian War”.
Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.
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