Bloomberg, ALEC and Oligarchical Ponies



George Orwell once wrote, “[T]he more one is conscious of one’s political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one’s aesthetic and intellectual integrity.” [1]  I keep thinking of Orwell’s wisdom when I read people accusing the Colorado Democrats of taking billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s campaign donations and then implementing “his” gun legislation in the Colorado legislature.
Now, I wouldn’t doubt if this claim were true.  I even think I saw some possible evidence of it back in the maelstrom of Colorado’s 2013 legislative session.  Plus, those who pay attention know full well that Bloomberg pushes for gun control legislation.  However, one of the interesting things about this claim is the misguided outrage that is placed on the issue here.  “Oh my God, the Democrats took an already drafted bill from an east coast billionaire and implemented it here in Colorado, word for word!  Stupid socialist, statist, communist, liberal, progressives can’t even think for themselves.”  As if the Democrats are the only ones who implement already drafted legislative bills from billionaires in other states.
Well, in fact, the Colorado Republicans do this too.  In the current legislative session there are four legislative bills that are near mirror image bills that originated from the ALEC organization, a think-tank funded by right-wing billionaires and major U.S. corporations.  For those who don’t know about ALEC read here and here.
For example: SB 15-039 is a bill that is sponsored by Republican Senator’s Cadman and Lambert.  This bill is copied, nearly word for word, from the ALEC’s long list of copy and paste bills.  In fact, this kind of copy and paste job would quickly get any student immediately kicked out of school for plagiarism.  Read for yourself and compare the bills: SB15-039 and ALEC’s Resolution on State and Political Subdivision Jurisdiction Act
A few days ago the Senate Republicans were debating the merits and reasons for Senator Balmer’s SB 15-101 – a bill about employee pay cards.  Here is the ALEC Electronic Pay Choice Act.  This bill is not copied word for word, but it is the exact idea that has been implemented in other states.  And this bill has even created problems in New York, so much so that the NY Attorney General launched an investigation into the pay card option.  
Now, I could go on about the other ALEC bills being pushed by the Colorado Republicans, like Senator Neville’s “Parental Bill of Rights” SB15-077, or Senator Cook and Sonneberg’s SB 15-092 on Carbon Emissions, but this would miss the point that I would actually like to make here.
Both the Bloomberg gun bills and ALEC bills are examples that clearly show why the latest study from Princeton political scientists is exactly right: the U.S. more closely resembles an Oligarchy rather than the often proclaimed “greatest democracy in the world.”  What the in-depth study by Professor Gilens and Professor Page discovered is that the vast majority of policy being implemented in the U.S. are what billionaires and influential corporations want, and not what the average citizen wants.  Thus, today’s heated debates surrounding policy issues such as environmental issues, economic issues, worker’s rights issues, etc, are being driven by the interests of oligarchs.
This is it, folks.  This is current state of our country.  Can it change?  Of course, and the hard task of reforming our campaign finance system comes to mind.  But if you are angered by Colorado Republican, who are simply implementing state legislation that is drafted by billionaires and corporations, or by Colorado Democrats who are implementing bills from billionaire Bloomberg, or taking money from Tom Steyer, make sure to appropriately direct your anger at the oligarchical political system that threw the average citizens overboard a long time ago.  Because, in all honesty, you just look like a silly partisan if you think that “the other” party is the only one doing these things.  Or in light of the Orwell quote above, you have no intellectual integrity.  Partisan hackery has a way of doing that to a person…
So go ahead and pick your oligarchical pony and buy into their proposed solutions for a better future.  Here is the list of the today’s most influential billionaires.  Some of them have the entire ‘we know what’s best for all of society’ package, and others are just pushing a few agendas; like Tom Steyer’s climate change agenda, or Bloomberg’s gun control, or Nick Hanauer’s $15 dollar minimum wage agenda.  And I hear even a few of these ponies have their own personalized re-written versions of history to make their image look squeaky clean (the Jeffco School Board knows a little bit about this.)  So get up on that pony!  Maybe even see if they will give you some extra cash for shilling for them, and ride off into the sunset believing it will pay off.  I’m sure your children will thank you for giving up on the idea of “We the People” and deciding to put your faith in the Oligarchs instead.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Olson
P.S. – I have no copy editor, nor do I swim in the donor pools who will give me money to shill for their interests.  Thus my perspective and any grammatical errors above are all mine.

[1] Orwell, George.  Why I Write, page 1084.

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