OPINION: Not So Smart ALEC’s

By David Norlin

A woman teacher in a different faith tradition has a challenging definition of a warrior, one well aligned with Jesus’ teachings. Warriors are those who vow to take care of one another, even if that means “swimming out beyond our comfort zone.” In this way, we can go “beyond enslavement to success and failure, praise and blame.”

Present Kansas politics seem to allow precious little space for such noble warriorism. Rather, it seems devoted to a “winner take all” model.

Take former Senator Sam’s approach to governing our state. Recently, he “invited” 18 (count ‘em) lobbyist organizations to a Senate Contribution Soiree. Fourteen Senate candidates, all proven malleable to the Gov’s agenda–including all the extremists unseating moderate Republican Senators–were its beneficiaries. The implication of his invitation, at $1000 per candidate, or a total cost of $14,000 for each lobbying organization, was to pony up or give up.

Give up, that is, any thought of staying on the good side of this administration, the result of the “unclean sweep” of 2010.

Some reflection is required to appreciate the potential effect of this power play. Handed directly to Senate candidates’ campaigns, it means an $18,000 “direct deposit” enabling all manner of mass mailings, ads, and other expenses–essentially “free money” to them. To run against them is to climb a Brownback Mountain. To imagine Brownback candidates exercising their free vote against coming Brownback rewrites of law–and the constitution–seems at least unlikely.

If enough of these candidates are elected, extreme measures comparable to Brownback’s tax reform will be rammed through. This law has been correctly labeled a ‘complete travesty’ by Senator Pete Brungardt. To quote Ed Flentje, the highly-regarded and widely-published Kansas researcher and political culture commentator, “The facts speak loudly. Brownback and his legislative allies have dramatically shifted the state tax burden from higher-income Kansans onto lower-income Kansans.”

As if that weren’t enough, local Senate candidate Arpke recently blamed Senator Brungardt for re-introducing the Gov’s tax plan, ignoring the fact Arpke himself voted for it in the House. Senator Brungardt’s action was intended to seek a compromise, but wound up with the Senator himself compromised.

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, “It takes brass to accuse someone (falsely) of what you’re guilty of yourself.”

But let’s not just simply blame Sam, or Tom, or Elaine, or other legislators who birthed this pig and now try to cover it up with lipstick. For full awareness, we must look beyond state boundaries to meet ALEC.

ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a group which itself pays no taxes, under the guise of being a “Social Welfare Organization.” ALEC is essentially responsible for ramming through national extremist right-wing legislation, tax-wise and otherwise. ALEC not-so-simply provides supplicant state legislators with “model legislation.” With the wheels greased, legislators simply introduce ALEC’s bills.

Two state legislators are on its board. Ray Merrick, a former State Rep and now a Senator, is running unopposed for a new House seat. He’s also running for Speaker of the House. Senator Susan Wagle will likely (IF Brownback’s Senators are elected) be the next Senate President.

ALEC is the REAL Wizard of Oz, hidden behind Sam’s curtain. It twists state legislators’ knobs till it gets the right setting. The rest is cruise control.

If you do nothing else, please watch the 30-minute study of ALEC below. This indispensable overview explains why you have a vote, but no voice. It is brought to you by PBS–the Big WatchBird Mitt Romney wants to get rid of.

Mitt’s zeal is understandable. If you found out the truth, you might understand what’s being done to you.

There might be, for example, more publicity about Kansas City’s AMC theaters, which moved across town to Kansas, so they could pocket ALL of their employees state tax withholding, costing Kansans up to $47 million. Not to mention that the money goes to its Chinese owners.

Jesus said you cannot have two masters. You must choose–God or Mammon. It seems Sam’s faith tradition is the latter. Knowingly or unknowingly, Brownback’s warriors cast misled votes, against us and for the interests that enslave them–and us.

As warriors for the common good, we battle for Freedom, not slavery. Equality, not discrimination. And fair treatment for all.

If the present regime chooses to go with us, then fine. If not, they need to be replaced, by vote and by citizen action.

