Think Progress: Property Rights And the Kochs

March 16, 2011- If I walked over to David Koch’s lawn and tore up all the grass, he’d probably feel that the basic principles of a free market society require me to be punished. After all, that’s his property. And then there’s what happens when the Kochs want to pollute someone else’s river:

The complaint alleges that a Georgia-Pacific paper mill on the Coffee Creek in Arkansas – owned by the billionaire Koch Brothers -emits 45 million gallons of paper mill waste including hazardous materials like ammonia, chloride, and mercury each day.

Coffee Creek then flows into Louisiana’s Ouachita River where the pollutants have left the formerly pristine water speckled with odorous foam, slime and black pockets of water, said Jerry Johnson, who has been visiting the Ouachita River for 35 years.

“People used to swim in it,” said Johnson, who now lives along the river. “In the summertime, it was the place to go.”

But Johnson said the number of visitors has dwindled as the river conditions continued to grow worse, preventing the area from reaching its full economic potential as a vacation destination. The pollution is so bad it has kept Johnson from fishing in the river.

And yet somehow the coalition merchants of the contemporary right, financed by the Kochs and other industrialists, have constructed a conception of free markets and property rights such that trying to stop them from wrecking Ouachita River constitutes a defense of those things.

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