Fight or flight is well known in discussions on self defense. With the implementation of “stand your ground” (syg) laws, the “or flight” has been deemed legally inappropriate. Prior to syg 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 syg 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 syg laws around the country. ALEC is a cartel of corporations and elected legislators. The NRA is and was a member of ALEC. Syg 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 August 7th through August 9th. 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, August 8th, at noon outside the Palmer House Hilton Hotel at 17 East Monroe.
Tom Broderick is co-chair of the Greater Oak Park branch of Chicago DSA.