It’s the warrior’s way–and the peacemaker’s.


The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author. These views and opinions do not represent those of SalinaPost.com, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

  • Ice Road Trucker

    Funny selective editing of Brungart’s record.
    I do see a difference between casting a vote and authoring legislation and/or introducing it.

    The concept from Pete Bunfart is “Gawrsh, I just re-introduced the governors proposal to the legislature, HONEST ABE! I was totally against it and was stunned that it passed”


    ALEC doesn’t seem so different than the Kansas Equality Coalition which is also a Non-Profit that pays no taxes, yet tries to shape the legislative agenda at the state and local level.

    Then your AMC theatres…. God forbid that governments have offered special incentives to draw companies. So They were granted and EXEMPTION, from a Tax that they were PAYING TO MISSOURI.

    That you decided that they were “so they could pocket ALL of their employees state tax withholding” is flat out BS.
    I can show you that the employees are paying their state taxes… AMC headquarters is not somehow now “pocketing their withholdings” that is a flat out lie.

    Mr. Norlin you should know better.

    I really cannot believe you are allowed to schill for your wifes election on this site.

    • Fromtheoutside

      Then by all means, show us!

    • roll left

      Ice Road Trucker- you must either be an ALEC supported drone or hold special interests in a corporation if you dare to support the work they do.

      • Ice Road Trucker

        Not sure what afliction you suffer from there left… but I am sure it is hard to pronounce.

        There is NO deal that is allowing AMC theatres to take ALL OF THE MONEY that they would have withheld from their paychecks all year…. and just add it to the companies bottom line.
        That is the RIDICULOUS assertion David Norlin makes. That NONE of their employees pay state taxes!!!

        My kid works at AMC in Lawrence. and by ghosh on thier pay stub – – there were both FEDERAL and STATE taxes withheld.

        I don’t know much about ALEC – and didn’t watch the video – rather I point out the hypocracy that there is no isue with the Kansas Equality coalition (also tax free) pushing their agendas inthe political realm
        ALEC is far from Unique – I can agree that there are too many special interests involved, but to try to argue that it is somehow only on the left and aligned with KOCH brothers blah blah blah – – – while us lefties, sing cumbayah, and read Nietzsche.

        Finally Brunfart INTRODUCED THE BILL and is now running away from his record.

        Perhaps it is just a severe case of anal glaucoma you are suffering from.

        • roll left

          I would suggest either watching the video or doing some other research on the group. They serve none of us, no matter what side of the political spectrum we sit.
          The video above was conducted by Bill Moyers, not sure if you know who he is, but he is pretty credible and most of his research is non-biased AND Christian based. He has a lot to teach the American people, if they would only listen.
          I myself am not an avid supporter of any grassroots organization. ALEC goes way above and beyond the traditional support of the masses, they would throw you as an average Joe under the bus to save a few bucks for Wal-Mart. Comparing them to a Christian coalition or civil rights group is a mistake on your part. Unless of course you want to compare them to Focus on the Family.

          Save your nasty insults for someone else. Your tantrums and low punches will not work here.

        • roll left

          ….and if you could read, you would see that he said they collected state taxes- they didn’t pay them to the state. AMC along with many other huge record breaking profit corporations have the same access to this type of reward. This behavior is allowed and promoted. Do you want your job to collect taxes on your behalf and get out of paying them in? If your answer is yes to that question- do us all a favor and retire alone to an island in the middle of nowhere, post haste!

          • Ice Road Trucker

            If you read – I pasted it for you since you are so lazy
            There might be, for example, more publicity about Kansas City’s AMC theaters, which moved across town to Kansas, SO THEY COULD POCKETALL of their employees state tax withholding, costing Kansans up to $47 million. Not to mention that the money goes to its Chinese owners.


            You are actually stupid enough to believe that AMC does not have to withhold state taxes from their employees pay???

            That the Corporation has tax breaks etc. I believe – – but that they got to TAKE OUT TAXES from their employees paychecks and bank it in China…. is beyond the pale.

