“The Guardian” Reveals the State Policy Network’s Coordinated Effort for 2014—An Assault on Education, Taxes, Healthcare, and Workers

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

In November, I wrote a post titled State Policy Network (SPN)—The “PR Firm” for ALEC and a Right-Wing Agenda. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, SPN “is funded largely by global corporations and by groups and foundations associated with conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch.” Journalist Jane Mayer provided a good description of SPN in her article Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?which appeared in The New Yorker this past November.

Mayer:

In every state in the country, there is at least one ostensibly independent “free-market” think tank that is part of something called the State Policy Network— there are sixty-four in all, ranging from the Pelican Institute, in Louisiana, to the Freedom Foundation, in Washington State. According to a new investigative report by the Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal watchdog group, however, the think tanks are less free actors than a coördinated collection of corporate front groups—branch stores, so to speak—funded and steered by cash from undisclosed conservative and corporate players. Although the think tanks have largely operated under the radar, the cumulative enterprise is impressively large, according to the report. In 2011, the network funnelled seventy-nine million dollars into promoting conservative policies at the state level.

The Guardian newspaper has dug up more information about the workings of SPN…and its plans for 2014. The paper published an article on the subject entitled State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax just last week. According to Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, the authors of the article, SPN and its affiliated conservative groups/”think tanks” are planning “a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers’ compensation and the environment…”

Pilkington and Goldenberg:

The strategy for the state-level organisations, which describe themselves as “free-market thinktanks”, includes proposals from six different states for cuts in public sector pensions, campaigns to reduce the wages of government workers and eliminate income taxes, school voucher schemes to counter public education, opposition to Medicaid, and a campaign against regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

According to Pilkington and Goldenberg, documents obtained by The Guardian “contain 40 funding proposals” from groups affiliated with SPN in 34 states that provide “a blueprint for the conservative agenda in 2014.” They said their paper partnered with the Texas Observer and the Portland Press Herald in Maine to publish the summary of SPN’s proposals for the coming year in order “to give readers and news outlets full and fair access to state-by-state conservative plans that could have significant impact throughout the US, and to allow the public to reach its own conclusions about whether these activities comply with the spirit of non-profit tax-exempt charities.”

Most of the conservative “think tanks” working in collaboration with SPN “are constituted as 501(c)(3) charities that are exempt from tax by the Internal Revenue Service.” Such groups are “subject to strict restrictions on the amount of lobbying they are allowed to perform.” It was reported, however, that some of “the grant bids contained in the Guardian documents propose the launch of ‘media campaigns’ aimed at changing state laws and policies, or refer to ‘advancing model legislation’ and ‘candidate briefings’, in ways that arguably cross the line into lobbying.”

SPN gathered the grant proposals—monetary requests ranging in size from $25,000 to $65,000—from the 34 states in late July. The requests were then “submitted for funding to the Searle Freedom Trust…” Pilkington and Goldenberg said that the documents show that SPN’s link to Searle was Stephen Moore. (Moore happens to be an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal.) They added that Moore, “who advises Searle on its grant-giving activities, was asked by SPN to rank the proposals in two halves – a ‘top 20’ and ‘bottom 20’.”

Moore claims that he serves as an “unpaid adviser” to the Searle Foundation…and that he has been a lifetime friend of Dan Searle. He also said that “the grant decisions were made by Searle’s sons and grandsons based upon the late businessman’s ‘commitment to the advancement of free enterprise and individual rights’.”

(Link to a document provided by The GuardianState Policy Network: Searle Tax and Budget Grant Proposals)

Pilkington and Goldenberg claim, however, that the “proposals in the grant bids contained in the Guardian documents go beyond a commitment to free enterprise…” They provided examples of the submitted proposals:

• “reforms” to public employee pensions raised by SPN thinktanks in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania;

• tax elimination or reduction schemes in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, Nebraska and New York;

• an education voucher system to promote private and home schooling in Florida;

• campaigns against worker and union rights in Delaware and Nevada;

• opposition to Medicaid in Georgia, North Carolina and Utah.

Kenneth Quinnell (AFL-CIO) wrote, that depending upon which 20 proposals Searle chooses to fund, there were “12 ways that SPN could assault the rights of working families in 2014.” Here are some of the examples Quinnell provided:

1. Alabama Policy Institute: Requested $25,725 to fund the “spark plug” for eliminating the state income tax. Such a plan would lead to the cutting of services for working families. (Also requested for tax cuts or elimination: Advance Arkansas Institute, $35,000; Georgia Public Policy Foundation, $40,000; Nebraska’s Platte Institute for Economic Research, $25,000; New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, $30,000; Ohio’s Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, $40,000; and Opportunity Ohio, $35,000).

2. Delaware’s Caesar Rodney Institute: Requested $36,000 to fund strategies to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law, which would lower wages for working families.

