Darcy Burner developing smartphone app to allow shoppers to avoid brands owned by the Kochs and other rightwingers
Mopping up that spilled organic, fair trade coffee with a Brawny kitchen roll? Off to yoga in your Lycra shorts? Serving your kids kale chips on a Dixie paper plate? Did you know you were lining the pockets of the Charles and David Koch, billionaire bankrollers of the extreme right? Well, soon there'll be an app for that.
A former tech head turned politician is developing an app that will allow shoppers to avoid products made by the Kochs or other billionaires currently spending fortunes backing rightwing candidates and policies.
Darcy Burner, a Democrat politician running for Congress in Washington state, said she came up with the idea when she started looking at exactly what the Kochs own.
The brothers' interests include Georgia Pacific, a packaging and paper products firm whose brands include Brawny and Sparkle paper towels, Angel Soft and Soft n' Gentle bath tissue and the Dixie range of paper cups and plates.
Koch Industries also owns Invista, the world's largest fibre and textiles company and owner of Lycra, Cordura and the Stainmaster carpet brand.
"The Kochs have a record of spending enormous amounts of money to move very reactionary, rightwing policies. Most Americans disagree with those policies but they may be buying products that are bankrolling them," she said.
Burner said the app would allow "folks to make informed buying decisions."
"We talk about boycotts but with someone like the Kochs, they own so much that it's difficult to track," she said.
Burner, a Harvard computer science grad and former Microsoft programmer, said the app was still in the early stages. "We are talking to people but hopefully someone will take it on soon," she said.
The first version is likely to check a product against its owners using a barcode but eventually she hopes it could be developed to warn people when they enter a store with bad labor or environmental practices.
"It could suggest somewhere nearby where you might feel better shopping," she said. "But that's not for the first version."
Burner said she would love to see the app launched ahead of this election, not least because of the huge amounts of money a handful of billionaires are now pouring into the 2012 presidential run-off.
"I'm a believer in government by and for the people. Just seeing that less than 100 people wield so much say in this election is very disturbing."