Aspen Times Weekly: Hit & Run with John Colson |

Aspen Times Weekly: Hit & Run with John Colson

with John Colson

OK, we might as well make it three, eh?

This, as a reader may guess, is the third installment in my ongoing look at the billionaire-brothers Koch — mainly David and Charles — and their frightening influence on our national political scene.

There is a marvelous online site called Common Dreams ( that offers articles on an amazing range of topics, such as a recent piece by Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, titled “What Do The Koch Brothers Really Want?”

Sanders notes that the brothers are worth about $80 billion when lumped together, and were “the major source of funding” behind the intellectually challenged Tea Party, which sprang up in 2009 in response to the candidacy of then Sen. Barack Obama and has been a blight on the political landscape ever since.

A little bit of online research for this column uncovered, according to the website, that back in 1980 when David Koch ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Vice president on the Libertarian Party (LP) ticket, the Koch brothers spent $2 million to get Libertarian presidential candidate Ed Clark and his veep, our boy David, elected to the top offices of this nation.

Despite the LP’s claim to voters that it “has only one source of funds: You,” the website reports that the Koch money made up the majority of the party’s war chest that year.

Clark and Koch garnered 921,128 votes, or slightly more than 1 percent of the total votes cast in that election, according to the website,

During the campaign, tellingly, Clark was quoted by a reporter as saying the Libertarians were preparing to stage “a very big tea party” as part of their effort to end all taxation by the federal government — a misbegotten reference to the original Boston Tea Party of 1773. Given that Koch money went a long way toward creating the Tea Party of today, it is an interesting statement, don’t you think?

David Koch quit the LP after he and Clark lost so badly, and Koch turned to influencing politics with his private fortune.

But my main interest here, today, is to point out what Clark and Koch stood for in that long-ago election, as revealed by Sanders in his Common Dreams epistle.

In what Sanders termed “a few excerpts” from the LP platform in 1980, he reported that Koch and Clark favored the abolition, repeal or termination of “every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable in this society.”

The list included the abolition of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, deregulation of the health insurance industry, public schools, the EPA, the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation (privatization of all roads and streets being the goal). They advocated the repeal of all minimum wage laws, and an end to government regulations underpinning the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The list goes on, but the import is this — end all federal activity intended to protect and uplift the poor, the working classes, the infirm and the uneducated.

Turning to the Koch brothers’ spending habits in politics, I cite the website again, which reports that between 1998 and 2008, the brothers Koch, in various guises and combinations, spent more than $250 million in furtherance of their agenda of killing government at all levels and returning our country to its condition at around the turn of the 19th century.

That was a time when the rich ruled absolutely, and there was no middle class, in case you did not know.

It was a time when children were put to work in factories, when defacto slavery held sway in our industries, despite its abolition following the Civil War.

So that, dear readers, is what the Koch brothers really want. They are not conservatives in the true sense of the word, they are reactionaries, and what they are reacting to is roughly 80 years of what has passed for progressive legislation and governmental compassion for the downtrodden in our society.

Is that what you want?