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Opinion

Opinion

Multiple atrocities

May 18, 2012

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To the editor:

I’ve noticed there are fewer “letters to the editor” recently and wonder if, like me, people find it difficult to decide which atrocity to address.

Our government and Legislature are trying to drive our country into a Libertarian society, which means “every man for himself” (and woman). That means no public services except for the police (to protect wealthy owners’ property) and no public education except the technical kind which produces workers for factories and businesses. The liberal arts education, which our colleges used to provide, encourages and teaches students to THINK, an activity dangerous to those who like the security of dogma.

Legislatures all over the country are receiving “model bills” that they only have to copy, sign and introduce. These bills take power from the federal government; they redistribute wealth in the form of less taxation of the wealthy and more taxes for the middle and lower classes.

ALEC, a “nonprofit” political organization, supplements the salaries of elected officials through “scholarships” to include them in their conferences, keeping contributions flowing to the Republican Party through their influence.

ALEC, approximately 40 years old, has only recently become widely known. Its activities should be carefully watched.

Comments

pace 2 years, 7 months ago

Good letter, thank you for taking the time. Nice clear language.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 7 months ago

Publicopoly Exposed

How ALEC, the Koch brothers and their corporate allies plan to privatize government.

ALEC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that in recent years has reported about $6.5 million in annual revenue. ALEC’s members include corporations, trade associations, think tanks and nearly a third (about 2,000) of the nation’s state legislators (virtually all Republican). According to the group’s promotional material, ALEC’s mission is to “advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.”

ALEC currently claims more than 250 corporations and special interest groups as private sector members. While the organization refuses to make a complete list of these private members available to the public, some known members include:

  • Wal-Mart
  • Exxon Mobil
  • the Corrections Corporation of America
  • AT&T
  • Pfizer Pharmaceuticals
  • Time Warner Cable
  • Comcast
  • Verizon
  • Phillip Morris International
  • Koch Industries
  • along with a host of right-wing think tanks and foundations.

ALEC is composed of nine task forces–(1) Public Safety and Elections, (2) Civil Justice, (3) Education, (4) Energy, Environment and Agriculture, (5) Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development, (6) Telecommunications and Information Technology, (7) Health and Human Services, (8) Tax and Fiscal Policy and (9) International Relations–each comprised of “Public Sector” members (legislators) and “Private Sector” members (corporations and interest groups).

Each of these task forces, which serve as the core of ALEC’s operations, generate model legislation that is then passed on to member lawmakers for introduction in their home assemblies. According to ALEC promotional material, each year member lawmakers introduce an average of 1,000 of these pieces of legislation nationwide, 17 percent of which are enacted. For 2009, ALEC claimed a total of 826 pieces of introduced legislation nationwide, 115 of which were passed into law–slightly below the average at 14 percent. ALEC does not offer its model legislation for public inspection.

ALEC refused to comment on any aspect of the material covered here.

More and more: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/11603/publicopoly_exposed/

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/7/15/alec_exposed_state_legislative_bills_drafted

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/8/5/new_expos_tracks_alec_private_prison

http://www.justice.org/cps/rde//justice/hs.xsl/15044.htm

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

"ALEC does not offer its model legislation for public inspection." But that model legislation is introduced into state legislatures across the fruited plain? One can hardly imply that it's a secret, given that proposed legislation is public record information.* Kansas even has a nice database where you can look up exactly that: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/bills/house/

But this part cracked me up: "For 2009, ALEC claimed a total of 826 pieces of introduced legislation nationwide, 115 of which were passed into law–slightly below the average at 14 percent. "

Here we have an organization proposing model legislation that fails, once introduced and publicly debated, 7 times out of 8 more or less. Better watch out for the St. Louis Rams, too. They comin' to GETCHA!

  • Well, unless you're passing the health care bill to see what's in it, obviously.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 7 months ago

Another Koch-funded stealth campaign Thursday, May 17, 2012 | Posted by Jim Hightower

Millions of children in our public schools will soon be hearing from the Heartland Institute. It might sound like a nice above board civic group promoting such salt-of-the-earth virtues as integrity and veracity, but quite the opposite.

Heartland's mission is to promote mass ignorance on behalf of its self-serving (and often heartless) corporate backers. It is yet another secretive far-right-wing front group funded by the Koch brothers' club of billionaires who're intent on establishing an unbridled corporate plutocracy in our country.