3. Florida’s James Madison Institute: Requested $40,000 to fund efforts to promote vouchers (which they call Education Savings Accounts), which would reduce funding for public schools. Lower public education funding would lead to worsening student performance and teacher layoffs. (Also requested on this topic: Oregon’s Cascade Policy Institute, $40,000.)

4. Georgia Center for Opportunity: Requested $65,000 to fund opposition to Medicaid expansion, which would mean fewer residents have health care. (Also requested on this same topic: North Carolina’s J.W. Pope Civitas Institute, $46,500; Texas Public Policy Foundation, $40,000; Utah’s Sutherland Institute, $50,000.)

5. Illinois Policy Institute: Requested $40,000 to fight to change Chicago’s public employee pension system to a defined-contribution plan, which would mean less retirement security for working families. (Also requested on cutting public employee pensions: Arizona’s Goldwater Institute for Public Policy, $40,000; Minnesota’s Center of the American Experiment, $40,000; Missouri’s Show-Me Institute, $25,000; Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Foundation, $35,500.)

6. Maryland Public Policy Institute: Requested $40,000 to push for cuts in corporate tax rates, which would lead to the cutting of services for working families.

Lisa Graves is the executive director of the Center for Media & Democracy, an organization that “has tracked the work of the State Policy Network”—as well as the workings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). When speaking to The Guardian, Graves said that “such groups are betraying the communities they claim to represent by introducing ‘model legislation’ that undoubtedly are designed to serve the interests of large corporations and the wealthy.” She continued, “They appear to be advocating purely local interests but what they are promoting is part of a larger national template to radically remake our government in a way that undermines public institutions and the rights of workers.”

The difference between 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations (From New Jersey On-Line)

According to the Internal Revenue Service Code, 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations are nonprofit organizations that are exempt from paying federal income tax. 501(c)(3) organizations are either a public charity, private foundation or private operating foundation with open membership whereas 501(c)(4) organizations are civic leagues or associations operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare or local associations of employees with limited membership.

When it comes to lobbying and political activity, 501(c)(3) organizations can appeal directly to legislative bodies and representatives and may support issue-based legislation. However, they must notify the IRS of their intent to lobby by filing form 5768, which formally informs the federal government that one has elected to use the expenditure test to have the organization’s lobbying activity measured. Under this test, lobbying capacity is typically limited to spending less than 5 to 20% of the organizational budget on lobbying activities, depending on the size of your organization.

*****

Have you reached a conclusion yet regarding whether or not the activities of the organizations/think tanks written about in this post comply with the spirit of non-profit tax-exempt charities?

SOURCES & FURTHER READING
State Policy Network—The “PR Firm” for ALEC and a Right-Wing Agenda (Jonathan Turley)

State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax (The Guardian)

Free-market research group’s climate proposal denounced by host university: Suffolk University says Beacon Hill Institute had not followed rules and that research plans did not match university’s mission (The Guardian)

The Money Behind the Fight to Undermine Medicaid: Documents show how a conservative think tank hinders expansion of health insurance in Texas.  (Texas Observer)

New Rules Would Rein In Nonprofits’ Political Role (New York Times)

Guardian Documents Expose State Policy Network Groups’ Intent to Lobby (Center for Media and Democracy)

State Policy Network: The Stealth Network Dramatically Influencing State Law (Center for Media and Democracy)

Stink Tanks: State Policy Network Internal Budget Documents Revealed by The Guardian (Firedoglake)

Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement? (The New Yorker)

Here’s ALEC’s Plan To Bring Right Wing Policies To States Near You (Crooks and Liars)

12 Ways the State Policy Network Could Assault the Rights of Working Families in 2014 (AFL-CIO)

Washington County residents have mixed reactions to plan to eliminate taxes (Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram)

Army of Rightwing Groups Plan Assault on State Laws in 2014: Internal documents show how state-level affiliates serve national interests of corporations and wealthy, conservative ideologues (Common Dreams)

The difference between 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations (New Jersey On-Line)

Treasury, IRS Will Issue Proposed Guidance For Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations (U.S. Department of the Treasury

Stinktanks.org

59 thoughts on ““The Guardian” Reveals the State Policy Network’s Coordinated Effort for 2014—An Assault on Education, Taxes, Healthcare, and Workers

  1. This is just so depressing…

    It’s like Whack-A-Mole…..except we face impossible odds that we can eliminate the “Moles”.

    I do wonder about this new emphasis on SPN. Did ALEC become too well-known and now they are concentrating on SPN?

  2. The USA can NOT lower taxes any further without ending up
    a Third World Country…. MORE so than it has already fallen to….

    and allowing these corporations to write laws and policy is the Fox
    running the Hen House…..

    It is what makes the USA one of the MOST Corrupt 1st World Countries…..
    and has made the USA less democratic…..

    at what point do the people wake up????

  3. Great article Elaine. The Right has long advocated a take over via the individual states and ALEC is their bank. At the least they should be paying taxes and disclosing their donors.

