Dark Money

Dark Money

The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

Book - 2016
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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 ascendancy 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 bankrolled 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. 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.

The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch, whose father made his fortune in part by building oil refineries in Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany. The patriarch later was a founding member of the John Birch Society, whose politics were so radical it believed Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights.

When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose 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. Richard Mellon Scaife, the mercurial heir to banking and oil fortunes, had the brilliant insight that most of their political activities could be written off as tax-deductible "philanthropy."

These organizations were given innocuous names such as Americans for Prosperity. Funding sources were hidden whenever possible. This process reached its apotheosis with the allegedly populist Tea Party movement, abetted mightily by the Citizens United decision--a case conceived of by legal advocates funded by the network.

The political operatives the network employs are disciplined, smart, and at times ruthless. Mayer documents instances in which people affiliated with these groups hired private detectives to impugn whistle-blowers, journalists, and even government investigators. 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 reforms have 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.

Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ♭2016
ISBN: 9780385535595
0385535597
Characteristics: xii, 449 pages ;,24 cm

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j
JARowsell
Oct 11, 2017

excellent book!

m
mimsipod
May 05, 2017

I have just finished this book and found it to be a fact-dense read, with sources and citations supporting the author's work. My friend in Sherwood Park read a copy from that library at the same time, so we could talk about it as we read it. It is chilling to realize that the Republican Party in the USA has been taken over by right-wing radicals led by the Koch brothers, who have set out to change the thinking of Americans and who, through spending endless amounts of Dark Money and using American tax loopholes, have met with success: the election of Donald Trump, and following that, the things we have seen him do since inauguration. It's a very well-written but very disturbing book that helped me to understand why things are happening the way they are in the USA.

t
TruthisGreat
Apr 19, 2017

Terrific book! Time for everyone to 'hit the grow up button!' Take note folks! Ignorance does not exonerate us from shining the light on corruption and thievery of our lives for future generations. Jane Mayer spent 5 years to write this easy-to-read book - the solid evidence and reporting are impressive.

e
eappelbaum
Apr 04, 2017

A great book, well researched, about a sinister conspiracy to remake America in fascist ideology. The book helps me understand why that movement is so powerful now.

e
Eosos
Mar 09, 2017

This book comes across like a conspiracy theory of massive proportions. Highly inflammatory and strongly partisan, the book is intended to be scary and provoking. It does it's job.

I have no doubts that the story is true, I have no doubts that this money was and is being spent, I have no doubts that it's self serving and I have no doubts that they think this is their right to do. But then, I have a pretty low opinion of the entitled rich, and it really doesn't matter to me if their republican or democrat, whether they're doing good or bad, few manage to rise above their money.

Am I surprised that politics is well oiled with money? No, not even with better rules will it stop being like this, it might be mitigated but never eliminated. It was interesting how extensive this project has gotten for this group headed by the Koch brothers, but really, 40 years of pouring money into the political system and all they get is Trump?? He's not even one of theirs, though, he is surrounded by other Koch minions.

Just how successful has this really been for them and how many other stories are we not hearing. Is this really unusual? Or is it just the one story we're hearing, and what about the other side of the story, because there always is one.

Albeit, I am cautious about making decisions and believing something that is so obvious in it's scaremongering, that doesn't make this story untrue or any less valid a book about the secret funding of the Right.

b
bronteside
Feb 21, 2017

This book scared me and should anyone who wakes up everyday wondering what happened overnight south of the border.
Take Trump out of the equation ,and the facts alone here are frightening
foranyone who cares about democracy.
The Kochs et al have been 'weaponizing' philanthropy for decades with collusion from the alt right.
Gerrymandering, financing pathetic candidates who then become beholden,and maliciously smearing decent civic minded folk has become entrenched in America by the billionaire right.
The author herself was singled out for retaliation by the Koch Machine; but her research was impeccable.
I am buying several copies of this book as presents for people I care about. Hell, if I had the bucks , I'd buy it for the ones I don't too.

g
gprusakowski
Dec 30, 2016

A real eye opener! Everything we suspected about how the 1% controlling the government in the US is true and more. Most likely this is more or less true about all countries. It explains how the right wing has grown and controls the Republican Party. This book should scare the pants off anybody now that the Republican Party controls the major arms of the government. Be afraid, be very afraid.

2
21288004246712
Dec 19, 2016

Trump likely had some help from this group as well

d
dirtbag1
Nov 08, 2016

Although this book appears to be about the the lives of the 1% 'ers, more importantly, it gives background information on a corrupt banking system, those who benefit the most from it and how politicians at all levels have been purchased. It is disturbing to learn how the far right has managed to infect the educational system. Is there the political will to right this ship floundering in the perfect storm caused by greed.

v
voisjoe1_0
Aug 01, 2016

The Kochs, Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Friess, Coors, Amway, Art Pope, Adelson – Rightwing millionaires/billionaires fund rightwing think tanks like Cato, Americans for Prosperity, ALEC, Manhattan Institute, National Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Mercatus, George Mason University all develop intellectual theories designed to make it seem proper to funnel money from the 99% to the 1%. They have been successful in that now America has one of the most unequal societies among developed nations. These right-wing organization theorize even today that the 2009 Great Recession was caused by the 99%, not the 1%. This book took five years of research and will be a great starting point for students to research how the 1% plunder wealth from the 99%.

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