Tuesday, March 27, 2012

America’s ghost organization strikes again: Will the Trayvon Martin case shine a light on government’s puppet master?



Paul Krugman had an interesting op-ed the other day concerning America's little known ghost organization ran by the Koch brothers:  the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

For those of you unfamiliar with this institution, the supposed "nonpartisan" ALEC is a steamroller for the American ultraconservative movement containing a lobbying arm, a corporate arm, and an arm made up of legislators.

People for the American Way informs us that “in 2009, of the 826 ‘model bills’ that were introduced in state legislatures [by ALEC], 115 of those bills were enacted into law.”  In some cases, these laws were written almost word-for-word by ALEC.

Regardless of your opinion on the Trayvon Martin case – I am of the opinion of letting the law handle it since neither of us were there and neither of us are Floridian legal scholars – one can’t simply ignore ALEC’s involvement with Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. 

This post is not about my opinion of the law or of the case but of ALEC’s involvement.

You may or may not remember a PfP post wondering on who wrote our laws, implicating ALEC in writing Arizona's SB-1070.   The law was put in place for corporations to make over $5 BILLION in profits off of the Prison-industrial complex by exploiting Hispanics whether they are documented or not. 

The “papers please” legislation requires an arrest of citizens that cannot produce documents of their citizenship even if they are here legally, as long as they fill corporate prisons for days, months, or even years funded by American tax dollars.  A wrongful arrest of a citizen without proper papers could cost taxpayers $6,000 a week; $72,000 a year.

Again, let me reiterate, this isn’t about whether I agree with SB-1070 (I don’t) but ALEC’s involvement with the legislation.

Similar to SB-1070 – which has copy-cat bills spreading across the nation – Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law was written almost word-for-word as ALEC’s proposed bill.

I wonder how many politicians profited from this bill…

As Krugman details in the article, many ALEC-drafted bills pursue the same old conservative goals:  union-busting, undermining environmental protection, and tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals all in the name of greed.

Because of ALEC’s goal of wanting to seemingly privatize everything – advocating corporate control of everything from prisons to schools – Krugman came to the conclusion that ALEC is, indeed, not for limited government and free markets, but a large, privatized government in which the corporation gains their profits from the taxpayer’s dollars; dollars “steered” their way by the very politicians they paid.

“ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism,” wrote Krugman.

When I ask if you have enough money to influence legislation, these are the examples I highlight.

“But where does the encouragement of vigilante (in)justice fit into the picture,” asked Krugman.  “In part it’s the same old story — the long-standing exploitation of public fears, especially those associated with racial tension, to promote a pro-corporate, pro-wealthy agenda.”

Krugman also noted that it isn't a surprise nor accident that the National Rifle Association and ALEC are long allies. 

ALEC isn’t just for the short term benefits of their sponsors; as Krugman stated, they are in it for the long haul.  They’re in it to change the political landscape by becoming the agenda-setters through legislation, legislation that would enable more “corporation-friendly” laws in the future.

Think voter restriction bills, anti-immigration bills, etc. 

Yeah; that’s ALEC...and not for the same reasons as the average American conservative

“Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population,” said Krugman.

Again, this post isn’t about whether I agree with the “Stand Your Ground” law or the “paper’s please” legislation floating around the conservative legislatures.  It is about who breathed life into these bills and why.

Are you starting to understand the devastation of the Citizens United decision which allows unlimited, undisclosed donations to politicians?

Regardless of ideology, I think we can all agree that the power belongs in the hands of The People and not in the hands of the elite few.

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