In the Thursday morning report, WisPolitics ran a piece on a study from the California-based Reason Foundation that called the benefits of the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail line as ‘not credible.’
One might ask, what is this Reason Foundation? Who’s behind the curtain, pulling the strings? And why exactly do WE care? We live here after all. They’re in California. What do they have to say that could add anything to a debate here in Wisconsin?
Well, a quick visit to the Reason Foundation website sure reveals a lot. First, like many conservo-mouthpieces, they breathlessly espouse the value of Friedman’s unrestrained free market. And according to the website, they support the ‘rule of law,’ whatever that means. Pretty clear where these guys are coming from. Government? Bad. Unfettered capitalism gone wild, no matter what the human cost? A-OK.
But that’s just scratching the surface. Digging a little deeper, we find the true impetus behind the Reason Foundation’s attack on commuter rail: they’ve got oil on their brains and in their veins.
David H. Koch, oil-magnate extraordinaire and financier of conservative attack machines from coast-to-coast, sits on the Board of Trustees of the Reason Foundation. And The Koch Foundation is one of Reason’s biggest donors. Koch Industries, you may already know, is the largest privately-owned business in the country, with oil and gas sales topping $90 billion annually. This guy throws his money around to conservative front groups like it bubbles up from holes drilled into the Earth’s crust.
But why does his name sound so familiar? I’ll take you back, fellow readers, to the last state budget debate. Since-ousted Speaker Mike Huebsch was busy holding up the budget protecting Big Oil from paying their fair share in taxes. Who else was leading the charge? None other than Americans for Petroleum, er, Prosperity, which was created in 2003 by David H. Koch and Koch foundation.
So is it any surprise that another one of Koch’s front-groups is now involved in trying to shoot down commuter rail, a public transportation system that would certainly dip into Big Oil’s big profits? Hardly. What is surprising is that this California group with no interest in doing what’s best for the citizens of this great state is given even a passing mention in our media.
The time has come to start asking the tough questions to these groups, before we start to ‘take their word for it.’ After all, it’s US, the regular, everyday folks, who are forced to continue to line the pockets of Big Oil executives. Then Big Oil turns around and pumps a veritable river of cash into shadow groups like the Reason Foundation and Americans for Prosperity, who are all too willing to catapult Big Oil’s propaganda. Here’s to hoping we’re smart enough to see through the ruse.