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What do Charles and David Koch want?

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The Koch brothers were at the scenic Broadmoor Hotel this weekend, tweaking their various Bond-villain plots for achieving total world domination:

The conservative resistance movement [ed.: ???] on Sunday celebrated its victories and plotted strategy for the 2018 election at a luxury resort in Colorado nestled between a placid lake with two snuggling swans and the picturesque mountains near Pikes Peak.

The political network backed by the Koch brothers gathered more than 400 of its wealthiest donors at The Broadmoor for a three-day retreat that emphasized its work in states across the nation.

Led by the organization’s political arm, Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs declared the state legislative sessions in 2017 as the network’s most successful ever. In Colorado, conservatives highlighted victories in equalizing state spending on charter schools and defeating a major tax hike to improve the state’s crumbling roads.

“We are seeing a once-in-a generation renaissance of freedom and prosperity policies being enacted at the state level, said Tim Phillips, one of the top Koch network strategists, in an interview. “The untold story is the dramatic policy advancements that are actually helping people at the state level.”

Koch network leaders credited the investment at the state level for their successes — one that rivals, if not exceeds, the investment made by the Republican Party at the national and state levels.

What made the difference, the leaders told donors at a strategy session, was the ability to define candidates on positive terms early in the race and and mobilize voter outreach efforts to boost turnout.

“This network is the only group that can engage this way because you support us with significant resources all year round,” said Emily Seidel, a top political strategist at Freedom Partners, a Koch network organization.

But the pitch to donors — all of whom gave at least $100,000 to attend the event — included a sobering message for 2018.

“Make no mistake, this midterm election cycle is far more difficult than in recent years,” Seidel said. “For one, we are facing a reinvigorated progressive left. Their activists are energized and their donors are giving at unprecedented levels.”

The Kochs aim to spend $300 million to $400 million nationwide in the 2018 cycle, the most ever for their organization, and suggest the spending is “headed to the high end of that range.”

[If you haven’t read Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, you should.]

According to Forbes’ estimate, Chuck and Dave have a net worth of $96.6 billion. The question that most interests me is why two men whose combined wealth is greater than the annual gross domestic product of two-thirds of the world’s sovereign nations (note: not hyperbole) are so obsessed with protecting and expanding the wealth and power of a national and global plutocracy that has already achieved obscene levels of both.

Obviously (?) their motivations can’t be material in the usual sense of the word, as they’ve acquired fortunes that would be impossible for not only themselves, but all of their even distantly foreseeable descendants, to spend. (They could spend ten million dollars per day, every day of the year, and they would still see their present wealth increase in real terms, in perpetuity). Even in purely prudential terms, you would think people in such a position would be far more concerned about avoiding the sort of social instability that could lead to the expropriation of their fortunes, and/or their being lined up against a wall and shot.

Instead, the Koch brothers work and most of all spend incessantly, to create political and economic conditions that will only exacerbate the grotesque inequalities of the new gilded age. Why? The simplest explanation is that lust for wealth and power can be literally insatiable, and perhaps that’s the answer.

I suspect that there’s another explanation: for people like the Koch brothers, evangelizing for the church of Ludwig Von Mises, Frederich Hayek, Ayn Rand, etc., is a kind of interminable self-justification for their fantastic privilege, while beneath that overtly secular faith the contemporary remnants of Weber’s Protestant ethic still lurk just beneath the surface. The latter quasi-theology identifies wealth with spiritual election, and poverty as a self-chosen condition, which makes attempts to eliminate or even seriously ameliorate it both pointless and immoral.

This, I think, helps explain why the Koch brothers are so fanatically devoted to denying or radically minimizing the reality of anthropogenic climate change. If man-made global warming is both real and potentially civilization-threatening, then it represents the biggest market failure imaginable, and one’s God must not fail.

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