          • Ice Road Trucker

            I am not commenting on what ALEC does.

            There are HUNDREDS of special Interest groups with tax free status, and they are from all political stripes – there are tax free groups working on establishing Palestine as a country too.

            The idea that such groups ONLY exist on the right is crap~!

          • roll left

            You are actually stupid enough to believe that AMC does not have to withhold state taxes from their employees pay???

            Let me paste it back– again- they withheld (I used the word collected) the taxes. They don’t have to pay them in. Look it up. Read about. Inform yourself.

          • Ice Road Trucker

            They may have had CORPORATE tax breaks.

            THe individual employees withholdings ….. so that they can FILE A TAX RETURN….were not pocketed.

            Your assumption is that David Norlin’s account is correct, why don’t you actually think for yourself.

          • roll left

            You failed to research this issue: let me help you



            Read. Weap. Then try to lie and mislead, again.

          • Ice Road Trucker

            So did you read your source?
            two things
            (1) the PEAK program – was implemented in 2009….2 years before Brownback became governor, back when….ta daaa….Mark Parkinson or Kathleen Sebelius – – since I don’t know if it was before or after her resignation April 28 2009. So this is a democrat program.

            (2) It allows 95% of the taxes only of the 400 that RELOCATE, not commute. it is 95% of taxes on the wages ABOVE the median for the county.
            So with a median of ~45+ thousand dollars, they get to keep a portion of the taxes on earnings ABOVE the 45K.

            So the statement that was made that the companies
            AGAIN –

            , so they could pocket ALL of their employees state tax withholding, costing Kansans up to $47 million. Not to mention that the money goes to its Chinese owners.
            is NOT TRUE….STILL…you are certainly recalcitrant… but keep trying, your demigod David Norlin is still wrong.

          • Ice Road Trucker

            So if the median salary is 45K and your employees are being paid 65K.

            The company gets to keep 95% of the taxes on the 20K.

            Not as David asserts in caps that they get to take ALL of the taxes and send them to China.

          • roll left

            AMC is owned by a Chinese corp. That is true. It’s deal made headlines.

            No matter what you come up with. It doesn’t make this a just action. The current secretary has to approve these deals. If you cared to watch the ALEC video. You might see why this kind of practice is occuring and seeping into statehouses. This is not fair and certainly not beneficial to the people.

            Democrat or Republican leadership- we are selling out ever so quickly to the Corporations who are calling the shots. Does that bother you in the least?

            and btw, thanks for actually reading about this. I think you may have grown (just a little) even though you continue to staunchly defend these behaviors. I did read the Kansas Commerce Act and I suspected that you would jump on the blame Sebelius bandwagon. I am certainly okay with that. I too, used to side with the “job creators”. I Ieft that post when I realized they were not creating jobs. At least not living wage jobs. The median wage of 45-49k per year in those counties is not very much when you consider housing costs.

          • Ice Road Trucker

            So Roll – since foreign ownership is key to you.

            Do you feel that now that Hawker is sold to China, there will be no more tax breaks to try to keep jobs in Wichita?

            How about Philips – – they are Dutch?

    • David Norlin

      AFTER you watch the video on ALEC, Check this out, IRT:

