Why are plutocrats like the Koch brothers and organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce able to buy the government that benefits them while consigning the rest of us to a morally bankrupt energy policy, an out-of-control global climate and rapidly diminishing economic opportunities?

Sadly, it’s because we let them.

Yes, we — ordinary, hard-working, middle-class people — bought what they sold us, hook, line and sinker. We helped enable their behavior, and we’re reaping what we’ve helped to sow.

Oh, we didn’t do it all by ourselves, of course. And they were more than happy to string us along for the ride. But they’ve come to the point where they’ve stopped pretending, stopped making it look like they’re trying to be environmentally responsible, interested in a liveable planet for everyone, willing to work with the “little people.” We’ve served our purpose and it’s time for them to move on.

And what about us? Now that we’ve been relegated to the trash heap, are we left with no recourse, no way to help make things better again?

Fortunately, no.

This beast might be partly of our own making, but we can help to “un-make” it. Recent events in places from Cairo to Madison show that we the people still have something to say, and that we can make sure those at the top hear it.

While doing that, we can also help to starve the beast. It’s our dollars that have been feeding it for so long, after all, and it’s our dollars that can be withheld to starve it. For the world’s powerful business groups and bloated multinationals, money talks. And when the money stops flowing, they start listening … fast.

Take Koch Industries, for example. Yes, a lot of its revenues come from oil, and we know how hard it is personally to cut down on the stuff (though it can be done). But did you know that Koch interests also include Dacron fiberfill and Stainmaster carpets? Lycra fabrics and PET plastics (yet another reason to stop buying bottled water)? For the past six years, Koch’s holdings also include Georgia-Pacific, maker of — among other brands — Quilted Northern toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, Mardi Gras napkins and Dixie paper cups?

There’s another reason, if you needed one, to use, and reuse, cloth napkins and towels. Better for the environment. Better for fighting plutocracy.