S1 E23: State Legislatures, ALEC & New Zealand's Flag: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

S1 E23: State Legislatures, ALEC & New Zealand's Flag: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Hungary's Proposed Internet Usage Tax

  • Prime Minister Viktor Orban proposed a tax on internet usage, sparking widespread protests.
  • Despite accusations of authoritarian tendencies, Orban has decided to revisit the tax next year.

New Zealand's Proposed Flag Referendum

  • Prime Minister John Key plans to hold a referendum in 2015 to change the country's flag, which closely resembles Australia's flag.
  • Key's preferred flag design has faced criticism for its similarity to the flag used by ISIS.

Lowe's Robotic Shopping Assistants

  • Lowe's, a home improvement retailer, is testing robotic shopping assistants in one of its stores, raising concerns about potential sexual harassment lawsuits.
  • Home Depot could potentially use Lowe's implementation of robots to their advantage by emphasizing the value of personal touch and human interaction in home improvement shopping.

Midterm Elections and State Legislatures

  • The upcoming midterm elections will determine whether Democrats retain control of the Senate or if Republicans take control.
  • Despite significant attention on Congressional races, this Congress is on track to be the least productive in history.
  • State legislatures are often overlooked but are responsible for passing a significant amount of legislation, including laws on abortion, gun control, and environmental issues.
  • State legislators are often not well-known by their constituents, and there is a shocking lack of oversight when it comes to conflicts of interest.
  • State legislatures vary in size and the amount of time they are in session, with some operating year-round and others only meeting for a few weeks each year.
  • There is a lack of ethics and accountability in state legislatures, with many legislators engaging in corrupt behavior and conflicts of interest.
  • Some state legislators have been involved in serious crimes, such as arms trafficking and drunk driving.
  • A private organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) has a significant influence on state legislation, providing model bills that are often introduced and passed without much scrutiny.
  • Many state legislators are members of Alec and often copy Alec's model legislation verbatim.
  • Due to the lack of attention paid to state legislatures, many candidates run unopposed and are elected simply because they exist.
  • The speaker highlights several examples of candidates with questionable backgrounds and beliefs who are likely to win their elections due to the lack of competition.
  • The speaker criticizes the state of democracy in the United States, comparing state legislatures to "Frat houses of democracy."

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