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ALEC-Model Legislation Undermining Constitutional Legislative Decision-ProcessOp-Ed Henry Clay Ruark for Salem-News.com
Continuing corporate dollar-power IS deciding questions of law, superseding Electees - Voters Defrauded by Set-Up semblances substituting for Democratic political process.
(SEASIDE, Ore.) - The ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)-crisis continues, threatening every state-level law enacted since 1973 with possible, even probable, distortion and perversion from what might have been enacted, lacking corporate dollar-millions spent to provide carefully-constructed and controlled "model legislation" for passage.
That skillful but malign and massive private-interest power for perhaps-slight but no less potent change from the true will of the people --as pledged goal for all legislatures-- covering now-known several-thousand/minimum models extensively used in nearly every state, deserves and will get massive content-analysis by computerized methods, you can be sure.
Meanwhile every voter needs to know of this uniquely desperate and perhaps even decisive action by Far Right party-backed perpetrators, with impossible-to-ignore too-potent and surely impure impacts on our democracy's honored hall of foundation law designed and decided by the ostensibly-unfettered and unradicalized will of the voters electing those legislators.
That's fundamental to our concept of American democracy, and hidden sleight-of-words change, no matter how achieved, is simply and totally unacceptable --especially when paid for by millions devoted to the massive task by private-gain corporate interests. --HCR
Delicate decisions shaping solidly pertinent processes of our democracy, tried and tested over decades by decisive issues demanding detailed truthful dialog and leading to documented truly-democratic outcomes, are being forced through to passage by powerful corporate-dollar/power in nearly every state.
"ALEC-model legislation" is the simple-appearing but dangerously-loaded deciding-factor being powerfully pounded into place by an astonishing array of corporate funds and influence.
After decades of unremitting ALEC-"success" ---under direction of one-party control and decisive corporate-dollar influence producing thousands of affected laws at state level--- the whole system is now under extremely close examination and hard-pressing investigation in every state by political parties, state agencies AND informed voters.
Do not let "ringing silence" from midstream corporate-funded media fool you into the error of believing deep study and continuing interest for impacts involved is not frantically underway across the nation, fueled by the fires of free inquiry burning on national websites.
ALEC operates nine task forces, each with its own Public Sector (legislators) and Private Sector (campaign and private-interest group) members, generating model legislation passed on to legislative-members for introduction in their home assemblies, averaging 1,000 such ready-to-use/models annually --SEVENTEEN PERCENT then enacted into law.
In 2009, ALEC claimed 829 pieces of legislation introduced nationwide, with 115 becoming laws-of-the-land. (Some 800 ALEC legislative models are analyzed and summarized in " ALEC EXPOSED: The Right-Wing Group Subverting Our Democracy"; The NATION, Double Issue, Aug. 1/8/11.
Needless to say, ALEC does NOT offer its model legislation for public inspection; and private sector members retain a right to veto the results of discussion leading to formation of any model, adding final-negative control to the formative situation created by their paid-for presence at the table. (See "ALEC and its Tea Party Sugar Daddies", pp. 16-19, IN THESE TIMES, Aug. 2011; don't miss other broad coverage in the same issue.)
In that light it becomes completely, irrevocably, unarguably and invaluably evident as to whom controls the entire process --and, for thinking readers, also completely clear as to why the Private Sector members pay and perform to produce the very-near/thing of tight corporate control over the legislative models guiding a high percentage of state-level law-making, especially on any controversial issue demanding "open, honest, democratic dialog leading to democratic decision for commonwealth interests."
In Oregon, we have had considerable emphasis placed on the ALEC process, led by Rep. Gene Whisnant. Several of the laws passed under that added-pressure are now under examination for possible impact of this ALEC-method, now exposed and found highly questionable. (See five previous Op Eds for links to a broad range of national website-detailed information; see also "ALEX Exposed" website.)