  4. Press Release
    December 5, 2013
    http://www.aft.org/newspubs/press/2013/120513a.cfm

    AFT President Weingarten on State Policy Network’s Agenda to Decimate Democratic and Economic Rights of Hardworking Americans

    WASHINGTON— Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Guardian expose of the State Policy Network.

    “These documents published by the Guardian uncover a deliberate, contrived, secretive effort to decimate the democratic and economic rights of hardworking Americans. Powered by well-heeled donors, the State Policy Network’s agenda seeks to further tip the scales against working families and the middle class—all in the service of maintaining the status quo of the austerity-laden, trickle-down economics we have today. It’s an agenda to starve our communities of resources, defund public education and advocate for vouchers and other opt-outs, decimate public services, and destroy and malign unions. And these coordinated efforts have all been made behind closed doors, undermining the democratic process.

    “The Guardian expose also indicates there are more documents that the public has a right to see. The State Policy Network must no longer act in the shadows—it must disclose the rest of these documents.

    “The American people deserve an agenda built on expanding the middle class, reclaiming the promise of public education, ensuring strong and vibrant public services and communities, and protecting and expanding the voice of workers—with public officials who are transparent and working on behalf of their communities.”

  5. Question for the lawyers….

    It seems to me that it is easy to make the case that these organizations are legitimately 501c4s or 501c3s and are therefore, (gag me) tax exempt. (They are not my “social ends” but god knows there are others who do believe these are good social ends.)

    Lawyers….any chance that they are NOT tax exempt?

  6. Conservative Think Tank Network Plotting “Coordinated Assault” on Medicaid, Education, Workers’ Rights
    —By Andy Kroll
    | Thu Dec. 5, 2013
    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/12/state-policy-network-assault-worker-rights-medicaid

    Excerpt:
    As I’ve written before, SPN exists to help out its influential state-level affiliates around the country and to push conservative policies in state capitals. It’s enjoyed quite a lot of success lately: SPN members also played a role in the crackdown on workers’ rights in 2011 in Wisconsin, Ohio, Idaho, and Tennessee. A year ago this month, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an SPN member, rightly took credit for making Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state. Months later, Dick DeVos, the Amway heir and onetime in Michigan gubernatorial candidate, used SPN’s annual conference as a chance to share his strategy with state-level allies itching for right-to-work in their states. The Guardian’s documents strongly suggest that conservatives are coordinating their attacks on unions, public employees, and government.

    Like prominent liberal nonprofit groups, the State Policy Network appears to have plenty more planned for the near future. If you thought the 2011 fight over workers rights was intense, what’s coming next could be even fiercer.

  7. Platos Cave & Swarthmore mom,

    I was doing research for a post about ALEC in addition to this one on SPN. Both groups work in tandem. Evidently, ALEC has lost a number of state legislators and corporations as members in the past two years because of its SYG model legislation.

  8. Elaine:

    Why is this a problem?

    Many of the programs instituted in the last century were not Constitutional to begin with. Starting with the income tax.

    The left/progressives had the ADA, the The League for Industrial Democracy, the Fabian Society [in England and America] and many other “think” tanks promoting left wing progressive views and influencing our government.

    About time for some sauce dont you think?

    Not to worry though, they arent as “right” wing as you may think.

  9. Bron,
    The courts seem to disagree with you on the constitutionality of the income tax. Think tanks and organizations actually writing legislation that harms main street are two different things.

  10. Bron,

    What laws did The League for Industrial Democracy and the Fabian Society write???

    Were these laws to the betterment of the people or the wealthy????

    Why is it that the more socialist countries seem to be MORE competitive than the USA these days???? These countries rank HIGHER on every list including Best places to live…. work… wages more upward mobility?????

    The difference that these countries have with the USA is that they ALL have higher taxes……
    and yet, they still seem to either keep up rather well, or surpass the USA in EVERY level……

    as for the ADA…. there are a few of those in the USA….
    and those few are looked at as being Liberal….

    If you mean Americans For Democratic Action????

    They were born out of fighting for the LEAST Fortunate in the USA….
    a part of society that was seriously marginalized….
    Helped with the Civil Rights Act……

    ALEC is hardly advocating for the AVERAGE American…..
    They are not advocating for the betterment of ALL the people, or even marginalized people……

    They are ONLY advocating for the Rich to get Richer off the backs of the average marginalized Americans……

    ALEC is nothing but a GREED Tank…. It is ALL about Power…
    NOT in any way to better the USA….. it is about making laws to make the wealthy MORE wealthy…..
    They are NOT in any way a Champion of the Poor…..
    and quite frankly, the wealthy have MORE than enough Champions in their corner…..

    The Wealthy have always had a seat at the table….
    Those Associations you listed were to help get the OTHER people to the table as well…….

  11. Bron,

    “Elaine:

    Why is this a problem?”

