Big corporate money fuels public policy decisions

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Fight or flight is well known in discussions on self-defense. With the implementation of "stand your ground"  laws, the "or flight" has been deemed legally inappropriate. Prior to such laws, if you found yourself in a situation where you felt threatened with violence, trying to get away was encouraged. With the Trayvon Martin verdict, we face situations where someone can provoke a confrontation, murder an unarmed person and be protected by the law. "Make My Day!" has replaced fight or flight.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) put together the law that the Florida State Assembly passed in 2005. Florida became the first state in the nation to pass this kind of justified murder law. The NRA lobbied heavily for passage. In the five years preceding passage, the NRA provided $165,000 to the Florida Republican Party. Republicans were the majority party in both houses of the legislature and held the governorship. Twenty-two of the 23 legislators who received contributions from the NRA during the course of those five years voted for the bill.

With success under their gun belt, the NRA went to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and helped draft a "model bill" that could be used to enact these laws around the country. ALEC is a cartel of corporations and elected legislators. The NRA is and was a member of ALEC. Stand Your Ground laws have since been enacted in a majority of our states.

Corporations, corporate trade groups and corporate foundations fund more than 98 percent of ALEC's operations. The Koch brothers have been major funders of ALEC and ALEC has shown an excellent return on investment. The corporations provide legislators with "model legislation" which the legislators take back to their statehouses, where they introduce them as important public policy. There are nine task forces where public (sic) policy is shaped. Each task force has two co-chairs with one an elected official and the other a corporado.

The nine task forces are: Civil Justice; Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development; Communication and Technology; Education; Energy, Environment and Agriculture; Health and Human Services; International Relations; Justice Performance Project; and Tax and Fiscal Policy. Not by chance, the corporate co-chair of the Education task force comes from the Goldwater Institute, which promotes charter schools. The corporate co-chair of the Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force comes from American Electric Power, which is heavily invested in the coal industry. The corporate co-chair of the Health and Humans Services comes from Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company. Mission + Money = Corporate Policy.

Thus far in 2013, ALEC introduced: 71 bills protecting corporations from being accountable for causing injury/death; 139 bills calling for the privatization of public education; and 104 bills to diminish public sector unions and collective bargaining.

ALEC is holding its 40th anniversary in Chicago from Aug. 7 through Aug. 9. Featured speakers include: former Governor Jeb Bush; climate change denier and meteorologist Joe Bastardi; the "father of supply side economics, Art Laffer; and UK Conservative Member of Parliament, Conor Burns, admirer of Margaret (there is no society) Thatcher.
I invite you to join me in welcoming ALEC on Thursday, Aug. 8, at noon outside the Palmer House Hilton Hotel at 17 E. Monroe.

Tom Broderick
Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 9:02 PM

P.S. Still think WJ should identify Tom Broderick's affiliation when they give him a free add for his rally.

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 9:00 PM

I have trouble casting the Koch brothers as criminals. They are libertarian heroes! They have supported gay marriage, open immigration and drug legalization. Hardly right wing extremist issues. They are committed libertarians. So what? Maybe we should start digging into the ties of the Democratic Socialists and start making accusations about them. Or we could try to respect one another's opinions. Hard for Oak Park lefties to believe all people don't share their Weltanschauung.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 4:05 PM

I have trouble accepting your claim of 30 years research & work especially since you offer an opinion that the Koch brothers are committed to sound energy & environmental solutions. It does not ring true that the folks who fund climate change deniers have any interest in reducing the poisoning of our air, water and soil. Where's the proof to support that position? How exactly do you personally and the Koch Industries act to "protect the planet"? Their coporate record shows otherwise. What you don't about know or choose to ignore about the Koch family is troubling. They seem to have effectively convinced you and some others that we should not worry about the irreversible damage that has been done to our environment. Remember Mitt Romney cracking wise about climate change? That's ignorant and dangerous. This is not an issue that should be used to divide us. We must be united in seeking to leave a clean and safe environment for future generations. There's been much discussion about not burdening our children and their children with a huge national debt but not enough focus on how they will deal with an unhealthy planet. It's not about just being against "a left wing extremist view" but a sad reality that you are willing to simply brush aside evidence with a misguided rant defending your opposition to independent scientific findings. Get beyond playing tit for tat with digs at Gore and Soros. That only diverts attention from the real issue.

A Koch & a Smile from Oak Park  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 2:13 PM

Jim, I've got 30+ years of research & work in environmental protection among other things & 1 thing is certain. Though the Koch's have become the favorite boogie men of left wing extremists, they are in fact far more trustworthy & much less dangerous than "secretive" George Soros & whoever is the actual brain behind Al "Occidental Oil" Gore et al. No, Jim. My facts are fine. I protect the planet, but don't bow to the religion of climate change, which is only the left's latest money grab. Peace.

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: August 1st, 2013 1:42 PM

WJ. for disclosure, please add the following at the end of the article: Mr. Broderick, is the co-chair of the Greater Oak Park Democratic Socialists of America

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 31st, 2013 10:41 PM

Sound energy & environmental solutions? Are you aware that the Koch brothers are funding climate change deniers while Koch Industries subsidiaries are major polluters of our air, water and soil. The family fortune was built by the sons' father who worked closely with Stalin to develop oil fields in the Soviet Union. His offspring were found to supplied oil drilling equipment to oppresive regimes in Africa, India and Iran and bribing corrupt foreign officials. Rather than soaking up the propoganda offered via the ALEC website; do some independent research about the Koch family legacy, the brothers' notoriously secretive world and their long and sordid history of supporting right wing extremist groups. Strong conservatives like Barry Goldwater and Willaim F. Buckley spoke extensively in opposition to the positions advocated by Fred Koch and his sons. You're free to send money to these plutocrats but understand that you are standing along side people who want to dismantle social security, eliminate EPA and OSHA laws, and argue against any type of regulation of the financial industry. The facts and the truth are out there for you to study and hope you will before posting comments based upon inaccurate information.

A Koch and a Smile from Oak Park  

Posted: July 31st, 2013 7:41 PM

Thanks, Tom, for piquing my curiosity about ALEC. After spending time on their site, & researching their activities, I sent them a donation! Let's see: Free markets, limited govt & constitutional division of powers between fed & state govt? GREAT! Job creation & growth, state tax issues & budget solvency, education & healthcare reforms, corrections & reentry programs, civil justice reforms, & sound energy & environmental solutions? CHECK! Charter schools? YES! Enjoy your parade of 1, Tom.

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