Regarding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)---
Nobel Prize-winning economist/New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently stated:
"And what is ALEC? It's a secretive group, financed by major corporations, that drafts model legislation for conservative state-level politicians. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, who acquired a number of leaked ALEC documents, describes it as "almost a dating service between politicians at the state level, local elected politicians, and many of America's biggest companies." And most of ALEC's efforts are directed, not surprisingly, at privatization, deregulation and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy."
Click here to read more/ the rest of Krugman's op-ed Kansas and its tax cut fallacy, which was published in the July 1 Journal Sentinel.
An article in The Capital Times, May 6, conveys that Rep. Chris Taylor (a Madison Democrat), traveled to Missouri in early May to attend an ALEC conference (Spring Task Force Summit) as an "undercover agent of sorts."
She has disclosed what she witnessed at the ALEC event and reported on ALEC's internal inconsistencies, including:
- "Rich States, Poor States", an ALEC publication, ranked Mississippi 14th, Wisconsin 17th and Minnesota 46th in the nation for "economic outlook".
"She said the rankings, which favor states where property taxes and minimum wages are low and there are no public unions, gave her the impression ALEC is like an 'alternative or other world '.
She points out that Minnesota has a lower unemployment rate and a higher median income than Wisconsin and Mississippi. Yet it's ranked 46th worst in the country, according to ALEC's economic outlook report.
"A lot of its 'facts' don't really mesh with how things actually are, Tayor said. "Most economists would not be using those same factors."
- Renewable energy was discussed by panelists at a workshop Rep. Taylor attended.
“ALEC is for the free market and no government interference, except when it comes to things like solar energy or electric cars,” Taylor said.
She said the only reception of the event was sponsored by Koch Industries, an energy company whose owners contribute heavily to ALEC.
“ALEC is all about protecting its members,” Taylor said.
- The anti-local government rhetoric she heard at a summit workshop " echoed what has been happening in Wisconsin. Republicans have long cited local control as a core party principle. But since taking over the state in the November 2010 elections, they have been moving to restrict local control"
“They’ve declared war on local control. What I heard was much more blatant than what I’ve heard in the past,” Taylor said. “They believe local governments and local school boards take away liberties just like the federal government.”
In her report titled ALEC Otherworld (Progressive Magazine, May 6), Rep. Taylor communicates that as a state legislator from Wisconsin, she joined ALEC last year. That was the beginning of her journey into a parallel world, she says.
Rep. Taylor explains that in the ALEC otherworld, the three branches of government are:
1. Multinational corporations, including Anheuser -Busch and Koch Industries
2. Rightwing think tanks networked together through the State Policy Network
3. State legistators like herself. However, as a progressive Democrat, she 'doesn't fit the mold' because most of her colleagues who belong to ALEC are Republicans and Tea Partiers.
"The three branches work together to construct and advance model bills in state legislatures throughout the country to further ALEC's agenda of corporate dominance."
She also tells us:
"A part of ALEC’s battle is to preserve an old economy, where coal, oil and gas remain supreme. Their defense of these industries represents the will of corporate members Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and Peabody Energy. Yet their regressive approach to energy policy conflicts with their professed allegiance to Jeffersonian “free market” principles and consumer choice.
Though the renewable energy sector is growing, is popular with the public, and is generating new jobs-- and the solar industry now employs 140,000 more people than our nation's coal mines--conference attendees focused on hindering this sector, especially solar...... Legislators from Utah and Oklahoma bragged about slowing the development of solar energy in their states. ALEC wants to tax people who use small scale solar or wind or who drive electric cars. According to ALEC, property owners should have a right to kill a person on their property, but not use solar or wind energies on their property without paying a tax."
"ALEC’s guiding principle--supporting big business--turns the small-c conservative ideal of individual liberty and local control on its head. As Utah Senator Howard Stephenson stated to an Education subcommittee, “We need to stomp out local control.” School boards and city councils take away liberties quicker than the federal government, he insisted. Local governing entities can be a roadblock to the ALEC agenda, so their power needs to be preempted and removed."