    What is “this,” Bron?

    Explain yourself. Or should the details of “this,” that, and the proverbial other need no further words?

    You self-reference too much; break down your thoughts with the assumption that others might read them.

  12. gbk:

    The radical right wing think tank “usurpation” of the progressive monoply in ideas at all levels in our society and in all of our institutions.

  13. Elaine,

    I read with interest that the RTW laws have not changed the way business is done n the state f Michigan……

  14. just a girl:

    neither the left nor the right advocate for the common man, they just want to control us. So many drones to do their bidding.

    Enjoy:

  15. rafflaw:

    why did it take from 1787 to 1913 to create it [income tax] by amending the Constitution? If it was Constitutional why would it need an amendment to make it so?

    The courts had struck down taxes on income through the 19th century. If it was Constitutional why did they do so?

  16. Bron,

    “The radical right wing think tank “usurpation” of the progressive monoply in ideas at all levels in our society and in all of our institutions.”

    So, argument now is just bullet points of half-baked phrases; strung together into a sentence? Dog whistles that some are trained to hear while others “miss” the context?

    You should read what you write. Take a step back. You disagree with yourself much more than you know.

  17. Bron,

    Do you think that all amendments to the Constitution are unconstitutional…or only the ones you don’t like?

    *****

    The Constitution of the United States

    Article V

    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

    http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/article-v.html

  18. Seems to me it’s democracy in action. Government is way to large with layers of redundancy. Unions are in bed with government, taking away the right to work and not being realistic about the affects unions have on many businesses. It’s a fight that we should not be really having, if we really protected individual rights. What the majority has not learned is that: you cannot just protect rights sometimes. It all or nothing because once you allow a right to be usurped by the ruling class, you will someday end up with being prosecuted for speaking out against the State. http://govtslaves.info/california-county-suspends-constitution-bill-rights/#respond

  19. If Unions are so bad, then WHY is it that Union Jobs in general pay FAR more than the average job???

    You are right in that there is this ALL or nothing mentality in the USA….
    If the Right would WORK with the left to make the USA better for the AVERAGE workers and want to LIFT the lower classes up to be able to
    earn more…. then the USA would be in a better place….
    WHY can’t the Right wing work with the left to balance the Unions???
    Instead they just want to abolish Unions entirely….

    Personally, I believe that protecting an individuals rights would be to protect what their time is worth via wages…..
    Unions exist because the wealthy get VERY greedy and want to pay the workers NOTHING and enslave them….. Prior to Unions, people were being OVER worked and UNDER paid in dangerous conditions….

    Had the TOP not been so greedy, Unions would not have been needed….

  20. Bron,
    First, note what Elaine and raff said.

    Second, the Constitution is self adjusting. Recall the Eighteenth Amendment, which was repealed once the general populace learned about the Law of Unintended Consequences–not a real “law,” but a law of nature. So, even if an Amendment turns out to be a bad idea, there is still a mechanism in place to repeal it.

  21. This is what happens when jobs do not have Unions……
    People who want to work and earn their OWN way, are kept from doing so by GREEDY Corporations…..

    This would NEVER happen in Sweden or MOST of Europe for that matter……
    IN EU we have MANDATORY 5 Weeks paid Holiday….. and health care…..

    ——————————————————————

    New York, NY – Employees at Forever 21 are fighting back against a devastating new policy enacted by the fast-fashion retail chain last week. Last week, Forever 21 sent a letter to all non-managerial full time workers, terminating their health insurance, paid time off, and capping their hours as part-time workers, under 30 hours per week. Workers only had few days of advance notice that their health insurance coverage was ending, their benefits were taken away, that they’d get smaller paychecks, and would no longer be able to earn any paid time off.

    A Forever 21 employee and member of the Retail Action Project (RAP) has started a public petition on Coworker.org, demanding a reversal to the policy and asking that their hours and benefits are restored immediately. Forever 21 workers have joined the Just Hours Campaign to address the underemployment crisis caused by corporate retailers’ unpredictable, part-time scheduling practices, adding Forever 21 to the campaign’s list of worst players.

    Forever 21 joins the Just Hours Campaign’s list of worst players, and members from the Retail Action Project from Forever 21 are uniting to stop these practices. They’ve started a petition on Coworker.org to ask Forever 21 to reinstate family sustaining jobs.

    The petition’s author writes:

    I just started working at Forever 21 in New York City, but now I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to work there, because I need a job that I can actually survive on. When I first applied for the job, I was promised growth and working with the visual team to become a merchandiser. They explained I would be learning and growing and starting off in sales with full time hours. However when I was hired, I suddenly found myself cleaning and organizing the stock room in a part-time position. When I asked what happened with the position I applied for I was brushed off and ignored. I didn’t realize that the company treats their employees like that, and now Forever 21 is essentially ending full-time employment for non-management employees altogether.

