Elected conservatives outsource all their work to corporations, leaving me wondering what they do all day

Excellent all-in-one-place piece on ALEC in ProPublica:

This week, both the Los Angeles Times and The Nation put the spotlight on a little-known but influential conservative nonprofit that creates “model” state legislation that often make its way into law. The organization has helped craft some of the most controversial—and industry-friendly—legislation of recent years.
The American Legislative Exchange Council,ALEC, crafted a model resolution for states calling the EPA’s attempts to regulate greenhouse gasses a “trainwreck” and asking Congress to slow or stop the regulations, the Times reported. A press release on ALEC’s site says that at least 13 other states have passed resolutions

It calls itself a “policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership” based on “Jeffersonian principles.” Critics say it has devolved into a pay-for-play operation, where state legislators and their families get to go on industry-funded junkets and major corporations get to ghostwrite model laws and pass them on to receptive politicians.

I know the information on ALEC has been floating around for months on liberal sites, so it’s heartening to see that news outlets (LA Times, NPR) are now picking it up.

Here’s where you can find the ALEC-drafted bill your state legislator is introducing as his or her own work, “word for word”, in the case of the recent Arizona immigration law:

The Center for Media and Democracy has obtained copies of more than 800 model bills approved by corporations through ALEC meetings, after one of the thousands of people with access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center. We have analyzed and marked-up those bills and made them available at ALEC Exposed.

Looking at the categories, it’s easy to understand why monied interests are drafting this legislation and introducing it in state legislatures all over the country. The profit incentives are clear when they are privatizing public schools and destroying unions, or limiting the right of individual citizens to hold a wrongdoer responsible for money damages suffered, or gutting environmental regulations, or rewriting a state tax code. Those are obvious. What’s interesting is the voter ID bill. That really sticks out. No profit incentive there, so what’s that all about, I wonder?



Divided we fall, united we stand

I’m kind of pissed by that New Yorker pop music sophisticated exegesis of a sociological phenomenon that Anne Laurie rightly mocked. When will it end? How many ways can you say “white black people drive a car like this beep beep, black guys drive a car like this BEEP BEEP”? And it’s in no way restricted to black/white — Democrats go to Whole Foods, Republicans go to Applebee’s…rinse, repeat.

ENOUGH!

I was cheered up to see a straight professional athlete — even though I know Michael Irvin isn’t everyone’s favorite — appearing shirtless on the cover of a gay magazine to support marriage equality:

“I don’t see how any African-American with any inkling of history can say that you don’t have the right to live your life how you want to live your life. No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality and everybody being treated equally, I don’t want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn’t deserve equality.”

Love him or hate him, Michael Irvin doesn’t care. He’s on a mission. He hopes opening closet doors for gay people will be a key chapter in his life story. “I have to make sure we do things to bring people together.

Everybody ought to feel this way, any one of us could be basically the same person we are only a different race, or a different sexual orientation, or prone to buying different music at Starbucks.

In my darker moments, I think the Galtians are doing the same shit to us now that the British did to the Hindus and Muslims in India, keeping us divided so that they can exploit us.



But.. But… The BOND VIGILANTES

We’re a nation of morans led by sociopaths.



Auf Wiedersehen, Suckas

I’m sure they can all find jobs at Wal-Mart or McDonalds:

By all accounts, BMW’s parts distribution warehouse in Ontario was one of the jewels of the company’s system.

Supplying dealer service departments throughout Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, it received gold medals from BMW for its efficiency and employed several of the top-ranked workers in the country. In the roughly 40 years its workers had been represented by the Teamsters union, there had never been a labor stoppage.

Times being what they are, when a Teamsters committee came to the plant in early June to open negotiations over a new contract to start Sept. 1, they thought they might be asked to accept minuscule wage increases and maybe some givebacks on health coverage.

They were stunned by what they heard instead: As of Aug. 31, the plant would be outsourced to an unidentified third-party logistics company and all but three of its 71 employees laid off.

The union contract will be terminated. Some of the employees might be offered jobs with the new operator, but there are no guarantees. And no one expects the new bosses will match the existing $25 hourly scale or the health benefits provided now.

We know how this is going to play out, don’t we? Boeing mapped it all our for them years ago:

Sure, it’s immoral to abandon your loyal American workers in search of cheap labor overseas. But the real problem with outsourcing, if you don’t think it through, is that it can wreck your business and cost you a bundle.

