Saturday, December 14, 2019

Libertarians have shifted the Overton Window

How David Koch’s 1980 Fantasy Became America’s Current Reality | The New Republic - Adam Eichen:

August 27, 2019 - "Billionaire fossil fuel mogul David Koch ... will rightfully be remembered for his role in the destruction of the earth [by whom? - ed.].... Ronald Reagan may have uttered the famous words 'Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem' back in 1981 — but it was David Koch, along with his elder brother Charles and a cabal of other ultrarich individuals, who truly reframed the popular view of government. Once [seen  as] a democratic tool used to shape the country’s future, government became seen as something intrusive and inefficient — indeed, something to be feared.

"David Koch was particularly instrumental in legitimizing anti-government ideology — one the GOP now holds as gospel. In 1980, the younger Koch ran as the vice-presidential nominee for the nascent Libertarian Party. And ... Koch personally donated more than $2 million to the party — an astounding amount for the time — to promote the Ed Clark–David Koch ticket.... In fact, according to [Lisa] Graves, 'The Koch-funded Libertarian Party helped spur on Ronald Reagan’s anti-government, free-market-solves-all agenda as president.'

"Even by contemporary standards, the 1980 Libertarian Party platform was extreme. It called for the abolition of a wide swath of federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Bureau of Land Management, the Federal Election Commission, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Federal Trade Commission, and 'all government agencies concerned with transportation.' It railed against campaign finance and consumer protection laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, any regulations of the firearm industry (including tear gas), and government intervention in labor negotiations. And the platform demanded the repeal of all taxation, and sought amnesty for those convicted of tax 'resistance.'

"Koch and his libertarian allies moreover advocated for the repeal of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs. They wanted to abolish federally mandated speed limits. They opposed occupational licensure, antitrust laws, labor laws protecting women and children, and 'all controls on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates.' And in true libertarian fashion, the platform urged the privatization of all schools (with an end to compulsory education laws), the railroad system, public roads and the national highway system, inland waterways, water distribution systems, public lands, and dam sites.

"The Libertarian Party never made much of a splash in the election — though it did garner almost 12 percent of the vote in Alaska — but doing so was never the point. Rather, the Kochs were engaged in a long-term effort to normalize the aforementioned ideas and mainstream them into American politics. Building off the Libertarian campaign, Graves explained, 'David and Charles then used their front groups to pull the Reagan Administration further to the right with their push to privatize across the board.' With their army of think tanks, front groups, lobbyists, and media ties, this multimillion dollar effort to shift the Overton Window grew for nearly four decades, culminating in the takeover of many core political institutions, federally and in key states. The duo additionally capitalized on the anti-government Tea Party movement, which they greatly helped along by bankrolling the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.

"The Koch’s Ayn Rand–inspired hellscape has yet to completely come to fruition, but the ideas the duo promoted are now part of the regular discourse — and have been for a while."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

See also: Understanding the Overton Window

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