Better World Club

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Keep the Supreme Court Out of Politics!

I think that was supposed to be, ''Keep Business Out of Politics!''

Same Difference...

In last year's State of the Union, President Barack Obama foresaw the danger of the Supreme Court's Citizen's United case, which opened the floodgates of corporate political spending. When Justice Samuel Alito mouthed that the President didn't know what he was talking about, it caused quite a stir.

Well...this fall's Congressional campaign won't do much to burnish the Court's image as a body of intellectuals. Spending is out of control -- and voters can't even get any information as to who's behind it.

Of course, this Supreme Court decision is just going to make it harder for America to get what it needs from responsible businesses.

That's because the money flooding the political system does not represent the views of companies in New Voice of Business or the American Sustainable Business Council, two business groups for which Better World Club President Mitch Rofsky sits on the board of directors. Instead, the money that floods the system will come from organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which alone will spend more than $200M this year. This group and other organizations like it represent companies that don't value what we value.

- They are more likely to defend the industries of the past than the industries that are inventing the future.
- They are committed to environmentally disastrous old energy sources rather than making America a leader in clean, renewable energy.
- They are intent on exhausting natural resources in search of the lowest cost, rather than operating sustainably.
- They are multinational giants rather than Main Street businesses that respond to local communities.
- They operate as if investors are the only stakeholders that matter, rather than acknowledge the diverse stakeholders that matter in our modern and interconnected economy.

Is that the kind of business thinking that we want to dominate our political discourse?

Ask yourself: Which type of business represents the future? Which type of business should speak most loudly in the political debate: extractive businesses or sustainable businesses? "Too Big to Fail" businesses or businesses of a more reasonable scale? Businesses that are defending a position of market dominance built generations ago or businesses that are innovating and disrupting the legacy industries of the past? We cannot build an economy of the future based on outmoded ideas and values.

A Solution

Sponsored in the Senate by Dick Durbin (D-IL) and in the House by John Larson (D-CT) and Walter Jones (R-NC), the Fair Elections Now Act would neutralize the corrupting influence of special interest donations and make it possible for legislators to focus on the people's business rather than on fundraising.

The bill has been carefully crafted to survive constitutional challenge by the Supreme Court. It does not bar private funding of campaigns, but it provides the option for candidates to run for Congress on a blend of small private donations and limited public funds, including a four-to-one federal match on donations of $100 or less. With theFair Elections Now Act, candidates could finance a viable campaign based solely on contributions from their local grassroots base of supporters. Candidates would not need to depend on special interests who expect to obtain influence in exchange for cash.

We will be asking for your support in the next edition of Driving Change.

For more on campaign finance, see BWC President Mitch Rofsky's "Quid Pro What? The Supreme Court Has to Recognize Bribery Before It Can Stop It."

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Come. Play. Live.

Come See us at The Ki in San Francisco!

Better World Club is a sponsor of THE KI (key) an innovative, smart-living experiential lifestyle event on Oct. 22-24, 2010 on San Francisco's Treasure Island.

Established as a platform to present the latest in advanced thinking and smart-living, THE KI will join some of the world's most innovative brands (Innovative? Oh, go on. You're embarrassing us...but we'll take it), designers, thinkers, leaders and influencers to share the future of better living.

The all-electric Nissan Leaf will be there as well as the Zero Motorcycle.

And, through Better World Club, you can get 50% off the price of regular admission. Just enter "vip" (lower case) as the discount code when you purchase your tickets online. Check out this flyer for details.

Better World Club will, of course, be there -- and we didn't get 50% off either. But we want to celebrate your discount, so come see us if you'll be in San Francisco this weekend!

More about THE KI here.

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BWC Fights Global

A Look at Some of our Recent Carbon Offset Donations

Whether you believe in global warming or not, you have to admit: if the weather isn't getting warmer, it's sure getting weirder. From record highs in Los Angeles to snow in Dallas last winter, all of us need to be paying attention -- and doing what we can.

As all good Better World Club members know, Better World Club donates 1% of revenue to environmental cleanup and advocacy. Better World Club was the first travel company to offer carbon offsets -- and provides free carbon offsets to our auto insurance clients for their first 2,000 miles of driving. Better World Club also offsets it's own greenhouse gas emissions.

This year, BWC is buying 2,000 tons of greenhouse gas reduction for the Sexton Energy Des Plaines Landfill Methane Recovery and Destruction Project. Methane destruction at farms and landfills is a classic and effective carbon offset project.

The Sexton Energy Des Plaines Landfill Methane Recovery and Destruction Project captures and destroys fugitive methane and other greenhouse gases from a closed former waste handling and disposal (solid waste management) site. Located in northern Illinois near the city of Des Plaines, the Project includes gas collection and power generation systems built by the project proponent, Sexton Energy, LLC, to recover and burn the former waste disposal site’s landfill gases, which otherwise would be emitted into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

The Project’s emission reduction goals are to decrease greenhouse gases resulting from:

1) The capture of the landfill gas from the former waste handling and disposal site, which otherwise would be released into the atmosphere; and,
2) The destruction of the recovered landfill methane in two generators that produce in total about 2,500 kW of electricity per year, which is sold to the local utility, Commonwealth Edison (Com Ed).