      October 9, 2012 by David Kingsley
      The Latest Stage in Creeping Corporatism
      What do employees think about paying income taxes that can be kept by their employer for 10 years to use, interest free, as management desires?  Do they even know?  Do the citizens who are looking at draconian cuts in government services – including Medicaid for the poor and elderly – know?  Kansas and nineteen other states have just such a program.  In Kansas it is euphemistically called the “Promoting Employment across Kansas,” or “PEAK” program.
      PEAK works this way:  move your jobs to Kansas and you can annually keep $4,800,000 of your employees’ state income taxes for up to 10 years and pay no interest.  In other words, taxpayers are providing corporations with an interest free loan up to $48,000,000 over a 10 year period.  One company that qualified for such a deal is AMC Corporation – the second largest owner of movie theatres in the World.
      AMC was purchased a few years ago by a consortium of investment firms, including Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group.  Movie theatres are not an investment with a bright future.  Nevertheless, the owners of AMC were able to dump the company on the Chinese owned Wanda Dalian Group. It was Bain, et al. that moved the company across the state line to Kansas with all sorts of sweet deals.
      Why Does China Want to Expand Its Role in the Movie Industry?
      As David Denby discusses in the latest issue of the New Republic, the movie industry has, for the most part, degenerated into a shallow, boring, digital form of entertainment designed to appeal to a generation raised on video games.  Movies goers with a bent toward artistic depth and averse to having their intelligence insulted are staying away from theatres in increasing numbers and profits in the industry are sagging.
      Adding 5000 screens in the United States to their vast entertainment empire, Wada Dalian Group has grabbed a prime opportunity to spread Chinese culture in this country.  Look for them to retain very talented Hollywood professionals in production of highly sophisticated and subtle propaganda.  Given the American public’s apathy, acquiescence, and lack of critical thinking skills, impact of subliminal and even clever overt messages will escape the attention of most movie audiences.
      Let’s keep in mind that the rulers of China are autocratic, totalitarian, thugs who will stop at nothing in maintaining and expanding their power.  Furthermore, let’s not underestimate their cleverness.
      Why the PEAK program now?                                                                                                      
      For decades, corporations have been colluding with state and local governments in foisting give-aways on taxpayers in the form of property tax abatements, factories built by taxpayers at no cost to the companies, and other incentives to move jobs into a particular state or locale.  In Kansas, corporations have, in addition to all of the usual goodies, received practically all lottery money through two programs known as Kansas Industrial Trainingand Kansas Industrial Retraining – otherwise known as “KIT-KIR.”
      The sad truth is that all of this does nothing for declining job opportunities on a national basis and very little at the state and local levels.  Nevertheless, taxpayers have rolled over for these rip offs because the jobs dangled in front of them, but not necessarily materializing, fulfill a basic human psychological drive to eliminate worry about jobs.  That’s about as far as the public’s thinking goes when it comes to these anti-democratic, corrupt deals.  Very few Kansans even know their lottery money has been handed over to the likes of Boeing Corporation for decades, which is now pulling up stakes and leaving the state.
      For some time now, the public has been tested by corporations with the help of rubes on city commissions and in state legislatures.  With very few exceptions, citizens have acquiesced in this government-corporation merger.  Why not push it to ridiculous limits and see how it works.  Employees can now pay their taxes directly to the corporation, which can keep them for a considerable period of time.  So far, it’s working.
      Historically, Corporatism and Fascism Have Developed Simultaneously
      A Fascist ruling elite doesn’t concern itself with what citizens think, need, or want.  Democracy withers way, incrementally, and government evolves eventually into a government for servicing corporations – especially in the financial services in this day and age. The wealthy elite also sees to its interest – while at the same time an ideological right wing political party is stoked and appeased.
      Bureaucratic operatives dare not defy the wishes or the best interests of the corporate power structure.  I experienced this when I called the Kansas Department of Revenue and inquired about the AMC deal and the PEAK program in general.  The gentleman to whom I was referred refused to tell me anything by claiming the right of welfare laden corporations to “confidentiality.”  Citizens have no right to know the amount of revenue lost through this latest and most outrageous funneling of tax money to corporation.  Check it out for yourself.  I spoke to a Mr. Richard Cram at the Kansas Department of Revenue.
      I called the Department of Commerce, the entity responsible for negotiating these deals with corporations, and was referred to a Mr. Wayne Groves.  This gentleman did acknowledge that AMC had received the deal but wouldn’t tell me much else.  For instance, I asked for a list of all corporations receiving the PEAK benefits.  Most certainly, for Cerner to move across the state line, it would need as sweet a deal as AMC. All Mr. Groves would say that the Department of Commerce has a database of companies participating in PEAK and that I had no right to know who they are without a freedom of information request.
      This Is Just the Beginning of this Story on This Blog
      As the Brownback experiment in Christian Fascism and Corporatism proceeds, we will see elderly suffer from underfunded Medicaid programs – in fact, it will be interesting to find out if the few companies receiving managed care contracts will be in the PEAK program.  Tax money handed over for use of private industry will be unavailable for poor children and adults, many of whom will experience hunger and homelessness as food and housing prices continue to escalate.
      This is a serious and alarming story that needs to be told.  It will be told on the Tallgrass Activist.

