Monday, March 21, 2011

This is what's wrong with America

From Americablog,  This article shines light on ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council .
What is ALEC? It is the fountain from which flows nearly every rightwing legislative act aimed at increasing corporate power and disempowering and disenfranchising working people. In a nutshell, ALEC is a national right-wing group that writes "model" legislation for its members. Who are its members? Republican state legislators and private organizations (think ExxonMobil).
Ever get the feeling that the rash of anti-union legislation sweeping over several states is coordinated? That is because, as outlined in this NYT article, it is - coordinated, in fact, by ALEC:
A group composed of Republican state lawmakers and corporate executives, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is quietly spreading these proposals from state to state, sending e-mails about the latest efforts as well as suggested legislative language.

NPR also has an excellent article on ALEC. Quite a coincidence that NPR's funding is now on the chopping block, dontcha think?The NPR article explains how it all comes together:

Only 28 people work in ALEC's dark, quiet headquarters in Washington, D.C.  And Michael Bowman, senior director of policy, explains that the little-known organization's staff is not the ones writing the bills. The real authors are the group's members — a mix of state legislators and some of the biggest corporations in the country.
"Most of the bills are written by outside sources and companies, attorneys, [and legislative] counsels," Bowman says.
Here's how it works: ALEC is a membership organization. State legislators pay $50 a year to belong. Private corporations can join, too. The tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and drug-maker Pfizer Inc. are among the members. They pay tens of thousands of dollars a year. Tax records show that corporations collectively pay as much as $6 million a year.
With that money, the 28 people in the ALEC offices throw three annual conferences. The companies get to sit around a table and write "model bills" with the state legislators, who then take them home to their states.
This, my friends, is why our 'democracy' has become a sham. You and I have absolutely no power to change it. We are not part of the process. The process is money, and we ain't got none. Read it all.
Then weep.

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