Government ALEC

Published on June 29th, 2013 | by Todd Smekens

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Legislative Exchange Council: United States of ALEC

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Why is it important that we pay attention to what our political leaders are doing?

Plato once said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Well, in this article, I’m not advocating that corporate executives are our inferiors, but what I’m stating is while we are distracted by frivolous matters like Kanye and Kim, Angeline and Brad, and the NBA Finals, our democracy is getting ripped to shreds by a collusive effort between Corporate America and our public sector (government officials elected to serve us).

Instead of our public officials serving us, they have been “wining and dining” with corporate executives to underwrite laws and policies which negatively impact every man, woman and child in this country, one state at a time.

Many will discount this claim by saying, “This is a national issue and business is here to help us grow.”

First off, business is in business to make a profit. Period.

They are not job creators, but hire people only when demand for their product or service exceeds their existing capacity. I cannot do all the jobs of a specific growing business to meet demand for our product and service, so I have to hire people to help me grow.

Since 2009, this economy has demonstrated that consumer demand drives the engine and when the engine to consume is shut down where only the essentials are being purchased, then we have a demand problem.

Second of all, ALEC’s focus has been on enacting state laws which most commonly impact our lives and their bottom line. Corporate executives meet with public policy makers (our elected officials) to discuss laws that businesses want passed. ALEC then writes up a draft of the law which is presented to our lawmakers to enter into the lawmaking process. As these legal templates get passed and implemented, they are then shared with other states so they can do the same thing.

For example, many of the right to work laws passed in Wisconsin were used in Indiana, and then Michigan, etc. They are literally copied and pasted with new state names at the top of the document. Different state name, same exact wording and negative impact to consumer, worker, taxpayer, citizen, etc. You get the idea.

While we are distracted with the ineptness of our congress in Washington, the damage is being done in our state capitols. Quietly, and with the help of the “so-called free press”. Corporations who make up ALEC also own media companies so it’s in their best interest to keep quiet. But, when you own media companies, your form of “quiet” is through advocating for the changes you want made and not cover the opposing view. More on that later.

If these businesses find that worker lawsuits are a nuisance, they simply ask ALEC to draft laws making it more difficult for workers to sue employers for discrimination or unemployment benefits.

If corporate owned farms have videos taken on their property by “fake employees” who turn out to be reporters or animal rights activists, which are then shared with federal regulators and posted on YouTube,  this damages their business because when consumers witness how poorly animals are abused before conversion to our dinner table, consumers might refuse to buy meat or dairy. A better solution is get ALEC to create laws making it more difficult to injure businesses.

Because an undercover video taken on a CAFO saved contaminated meat from being sold to school kids in CA, the CAFO lost its contract with the State Board of Education. To retaliate, other CAFO owners got ALEC to draft Ag-Gag Laws (anti-whistle blower laws) which essential upgrades the criminality of producing hidden videos to acts of terrorism. One such law was attempted in Indiana this year, but was eventually tabled because its constitutionality came into question. However, it’s passed in 14 other states.

While wer’e carried away with who was going to win the Superbowl, or win American Idol, corporate executives were sitting down with mainly republicans to devise a behind closed doors process for discussing, writing, disseminating and passing pro-business legislation in our state capitals throughout the United States, including Indianapolis.

The primary source to learn more about ALEC is the Center for Media Democracy (CMD) and Sourcewatch.

As we mentioned earlier, this is a heavily funded organization which has a broad network throughout the states. For those folks who read our local Gannett rag in Muncie/Delaware County, The Muncie StarPress, might like to know that Gannett supports this pro-business network by offering their editorial pages to the Indiana Policy Network, or ALEC funded state policy organizations. It’s propaganda, not fact. It’s like Fox News for the newspaper (fair and balanced).

The two “academia” folk they open up their editorial pages to are Cecil Bohannon and Andrea Neal. Both are part of ALEC and are funded by the extreme right wing organizations like ALEC, and thanks to Citizens United, many other dark money groups which CMD researches and reports on due to insiders (whistleblowers) who cannot stand to see what is happening to our country. If you think this is a farce, or a “conspiracy theory”, it is not.

According to CMD,

The Indiana Policy Review Foundation hosts writers from the ALEC-connected Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which screens potential reporters on their “free market” views as part of the job application process. The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states. Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias. On its website, the Franklin Center claims it “provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide.”

So, while Gannett appears fair and balanced, they are really pushing a pro-business agenda onto citizens who read their paper. Any wonder most of their comments are negative toward democrats? Well, Cecil and Andrea don’t represent a neutral opinion and they most certainly aren’t unbiased, they are advocates for ALEC and a Koch brothers agenda for free markets at the expense of consumers, workers, our environment, or nearly all Hoosiers. And, we unwillingly participate by purchasing their newspaper and keeping it alive.

What’s worse is The StarPress doesn’t disclose their affiliation with these dark monied organizations, they just allow them to freely peddle their version of what policy direction Indiana should take for the betterment of “Hoosiers”. Let’s be real clear, the only Hoosiers they are interested in is themselves and the corporations who keep the Indiana Policy Network in operation.

Shame on Gannett for not informing its readers of their shady connection to ALEC and the Koch brothers agenda which is usurping the democratic process in not just the conservative states, but all states. If you want to know why women and minorities are seeing their rights attacked, you need look no further than ALEC. As a worker, your rights have been rolled back decades due to bills pushed through state capitals by ALEC owned politicians. Consumers right to know what’s in their food has been rolled back by ALEC boiler plated laws. Climate change policies have been undermined by pro-oil ALEC members. ALEC is a union for corporations just like the National Chamber of Commerce.

For a listing of ALEC owned officials in Indiana, please go to Indiana State Legislators.

The current State Chairmen for ALEC are:

The ALEC Indiana Task Force Chairmen are:

For more information about Cecil Bohannon and Andrea Neal who appear frequently in the Muncie StarPress Opinon pages as representatives of the State Policy Network, visit their site Indiana Policy Review Foundation.

This is the first part in a series of articles on ALEC and what its role has been in shaping US policy in state capitols across the nation to inform readers how pro-business extremism has entered our laws to the detriment of US citizens.

 

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About the Author

Diverse professional background with a passion for leadership, spiritual inquiry and sharing. I enjoy being a witness to the rapid changes our global culture is experiencing and then trying to tell its story to readers. I enjoy cycling, yoga, spending time with my daughter, and being healthy. Google


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