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pinion Let Me Introduce You To ALEC


If it is possible to kick all political rhetoric aside, one thing will become overwhelmingly obvious; it doesn't matter who is sitting in the White House anymore. Sure, we have to feel like it does, so we'll get involved in our daily polarizing blame game, but the closer we look, the more we see that the results of what goes on in Washington are of little difference from administration to administration.

The wall to wall attention given to the current political rivalry is corporate media's self-serving food fest, entertaining us away from stories of local law reforms the agenda of which is to push everything under the umbrella of privatization. The coaching to this silent tsunami is one that chooses to remain in the shadows. When mentioned, it goes by the name ALEC. 

Many have been briefly introduced to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), but few understand just how ALEC is convincing local lawmakers to go home with their coup mentality. Their modus operandi is similar to what Tanya Harding used on Nancy Kerrigan, only a more accurate description would be "erode until it falls."

The Center for Media and Democracy has released copies of more than 800 model bills, designed and written by ALEC and their corporate partners, like Koch Industries, Monsanto, ExxonMobil, Cargill, Dupont, BP, GE, Wal-Mart and Bank of America. ALEC orchestrates what they call "task forces" that are made up of their corporate executive members, along with local, state and congressional legislators. They participate in week-long junkets where corporate heads school law makers and lobbyists on the proven methods of privatizing schools, prisons, utilities and other public services. 

Legislatures control funding for most public programs, and ALEC demonstrates to them how to collapse support for public services by teaching law makers how to erode the foundation on which they stand; cut the budget. They are also responsible for legislation like Citizens United, that recognizes corporations as people and have been the mightiest of forces to privatize prisons and schools. ALEC members have played a role in more than half of the major state legislative movements over the last decade.

In Florida, the Governor has been pushing this method in order to privatize more schools and prisons. Governor Scott's cutting of the PECO funds to schools and his budget decision to only spend money on prisons, if he is closing them, are just some of the examples he is using to push both industries toward privatization -- and big profits for many of its constituents. 

Pulling government out of the driver seat is taking public oversight out of the process. Privatization supporters claim the public will vote with their dollars to get satisfactory services; but they can't without an alternative. Placing higher demand on a anemic public school system guarantees failure and many parents will eventually do whatever they can to save their child from that fate. For those who live in poverty, currently over 40 percent of the population, no means for choice spells out disaster.

No doubt, some of the legislators come back from these ALEC junkets with the idea they are saving their town, state or country. But many are forgetting that all of the prior legislation controlled the funding, enforced the laws and repeatedly granted corporations and their wealthy pilots the tax breaks and exemptions that to date are still failing to "fix" the economy for the average American as promised. None of these bills have the public's name on them. It is legislatures that have sold these policies to the public and signed the bills, and as such, it is their failure. 

Last August 3, in New Orleans, ALEC's public board met for their national retreat. This is where they stripped their names from bills, constructed by their members over the last year, that are designed to collapse the economic picture enough to convince the public that privatization is the cure to their woes. This message will be carried by legislatures to their constituents. There are over 3,000 legislative members and more than 2,000 corporate ALEC members that are scattered across the country, focused on key issues in targeted areas. 

For the next eight months, the public will be bombarded with ALEC legislation ideas, and they will be framed as solutions to the failings of President Obama or anyone else who opposes them. Long before the election, many of the policies borne of ALEC task force junkets will already be law. You see, it really doesn't matter who sits in the White House, as long as ALEC has the key to the back door. 

There are alternatives to buying into these scripted, self-serving corporate ploys; that is, hold the legislators' feet to the fire. Tell them to make things work the way they announced when trying to get elected, or to get out of the way. It is not so hard selling everything in the house to make the payments, until you run out of things to sell. Don't be fooled by their failures.

There is not a more powerful political tool currently wrenching the american legislative branch of government than ALEC. We will be making an effort to keep up with ALEC's power over the minion, but until then here are some links that will shine some light on this power house in the shadows. 




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