A PROPER PERSPECTIVE
The following incidents illustrate how a culture of
Special Interests corrupts and controls Alabama's
government. As you read, remember that these
privilege seekers are only half the problem. Without
the privilege providers in government, no Special
Interest abuse can occur. The first three examples
focus on large corporations.
There is a prejudice against big business and
professional lobbyists that is regrettably common, but
is not shared by this author. I am pro-business
whatever its size. Businesses become big for two
reasons: success and profits. I celebrate both as
part of the American dream. To hate these is to share
the mindset of socialism and communism. Those who
wish government would do something about them might be
more at home in Cuba or China than in America.
In our democratic republic the citizens not only have
the right of electing their officials but the right of
access to them once elected. Whether private citizens
are a big business, professional lobbyist or an
average individual, they have the right to discuss
with their elected officials matters of special
interest to them, to argue their view of the matter
and seek to persuade officials to their side. Those
who would deny this right to solve corruption are
advocating government by a small group of secluded
elitists who would hand down their pronouncements to
Having made this disclaimer, I hasten on to say,
however, that big business is especially susceptible
to Special Interest corruption for this reason: the
bigger the business, the greater the power and the
greater the power, the greater the temptation to use
it to gain what is wanted by any means it requires,
including abuse of the system.
ALABAMA POWER COMPANY
On the top floor of a tower next to the Capitol is the
headquarters for Alabama Power's lobbying efforts.
The company's executives come and go by its helipad on
the roof. Security is tight and access from the
ground is virtually impossible without the right
credentials. If that sounds like the trappings of
power, there is a reality to match. There is
consensus among the knowledgeable that the company is
the power among the powerful. When that power is
applied to the legislature it almost always gets what
it wants even if it means steamrolling over what is
good and right. Here is an example.
The company unleashed its lobbying might to push
through a bill nicknamed the Alabama Power
Protectionism Legislation. The actual name was The
Standard Cost Bill. At the time, deregulation of
utilities seemed a possibility. If it happened,
Alabama Power would face competition where there had
been none. It was unpleasant to think of fighting a
bidding war to keep customers it had taken for
granted. Especially distasteful was the idea of
having to win it by lowering prices, which meant lower
profits. Even more awful was the thought of losing
customers. Large companies were voracious consumers
and paid lots of money every day for electricity. To
let those rivers of money flowing into company coffers
dry up was unthinkable. Something had to be done, and
it was. A strategy was developed to make leaving
Alabama Power for a competitor expensive enough to
deter customers. The Stranded Cost bill had been
This is the essence of it. When a large customer, say
U. S. Steel, built a new plant, Alabama Power spent
large amounts on infrastructure to provide
electricity. The investment would be recovered in
specified amounts over a designated number of years.
Meanwhile the Power Company's return on its investment
came rolling in. The bill required that Alabama Power
be paid for whatever investment costs had not been
recovered when a customer left for another provider.
The unrecovered investment was called stranded cost.
If you are now beginning to sympathize with Alabama
Power and are thinking that it sounds only fair then
you might be interested in this: Alabama Power has no
stranded cost. The bill was feigned in a boxer's
match, a general's fake front in war, a poker player's
bluff. Its real purpose was not recovering costs, but
stifling competition and keeping customers.
This was not a case of gentlemen politics won fair and
square by the best man because of his greater skill.
The Power Company used the dirty tactics of Special
Interests to win a privilege that gave it an unjust
advantage over competitors and customers. The
intensity of resentment by other companies was the
resulting consequences and supports this conclusion.
The old State Chamber of Commerce had been
reconstituted the Business Council of Alabama (BCA).
