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Dark Money: The Hidden History of the…
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Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the… (2016)

by Jane Mayer

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Some of the rich and powerful intend to continue being the rich and powerful by shaping the world to their desire. Don't be their pawns. ( )
1 vote LivingReflections | Dec 2, 2018 |
The story evolves mostly around Charles and David Koch, the grossly rich oil proprietors from Kansas. Brothers decided to spend huge (enough to sustain a small country) amounts of money to elect conservatives at all levels of American government (state or national level) to continue making big numbers without bothering with regulations with no disclosure of its source. Based on this book, 2016 was not a surprise. It was a meticulous plan that the brothers and other conservative rich people have been investing in for years. Media, lobbyists, political parties are all involved. Book sheds a light on how Koch brothers steered the country to prevent action against climate change. Brothers fight with free press. Many traits of their fight can been observed through the current president. It is a dark book like its title suggests. However, despair is not called for. Democrats won twice despite the effort in 2008 and 2012. It is now time to control the ridiculous amount of money pouring into the political parties (both sides), fix gerrymandering and free media. ( )
1 vote soontobefree | Nov 16, 2018 |
This was a hard book to get through. Not because it wasn't well written but because it was so supremely depressing and discouraging. I think we all know that massive amounts of money have been pouring into politics or that the Koch brothers have been the source of much of that money, but I was unaware of the extent of the machine that has been set up. In this book you learn that they've essentially created a whole new political party that, while claiming some idealogical basis, seems truly to have no other goal than protecting the vast fortunes of the relatively few who are driving it. I've heard some folks defend Citizens United as an important victory for free speech but after reading this I wonder how anyone can say that we are better off as a nation with the essentially unchecked and untraced flow of staggering amounts of funds being used to manipulate the opinions of more average Americans into supporting the agenda of the ultra-rich. ( )
1 vote dan4mayor | Jun 28, 2018 |
Important and deeply depressing. (Halfway through the book, I took a break and read Jenny Diski's cancer memoir on the grounds that I needed something lighter.) Essential reading if you care about American politics, whether you consider yourself liberal, conservative, or something in-between. ( )
1 vote GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Jane Mayer is a remarkably thorough and articulate investigative journalist. Her works provide background, breadth, insight, and very often important nuance to her subjects. This book, ostensibly about "The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right", per its subtitle, is more than the sum of those limited parts. This is especially valid in light of the fact this was written after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States but before he was elected. The book is peppered with Trump cabinet members and associates. There is just so very much worth commenting about. How about the particular billionaire behind one GOP presidential candidate who offered arsenic-laced material for mulch in playgrounds and fired an employee because his employee's wife wouldn't have a sexual threesome with him? Or maybe the handful of billionaires that spent many more times more money than the entire Republican Party on getting their preferred candidates elected? Are you up on the John Birch Society? Environmental or health or safety regulations and laws? For anyone who has not yet succumbed to the plague of cognitive dissonance that has infected millions of Americans, this is an important foundational resource. Read the damn book. ( )
1 vote larryerick | Apr 26, 2018 |
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Epigraph
We must make our choice. We may have democracy,
or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,
but we can't have both.
- Louis Brandeis
Dedication
FOR BILL HAMILTON
Everyone needs an editor,
but not everyone is lucky enough to marry one.
Thank you for always being there with just the right words.
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This faction hoped to use their wealth to advance a strain of conservative libertarian politics that was so far out on the political fringe as recently as 1980, when David Koch ran for Vice President on the Libertarian Party ticket, it received only 1 percent of the American vote. At the time, the conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr. dismissed their views as "Anarcho-Totalitarianism."
In support of building their own youth movement, another speaker, the libertarian historian Leonard Liggio, cited the success of the Nazi model. In his paper titled "National Socialist Political Strategy: Social Change in a Modern Industrial Society with an Authoritarian Tradition," Liggio, who was affiliated with the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) from 1974 to 1998, described the Nazis' successful creation of a youth movement a key to their capture of the state. Like the Nazis, he suggested, libertarians should organise university students to create group identity.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385535597, Hardcover)

Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the rise of a broad-based conservative movement. But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views also played a key role by bankrolling a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.

The network has brought together some of the richest people on the planet, foremost among them Charles and David Koch. Their core beliefs—that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom—are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws.

When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies decided on another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency.

The political operatives the network employs are disciplined, smart, and at times ruthless. And  their efforts have been remarkably successful. Libertarian views on taxes and regulation, once far outside the mainstream and still rejected by most Americans, are ascendant in the majority of state governments, the Supreme Court, and Congress. Meaningful environmental, labor, finance, and tax reform has been stymied.

Jane Mayer spent five years conducting hundreds of interviews—including with several sources within the network—and scoured public records, private papers, and court proceedings in reporting this book. In a taut and utterly convincing narrative, she traces the byzantine trail of the billions of dollars spent by the network and provides vivid portraits of the colorful figures behind the new American oligarchy.

Dark Money
is a book that must be read by anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 11 Jan 2016 23:15:58 -0500)

"Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why ... have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers? The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against 'big government' led to the rise of a broad-based conservative movement. But ... Jane Mayer [argues] in this ... history [that] a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views also played a key role by bankrolling a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system"--Dust jacket flap.… (more)

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