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The Koch Brothers Are My Brothers

I just discovered that the Koch brothers are my brothers.
I admit that I have never stayed in contact with my Syracuse frat brothers or paid a lot attention to Beta happenings, but learning about my kinship with the Koch brothers has reawakened my fraternal emotions.

So if I ever run into Charles (MIT 1957) or David (MIT 1962) at certainly one of their common Palm Springs get-togethers for the extremely-conservative wing of the .001 p.c, I’ll make sure that to present them the key handshake, quietly mutter “Phi Kai Phi” (Beta’s secret slogan, although I am unable to remember what it means), and sing a couple of refrains of one of the fraternity’s drinking songs, “I’m a Grasp Beta.”

I am going to also see if these Beta billionaires can nonetheless recite the official historical past of the founding of the fraternity whereas holding a lighted match, which I and other Beta pledges had to do throughout hell week. It begins: “At nine o’clock on the night of the eighth day of the eighth month of the year 1839, eight earnest young men, all students at Miami University, held the primary assembly of Beta Theta Pi within the Corridor of the home heating oil cost previous Union Chapel at Miami College. The eight founders in the order by which their names appear in the minutes, have been….” We then had to recite the complete names of all eight founders, while the match flame was getting closer and closer to our fingers.

Beta Theta Pi has a protracted and illustrious history. It one of many oldest and largest fraternities within the nation. At its peak it had over 220 chapters within the United States and Canada, but that number has plunged to about eighty one chapters “in good standing” and another 27 chapters-in-waiting referred to as “colonies. Over 190,000 Beta Theta Pi members have been initiated because the fraternity was based and roughly 127,000 of them are still living. Wikipedia’s checklist of well-known Betas is spectacular.

Charles and David Koch, who’re every value over $30 billion, are famous for his or her zealous right-wing views and donations to conservative causes and politicians. William, who years in the past led an unsuccessful takeover of the household enterprise and is thus price solely $four billion, can be a conservative donor, however does not be a part of forces together with his brothers.

Last yr Koch Industries donated $2.2 home heating oil cost million to candidates for president, Congress, and Senate, according to the middle for Responsive Politics. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the Kochs’ warchest. Within the 2012 elections, Charles Koch and his spouse Elizabeth gave $919,000, and David Koch and wife Julia gave $2.4 million to candidates — none of it to Democrats. In addition they give huge bucks to People for Prosperity, their conservative political motion committee, which makes huge marketing campaign contributions however which is not required to reveal its donors’ names.

Much to my chagrin, I discovered that on the subject of politics, the Kochs’ ideology and self-interest trumps their loyalty to their Beta brothers.

Last yr, Beta Senator Bill Nelson (Yale 1965), a Florida Democrat, ran for reelection for a third time period. But Koch Industries gave $33,500 to Nelson’s opponent, Republican Connie Mack. This act of frat-ricide was significantly outrageous as a result of Mack was a member of University of Florida chapter Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a significant Beta rival. It was based 17 years after Beta however now is much bigger, with 246 active chapters.

Ok. Perhaps I can perceive the Kochs supporting a SAE Republican over a Beta Democrat. Nevertheless it gets even worse. Final year, David Dewhurst (Arizona 1967), Texas’ conservative Lieutenant Governor and an in depth ally of Gov. Rick Perry, was thought-about a shoo-in to win the GOP nomination for the Senate being vacated by the retiring Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison. But Dewhurst lost his celebration’s major to former Solicitor Common Ted Cruz, a favourite of the Tea Celebration, who went on to vanquish his Democratic opponent. Koch Industries gave Cruz $27,500. Charles Koch and his spouse contributed $5,000. The Club for Growth, a conservative PAC with many overlapping ties to the Koch brothers, gave Cruz over $5 million to assist him beat Dewhurst. This Labor Day weekend, Cruz will be the keynote speaker at a convention sponsored by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity.

And here is one other example of the Kochs betraying their Beta brothers. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who was a Beta at Denison College (1954), served in the Senate for 36 years until he was defeated in the GOP major final year by Tea Get together wing-nut Richard Mourdock, who went on to lose to a Democrat. The Koch-funded Freedom Works PAC endorsed Mourdock and Koch Industries contributed $38,500 to his marketing campaign.

