The trend is obvious. Those who have, want more. The idea that their greed may cause others to suffer clearly carries no weight. The world is on the carving block, the voluptuous predators stabbing randomly in order to find and carry off the best parts.
Corporation-run fascist nations rush northward in a race to grab newly accessible fossil fuels in an ice-free Arctic.
The Really Big Banks, which now more closely resemble casinos because of the absence of regulation, play with taxpayer money as if it were their own.
The unemployed, made frantic by months-turned-years without income, have taken to the streets in Greece, Spain, and England.
You get what you pay for
What does an organization called ALEC have to do with all this?
Well, it’s always a good idea to have low friends in high places when you’re looting and pillaging. The kind who tell you “Let’s just keep this between us, ok?” I guess you could say that’s ALEC’s business model.
First of all, ALEC is an acronym that stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council. Run by and for Republicans – records show there’s one Democrat out of 104 legislators in Council leadership positions — and their corporate cronies (whose membership dues range from $7,000 to $25,000), their agenda fits the divide and conquer strategy so plainly at work throughout the world today.
How so? Here’s what I mean:
Down and to the Left
ALEC’s best friends are Big Oil and Big Pharma. Companies engaged in these pursuits make up the core of ALEC’s constituency; as ALEC members they’re allowed to sit at the table – literally – with state legislators who accept campaign money from them. It’s all very friendly and I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you’ll-scratch-mine.
Believe it or not, ALEC’s corporate members tell these state legislators what they’d like them to put into legislation. Then the legislators take it home with them, introducing ALEC’s dearest wishes in to their states’ General Assemblies.
While lobbyists have always – yes, all the way back to olden times – bought influence, this far and away exceeds influence. Let’s be clear: corporations, who are neither people nor elected officials, have become instrumental in drawing up legislation that governs the way Americans live.
For instance, it’s ALEC that has given us voter ID laws. Just for the record, there is a stunning lack of evidence that voter fraud is a problem anywhere in the United States. Lack of evidence notwithstanding, we’ve been saddled with these laws. They’re particularly hard on the very old, who frequently can no longer drive, and college students, who often live far from home.
An 87-year-old woman in Wisconsin was unable to vote because she had no ID. A 93-year-old woman in Pennsylvania is suing the state because she was disenfranchised by a voter ID law! Hardest hit are the poor, who can’t afford cars and can’t afford to go to the state bureau of motor vehicles to get an ID. You may recall that the underprivileged usually vote Democrat. See how this all fits together? Pretty good for a completely pointless law!
Stupid and unnecessary
Then there was the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, which may have been caused by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, another ALEC brainchild.
So ill-advised are these politically motivated laws that at least 18 members of ALEC have resigned from the organization since Trayvon’s death. These former members include Amazon, Kaplan, Procter & Gamble, Yum! Brands, five Pennsylvania legislators (remember the lawsuit?), Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Reed Elsevier, American Traffic Solutions, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft, Intuit, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wendy’s, Mars, Inc., Arizona Public Service, Scantron, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
How else would ALEC like to screw you and me? Let us count the ways. After you’ve read about ALEC’s assaults on the environment, you’ll understand why someone who usually writes about climate change is interested in their nefarious activities.
See your state?
In Utah and Arizona, the Republican governors are considering bills that would require Congress to cede public lands to the state. Once owned by the state, these same lands can be opened to oil drilling and gas fracking. Many constitutional legal authorities say the laws cannot pass constitutional review. The resulting lawsuits would waste millions of taxpayer dollars.
In Illinois, a bill designed to keep secret the list of chemicals used in fracking, some of which are known carcinogens, is being considered in the state legislature. The bill, as written, uses ALEC’s exact language.
In Virginia, ALEC bills opposed by labor unions were introduced this year in the state assembly. One required union votes to implement secret ballots. The other required that the state’s “right to work” law be incorporated into its constitution. Both bills died in the state senate.
In Oregon, a bill based on an ALEC model bill is being developed. It would require the state to resign from the Western Climate Initiative, a regional carbon cap and trade program. Identical legislation has already been introduced in Montana, New Hampshire, Washington, and New Mexico.
In Louisiana, legislation was enacted banning the state from enforcing the new federal health insurance coverage mandate. Nine other states have joined Louisiana in enacting this ban.
In Minnesota, a bill has been passed this year allowing the state to purchase coal-generated electricity from North Dakota. There had previously been a state restriction on such a purchase. The restriction’s purpose was to reduce air pollution.
In Ohio, that state’s “SB5,” a law restricting the bargaining power of public worker unions, was repealed by public referendum last November. The law was crafted by ALEC, of which Ohio’s current governor, John Kasich, was at one time a member.
In Arizona, ALEC-created legislation giving state and local police the authority to detain suspected illegal immigrants became law last year. National Public Radio investigated the origins of the law, and found out that the Corrections Corporation of America was a leading member of the ALEC task force that designed the law.
(Readers, it’s time to get out your barf bags) That company has recognized immigrant detention as an “emerging market” for them. (I warned you!)
In Massachusetts, legislation requiring companies to get shareholder approval for their political contributions was defeated. The legislation was enacted based on an ALEC “resolution.” At least eight other states defeated similar bills.
In California, two ALEC members, tobacco companies Altria and Reynolds American, spent $35 million to defeat a ballot initiative directing revenue from an increased tobacco tax to hospice care for children and anti-smoking campaigns.
Okay, okay, I know you’ve heard enough.
There’s just one more – Speaking of Altria, this conscienceless corporation will benefit from an ALEC-designed measure which calls for a tax break for moist tobacco that would make fruit-flavored tobacco products cheaper and more attractive to youngsters.
Now where’d I put that bag …?
–Vicki Lipski, Transition Voice Magazine