    Hartley McNeil, another Forever 21 worker and RAP member is also devastated by the news. He is currently a part-time worker who says “Now I know there isn’t an opportunity for me to have a decent job with benefits at Forever 21. I work hard and I’ve really wanted to grow with the company. But the way they’re treating us shows that they don’t value our work or respect our lives. It’s really wrong.”

    Sasha Hammad, Interim Director of the Retail Action Project says “The replacement of good full-time jobs with unpredictable part-time positions is fueling a crisis of underemployment. Imagine having a sick child or a chronic illness, then finding out that in a few days, your health insurance will terminated, your paychecks will be smaller, and you won’t have any paid time off to take care of your medical issues – All because you are now part time.”

    According to RAP and CUNY Murphy Institute’s 2012 study of retail workers in NYC, “Discounted Jobs,” 49% of employees are scheduled for fewer hours in a week than they would like. 42% of the employees also reported that managers reduce or change their hours without their consent. Nationally, the retail industry is a top growth sector for new jobs, with one in nine workers relying on retail jobs. Yet the industry is also responsible for leaving workers involuntarily underemployed: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of involuntary part‐time workers in the retail sector has more than doubled since 2006.

  22. This is why we NEED Unions…..

    ————————————————

    New York, NY – Employees at Forever 21 are fighting back against a devastating new policy enacted by the fast-fashion retail chain last week. Last week, Forever 21 sent a letter to all non-managerial full time workers, terminating their health insurance, paid time off, and capping their hours as part-time workers, under 30 hours per week. Workers only had few days of advance notice that their health insurance coverage was ending, their benefits were taken away, that they’d get smaller paychecks, and would no longer be able to earn any paid time off.

    A Forever 21 employee and member of the Retail Action Project (RAP) has started a public petition on Coworker.org, demanding a reversal to the policy and asking that their hours and benefits are restored immediately. Forever 21 workers have joined the Just Hours Campaign to address the underemployment crisis caused by corporate retailers’ unpredictable, part-time scheduling practices, adding Forever 21 to the campaign’s list of worst players.

    Forever 21 joins the Just Hours Campaign’s list of worst players, and members from the Retail Action Project from Forever 21 are uniting to stop these practices. They’ve started a petition on Coworker.org to ask Forever 21 to reinstate family sustaining jobs.

    The petition’s author writes:

    I just started working at Forever 21 in New York City, but now I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to work there, because I need a job that I can actually survive on. When I first applied for the job, I was promised growth and working with the visual team to become a merchandiser. They explained I would be learning and growing and starting off in sales with full time hours. However when I was hired, I suddenly found myself cleaning and organizing the stock room in a part-time position. When I asked what happened with the position I applied for I was brushed off and ignored. I didn’t realize that the company treats their employees like that, and now Forever 21 is essentially ending full-time employment for non-management employees altogether.

    Hartley McNeil, another Forever 21 worker and RAP member is also devastated by the news. He is currently a part-time worker who says “Now I know there isn’t an opportunity for me to have a decent job with benefits at Forever 21. I work hard and I’ve really wanted to grow with the company. But the way they’re treating us shows that they don’t value our work or respect our lives. It’s really wrong.”

    Sasha Hammad, Interim Director of the Retail Action Project says “The replacement of good full-time jobs with unpredictable part-time positions is fueling a crisis of underemployment. Imagine having a sick child or a chronic illness, then finding out that in a few days, your health insurance will terminated, your paychecks will be smaller, and you won’t have any paid time off to take care of your medical issues – All because you are now part time.”

    According to RAP and CUNY Murphy Institute’s 2012 study of retail workers in NYC, “Discounted Jobs,” 49% of employees are scheduled for fewer hours in a week than they would like. 42% of the employees also reported that managers reduce or change their hours without their consent. Nationally, the retail industry is a top growth sector for new jobs, with one in nine workers relying on retail jobs. Yet the industry is also responsible for leaving workers involuntarily underemployed: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of involuntary part‐time workers in the retail sector has more than doubled since 2006.

  23. Thanks for the heads up Elaine. I’m glad that these right wing think tanks are not even trying all that hard to hide their agenda anymore. It makes it all the more evident as to what would happen to our country should these people get into serious power. It’s bad enough now that money buys them laws.

  24. hskiprob,

    So nice to see you back.

    “What the majority has not learned is that: you cannot just protect rights sometimes.”

    Who is the majority, and why can they “just not protect rights sometimes?” Isn’t your whole argument, on every single post on this blog about the protection of rights?

    Is this a word game or some of your more serious writings?

    I think you should stick with the closing of your essay that you linked to in the following thread, because your conclusion is, well, so insightful:

    http://jonathanturley.org/2013/10/13/massive-resistance-and-the-government-shutdown/#comment-703293

    to quote:

    “At least someone cannot tell me that I’m an poorly educated, because as you see, I have done extensive research and analysis in this area.”

    Shurnuf, you are the guiding light.

