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Kevin Grandia Headshot

OWS Versus the Tea Party Is Comparing Apples to Koch

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Setting up the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement as the left wing's answer to the right-wing tea party is completely flawed for one simple reason: one is an actual uprising of concerned citizens, while the other is set up to have the appearance of an uprising of concerned citizens.

Any guesses which one is which?

If you are left to guessing, here is a video of multi-billionaire David Koch, owner of the second largest private company in the U.S., getting report backs on tea party member sign ups from state organizers:

The venue is the annual convention for a group called Americans for Prosperity of which David Koch is their Chairman and a major funder. This video isn't "evidence" of a theory that major corporate interests are behind the Tea Party, it is stark proof that the tea party is backed by major corporate interests and is nothing like the citizen-led and citizen-founded Occupy Wall Street movement.

For years I have been following and reporting on David Koch's activities and the emergence of Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party and other supposed "grassroots" organizations (here's a hint: if a group calls itself "grassroots" it most likely isn't). Such fake grassroots groups can be powerful because while people mistrust government and corporations, they trust groups that appear to have the concerns of everyday working America at the core of their principles.

But for anti-government regulatory groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Don't Tread on Me Tea Party they help organize, the motivation is protecting corporations from things like health care mandates for employees and environmental protections for the air we breathe -- corporations like David Koch's Koch Industries which has been the subject to major environmental violations over the years, including oil pipeline spills and dumping aviation fuel into Mississippi wetlands.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has no equivalent of David Koch or Americans for Prosperity. It is not holding big fancy conventions at high-priced ballrooms in Washington, D.C. It is a growing group of concerned people across America that are fed up with all sorts of things, like excessive corporate profits, polluting industries and the growing divide between the rich and the poor. The very fact that OWS has no unifying message tells me that there is no hidden organizing body equivalent to Americans for Prosperity or David Koch behind their activities.

This seems obvious to me. So why do many media outlets and politicians continue to make this comparison? I think the reason is that it is easy to compartmentalize this as a battle between the political left and the political right, when it is instead a battle between the 99% of us average working people and the 1% hiding behind smoke screens like the Tea Party.

Around the Web

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The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party - NYTimes.com

Koch Industries: Report Reveals 'Secret Sins' - ABC News

The Billionaire Koch Brothers' War Against Obama : The New Yorker