      • Ice Road Trucker

        Ask your queen Kathleen why she passed PEAK?
        Really – this tale reminds me of the show-Big Bang Theory.
        {At the mail boxes in the apartment building}

        Penny: Get anything good?
        Sheldon: Just the latest copy of Applied Particle Physics Quarterly.
        Penny: Oh, you know, that is so weird that yours came and mine didn’t!

        I did watch the video, though in parts I hopped it forward –
        The conclusion is that there are special interests that influence lawmakers.

        Wow – – Shocking!!

        That these groups get together, and as a group draft what they think would be the foundations of some ‘boilerplate’laws their members are lobbying for.

        Not so different than the chamber of commerce?

        ALEC members think that there should be Voter ID. So they prepare a summary of the language that would be effective, and constitutional for like-minded representatives, to copy/paste.

        Same for School Vouchers/Individual Education Plans (USD305 has had for at least 8 years)/ and permitting distance education- online.

        The conclusion drawn by You and Bill Moyers, is that this is all SOLELY a Right Wing/Koch Brothers conspiracy, to undermine the US. There is ZERO mention of the existence of such groups on the other side of the political fence.

        I would say the REAL conclusion is that there is Extensive lobbying at the state not just the federal levels, and money has co-opted a lot of the political process.

        I would point out though –
        ALEC wants school Vouchers, and thus DONATES to candidates that support that – – -The NEA does not want vouchers, nor accountability of teachers for results, and the donate heavily to the Democrats that support that position.

        The NRA lobbies for gun rights…. The Brady Campaign against

        The Obamacare bill was written by Liz Fowler ,The former Vice President for Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint (part of Blue Cross/Blue Shield)

        The Stimulus was written by the Apollo Alliance – and Harry Reid admits this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Alliance

        The Apollo Alliance is also the author of the cap and trade legislation.

        How about the activities of the SEIU? How about ACORN?

        On and on and on.

        This is not about defending behaviour by the childish rant saying “but billy cheated too” but that you ignore half of the argument in your political call to arms, and instead make it about one side being UNIQUELY evil.
        Because you have Brownback on the brain. Also you have CHOSEN to view the causes on the left as Noble and worthy.

        If the question is: “Is there too much Money and special interests in Politics?”
        You’ll get no argument from me.

        If instead, you continue to say “it all some vast right wing conspiracy….” Then you are a total Kool-Aid Drinker.

  • Ice Road Trucker

    I say follow the money – – I don’t see Koch in the top ten.
    However 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 of the top ten organizations are solid democrat.
    AT&T is pretty even… playing both sides.

    Top Ten Heavy Hitters

    Rank Organization Total All Cycles
    1 ActBlue $70,695,134

    2 American Fedn of State, $61,610,080
    County & Municipal Employees

    3 AT&T Inc $49,558,055

    4 National Education Assn $44,301,637

    5 National Assn of Realtors $44,121,570

    6 Service Employees International Union $42,513,218

    7 Goldman Sachs $40,756,383

    8 American Assn for Justice $36,798,018

    9 Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $36,574,093

    10 American Federation of Teachers $35,389,110

  • Cope76

    It’s funny how democrats shut up after the real reason for corporate tax breaks comes out. It produces jobs! He’ll, even the city of salina does that, they are way behind in that are and it shows but they do it

  • Wizard of Oz

    SMH See the name of either of these Norlin’s and just move on. Too early for the moon bat babble. I hope the other candidate see’s the opportunity though to use the Post as a forum to reach out.

  • Doc Holliday

    David Norlin, you creep me out! Ugh!