Thanks to Van Jones for once again showing some strong leadership and speaking truth to power. We must live in a just society. We are seeing in Egypt the impact of gross inequality and lack of freedom. Yet, apparently the United States is much more unequal than Egypt in terms of its citizens’ prosperity. We enjoy many other freedoms that still balance out the growing income inequality yet a concentration of economic power that seeks to benefit itself at the expense of the larger society can only inevitably lead to instability. When the middle class withers away, when people believe their representatives do not hear them, when they believe there is no opportunity to improve their lives through good jobs, education and access to healthcare, that’s when there’s a breakdown. We should fear that on both the right and the left — after all, the Tea Party originally started as a grassroots movement of people fearful of how change would impact their already-struggling families. That was before the Koches got involved….
This weekend, David and Charles Koch, the co-owners of the $100 billion Koch Industries pollution conglomerate, hosted their annual meeting in Palm Springs to coordinate strategy and raise funds for the conservative movement. For decades, the Kochs have quietly led a political agenda to concentrate America’s wealth and power among the richest few in the name of “liberty,” at the expense of the health and opportunity of the middle class.
At an event organized by Common Cause to “Uncloak the Kochs,” Center for American Progress senior fellow Van Jones described the threat that concentration of economic power poses to American liberty, democracy, and justice:
I hear a lot of talk now about liberty. There is a movement in our country that has grown up, the Tea Party movement, that has raised the question of liberty, and I say, “Thank goodness.” I’m glad that someone’s raised the question of liberty. There’s nothing more precious to an African American than liberty and justice for all. I’m glad to hear that somebody’s concerned about liberty.
But I think that what we have to be clear about is liberty always has two threats, there’s always two threats to liberty. One is the excessive concentration of political power — excessive concentration of political authority — the totalitarian threat to liberty. And that is a threat to watch out for. But there is another threat. And it is in our country a graver threat. And it is the threat that comes from excessive concentrations of economic power. Excessive concentrations of economic power in our country pose as big a threat, and frankly a greater threat than any concentration of political power. What we have to remember is that our republic is founded not just on the question of liberty, but also on democracy and justice.
And it is when the predatory, monopolistic dimension of the economic system starts to gain momentum, then the question of justice and democracy has to come forward too. Not just liberty and property rights, but justice and human rights, and democracy, and the people’s rights to be free from economic tyranny and economic domination. We will not live on a national plantation run by the Koch brothers. We’re not going to do that. We refuse to do that.
Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell
Special Contributors: James Rucker, Rinku Sen, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Adam Luna, Kamala Harris
Technical Contributor: Brandon Sheats