The Salt Lake Tribune editorial on July 25 praised the Eccles Foundations for its many fine gifts to Utah. We who live in this great state join The Tribune in offering our sincere thanks for the generous philanthropic donations from the Eccles family over the past decades.
The editorial was deeply troubling, however, because we learn that the $10 million donated to the University of Utah for its new Institute for Economics and Quantitative Analysis by the Eccles Foundations was matched by $10 million from the Charles Koch Foundation. In addition, the editorial reminded us that the $25 million donation to Utah State University from Jon Huntsman Sr. for the Huntsman School of Business was matched by a $25 million gift from the Koch Foundation.
On July 26, Robert Gehrke’s column issued a warning that I hope many people read. The Koch brothers, Charles and David, have spent years providing millions of dollars to universities to “create an army of scholars that ... have pumped out volumes of research that support the Kochs’ philosophy.” They want to rid America of pesky government so that they and their huge network of very wealthy people are free to do as they wish. Some of their common themes are deregulate, privatize, get rid of the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agency, limit voting rights, take money from public education by supporting charter schools and vouchers, fight any attempt to regulate guns, support fossil fuel mining and drilling, minimize renewable energy, and get rid of government-sponsored health insurance.
Because they realize that their beliefs will not be shared by most Americans, they have worked with stealth for many decades providing vast quantities of “dark money” (political spending that is untraceable) to groups and candidates who are working to hobble unions, decrease funds for humanitarian purposes, deregulate corporations, shift taxes to the less well-off and deny climate change.
America today is not a democracy, not a country run by all the people. Because of the Koch brothers and others like them, America is now an oligarchy, a country controlled by a few. Our current form of government is oligarchy by billionaires, the 1 percent of our population who, with their tremendous wealth, have been able to buy power, to buy control, to buy America.