Case in point: Boeing Co. and its 787 Dreamliner.

The next-generation airliner is billions of dollars over budget and about three years late; the first paying passengers won’t be boarding until this fall, if then. Some of the delay stems from the plane’s advances in design, engineering and material, which made it harder to build. A two-month machinists strike in 2008 didn’t help.

But much of the blame belongs to the company’s quantum leap in farming out the design and manufacture of crucial components to suppliers around the nation and in foreign countries such as Italy, Sweden, China, and South Korea. Boeing’s dream was to save money. The reality is that it would have been cheaper to keep a lot of this work in-house.

The 787 has more foreign-made content — 30% — than any other Boeing plane, according to the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, the union representing Boeing engineers. That compares with just over 5% in the company’s workhorse 747 airliner.

Boeing’s goal, it seems, was to convert its storied aircraft factory near Seattle to a mere assembly plant, bolting together modules designed and produced elsewhere as though from kits.

The drawbacks of this approach emerged early. Some of the pieces manufactured by far-flung suppliers didn’t fit together. Some subcontractors couldn’t meet their output quotas, creating huge production logjams when critical parts weren’t available in the necessary sequence.

It doesn’t matter, though. Our corporate culture rewards immediate profits and doesn’t care about longterm viability. It doesn’t care about human capital and the things that make a company what it is. If they can save a few million in the short term, goose the executive bonuses for their thrifty leadership, they will do it. And they’ll move on to their next raise before the damage is obvious.

For the employees, though, the damage will be immediate and likely permanent:

Miguel Carpinteyro, 42, had 14 years with BMW and every expectation of retiring there. In the backyard of their home in the San Bernardino County community of Highland, he and his wife, Jerri, just finished building a pool, which is good therapy for their two autistic sons. A daughter has a heart condition requiring frequent medical visits.

The family put money aside for retirement through a 401(k), but they may have to tap that to live on, never mind paying their medical bills without employer-sponsored insurance. Their household budget, based on a BMW wage, can’t be sustained on much less. “We’ll probably end up losing the house,” Jerri told me.

You wonder how many people this is happening to every single day.



They’re Coming For Your Pension

I simply don’t understand how this is legal:

Judges in Colorado and Minnesota have dismissed court challenges by retired public workers whose pensions had been cut — developments that may embolden other states and cities to use pension reductions as a tool to help balance their budgets.

The two lawsuits sought to reverse reductions in the cost-of-living adjustments that Colorado and Minnesota had previously promised to retired public workers. Generally speaking, once lawmakers have agreed to provide certain pension benefits to public workers, it is difficult, if not impossible, to roll them back because of protective language in state laws and constitutions and years of court interpretations.

Public pensions are considered so bulletproof that when the city of Vallejo, Calif., recently restructured its finances in bankruptcy, it cut other costs but left worker pensions intact.

The two court decisions, issued Wednesday, suggest that the legal tide may be changing for public pensioners. The political tide has already turned in some places — in addition to Colorado and Minnesota, South Dakota and New Jersey have also cut cost-of-living benefits for current retirees, and other states have been awaiting legal guidance before doing the same.

In their court filings, retirees in Colorado and Minnesota had argued that their benefits were contractual in nature, and therefore protected by state and federal constitutional language barring the impairment of contracts.

However, in his ruling dismissing the Minnesota case, Judge Gregg E. Johnson of the state’s Second Judicial District Court wrote that the retirees in that state “have not met their burden to show unconstitutionality beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Look, I am very sensitive to the argument that some of the pensions promised to people were unreasonable- we have all heard the stories of people retiring at 50 and drawing ridiculous pensions for 20-30 years. The solution to that, though, is to not make those promises to current and new workers. But it is simply beyond my understanding how you can agree to a contract, the worker defers salary and income for the promise of a pension that both parties agree upon, and then, after the worker has fulfilled his end of the bargain, you simply say “Fuck it, your pension costs too much and we can’t get our house in order and our Galtian overlords don’t want to pay taxes. Eat a bag of dicks, old man.” Because that is what is happening.

What are these retirees, who made financial decisions their entire lives, supposed to do? If you thought for 40 years as you worked that you had X amount of money coming in retirement, it would substantially change your investment strategy and portfolio. You can’t recover when the government just yanks it all away. You don’t get a do-over to go back and invest more.

This is just insane.