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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/24/11

ALEC Writes The Laws Restricting Voting! Why Is Coca-Cola Helping Them?

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The Magic Of Coke On College Campuses! Not Only Does Coke Give Out Free Pizzas, They Write The Laws Restricting Your Ability To Vote!

Why does Coca-Cola sit on the board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)? Why would a beverage company help ALEC write laws that disenfranchise voters? Especially college students? When did Coca-Cola decide to branch out and assist ALEC by authoring legislation that attempts to destroy environmental protections? How could Coca-Cola think that America would sit idly by and allow them to partner with a "shadow" conservative think tank that seeks to strip workers of collective bargaining rights? Coca-Cola showed a conscience when they pulled their ads supporting the Glenn Beck Show. Is that where their conscience ends? I hope not.

I like Diet Coke and Dasani water, but will no longer buy anything sold by Coca-Cola, until they renounce their affiliation and partnership with ALEC. Coca-Cola contributes to many political candidates on both sides of the political aisle, but after a review of their most recent chart, I find that their listed contributions to conservative candidates far outweighs their contributions to the other party. That is their right. They can support any candidates they desire. But, I contend that they should not be a sitting board member on the ALEC Private Enterprise Board. ALEC writes the laws that appear in state legislatures throughout the country. When I drink a Diet Coke, I don't want any company's lobbyists writing my laws. I did not elect Coca-Cola to represent me.

Why Coca-Cola?

Most times, we do not have an opportunity to even know who sponsors these laws, much less take action to punish the offenders. While there are many corporations sitting on the Board at ALEC, I use Coca-Cola products, so I have the power to use my dollars to speak for me. Let's start with them and branch out from there. Show them that we have some "magic"!

As I pointed out in a recent article, "ALEC is responsible for writing the following legislation that is either pending or passed in state houses across the country":

  • Voter ID bills being passed that tighten registration requirements and disenfranchise up to 20 million voters. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, over 20 million will be disenfranchised by the new laws. They are mainly students, the elderly, the poor and the disabled.
  • The bills that have assaulted and destroyed collective bargaining rights in states such as New Jersey, Wisconsin and Michigan. ALEC stands behind laws that would roll-back employee protections, worker's compensation and even do away with the minimum wage.
  • The bills that eliminate pension plans and turn them into 401K's.
  • The bills designed to overturn the Affordable Care Act. ALEC offers each state a "Guide to Repealing Obamacare."
  • The bills that eliminate environmental protections. Not only are the bills already written (ALEC says they have 15 model bills), but the state legislators can work with ALEC's task force to launch an all-out assault on EPA rules and regulations.
  • The bills that lower corporate tax rates. In fact, to assist in this effort, ALEC has written the "State Budget Reform Tool Kit." It is a must-have for states that want to lower taxes for the wealthy and raise taxes for the middle class and poor.
  • The bills that strip education of funding and decimate local control of schools.

This list could go on and on. It includes prison reform legislation, legislation designed to "protect innocent corporations from liability for asbestos poisoning," how states can effectively market pharmaceuticals, as well as "how to privatize" almost every sector of government, along with instructions on how to frame the bills to make them sound as advantageous as possible."

I am opposed to every piece of legislation pointed out above, so my dollars will not go to support a company that has values that appear to be diametrically opposed to mine.

Why would Coca-Cola partner with ALEC to make voting by students more difficult? Coca-Cola sells their products on virtually every college campus in this country. Does Coca-Cola really think that if students knew this, that they would support these efforts? Would students continue to buy their products? I think not! In fact, I challenge college students affected by these new laws to join in a boycott of all Coca-Cola products!

As of February, 2011, 43 colleges and universities in the United States were boycotting Coca-Cola products because of their anti-union stance. It is becoming common knowledge on many college campuses that Coca-Cola has become a partner in the legislation that restricts voting.

ALEC has also been responsible for providing model legislation that tightens immigration requirements, similar to Arizona's "Papers Please" Law. Arizona Hispanic Republicans have called for a boycott of Coca-Cola products because of their involvement with ALEC. They point out that Hispanics buy millions of dollars in Coca-Cola products annually.

Coca-Cola Going To School And Helping To Restrict Student Voting At The Same Time?

Coca-Cola contributes a lot of money to local school board elections nationwide. Why? Because they want exclusive marketing contracts to provide their products in colleges, high schools and middle schools. Right now, according to Mary Furness, they are seeking an exclusive contract in Springfield, Missouri schools. These stories are replayed daily throughout the country. Schools are big business for Coca-Cola. They know that all schools are all clamoring for funds, and -- like Johnny-on-the-Spot -- the Coca-Cola Company comes running to the rescue.

As early as 1999, Coca-Cola has gone to school more than most students. Coke is there every day, while even the best of students sometimes miss a day or two. In a 1999 article by Anna White, from the Multinational Monitor, she quotes Coca-Cola spokesperson Scott Jabobson -- "Kids and teachers who spend hour after hour in school get thirsty. Every time they consume a beverage brought from home, it's a lost revenue opportunity for the school. So it's kind of a 'win win win.' It's good for us. Good for people who are thirsty who want our products. Good for schools."

Yes, there are newer articles, but this clearly demonstrates that the marketing approach of Coca-Cola has remained constant all of these years.

So, Coca-Cola wants American students to consume their products, but works with and sits on the Private Enterprise Board of ALEC; the same organization that is responsible for the restrictive Voter ID laws that disproportionately affect those same Coca-Cola drinking students.

Coca-Cola supports the Freedom Project, the Center For Consumer Freedom, the Illinois Beverage Association, The Every Republican Is Crucial PAC and many, many more organizations that refuse to state their memberships. According to SourceWatch, Coca-Cola spends $5 Million per year on lobbying efforts. Part of that money goes to support ALEC.

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I am an 'older' progressive; a holdover from the hippie generation. I have raised 3 children, am a proud grandmother, and an outspoken political junkie. I have worked in the healthcare field for 30 years, both for insurance companies and for the (more...)
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