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February 23, 2011

Cui Bono? Koch Brothers

The best discussions for me don't follow the "is, is not, is too" format; my favorite discussions are about the framework. I really appreciate it when, instead of answering the question differently, somebody suggests looking at another question.

A blogger whom I admire sometimes asks, Cui bono? From Wikipedia:
Cui bono ("To whose benefit?", literally "as a benefit to whom?") is a Latin adage that is used either to suggest a hidden motive or to indicate that the party responsible for something may not be who it appears at first to be.

Commonly the phrase is used to suggest that motivation may be found among those who have something to gain, chiefly with an eye toward financial gain.
The party that benefits may not always be obvious or may have successfully diverted attention to a scapegoat, for example.
Cui Bono is an elegant way to pose a blunt question. It's not too different from the advice that Mark Felt gave to Woodward and Bernstein: "follow the money".

Who profits from the Wisconsin conflict? Blogger Patience John presents his answer in a post titled, "The Koch Brothers' End Game in Wisconsin". He sees the sequence as:
  • Koch Brothers move their puppet Scott Walker into power
  • Governor Walker gins up an artificial crisis
  • Democrats and Progressives take the bait and focus on collective bargaining
  • Gov. Walker compromises on bargaining if the rest of the budget is passed as is
  • Bill passes, with trojan horse give-a-way to the Koch Brothers nested inside
  • Koch Brothers will buy Wisconsin state-owned power plants for pennies on the dollar in closed unsolicitated bids for which there will be no oversight
  • Koch Brothers get the best vertical monopoly in a generation

A college newspaper explains why Scott Walker is an unlikely governor. Mother Jones does a good job of identifying the Koch Brother's role in funding Walker's campaign and keeping the tension high.

The budget bill contains this language:
SECTION 44. 16.896 of the statutes is created to read:
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1),
the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount
that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80,
no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest
and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

Here's a list of what the Koch Brothers have going on in Wisconsin.

Another article, For Sale: The Common Good, makes a few salient points. Among them: Gov. Walker cancelled plans to switch several coal-fired powerplants to biofuels upon taking office. (The Koch Brothers sell coal.) (Also covered here).



Read the article, "The Koch Brothers' End Game in Wisconsin".

Another good post is here.

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