Better World Club has also purchased another 750 tons of greenhouse gas offsets from Climate Clean, a carbon offset provider in Portland, Oregon.

Better World Club's purchase of 5.5 million pounds of offsets make it one of the larger US buyers. Thanks for helping us do more to do our part.

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Green America: Economic Action for a Just Planet

Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982 that went by the name Co-op America until January 1, 2009. Its mission is to harness economic power -- the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace -- to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.

Their programs empower people to make changes in their personal lives and to join together with others in economic action for a better world based on four powerful strategies:

- Empowering individuals to make purchasing and investing choices that promote social justice and environmental sustainability;
- Demanding an end to corporate irresponsibility through collective economic action;
- Promoting green and fair trade business principles while building the market for businesses adhering to these principles;
- Building sustainable communities in the US and abroad.

Whether pioneering Clean Energy Bonds or organizing the popular Green Festivals in a variety of U.S. cities, Green America is special. Better World Club is proud to share Green America's goal of facilitating a marketplace where more consumers put their money where their values are.

Find out more about Green America's work. Or get involved by joining as a member.

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AAA Mid-Atlantic Continues ''War'' for Motorists

Rails-to-Trails Mounts a Defense...(OK, It's a Petition Drive. But It's Action!)

Meanwhile, AAA National has yet to Respond on Issue of Reappropriating Highway Transportation Fund Dollars

In an editorial printed in the July/August issue of AAA World, AAA Mid-Atlantic President and CEO Don Gagnon argued that money from the Highway Transportation Fund (HTF) be restricted to highway spending.

His argument doesn't seem so unreasonable given that the HTF is so named, except that, since 1991, Congress has been flexible in its spending from the fund in order to support the development of a multi-modal transportation infrastructure.

As a result of Gagnon's editorial, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a DC non-profit working to create and connect a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines, started a petition campaign to convince AAA National President Robert Darbelnet to disavow Gagnon's stance.

Like Better World Club, Rails-to-Trails supports a diverse transportation investment that encourages and provides for mass transit and active transportation like walking and bicycling.

Gagnon's position is that funding for transportation programs outside of the interstate highway system should not come from a fund that was originally created to support that system. The response that Ronald Kosh, Mid-Atlantic's VP of Public and Government Affairs, sent to Rails-to-Trails President Keith Laughling after being contacted by RTC supporters reiterated that change of accounting solution: "Let general revenues address the other expenses."

With all of that extra general revenue lying around, non-highway transportation projects shouldn't have any trouble meeting their ends, right? Unfortunately, in addition to the scarcity of general funds for new government projects, the mass transportation, walking, and bicycling programs currently supported by the HTF would lose not only resources but also the implementation channels that they've established over the last two decades.

As RTC acknowledges at its website, "ultimately, if AAA Mid-Atlantic's position on federal transportation funding were implemented, it would be devastating to trails, walking and bicycling because effective programs would be orphaned from the rest of transportation, denying them resources and well-established implementation channels."

AAA often argues that it's not anti-bike, but it obviously doesn't make any secret of being very pro-car.

Back in June, we reported on AAA Mid-Atlantic's opposition to a DC plan for new bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue. During that conflict, AAA Mid-Atlantic Managing Director of Public Affairs Lon Anderson released a statement complaining about the DC government's "war on motorists." AAA National then distanced itself from Mid-Atlantic and emphasized its "share the road" message.

First the Managing Director of Public Affairs, and now the President. AAA Mid-Atlantic must really be feeding off the Tea Party vibe that's been hanging over the capital lately. All of its officials seem hell bent on "going rogue."

AAA is a federation of dozens of regional clubs, so it isn't surprising that local leadership have differing opinions on certain issues from region to region. But Gagnon has taken an extreme stance on a major federal policy issue that will affect programs throughout the country. Let's hope that AAA National steps in again with a more level-headed position.

Or maybe that's just our job.

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Couldn't Get Help on the Turnpike?

...Or So You Claim

Requests for Reimbursement Must be Submitted within 30 Days of Service

Better World Club members rely on us for peace of mind. There are, however, certain situations -- breakdowns on contract roads, accidents, or when you're obstructing traffic -- in which we may not be the ones dispatching service to your vehicle. (Don't worry, it builds character. Trust us.) We're still there for you, and we'll reimburse you for any eligible out of pocket expenses. Just remember: claims need to be submitted within 30 days of the date on which you received service. Claim forms are available at the member section of our website.

Members instructed to mail their receipts directly to Arlington Heights, IL should follow the instructions given to them by our dispatchers and will be reimbursed for all eligible expenses.

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AAA more cycle-friendly...

except where money is concerned

by David Alpert, Greater Greater Washington

"Rails-to-Trails can only ask its members nationwide to push national AAA on this issue. But we live in the AAA Mid-Atlantic region. If you're still a AAA member, switch to the Better World Club. And tell AAA you might consider being a member again only if they focus on their real mission, providing services to drivers, and stop trying to lobby against transit, pedestrian and bicycle programs."

Complete Story

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