I don’t usually play the part of provocateur, but there are occasions when I make an exception. Two entirely separate events came together in my mind and demanded a little satirical activism.
The first event was the fact that former Labor Secretary Robert Reich used MoveOn.org, which has a vast reach among Progressive activists, to publicly “denounce” and “condemn” the Koch brothers for making perfectly legal political donations, and to invite other Americans to join with him in this little exercise in socialist shaming.
So far, 202,240 people have signed a document that could easily have come from the revolutionaries in China during Mao’s deadly Cultural Revolution (Nien Cheng’s Life and Death in Shanghai vividly illustrates that terrible time); or from the Kremlin during the height of Soviet Kangaroo trials; or from East Germany’s Stasi state (see, e.g, the harrowing film “The Lives of Others“); or from Cambodia when the killing fields ran red with blood; or from Maduro’s Venezuela; or from any other totalitarian political organization that maintains power by targeting and denouncing individual citizens so as to sow fear in and gain control over the general population.
The second event was an article at PowerLine about Progressive billionaire Tom Steyer. Steyer recently announced that, in a single year, he plans to spend $100 million of his own money to fund political candidates who will vote against the Keystone pipeline. The sweet song Steyer sings is environmental protection, but the reality is that the pipeline will compete with his huge investments in the “green energy” sector. Additionally, during the first decade of the 21st century, Steyer turned his hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management L.L.C., into one of the largest coal project investors in the world. The fact that Steyer has since stepped down from Farallon and that Steyer kept all these investments offshore (in Asia and Australia) seems to have blinded the Gaia crowd to his environmental depredations.
It seems to me that, using the Reich algoritm (buying elections is bad), Steyer should also be denounced and condemned. So I started a petition to do just that. You can find and sign the petition here. Or if you don’t feel so inclined, you can still read the petition’s text:
MoveOn.org is hosting a petition that Robert Reich authored urging the American people to denounce the Koch brothers “for using [their] vast wealth — more than the combined wealth of the bottom 40 percent of Americans — to corrupt our democracy.” The petition tells the Koch brothers that their legal political contributions are such that “You are thereby undermining the most precious gift we possess, our democratic system of government. You deserve to be shamed and condemned by all Americans.” *
Reich and MoveOn.org, however, have not mounted a similar petition to denounce, shame, and condemn Tom Steyer for using his vast fortune to pervert the political process and, by destroying competition for his American-based “green” energy projects, to enrich himself at the expense of the American people. Clearly, this was an oversight on their part. Thankfully, it’s not too late to object to Steyer’s undemocratic conduct.
Based upon the facts set forth below, this petition asks that the American people denounce Tom Steyer for using his vast wealth – estimated at $1.6 billion – to corrupt our democracy. He is undermining the most precious gift we possess, our democratic system of government. He deserves to be shamed and condemned by all Americans. It also asks that Steyer be denounced and condemned for destroying potential competition for his profitable “green” energy projects and for pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars in profits acquired by funding massive coal production projects in Asia and Australia.
And now for the facts behind this deserved denouncement and condemnation:**
Tom Steyer founded Farallon Capital Management, L.L.C. (“Farallon”), one of the world’s largest hedge funds. He withdrew from Farallon only at the end of October 2012.
Steyer’s personal net worth is estimated at $1.6 billion, making him a 1 percenter among 1 percenters. He recently made news when he pledged to use this vast personal fortune to fund Democrat candidates to the tune of $100 million in 2014 in exchange for their efforts to oppose the Keystone pipeline.
The proposed Keystone pipeline will bring oil from Canada, a stable democracy that protects its workers and its environment, to America. The oil flowing from the pipeline will lower fuel prices, increase job opportunities, and decrease American dependence on oil produced in countries that exploit their workforce and the environment, and that use oil monies to pursue policies hostile to the United States.
Unsurprisingly, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 82 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents, and even 51 percent of Democrats support the pipeline. Steyer, however, opposes the pipeline and is willing to use his vast personal financial resources to pervert the process by buying access to politicians.
Steyer’s proposed $100 million injection into Democrat politics in 2014 not only perverts the political process but, if Steyer is successful in putting his candidates into office, will also destroy potential competition for the myriad businesses in which Steyer invests. As matters now stand, the Keystone pipeline, when built, will cut into Steyer’s profits from myriad investments, including Kinder Morgan, which is building a competitor to the pipeline; Greener Capital, Steyer’s newest “green energy” hedge fund; and even BP, in which Steyer holds (or has held) millions of dollars in investments.
Even worse than Steyer’s undemocratic behavior is the fact that his newly green persona provides a cover for his own vast contributions to CO2 production. Publicly available information reveals that Steyer made his fortune in significant part by financing some of the world’s largest coal projects. None of these projects was in America, however, which may explain why the American media hasn’t commented on Steyer’s past involvement in CO2 production and overall pollution.
Beginning in 2003, Farallon, while under Steyer’s direct management, was actively involved in coal transactions taking place in Asia and Australia. Although Farallon does not disclose the details or scope of its investments, publicly available information makes it reasonable to believe that, since 2003, Farallon has spent between $1 billion and $2 billion to fund international coal mining projects.
On average, coal output on projects that Farallon funded has almost doubled thanks to Farallon’s (and, therefore, Steyer’s) contributions. It’s worth noting here that many of these projects occurred in countries that do not enforce strict emission controls on the coal industry.
Thanks to these investments, Farallon may well be the single largest private coal investor in the world. The Koch brothers, by contrast, own a now defunct coal mine that, at its peak, produced .04% of the production from the coal mines in Farallon’s portfolio. It’s therefore reasonable to believe that Farallon has profited to the tune of around $400 million thanks to his company’s overseas investments in coal production.
Like any good 19th century robber baron, Steyer doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty abroad, but likes to keep his image clean at home. There is no evidence that he has remorse for the coal his money has produced overseas, or for the land and lives despoiled, or for the CO2 emission that coal created. He has not confessed and repented; nor has he used his vast wealth to remediate the damage to both people and the environment that his profitable investments caused.
Steyer seeks to earn a halo from environmentalists here at home, as well as to increase his profits in the green energy sector, by using his coal money to deny Americans the jobs and lower energy costs that would result from the Keystone pipeline. He should be denounced and condemned in the strongest terms by the greatest number of people.
Again, if you believe that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, or if you’re in as mischievous a mood as I am, you can sign the petition here.