My brothers Charles and David Koch are tied for fourth on Forbes’ rating of the wealthiest Americans, behind Invoice Gates, Warren Buffet and Larry Ellison. Right behind the Koch brothers are the Walton siblings, who inherited their fortune from Sam Walton, the founding father of Wal-Mart, who was also a Beta (Missouri 1940).

Their father, Fred C. Koch, founded the corporate in 1940 and developed an revolutionary crude oil refining process. His sons, Charles and David, purchased out their brothers Frederick and William in 1983 and diversified their holdings. At the moment Koch Industries is the second-largest non-public company within the United States, with annual revenues of $98 billion in 2011.

Two effectively-known Betas are Watergate conspiracist Charles Colson (Brown 1953) and H.R. Haldeman (UCLA 1948), Nixon’s chief-of-chief who also went to jail his position in the Watergate cowl-up. But to stability the scales, I should note that one other Beta is Mark Felt (Idaho 1935), the affiliate director of the FBI who turned out to be “Deep Throat,” the whistleblower who was the key source for the Washington Post reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal.

The record of Beta-bred business leaders additionally consists of Frank Shrontz (Idaho 1954), one time CEO of Boeing, Charles Erwin Wilson (Carnegie 1909), CEO of Basic Motors and Protection Secretary under President Eisenhower, Stephen Bechtel Sr. (California 1923), ex-CEO of Bechtel, the worldwide construction and engineering firm based by his father; William “Bill” Bowerman (Oregon 1933), famous observe coach and founder of Nike; and Hank Barnette (West Virginia 1956), former CEO of Bethlehem Steel. Latest CEOs embody Sam Palmisano (Johns Hopkins 1973), who was CEO of IBM till final 12 months and David Coulter (Carnegie Mellon 1971), one-time chairman of the Bank of America and vice chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase.

Different Beta home heating oil cost politicians embody Joseph Byrns (Vanderbilt 1890), a Congressman from Tennessee, who was Home Speaker within the nineteen thirties; Senator and Governor of Oregon Mark Hatfield (Willamette 1943); former Home minority Richard Gephardt, a Beta at Northwestern (1962); and John Warner (Washington and Lee 1950), who was a U.S. senator from Virginia for 30 years but is more famous for being considered one of Elizabeth Taylor’s many husbands. Wendell Willkie (Indiana 1916) was the GOP’s presidential candidate in 1940 who misplaced to FDR in a landslide.

Did you ever notice the close fraternal bonds among the many “Sharks” and “Jets” gang members in the musical “West Facet Story” Perhaps this is linked to the truth that composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was a Beta at Williams Faculty (class of 1950).

Beta Theta Pi has produced many great athletes, including a minimum of 22 Olympic Gold Medal winners in wrestling, swimming, pole vault, hurdles, diving, basketball, rowing, rugby, boxing, lengthy soar, relay, yachting, volleyball, and bobsledding. At the very least 13 Betas have played within the NFL. Beta ball players include Mike Schmidt (Ohio 1971), the Corridor of Fame third baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies. NBA Betas embody Jerry Lucas (Ohio State 1962), an NBA Corridor of Famer; Gail Goodrich (UCLA 1965), a star for the Los Angeles Lakers; and Mel Counts (Oregon 1964), who performed 12 years in the NBA. Earl “Pink” Blaik (Miami 1918), the pioneering Army football coach, Invoice Veeck (Kenyon 1936) the colorful and politically progressive proprietor of baseball’s Browns, White Sox, and Indians, and John Wooden (Purdue 1932), the legendary UCLA basketball coach, were Betas, too.

If the Charles and David Koch ever need along with me to debate Beta lore or politics, I might be happy to hitch them. Unfortunately, we will not do it at the Syracuse Beta house, which was shuttered years ago. And apparently the Kochs’ old stomping grounds at MIT has come upon arduous instances. The MIT chapter was disbanded in 2011 but is now a “colony” hoping to make a comeback. This 12 months the chapter, which is celebrating its 100 anniversary, had 9 members. Or we may meet for a snack on the Koch Cafe on the MIT campus. My deal with.

Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the City & Environmental Coverage Department at Occidental School. His most latest e-book is The a hundred Best People of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hal of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).

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