Friday, April 20, 2012

You say 'hello,' we say, 'goodbye'

Kraft Foods, Wendy's McDonald's Coca-Cola, Intuit, PepsiCo, the Yum! Corp. (KFC and Taco Bell), the Gates Foundation and Blue Cross/Blue Shield -- what do these companies have in common?
Other than that most of them make food that is not very good for you, their common element is that they have all dropped their membership in ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, in recent months or weeks or days, or will be dropping their memberships as soon as they expire.  And for that I say, "Yay and here's hoping there are many, many more companies to follow!"
I have been waiting for an onslaught of newspapers and TV, the Mainstream Media, to trap ALEC in the spotlight like the cockroach that it is, to finally expose it for the powerful destroyer of the Middle class that it is, but, alas, except for a couple of editorials in the New York Times, I haven't seen it.

What I have seen are countless web sites and small magazines and progressive organizations and now, shareholder activists, applying enormous pressure to ALEC members, corporations that pay $25,000 to $50,000 annually for the privilege of writing right-wing legislation in state capitols across the country, to get out while the getting is good.
Quick primer: ALEC is 98 percent funded by corporations and corporate foundations who pay the aforementioned thousands of dollars in annual dues and 2 percent by (Republican) state legislators who pay $50 a year or so annual dues.  ALEC claims not to be a lobby.  It is even better than a lobby.  It drafts "model legislation" that it hands out to its legislative membersat annual or quarterly conferences to take back to their states and introduce with a few specifics added.
According to, it has drafted more than 800 such bills.  A whistle-blower leaked these 800 model bills last July and they are all posted on ALEC Exposed.  Go there to read lists of bills or individual bills, or even bill titles, to get the flavor of this very anti-democratic, very secretive organization.
ALEC claims to be strictly pro-business, but it is very anti-worker, very right-wing and not above pushing bills that benefit its members to the detriment of the rest of the country.
For example, anti-immigration bills (Arizona and Alabama -- the prison-industrial complex), anti public sector employee bills (Wisconsin), school privatization bills (Calif. -- the charter school industrial complex),  anti-union bills (Indiana, Ohio), expanded "castle" or stand your ground bills (Florida, Pa., Wisconsin -- the NRA), Voter ID laws (Virginia, Pa., 21 other states), drug testing of welfare applicants (the medical testing industrial complex) and anti-environmental bills (everywhere).
One site,, which focuses on issues of interest to black Americans, has led the charge against ALEC ever since it became known that ALEC was behind the Stand Your Ground and Voter ID  legislation adopted in Florida and  dozens of other states.
That 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, was gunned down by a self-styled vigilante in Florida and that Voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise minority and Democratic voters are issues of interest to not only black web surfers but also to a great many of us of any ethnicity who believe in fairness, openness and democracy.
In addition to,,, Mother Jones and The Nation magazines, Think Progress, the Huffington Post, Daily Kos,  People for the American Way, the Wildlife Defense Fund and a great many other progressive organizations, campaigns against ALEC are beginning to heat up in corporate boardrooms across the nation.
Activist shareholders are introducing proposals calling on corporations to issue annual reports disclosing their legislative and lobbying efforts.  These proposals are aimed directly at exposing ALEC.
UPS will have such as vote at its annual meeting in Wilmington, Del., May 3.  Of course, the corporations are advising their shareholders to vote against such proposals, but they always do try to deep-six such shareholder activism.
For a somewhat outdated list of major organizations that support ALEC big time, go to They still include General Motors, State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Exxon Mobil, Verizon, Bank of America, American Express, Geico and Boeing as far as I know.  
That the very big corporations listed at the start of this post are deeply embarrassed to be associated with ALEC is the good news.  Let's embarrass the rest.  

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