All men (and corporations) are created equal

While the Declaration of Independence recognizes that all men are created equal, the motto for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) goes a bit further.

All men and corporations are created equal.

Just look at their task force structure. They break down their issue areas into task forces.

Every issue task force (ie Tax and Fiscal Policy, Health and Human Services, etc.) is made up of two equal parts. Half is the public sector part (state legislators), and half is the private sector part (corporations). In order for model legislation to move forward, each task force must garner a majority of votes from each HALF. For example, if the legislator half likes an idea, but the corporate half doesn’t, the bill does NOT move forward. I saw that happen today.

That’s a lot of power for the corporate sponsorship of an organization. Maybe too much, many would say.

But that is ALEC. Fully funded by, sponsored by, and driven by its much wealthier corporate interests.

One only need look at the convention booklet to see the “Who’s Who” of corporate partners. British Petroleum, Reynolds American, Takeda, UnitedHealthcare, Walmart, the Walton Family Foundation, Chevron, ExxonMobil, American Electric Power, Allergan, PhRMA, Bayer, VISA, Shell, Koch Industries, Inc. and State Farm Insurance for starters. And there are dozens more.

For your partnership in ALEC, you get to write legislation, promote it, vote for it, and all too often, watch it become law. Not bad for a few days work.

The corporate partners even lead discussions in task force meetings about legislation, providing no cover for who is actually promoting certain policies.

But I guess you can get that brazen when you are surrounded by your friends, both other corporations and your legislative allies.

And it isn’t just ALEC that benefits from the corporate largesse. So do many of the “think tanks” that are here promoting legislation.

Just this morning I sat through an extensive program run by “think tank” presenters about how increased levels of CO2 are GOOD for you. That’s not a typo.

They gave 55 reasons why having greenhouse gases via increased CO2 is good, from helping leaf growth to being good for earthworms. And my favorite logic: CO2 increases human longevity. Their argument is that CO2 has increased over the last 100 years, but so has human longevity therefore increased CO2 is good for the human race. I kid you not.

People don’t question too much what they are told here. That’s exactly what the corporate half of the organization likes.

So the bottom line: If you are a single, somewhat unattractive corporation (maybe you have a chemical dumping problem or something), and you need a little love only a state legislature can give, you need ALEC. They will match you up with eligible “free market” legislators who’ve been waiting all their lives for a corporation just as special as you are. Of course, it will cost you a few bucks, but ah, the happiness.

You’ll share special moments together. Like listening to uber-conservative economist Art Laffer (of the infamous, accurately named “Laffer Curve”) at breakfast together. Sit down and talk about your common interests. Share a drink or two at a reception (NOTE: only corporations are allowed to pay on this first date). And eventually, that romance will blossom into something real.

Like special interest legislation.

All brought to you by the corporations that fund ALEC.

Wisconsin State Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison), who coined the term FitzWalkerstan on the floor of the State Assembly, served three terms on the state’s budget committee, including one as its co-chair. He also served as the vice-chair of the non-partisan National Council on State Legislature’s Budget and Policy committee. Pocan’s Assembly district includes both the State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion, making Governor Scott Walker his most infamous constituent.

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It's finally setting in: Trump is Trump and he’s not going to change because of winning the nomination.

The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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