This corporation-backed nonprofit literally makes up Mad Libs bills for politicians to pass.

Mommy, where do bills come from?

According to "Schoolhouse Rock," it's a whole bunch of boring bureaucratic nonsense set to music, which, well, half of that's right, anyway.

But even with the tedious waiting process, the song still presents a highly idealistic version of the lawmaking process, one where well-informed citizens reach out directly to their state representatives, who act in the best interests of their tax-paying constituents and aim to enact laws that work on their behalf.


Sadly, the groovy melodies aren't the most misleading part of that musical masterpiece.


GIF via "Schoolhouse Rock."

In reality, lawmaking is more like a corporate Mad Libs game, thanks to ALEC.

ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, which describes itself as a nonprofit organization that advocates in the interest of limited government, free markets, and the "Jeffersonian ideal" of Federalism.

That's the 501(c)3 application way of saying "impossibly wealthy lobbying cabal disguised as a tax-exempt write-off through which corporations can control politicians with pre-written bills."

I would clarify that ALEC is not actually a person, but that whole Citizens United thing (in which they had a hand) made that point moot.


GIFset via "Last Week Tonight."


ALEC's main function is to write business-friendly (read: corporate-profit-positive) "model" bills with a few blanks left for legislators to fill-in themselves.

GIFset via "Last Week Tonight."

It sounds too absurd to be true, right? And yet, here's the actual closing passage from ALEC's "Electricity Freedom Act" model bill:


That's a fancified legalese way of saying that the government needs to protect consumers from ... not ... paying ... electric companies? Something? Who cares when all ya gotta do is fill the state in and sign your name?

(Also, that whole "limited governments and free market" agenda kinda falls apart when you're trying to pass anti-green-energy laws but the market has clearly spoken in favor of clean energy over the services offered by antiquated corporate powerhouses.)

Actual real-life congressmen have used actual real-life ALEC bills passed off as actual real-life legislation.

Here's Wyoming state Rep. Nathan Winters (R), a proud ALEC member, sharing his experience in a video that ALEC made themselves:

GIF via ALEC.

To be clear, Winters is an elected official, and he basically just admitted to cheating on a public policy test.

But he's not just peering over the shoulder over the nerdy kid at the front of the class (honestly, that'd be preferable because then he'd at least be getting information from actual scientists). He's going straight to the Koch Brothers and countless powerful and/or climate-change-denying corporations and asking them to tell him what to think.

And then there's this fun exchange between Reps. Joe Atkins (D-Minnesota) and Steve Gottwalt (R-Minnesota):


GIFset via "Last Week Tonight."

Oops.

They've also got their hands in the prison-industrial complex, voter disenfranchisement, privatizing education, undermining consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act, "stand your ground" laws, pollution and anti-environmental initiatives, and the so-called "Death Star" bill that wasn't actually like this but basically did this to minority, LGBTQ, and overall workers' rights:


Emperor Palpatine GIF from "Return of the Jedi."

And ALEC's next trick? Taking legal action against the sun (and destroying the environment along the way).

At their annual meeting in July 2015, ALEC members gathered to discuss their most recent working draft of the deceptively-titled Environmental Impact Litigation Act, which is intended for state legislators to help crush Obama's new Clean Power Plan.

Coincidentally, the top sponsors of that conference included ExxonMobil, American Electric Power, Balanced Energy for Texas, and American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, none of whom could possibly have had any ulterior motives in crafting laws relating to energy.

In addition to the classic fill-in-the-blank parts, the Environmental Impact Litigation Act included a number of other incredible passages, like that whole part about the unfair political and economic overreach of ... the sun.


#SunPrivilege

Yes. According to ALEC, the sun has an unfair and illegal monopoly on solar power.

But remember, this is about consumer rights ... right?! ALEC is standing up for the people, who deserve the freedom to spend more of their own hard-earned money to constantly upgrade equipment and pay additional fees to mediating companies even when they generate their own power from natural resources. This is America, dammit!


"purchasers of solar power" smdh

"Without the option of excessive unnecessary upgrades, power companies will be FORCED to offer long-term leases on equipment instead of outright ownership! You don't want THAT on your shoulders, do ya?"

ALEC's tendrils might reach far and wide — but there's still a chance to stop them.

Recently, several big energy companies including BP and Shell have publicly parted ways with ALEC. That's right — the people responsible for that disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the company that still insists on forging ahead with Arctic Drilling both think ALEC is too evil for them. Let that settle in for a second.

Yes, ALEC is big, rich, and influential to an almost-cartoonish-but-actually-frighteningly-real degree. But you and I have still have the power to vote with both our wallets and our polls.

We can tell pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer to stop supporting ALEC and urge our own state legislators to take action against ALEC and cut all ties with corporations that still affiliate them — and we can stop supporting those corporations ourselves.

Let's make our message clear: America doesn't stand for greed.


GIF from "Parks and Recreation."

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League of Conservation Voters

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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