The billionaire Koch brothers have been corrupting democracy for decades. Their labyrinthine web of front groups toil 24/7 to distort the facts on issues like climate change, voter suppression, gun control, and taxes. And if that collection of topics sounds familiar, it’s because the Kochs almost single-handedly created the Tea Party (with PR help from Fox News) to push their views on those subjects unto a gullible sector of the American populace.
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One of the right’s favorite knee-jerk responses to criticisms of the Kochs is to point to wealthy Democrats who contribute to candidates and causes that lean more to the liberal side of the political spectrum and claim that the Koch’s critics are hypocrites. However, there have always been some obvious distinctions between the right and left wing upper-crusters. The false argument of equivalency falls flat when given scrutiny.
For one thing, the Republican rich can usually be found bankrolling people and projects that benefit them personally or professionally. Thus the Kochs’ fixation on opposing unions and denying climate change is closely aligned with their exploitative and polluting business interests. Well-off Dems, on the other hand, commonly finance more philanthropic endeavors (civil rights, environment, aid to the poor) that aim to improve the quality of life without necessarily enriching themselves.
It is also notable that conservatives advocate for less regulation of money in politics, creating an environment where the rich get ever more power to bend society to their will. Liberals, conversely, spend more of their cash on trying to remove money from politics. As an example, it was conservatives, including the Kochs, who pushed for Citizens United so that they could fund their self-serving projects without restrictions or even identification. But Jonathan Soros, the son of the right’s favorite wealthy liberal George Soros, created the Friends of Democracy PAC, a SuperPAC aimed at ending the influence of SuperPACs.
A new survey was just published that affirms these distinctions between the rightist rich and the lefty leisure class. Conducted by the Spectrem Group for CNBC (Wall Street’s cable news network) the Millionaire Survey “polled 514 people with investable assets of $1 million or more, which represents the top 8 percent of American households.” Among the sometimes surprising findings was that more than half of the respondents agreed that “inequality of wealth in our nation is a major problem.” Also, 64% favored higher taxes on the rich. A similar number (63%) support an increase in the minimum wage. And only 13% said that unemployment benefits should be reduced. Remember, these are all millionaires in this survey.
Digging a little deeper into these numbers, another interesting trend takes shape. It turns out that there is a marked difference in the views expressed by the millionaire class depending on their political affiliation.
“Democratic millionaires are far more supportive of taxing the rich and raising the minimum wage. Among Democratic millionaires, 78 percent support higher taxes on the wealthy, and 77 percent back a higher minimum wage. That compares with 31 percent and 38 percent, respectively, for Republicans.”
So the breakdown reveals that it is the Democratic wealthy who are the most conscientious and concerned about their country and their fellow citizens. While the Republican rich are selfishly and characteristically concerned mainly with themselves. It’s the difference between Patriotic Millionaires and Ayn Rand sociopaths. That’s not a particularly surprising revelation, but it is nevertheless useful to see it validated by hard data.