  25. Elaine,

    Lord, the greedy just keep on coming. pdm is right … it’s like Whack-A-Mole.

    Thanks for all the good info

    Here in Ohio we are dealing with Ohio State Senator Seitz and Ohio Senate Bill 58. ALEC has failed in almost every state and this is their last-ditch effort. Lot’s of people against this bill. I believe the bill is still pending in committee.

    OHIO: Koch, ALEC and Dirty Energy Co’s Attack Clean Energy Jobs

    http://greenpeaceblogs.org/2013/10/30/ohio-koch-alec-and-dirty-energy-cos-attack-clean-energy-jobs/

  26. Bron,

    “. . . neither the left nor the right advocate for the common man . . .”

    So, you feel you’re the only advocate for the “common man?” Is this a special burden you carry all by yourself?

    You are probably not alone, but you should also not cultivate disparities where few exist outside of the vague words which you offer so freely.

    You, most of all, should recognize the forces arrayed against the “common man” and question the pale wisdom of this idiom; question the futility of the phrase given the women that perpetuate the “common man.”

    What the phuck does “common man” mean, Bron?

    Are you daft? Politics is not life.

  27. hskiprob,

    So how is your Pelton wheel turning out? Got any investors?

    Have you figured out a way to scale vertical wind turbines, abiding with your claims?

    Have you specifically figured out how to keep you panes from slamming into the vertical shaft structure?

    What year is this?

  28. Blouise,

    Massachusetts:

    Free-market research group’s climate proposal denounced by host university
    Suffolk University says Beacon Hill Institute had not followed rules and that research plans did not match university’s mission
    By Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
    12/5/13
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/05/host-university-research-group-climate-suffolk-university

    Excerpt:
    The host university of the free marketeer Beacon Hill Institute has repudiated its proposal to carry out research with the express purpose of undermining a regional climate change initiative.

    The institute, based in the economics department of Suffolk University, had sought $38,825 to carry out an economic analysis that would aid efforts to weaken or roll back a five-year effort by states in the north-east to reduce carbon pollution, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

    The proposal from Beacon Hill made no secret of its goal. “Success will take the form of media recognition, dissemination to stakeholders, and legislative activity that will pare back or repeal RGGI,” the funding proposal said.

    In a prepared statement, Suffolk University made clear it had not been consulted about Beacon Hill’s research plans – and would not have authorised the grant proposal if it had been.

    “The stated research goals, as written, were inconsistent with Suffolk University’s mission,” Greg Gatlin, the university’s vice-president for marketing and communications, said in an email.

    Gatlin went on to write that Beacon Hill had not followed university rules when it submitted its grant proposal, which was presented for consideration to the Searle Freedom Trust, a leading funder of ultra-conservative causes, on Beacon Hill’s behalf by the State Policy Network, a coalition of similar ultra-conservative entities.

    “The University has existing protocols in place that require approval for all grant proposals,” Gatlin said. “The Beacon Hill Institute’s grant proposal did not go through the university’s approval process. The university would not have authorized this grant proposal as written.”

    Beacon Hill did not in the end see its proposal funded – a setback for an organisation which has specialised in marshalling economic argument to roll back clean energy programmes in the states.

  29. Skip said: “It all or nothing because once you allow a right to be usurped by the ruling class, you will someday end up with being prosecuted for speaking out against the State.”

    It’s the ruling class that is helping to fund ALEC and the SPN and its affiliated “think tanks.” It’s the ruling class that has being trying to work under the radar to get laws written in states across the country that will benefit them.

  30. Hey gbk, It’s all about money. I haven’t done anything as the financial motivation is low as wind turbines, have yet to be very cost effective. My partner on the pelton wheel, as you call it has had some financial setbacks, having just short sold his home. Raising funds is increasingly difficult since the 2008 crash. I’ve been acquiring my insurance license to subsidize my real estate income. It appears pretty tough out there unless you work for the government and even the various governments are having a tough time meeting liabilities. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for many.

  31. Elaine, It is hard to know specially who represents the ruling class. I believe at the top of the list it is the central bankers that maintain the greatest power. The control banking and wall street, i.e. investment banking as well as the campaign and political system that funds the politicians. They control who runs the military industrial contractors, as well as big pharma, big oil and big agriculture. Just because one has money and believes in less government and taxation, does not necessary make them a part of the ruling class. It is possible that those really in control hide behind those they control. Do the Rothschild’s, Rockefellers and other prominent banking interest control much of the industrialized world? It appears so, as the Central bankers meet every two months at the BIS in Basil, Switzerland. Not something they teach us in college is it? “The Tower of Basil” is a recent book on the subject. I have not read it but heard the author discuss some of it’s content.

  32. Elaine, Whether you know it or not, we are actually fighting against the same people, just believe that each others methodologies are wrong. I do not believe that you can beat them using the system they control (government). You do not believe, as I do that the free market is the solution. They have us at odds and that is by design. What’s they old adage, “divide and concur.”