The ostensibly-acceptable tool for tremendous leverage --applied lightly, word-for-word, via the obvious device of "model legislation" into which key concepts reflecting corporate-private interest have been inserted-- is itself part of the simple-seeming but complex and difficult task of actually "wording the law" to wield what democratic decision has determined is the will of the elected Legislators.
The insertion process is itself distorted by the unavoidable necessities it involves, including distortion of meaning and perversion inevitable by those who attempt it for personal reward, even with the help of the ALEC-model.
Anyone at all familiar with effective application of group process --as in teaching at any level-- will recognize immediately, and with appropriate disgust, what has so clearly been underway here and in many other states.
That "will of the elected legislators" itself was the Constitutional heritage of our revered Founding Fathers. We will do well to protect, preserve, proliferate and extend their approach against all comers at any time and under any circumstance, as history surely demonstrates.
In too many legislatures, it is currently under constant corporate attack by the socially-acceptable sequence which starts with lavish entertainment and often-hidden "help with confluent costs", felt by most legislators who tend to be all too open to such simple advances. Where it stops varies widely from state to state but it is a constant threat to the truthful progress of democracy via its own system and organization.
That's perhaps an unavoidable characteristic of our legislative assemblies, always open to the broad ethical/moral common-sense controls --best exerted by the elected Legislators themselves.
Unfortunately for this nation, widespread failures of leadership are being recorded, as we have reported especially for Oregon, and now becoming a massive national problem.
To those who have struggled with that easy-seeming but truly/terrifying task, working with others to achieve "balance:, "power" and "surefire understanding" for the honest workable wording legally, ethically and morally demanded for democracy's laws, the process is known to be crammed with considerable complexity --simply because it MUST reflect the ideals and truly-democratic development process so solidly proven in our well over two centuries of effort, change, and performance.
Perhaps the Civil War period and its immediate aftermath best illustrates the same kind and level of possible --even probable and as-significant- "change", "distortion" and "perversion" of true and tested American democratic philosophy, protocol and practice.
The precise meaning of each word within any law can and MUST represent the practical application of principle, which derives from philosophy, which in turn reflects and shapes the foundation understandings of each and every society, on which day-to-day and job-to-job decisions MUST be built.
American freedom is in no way an exception --and we deserve laws built on true regard for the rights and privileges of every citizen, unmuddled by any private-interest dollar-profit motivation.
That is WHY the ALEC-debacle is both so revealing and so essentially significant to every free citizen who values both that freedom and the basic foundational philosophy on which that concept is built ---succeeding for over 200 years--- and continuing to provide the framework at each and every state through its own laws for our American values and the way we construct and operate them in this modern world of the 21st Century.
At 21, Henry Clay Ruark was Aroostook Editor for the Bangor, Maine DAILY NEWS, covering the upper 1/4 of the state. In the ‘40s, he was Staff Correspondent, then New England Wires Editor at United Press-Boston; later Editor for the Burlington, Vermont 3-daily group owned by Wm. Loeb, later notorious at Manchester, New Hampshire UNION LEADER for attacks on Democratic Presidential candidates.
Hank returned to Oregon to complete M. Ed. degree at OSU, went on to Indiana University for Ed.D. (abd) and special other course-work; was selected as first Information Director for NAVA in Washington, D.C.; helped write sections of NDEA, first Act to supply math, science, foreign language consultants to state depts. of education; joined Oregon Dept. of Education, where he served as NDEA administrator/Learning Media Consultant for ten years.
He joined Dr. Amo DeBernardis at PCC, helping establish, extend programs, facilities, Oregon/national public relations; moved to Chicago as Editor/Publisher of oldest educational-AV journal, reformed as AV GUIDE Magazine; then established and operated Learning Media Associates as general communications consultant group. Due to wife’s illness, he returned to Oregon in 1981, semi-retired, and has continued writing intermittently ever since, joining S-N in 2004. His Op Eds now total over 650 written since then.
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