Koch Brothers Front Group Attacks Herb Kohl as "Quixotic" "Antitrust Romantic" | WisCommunity

Koch Brothers Front Group Attacks Herb Kohl as "Quixotic" "Antitrust Romantic"

Today the "Competitive Enterprise Institute," which is mostly funded by the Koch brothers, unleashed a on Senator Herb Kohl for introducing his as an amendment to the highway bill, saying:

Unfortunately, Sen. Kohl, an antitrust maximalist romantic if there ever was one, wishes to open the door for potentially disastrous actions on the part of the U.S. government.

Of course, if the Koch brothers are against it, it has to be good for America-- and this is no different.  Railroad anti-trust regulation as well as the entire transportation sector, are one of the many failures of the so-called "Deregulation era" that has been going on since the 1970s.

Since the railroads were deregulated, over 100,000 miles of tracks have been abandoned. While this is great news for bicyclers that use the old rail lines today, it is, none the less, a telling sign: railroads immediately divested themselves of unprofitable passenger travel, consolidated and concentrated on their most profitable routes, and focused on bulk freight, which was least susceptible to trucking and other modes of freight.

Another problem quickly arose, which has been especially disastrous for Wisconsin families: when the railroads were deregulated, Congress forgot to rescind anti-trust protections that rail roads had received over the years. This has allowed monopolistic-type prices to be set by a few railroads: over the last 20 years, the railroad industry has consolidated to the point where there are only four Class I railroads providing over 90 percent of the nation’s rail transportation. This is especially troublesome considering that many large businesses and small towns are only serviced by one railroad company, allowing that rail road company charge whatever exorbitant prices it wants.

The railroad monopoly in Wisconsin has caused a huge, across the board, increase in consumer prices in everything that is tangentially related to railroads. This includes electricity, which relies primarily on coal shipped by rail and farming, which relies on rail to ship grain.

To end the railroad companies’ monopoly, action must be taken at the federal level and thankfully U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has led the way in the House and Kohl has led the way in the Senate, each introducing the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act in the respective bodies.

While it is unlikely that the Koch-controlled house would ever pass this bill, kudos to Baldwin and Kohl for giving attention to this important issue and fighting the good fight:  At the very least, they have angered the Koch brothers, which is never a bad thing.


February 15, 2012 - 4:09pm