But this outfit was recently outed by someone who released a trove of its internal documents – including details of its multimillion-dollar stealth campaign to undermine the teaching of climate change science in America's schools. Heartland is creating an anti-science curriculum to pooh-pooh the facts of global weather change and planning to turn the issue into a major culture war in local school districts across the country.

Falsely claiming that "Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective" and that climate change "is a major scientific controversy" the Institute and its right-wing allies are already pressuring school boards to adopt its denial curriculum, forcing teachers to water down the science.

The dishonesty of Heartland's campaign includes its shielding of the special interests behind it. When the campaign comes to your area, it won't tell local people that the Koch brothers – who own America's largest private oil corporation and are vituperative opponents of regulations to restrict their emissions of global warming pollutants – are putting up $200,000 for the effort this year.

To get to the dark heart of this insidious campaign, and to stand for science and truth in teaching, go to the National Center for Science Education at www.ncse.com.

"In Documents, a Plan to Discredit Climate Teaching," www.nytimes.com, February 16, 2012.

http://www.jimhightower.com/node/7741

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

"Heartland is creating an anti-science curriculum to pooh-pooh the facts of global weather change"

So now we have gone from "global warming" to ""climate change" to "global weather change"? What's next?

Katara 2 years, 7 months ago

Ron Paul is very pro-life. http://www.ronpaul.com/on-the-issues/abortion/

I don't personally consider him a Libertarian but his followers do.

There are also these folks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertar...

And the arguments they make do fit in with Libertarian thought.

ALEC is from the Kochs whose father helped found the John Birch Society. A lot of ALEC inspired/written stuff is basically watered-down Bircherism.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

"most Libertarians are pro-choice."

Correct you are. The vast majority of Libertarians are pro-choice, as is the party platform. As a rule, they are as pro-choice as NARAL. The difference is that the Libertarians don't expect government to pick up the tab.

Katara is correct as well. RP is not a Libertarian, but a libertarian Republican, along the lines of the Republican Liberty Caucus. That did not keep the Libertarians from nominating him as their standard-bearer in 1988. They are pretty happy, usually, to nominate whatever disgruntled Republican they can find to pick up their flag.

geekin_topekan 2 years, 7 months ago

Barry! I knew the rhetoric rang familiar.

Fred Mertz 2 years, 7 months ago

Two simple points.

1 no where in the Libertarian philosophy or principles will you find the notion of every man for themselves. Libertarians believe in liberty which means small government but that doesn't mean no government.

2 legislatures, if they are taking power from the federal government are only taking powers that that federal government has no legal authority to exercise.

parrothead8 2 years, 7 months ago

By poor record of accomplishment, are you talking about him saving the auto industry, adding jobs, or getting the unemployment numbers moving in the right direction again? I just want to be clear on which one of those things is a poor accomplishment.

cato_the_elder 2 years, 7 months ago

The letter writer states: "I’ve noticed there are fewer “letters to the editor” recently and wonder if, like me, people find it difficult to decide which atrocity to address."

Perhaps the letter writer might want to reconsider the use of the word "atrocity." There have been atrocities in both the distant and not-so-distant past (the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust), and atrocities are occurring today in Sudan and Somalia, among other places. Proposed legislation that encourages individual responsibility rather than reliance on government largesse is no more an "atrocity" than all of the legislation over the last 50+ years that has addicted far too many people to government largesse.

Moreover, keeping present income tax rates where they are is certainly not a "redistribution of wealth," and cannot possibly be described as an "atrocity." Previous legislation providing for graduated or "progressive" rates of income taxation is quite clearly a redistribution of wealth, but I know no educated person who would describe such legislation as an "atrocity."

Lastly, the letter writer appears to believe that a liberal arts education is no longer available in America. That belief is patently absurd.

I suggest that the letter writer change his or her name to Chicken Little.

thebigspoon 2 years, 7 months ago

Our federal government does not work! Trillions in debt with no cut in spending. I don't have a any idea why we support this way of government. Oh wait, everybody wants their cut. Politicians are first in chow line and never made a payroll.

booyalab 2 years, 7 months ago

"Our government and Legislature are trying to drive our country into a Libertarian society"

After this line, I just started reading for the entertainment value.

Mike Ford 2 years, 7 months ago

you got free stuff for years genuis....it's called trickle down and supply side economics.....now thank that genuis dimwit reagan and the current gop dimwits and tper's for it....

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

"The liberal arts education, which our colleges used to provide, encourages and teaches students to THINK, an activity dangerous to those who like the security of dogma."

