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Yet another example of Teaparty being useful idiots for the Koch brothers? (Madison union protests)

Are the tea parties useful idiots for an attempt by the billionaire Koch family to fight unionization in order to increase their profits? The latest example of the Koch family pushing an agenda that helps their bottom line and getting help from the teapartiers in that endeavor comes from the protests between public sector unions and Republican governor Scott Walker in Madison, Wisconsin. I haven't been closely following the issue, but at the very least it's clear that the Kochs are attempting to take advantage of the issue to push their agenda. And, pushing that agenda would help the bottom line of their energy and resources empire.

The Kochs helped elect Walker [1], and their Americans for Prosperity has now created a site to support him and opposing at the least collective bargaining by public sector unions. However, it might also be an attempt to oppose collective bargaining in general [2]. Meanwhile, the Kochs have a financial interest in reducing labor costs in Wisconsin (as they do in other states) [3].

Today, the tea parties held a counter-protest featuring luminaries such as Andrew Breitbart ( National Review interview: peekurl.com/v9LhdhK ), Gateway Pundit, and Herman Cain ( peekURL.com/vhZ64cs ). Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds is going all out (instapundit.com/115329, instapundit.com/115324, instapundit.com/115278 and probably more).

On the one hand, unions are somewhat of a negative force in the U.S. because most of them support illegal immigration, with groups like the Service Employees International Union getting a good part of their dues from money that was earned illegally. The SEIU even paid someone linked to the Mexican government to organize immigration marches inside the U.S. And, allies of the unions also support mass/illegal immigration. And, excessive demands by public sector unions might in fact lead to budget shortfalls.

On the other hand, the billionaire Koch brothers are at the least taking advantage of this issue to push an agenda that would help their bottom line. And, the teapartiers are being useful idiots for them. And, the same types of people who harp on public sector unions in regards to California's problems (while ignoring the impact of the massive immigration they support on the state) are now involved in the Madison counterprotests.

So, there doesn't appear to be a good way out on this issue. The last thing we should want is a victory for the teaparties and their Koch stringpullers. But, another last thing we should want is for a victory by Barack Obama and groups that support illegal immigration.

UPDATE: Via this, part of gov. Walker's "Budget Repair Bill" (PDF link, excerpt at [4]) would allow Wisconsin state energy assets ("heating, cooling, and power plants") to be sold to private companies or their operations transfered to private companies. Surely it's a coincidence that the Koch family is in the energy business and that the sales would be done "with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state".

UPDATE 2: Yet another questionable, possibly Koch-friendly action by Walker happened last month (link):

A plan to spend $100 million on a boiler that would burn plant-based fuels at UW-Madison's Charter Street power plant was axed Thursday by Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch... Cullen Werwie, a spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker, said Huebsch halted spending on the boiler based on Walker's wishes... According to a 2008 university study, converting the plant to burn biofuel was the most expensive of the options considered and would be about twice as expensive as using other coal-burning technologies or natural gas... University officials credited the strong support of former Gov. Jim Doyle for the plan to burn biofuels. Doyle and state environmentalists praised the switch to biofuels because such fuels can be grown in Wisconsin and would, in the long run, be more reliable and less expensive than natural gas, which must be purchased and piped in from out of state.

The source for the claim that biofuels would save money long-term isn't given, but at least from that article it doesn't sound like Walker was taking exception to that claim. Instead, it at least sounds like he was being penny wise and pound foolish. And, coincidence or not, the Kochs are in the natural gas business and even have a pipeline network in Wisconsin. Hopefully someone will ask him for an explanation.

UPDATE 3: Instead of pressing Walker for an explanation, dim Democrat/union supporters are doing what they tend to do: play games. The latest example is Ian Murphy from the Buffalo Beast (free weekly) calling Walker and pretending to be David Koch from the Koch family (link). On the call, Walker says nothing in any way incriminating; the call (unless Walker was waiting for the "secret code" or knew it was a prank) makes clear that Walker had not been previously coordinating with the Kochs. And, the idea that a politician would rush to take a call from a major donor is only shocking to those who are completely naive.

The stupidity highlight of the call is this:

[A Walker assistant] was eager to help. “I was really hoping to talk directly to Scott,” I said. He said that could be arranged and that I should just leave my number. I explained to Gilkes, “My goddamn maid, Maria, put my phone in the washer. I’d have her deported, but she works for next to nothing.” Gilkes found this amusing. “I’m calling from the VOID—with the VOID, or whatever it’s called. You know, the Snype!”

If I said that, it would be with the recognition that the Kochs fund loose borders groups and support mass immigration. However, Ian Murphy doesn't have that excuse: it's doubtful whether he knows that the Dems/far-left/unions and the Kochs support the same basic immigration policy.

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[1] Per this:

According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign's second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin... The [Koch] PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett...

...Walker's plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers' playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation (see Reason Magazine) have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited (PDF) Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado; Mix said in a recent interview that he supports Governor Walker's collective-bargaining bill. In Wisconsin, this conservative, anti-union view is being placed into action by lawmakers in sync with the deep-pocketed donors who helped them obtain power. (Walker also opposes the state's Clean Energy Job Act, which would compel the state to increase its use of alternative energy.) At this moment - even with the Wisconsin uprising unresolved - the Koch brothers' investment in Walker appears to be paying off.

[2] AFP created standwithwalker.com, which just redirects to americansforprosperity.org/walker. The petition there says:

Union dues should be voluntary, and the state should not be in the business of collecting them. Union certification should require a secret ballot. Collective bargaining should not be used to force extravagant pension and health benefits that cripple state budgets... These common-sense reforms have made the union bosses desperate to disrupt Wisconsin government and overturn an election. They must not be allowed to succeed. In fact, every state should adopt Governor Scott Walker's common sense reforms.

[3] From this, quoting ThinkProgress:

Koch owns a coal company subsidiary with facilities in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan; six timber plants throughout the state; and a large network of pipelines in Wisconsin. While Koch controls much of the infrastructure in the state, they have laid off workers to boost profits. At a time when Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch awarded themselves an extra $11 billion of income from the company, Koch slashed jobs at their Green Bay plant

[4]

16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

Sat, 02/19/2011 - 16:08 · Importance: 5