Uline’s billions fund voter suppression
The Uihlein family used to fund the John Birch Society, today it’s the Big Lie.
Every billionaire is a policy failure, but every billionaire is also a factory for producing policy failures at scale. The political power conferred by massive wealth accumulation makes a sham of democracy, because “one person, one vote” is easily swamped by “one dollar, one vote.”
That’s why we need to abolish all billionaires, even the “good” ones who promise to support charities or causes we support. But today, I want to focus on some extremely bad billionaires, Dick and Liz Uihlein, owners of the packing-supply monopoly Uline.
The Uihleins are a multi-generational far-right clan of wealthy conspiracy peddlers. The family money starts with the founding of the Schlitz Brewery (and you thought Coors was the only fascist beer!).
The Schlitz fortune let Edgar J. Uihlein pour money into Charles Lindbergh’s America First movement, an antisemitic, pro-Nazi isolationist group that was part of a wider anti-Jewish movement that Lindbergh helped found, whose projects included translated and disseminating an English translation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a hoax document purporting to reveal a conspiracy of Jewish bankers to take over the world.
Edgar Uihlein Jr — father of Dick — was a major funder of the John Birch Society, another conspiratorial far-right authoritarian group, who campaigned against secret communists, water fluoridation and civil rights. Edgar lavished funding on pro-segregationists.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Today on Propublica, Justin Elliott, Megan O’Matz and Doris Burke document the vast and shadowy support that Dick and Liz Uihlein provide to far-right causes, using the windfall profits from Uline, whose sales have ballooned along with the rise of ecommerce:
Back in 2002, Uline was pulling in $18m/year. By 2018, it was $712m. The pandemic goosed Uline’s sales still further. The Uihleins did their best to prolong the pandemic, putting money into local school-board races to oust trustees who advocated for covid safety measures: