I appreciate the recent guest editorial further exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council. Forty years old this year, ALEC was only fairly recently exposed by a whistleblower. Until then, behind the scenes, 800 pieces of model legislation to rewrite our laws to boost corporate revenues had been composed and with the most ingenious strategy infiltrated into states’ legislative agendas. The number has since risen to 1,000 model bills.
Here’s the genius part. Corporate dues to ALEC are as high as $25,000 annually, but state legislators can join for $100 a year. For this, legislators can hobnob with the elite corporatists at ALEC gatherings, always held at very exclusive resorts. (Families are invited at no extra cost.) It’s here that model legislation serving corporate interests is crafted and here that legislators are enticed to download prewritten bills to introduce in their statehouses as their own work.
It is no coincidence that the language is identical, or almost, in bills across the country concerning voter ID, “stand your ground,” changing wages and workers’ rights, siphoning taxpayer money from the public to private schools, removing environmental protections, denying climate changing science and limiting a citizen’s access to the courts.
ALEC has been busy. A recent effort by Democrats in Tennessee to require the transparency of authorship of all bills introduced into our legislature didn’t get far.
After ALEC was exposed, the stigma caused 49 corporations and six nonprofits to cut ties to the group, including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kraft, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Blue Cross, Amazon, Walmart, Walgreen’s, GE, Proctor and Gamble, Best Buy and General Motors. Very few legislators have dropped out.
As of now, Tennessee’s head count is 36. Go to ALEC Exposed/Center for Media and Democracy for their names and just about anything else you want to know about this bunch, presumptuous and controlling at best and insidious at worst.
The preamble of the Constitution does say “promote the general welfare,” but it also says “establish justice” and “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” I don’t see where the Constitution says you should rob from one person to give to another, or vote yourself benefits now and leave the debt for you grandkids to pay off.
Commandment No. 10 in short form is: “Thou shalt not covet they neighbors wife, cattle, land, possessions, etc.” Covet means inordinate desire. In simple terms, it’s OK to flippantly say, “Boy, I wish I had some of Bill Gates’ money, even 1 percent would do.” However, to really desire it and think about it is wrong. The reason is God knew that if you really dwelled on the thought constantly, you might break Commandment No. 8, which is: “Thou shalt not steal.” Even if you are not a Bible believer, I think you can see the moral wisdom in those two commandments.
With the above established, why is that 75 percent of what politicians talk about and promise breaks both of these commandments? Here are some examples:
We need to cut the taxes of the poor and raise it on the rich. Farmers can’t make it without $20 billion per year of subsidies (money stolen from someone else through the ballot box). Everyone below the poverty line should get a free college education. We need to subsidize ethanol production to make it competitive.
You’re poor because the rich stole it from you, so if you elect me I’ll steal it back in taxes and give you some. I know you don’t want to send your kids to the state indoctrination center called your local school, but we’re going to tax you anyway.
The sugar industry just can’t compete with those powerful, rich economies like Cuba and Jamaica, so we will double the price with an import tariff. You’ll get a Medicare drug benefit even if you’ve never paid for it. We’ll just steal the money from your neighbor.
I have voted for more than 50 years. Almost none of the political promises I’ve heard have come to pass.
The U.S. government seems to be a family thing. Maybe it should be called the next-of-kin government. When we think we are getting rid of a politician, here comes the next of kin and that person somehow gets elected to office.
Elections are to pacify the taxpayers and make them feel they are part of the system. Once elected, politicians are controlled by big money and by the lobbyists.
Taxpayers may get a few crumbs, but until we get rid of the next-of-kin government we have now, do not expect a lot of changes.
JAY C. WHEELER