  33. Stink Tanks: Historical Records Reveal State Policy Network Was Created by ALEC
    By Steve Horn
    12/9/13
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/12/09/stink-tanks-historical-records-reveal-state-policy-network-created-alec

    Excerpt:
    A 1991 report tracked down by DeSmogBlog from the University of California-San Francisco’s Legacy Tobacco Documents reveals that the State Policy Network (SPN) was created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), raising additional questions over both organizations’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) non-profit tax status.

    Titled “Special Report: Burgeoning Conservative Think Tanks” and published by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the report states that State Policy Network’s precursor — the Madison Group — was “launched by the American Legislative Exchange Council and housed in the Chicago-based Heartland Institute.”

    Further, Constance “Connie” Campanella — former ALEC executive director and the first president of the Madison Group — left ALEC in 1988 to create a lobbying firm called Stateside Associates. Stateside uses ALEC meetings (and the meetings of other groups) as lobbying opportunities for its corporate clients.

  34. ALEC Opposed Divestment From South Africa’s Apartheid Regime
    Lee Fang
    December 6, 2013
    http://www.thenation.com/blog/177509/alec-opposed-divestment-south-africas-apartheid-regime#

    Excerpt:
    There’s a lot of news this week on the American Legislative Exchange Council and the related network of state-based think tanks, the State Policy Network.

    Almost a year ago, when I was at a small upstart blog called Republic Report, we first sent a letter to corporations involved with ALEC, asking them to leave the organization, given its role in crafting the Stand Your Ground law in Florida. The Guardian unveiled a trove of documents revealing that ALEC has suffered tremendously from the negative press around those efforts, which involved a group of left-of-center organizations, including the Center for Media and Democracy and Color of Change. Many businesses actually did leave ALEC.

    While ALEC seems down, they’re not out. According to the documents obtained by The Guardian, ALEC and its allied organization, SPN, have redoubled their efforts to expand and find new funding streams. The documents suggest fundraising off of gambling efforts, efforts to push worker retirement accounts into dubious 401(k)-style plans, and other corporate giveaways that ALEC and SPN can spin into legislative templates and advocacy. Specific corporations and lobbying organizations are listed as prospective donors. The money just never stops.

    This is the inherent difference between right-leaning organizations and their counterparts on the left. Large corporations view their right-wing giving as a strong return on investment. For almost every major conservative issue campaign, at least on economic policy, the wealthy and powerful ultimately benefit, meaning their donations to groups like ALEC and their cohorts are well-served. If corporate donors give to the left, as they sometimes do, they risk higher taxes, more empowered workers and less influence over elections. So it should be no surprise the the vast majority of corporate wealth in politics flows to the right and far right.

    This pattern has repeated itself for many decades, though it has accelerated in recent years. During the course of my research on how the conservative movement rebuilt itself in the aftermath of the 2008 elections, I found myself digging through many historical files that show this dynamic repeating itself like an endless feedback loop.

  35. Corporate Money in Network of Right-Wing State Policy Think Tanks
    Written by Rick Cohen
    Nonprofit Quarterly
    11/14/13
    http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/23239-corporate-money-in-network-of-right-wing-state-policy-think-tanks.html

    Excerpt:
    Some years ago, in a study of foundation support for school privatization, we noted the multiplicity of state-level conservative “think tanks” supporting a pretty consistent state-to-state agenda, achieving widespread success in pushing for vouchers, corporate tax credits for private schools, and charter schools. We documented the grantmaking to these state think tanks, highlighting the significant role of the Roe Foundation based in South Carolina.

    Yesterday, Progress Now and the Center for Media and Democracy released a hard-hitting study about 63 state-level conservative think tanks that are members of the State Policy Network. Founded in 1991 and incorporated in 1992, SPN’s founding board chair was in fact Thomas Roe himself. From 13 member think tanks at its founding, SPN now has think tanks operating in all 50 states. Based on a suggestion from Ronald Reagan that he try to create a Heritage Foundation in every state, Roe’s animating idea was that state level policy think tanks would capture the attention of state policy makers.

    It was smart thinking. As Gordon Lafer, a professor at the University of Oregon, noted during a press briefing organized by the two sponsors of the study, many state legislators are “thinly staffed” and therefore look to outside experts for frameworks and suggestions. These conservative state think tanks give legislators detailed analyses and model legislation addressing business issues (such as deregulation, right to work, and low minimum wages), healthcare (actively opposing state-level implementation and collaboration with the Affordable Care Act), and state taxes (reduced tax rates for corporations and for the wealthy)—though much of the model legislation comes ready-made from SPN’s association with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), known for its advocacy of pro-business legislation as well as restrictive voting rights bills and stand-your-ground statutes.