So much trouble in a single sentence! To say that our colleges "used to provide" a liberal arts education is to say they do not provide one now, which I suspect would come as a real surprise to those half-dozen state institutions who continue to issue BAs, MAs, and PhDs at a feverish pace. I just picked up an MA from one of them myself, in history (graduate dean's academic honors, Phi Alpha Theta, Phi Kappa Phi, four graduate awards for research, and a distinguished thesis finalist). I'm happy to report to our octogenarian author* that Kansas colleges are still teaching people to think. Most of us think quite well, thank you.

But the funny thing is the sanctimonious liberal assumption that dogma and thinking are somehow enemies. And it's not funny because those accused of following a dogma actually think, but because those who claim they think follow a dogma, a set of talking points that have very little to do with reality. They are depressingly predictable, never, ever stepping outside the lines of allowable opinion.

Clue for the author: cutting marginal tax rates is not an "atrocity." Additional (and unnecessary) burdens on abortion providers are not libertarian. States cannot take power from the Feds. Libertarian does not mean "every man for himself." Words mean things, reality doesn't work that way. She seems to be stuck on code words and trite phrases, yet they are revealed to be mere literary gossamer as soon as one tries to apply them to reality. Call someone a libertarian facist(sic) while you're at it. It makes as much sense.

The sad reality, as much as the leftern half of the debate would like to ignore it, is that the left does not think as much as the right, but as little as them. You are not a vanguard of rationalism, but a troupe of sanctimonious lemmings, just like those you criticize. You do not analyze as much as the right, but as little, finding emotional comfort in trite mantas that, once exposed to the sunlight of reality and accounting, dissipate like the most preposterous Christian urban legends. You, collectively, are not as smart as them, but as stupid as all mankind. You have your own wells to hell, your own Bible Codes, your own Darwin's Deathbed Confessions, accepted as truth by those who do not know as much as their opponents, but as little. It makes you sleep well at night, which is what it's designed to do. That, and to provide your vote to one faction of a bi-factional party owned by banks. Occupy, baby. Show the 1% that you won't take it lying down. Then lie down like the rest of those who are sure that TARP was necessary to save the country.

  • It's called Google, and it's not hard to use.

Liberty275 2 years, 7 months ago

"Our government and Legislature are trying to drive our country into a Libertarian society"

What's the hold up?

verity 2 years, 7 months ago

tange swings, tange connects, tange hits it out of the park.

When you're right, you're right.

Liberty275 2 years, 7 months ago

I only know of communist cum socialist cum progressive countries that have had fences to keep people in. I can name a few if you want.

Which libertarian states have held their citizens hostage in a similar manner?

Liberty275 2 years, 7 months ago

Channels, OK. You make friends, you deal with your friends. I already do that. Barriers? How? What barriers can you imagine in a libertarian state? As long as you aren't violating another's rights or trespassing, there should be no barriers.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

Any stick to beat an enemy will work, I guess. Good catch.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

"The War on Women is all but a fact."

You realize that saying that something is "all but a fact" is a fancy way of saying it's not really a fact, right?

rtwngr 2 years, 7 months ago

The war on women is not a fact. It is a rallying cry dreamt by the left to portray another class of society that is allegedly under the thumb of the GOP. Nobody is telling women what to do with their bodies. The GOP is telling women that government should not have to pay for it.

Geiiga 2 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, no.

The war on women is based on real policies really enacted by real right-wing Republicans.

For example, the Violence Against Women Act, a non-controversial bill if there ever was one, renewed without controversy every time it's about to expire, has been tinkered with by Republicans to remove protections that immigrant women have when their American citizen husband becomes abusive.

Or Mitt Romney out there endorsing a constitutional amendment to define that life begins at conception -- which would ban hormonal birth control.

Or Scott "I hired a pedophile to defraud veterans" Walker, overturning his state's version of the Fair Pay Act.

All of that's not to mention the funds for preventative health -- you know, breast exams and other vaginal upkeep -- that you dismiss as "telling women that government should not have to pay for." Mostly this was cut out, not because of any policy goal, but because abortions involve vaginas and pap smears involve vaginas so obviously we shouldn't pay for pap smears.

juma 2 years, 7 months ago

OK, let us put the shoe on both feet; what about ACORN? If there ever was a one-sided government funded group this was it.

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 7 months ago

LOL put the shoe on both feet? And, then hop on over to Freestate for a cold one.

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