RICHMOND

According to Forbes Magazine, there are 2,600 billionaires roaming the world today, three of whom, brothers Charles, 78, and David Koch, 73, and the first oil billionaire, Calouste Gulbenkian, (1869-1955), fascinate me.

The Koches are also oil billionaires, their daddy, Fred, inventing a gidget every oil exploiter has to buy, and the boys smart enough to take the pot they inherited and expand it worldwide, beyond casual belief. Their hands are in every piece of pie you buy.

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Gulbenkian first drew me to his bosom by utilizing his millions to purchase art masterpieces of every kind and donating some great ones to museums around the world. I was also intrigued by a billionaire’s quirk: He told his staff he wanted to start his breakfast each day by eating two perfect peaches.

Now this was in the time before supermarkets and air shipping so the only way to get two perfect peaches each morning was to find out in what part of the world they were ripe and getting them on the table when they were perfectly ripe. Money was no problem, but the staff still had to be pretty nimble to achieve the daily goal.

The Koches also have no money problems, but their goal has more significance. They are spending hundreds of millions each year to buy up the government of the United States of America. These two men will not be happy until they can bust up unions, protect a minimum minimum wage scale, rid the nation of Social Security and Medicare, and deprive the poor, the old and the sick of any government help in their predicaments.

Their goal of the moment is to return the U.S. Senate to Republican control and to elect a Republican president in 2016. To this end they are spending millions of dollars to help the campaigns of Republican contenders, especially those with tea party credentials. Every year the Koches present a basket of millionaires with elegant meetings at posh resorts in an effort to get them to throw their dollars into the pot for Republican candidates and campaigns. Their actions have been so rewarding that they are now described in octopus terms by fervid Democrats who see their tentacles grasping in every direction.

Since some half of our representatives and senators are already millionaires, the Koch task is not quite as arduous as it might seem to be. They can be more easily seduced by figures than facts. In 2012, the Koch mother ship divided $407 million among 17 groups. One of the niceties thought up by a Koch consultant was to number instead of name their various political groups. Thus we have a group whose name might be 87404 instead of "Kill Off Medicare" or "Do We Want To Keep Social Security?"

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One of their major named attack groups, "Americans for Prosperity," spent $20 million on ads against Democrats in the fight to repeal Obamacare. But a numbered group can do just as much damage as one with a semi-legitimate name. And the Koches have made it clear that they will be all out against the next Democratic presidential candidate whether it be he, she or it.

And it doesn’t matter to them whether it is the plumpster from New Jersey or anyone else. They smell blood and are already schooling up to get their share of the carcass.

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle
contributor.