    The study suggests that the State Policy Network has grown into a well-funded system of state-level advocates, whose combined revenues in 2011 exceeded $83 million. Twenty-two of the SPN think tanks are either members of ALEC or sit on ALEC task forces that generate the model bills frequently introduced in state legislatures. Thirty-four SPN members have “direct ties” to ALEC, and SPN itself is a member of ALEC. Like ALEC, SPN and many of its state think tank members, such as Arizona’s Goldwater Institute, are 501(c)(3) public charities and claim to do no lobbying, though some of the 501(c)(3) think tanks have 501(c)(4) arms. One clear demand from Brian Rothenberg, the executive director of ProgressOhio, a member of Progress Now, is that these lobbying think tanks, like the Buckeye Institute in his state, should register accurately and fully as lobbyists and comply with the reporting and transparency required of lobbyists.

  36. hskiprob,

    “Hey gbk, It’s all about money.”

    ‘Nuff said.

    But it’s also about competence. It’s sad you can’t find investors for a 150 year-old invention, nor a vertical axis wind turbine. Do you even know what “scaling” means?

  37. hskiprob,

    “It appears pretty tough out there unless you work for the government and even the various governments are having a tough time meeting liabilities.”

    Sure, hskiprob.

    It’s the government that made your inventions fail. If only they would have exploded you would have been successful.

    Given your wind turbine design though, it was obviously a lack of wind speed that kept this goal from being accomplished.

  38. Any business owner that cuts employee hours over healthcare will not be in business for long. You will have no choice but to hire less desirable, less dependable people because the pay and hours are not enough. The best and the brightest will be forever denied to you for your selfish acts. Your employees will come to hate you.

    If your business model is so flawed you cannot pay a fair market wage then your business deserves to fail, as it most certainly will.

  39. Not a surprise, but interesting:

    “ALEC Boots Mother Jones From Its Annual Conference”

    —By Andy Kroll, Fri Dec. 6, 2013

    “When asked why I’d been turned away, Meierling pointed to our previous coverage of ALEC and said it’s clear that Mother Jones “fundamentally hates” ALEC. We’ve covered ALEC for more than a decade—a 2002 exposé titled “Ghostwriting the Law,” coverage of the group’s proposals regarding voting rights and workers’ rights, and more recently the departures of big-name corporate members.

    At the same time he was explaining why I couldn’t attend, Meierling stressed to me that ALEC is “moving toward transparency.” To his credit, he acknowledged the irony.”

  40. just a girl:

    I think Obama care is the reason for those changes. The employees can buy health insurance on the Obama care website now that it is up and running. They will get a subsidy if they cannot afford insurance.

    I think it is really great that we can now all afford health insurance, dont you?

  41. hskiprob,
    Without government controls and restrictions on your so-called free market, the middle class would be shrinking even more. Of course, ALEC is working hard to make sure the middle class disappears and that the market is only free for the wealthy.

  42. rafflaw:

    the middle class is in decline because of the actions taken by government in the last 12 years. That doesnt have any connection to a free market.

  43. Bron,

    “the middle class is in decline because of the actions taken by government in the last 12 years.”

    Twelve years is your perspective of why, “the middle class is in decline?”

    Much too short — in time — in my opinion, because this would put us at the year 2001 when your claimed government actions put the middle class in decline.

    But I guess it’s better that your perspective has at least twelve years of history associated with it rather than none; though your timeline suggests a self-serving perspective – one disassociated with the damage of neo-liberal policies that found root after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union—much before your vaunted twelve years.

    Despite your claims of me being a statist, there was talk about a “peace dividend” given the end of the “Cold War,” in the early 1990’s.

    Our defense budget at the time was approximately $230B – and there was real political talk of this cost being reduced.

    Where are we now, Bron?

    When are you going to speak to the capital expended by this country on war?

  44. Lisa Graves on “Democracy Now!”, yesterday:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/12/11/alecs_institutional_corruption_from_backing_apartheid

    “The secretive American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has just ended a week-long meeting in Washington where corporate lobbyists worked with state lawmakers on model bills that will later be introduced in states nationwide. ALEC has reportedly drafted a number of new bills designed to prevent President Obama from cutting emissions, and to weaken state policies promoting clean energy. Now conservative groups across the United States are apparently planning a coordinated effort in six states to raise money for attacks on public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, and workers’ compensation. The proposals were coordinated by the ALEC-backed State Policy Network, an alliance of groups that act as incubators of conservative strategy at the state level. ALEC is struggling to re-enlist donors after an exodus prompted by its backing of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. According to The Guardian, ALEC has lost nearly 400 state legislators from its network over the past two years and more than 60 major corporate donors. We discuss ALEC’s latest efforts, along with its historic opposition to divestment campaigns from apartheid South Africa, with Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy. Please check back later for full transcript.”

  45. Anonymously, Go figure, the tax man has been hated throughout history and people join groups to fight them and the ruling oligarchy that gives them their powers. And the Counsel on Foreign Relations is what?

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