All the expected businesses were members. Members
commonly had opposing views on issues and on this
issue many opposed Alabama Power. Opposing views were
expected and was no cause for lasting harm among
members. When Alabama Power successfully ran this
power play, however, it broke up the BCA. Important
members left, led by U.S. Steel. They departed
because they were offended and angered by the
injustice and unfairness of the Special Interest
This result brings to mind the Golden Rule most all of
us learned very early in childhood: Do unto others as
you would have them do unto you. I bet the powerful
men and women running powerful companies in Alabama
also learned it. I bet, also, that they believed it
was right and obeyed it, to some degree, because it
was right and when they did not they felt guilty
because they knew it was wrong. One can wish that
these wise grown-up and great leaders would become as
simple and as foolish as the children they once were,
become unsophisticated enough to remember their
childhood lesson. The Golden Rule is as true now as
it was then. It applies as much to the high-stakes
marketplace as to the carefree playground, and it is
even more needed when millions are managed then when
the lunch money in your pocket is all you have.
Let me give one more brief example of how Alabama
Power uses its Special Interest might. In the session
just ended, the legislature passed a bill banning
houseboats and cigarette boats from Lake Martin. The
cigarette boats ban is not the issue. It is the
houseboat ban that stirs controversy. Houseboats are
mainly owned by those of less affluent financial
standing and, not uncommonly, less than upper class
social standing. They are the way common people enjoy
the beautiful lakes in Alabama. This pleasure has
been taken away from them, made against the law, on
The purported reason for this bill was pollution and
dangerous conditions caused by overcrowding.
Houseboats, it was said, were great offenders. A
paraphrase of one proponent's argument goes like this:
"This bill was necessary. Potential commercial
developers and private individuals both have told us
that unless we did something they would not come
It sounds like an intolerable mess, like what I have
seen in movies where the setting is an Asia port city
of millions of people and one scene shows a floating
community on the river with thousands of squalid
little shanty houseboats. Now I do not go to Lake
Martin but I do occasionally cross over it, and I do
not recall a traffic jam of houseboats.
I am aware that personal anecdotes are not worth much
as evidence, so let me point out two gaping holes in
the rationality given for the bill. The first
concerns the statement about the lake's undesirable
conditions discouraging potential residents. In light
of this, how is the high price of lake property
explained, for land on the lake is costly and stays
that way. The simple truth is that high prices are
caused by strong demand. If some complainers do not
become residents, so what? There are plenty of others
who will. The second contradicts the claim that
pollution and safety hazards from overcrowding are the
reason for the bill. If that were true, then the
first water craft to be banned should have been the
Sea Doo. They are as prolific as mosquitoes on the
lake. They cover it with noise, fuel and potential
accidents. These buzzing, motorized pests, these
aggravating disturbers-of-the-peace, still rampage
freely on the lake under no prohibition, because they
are the preferred playthings of the rich and
One legislator, very irate over the bill's passage,
explained the real reason for the bill was snobbery
and arrogance. The rich and powerful country club
crowd, led by Alabama Power, who owns several thousand
acres, simply did not want the kind of people
associated with houseboats on the lake, he explained.
His name for the legislation was the "Throw the
Peasantry off the Lake" bill, noting it did not even
allow for a disabilities exclusion.
It is a difficult task to harmonize this
legislation with the self-evident truths that all men
are created equal and endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights, among which are life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The powerful
have trampled on the rights of the powerless. Rights
that God calls inalienable they have determined are
expendable. The people's government in Alabama has
been a co-conspirator in the injustice.
This is only one of multitudes of wrongs
done year after year. For us as citizens to not want
to hear about it, not care about it and do nothing
about it exposes our own ethics and morals to be at a
very low ebb indeed. Changing it does not require
involvement in civic busywork and useless political
activity. These do no good because they have no
power. The one thing needed is to put the right
leader in the position that gives him sufficient power
to change things, or to say it another way, get David
into the valley where he can take on Goliath. The
requirements for that are easy enough, simply help
elect him as governor.
ROY MOORE'S BATTLE WITH GOLIATH
New Book Release by Judge Roy
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The 10 Commandments Project
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Does the Law and Ten Commandments apply only to Israel?
Numbers Chapter 15
15 One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD.
16 One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.
The Love of God and of neighbor is the summary of the law and prophets.
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.