The economic problems of the United States are not complicated nor are they insolvable. They are the result of actions taken by a few in Congress at the behest of a smaller group yet who have been able to buy government. So, we, as citizens in much larger numbers, can correct this mistake by voting out the Republicans…because this is who they are in overwhelming numbers…over 95% of the offenders are Republicans. The small number of greedy little Democrats can be swept aside in a primary election.
To turn our country around, however, will take swift and decisive action. For example, in Michigan, there is a governor who has cut taxes on businesses and on the wealthy, of which he is one, and railroaded a bill through the Republican state legislature that gives him the power to simply throw out a local city manager and insert his own. Now Michigan hasn’t seen that kind of authoritarianism since Jefferson bought the Louisisana purchase from Napoleon.
Here’s what Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan has done. Because one of his pals, the heir to the Whirlpool appliance business, Fred Upton of St. Joseph, Michigan, a member of the House of Representatives wants a golf course and upscale housing development where a park had been planned for a long time, Snyder threw out the city manager of Upton’s town and inserted his own guy. The guy’s name wasn’t Alec, but the plan was created by ALEC.
What is the significance of that incident? In Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and Florida, not to mention Maine and Indiana, the 2010 elections saw Republican governors and completely Republican legislatures come into office. They have used their office not to advance the welfare of the states they govern but to advance the economic goals of a subset of a relative few. In each case, the governors have tried to or have actually accomplished the removal of the public sector unions and their bargaining capacities. They simply voted to eliminate the unions as a bargaining entity with the state. All planned by ALEC.
They immediately created huge tax breaks for corporations and tax breaks for individuals at the upper end, including…in some cases… eliminating the inheritance tax. The important aspect of this is not merely that it was done but that it was done in unison…the same actions taken at the same time…a political blitzkrieg if you will…across all the states involved. And who is organizing this attack on unions and the middle class? The answer: a group called ALEC.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an organization funded by major global corporations…oil, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and financial corporations whose job is to rewrite state laws governing your rights as citizens and then work with these local Republicans to insert them into state laws. We’re talking about companies like Pfizer, Kraft Foods, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer Aspirin, Coca Cola, Exxon, Wal-Mart and Peabody Coal…big, big corporations.
So what do they do? They are organized to go into a state and write the legislation for the Right Wingers and actually hand out the bills. Here’s an example. In all of these states, the ALEC-framed legislation on an ombudsman for business was passed. This ombudsman has unique and untouchable powers to work with industries in the state to remove obstructions, such as clean air regulations. The ombudsman reports only to the governor and can only be removed by a two-thirds vote of the state legislature.
Minimum wage laws. ALEC staffers created legislation for all these states to use that would simply override national laws on minimum wages, and repeal any previous minimum wage laws so that people in these states would start out at lower wage rates or simply be paid lower wage rates than the nationally mandated minimum wages.
ALEC legislative strategists also wrote into law for the states an “At Will Employment” document introduced by these state legislatures which said that employees can be fired an any time for any reason, unless otherwise specifically written into a contract with the employee.
Let’s be clear. ALEC is an organization that creates legislation that they then pass on to the Republican governors to be inserted in the next session. Who pays ALEC? The huge corporations we mentioned. They are ALEC. ALEC is a consortium of big corporations dedicated to getting what they want, now that they can spend unlimited amounts of money, and that usually means that you, the Middle and Lower classes don’t get what you want. No unions. No health care. No pensions for firemen, police, nurses, teachers…all the people that you want to have a comfortable life so that they won’t be moonlighting instead of focusing on catching crooks or putting out fires.
No one in the public sector is getting rich here. The average pay of the people in Wisconsin who got cut was $46,000, which is exactly dead center in the middle of the average and median wage range in this country. They get good pensions but not great pensions. And Governor Walker saw to it that they got an average of $4,000 less a year this year. ALEC was behind that too.
The current battle over the Post Office is a perfect example of what the corporations are trying to do to America. There is no problem with the Post Office’s finances. The problem is with a hyper-political Republican Party. In the waning hours of the Bush Adminsitration, they levied a huge debt onto the backs of the postal workers. They wrote legislation that said that the Post Office must pre-fund it’s pension fund in 7 years…simply unheard of, a requirement that does not exist anywhere else in public or private organizations. But the Republican Congress, working for FEDEX and UPS and other corporations would like to see that service ruined by putting it in the greedy hands of these private firms.
A large part of state legislation has to do with education. The Koch Family, one of the largest of ALEC’s donors, dislikes paying for public education. They were founders of the John Birch Society and the Libertarian Party. Both these groups are in favor of alternative ways of educating our children, using vouchers to send them to private schools. What is the point? The families of lower income, mostly Black students will never have enough money to pay for private education, or if they do, it will keep them in poverty. So in supporting vouchers, the Kochs are able set up new forms of segregation.
It is time to fight against ALEC. You need to learn more about it. Read and study their legislative proposals and help fund and petition in those states, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, New Jersey, Maine and Indiana where their influence is strong.
You cannot merely know about ALEC. You must act against ALEC. It is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen to protect your civil rights. Spread the word, learn about what they are trying to do in your state. Prepare yourself for a long fight.
The corporations still think that they have won over the People, despite the recall elections in Wisconsin. You need to show them definitively and dramatically that they are wrong.