by David Safier
Paul Krugman's column, Lobbyists, Guns and Money, doesn't cover new ground in its discussion of ALEC's role in the conservative push for privatization and other corporate-backed agendas. But it performs a great service. It puts ALEC front and center in a well respected, syndicated column. Discussion of ALEC is now officially mainstream -- at least I hope it is.
Krugman begins by talking about the law that led to the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. He calls it the "now-infamous Stand Your Ground law," though I prefer a more accurate title, the "Shoot First Law." Then he moves on to ALEC's role in promoting the bill in state legislatures around the country. The rest of the article is a description and analysis of ALEC.
Some of the important passages:
[ALEC is] very much a movement-conservative organization, funded by the usual suspects: the Kochs, Exxon Mobil, and so on. Unlike other such groups, however, it doesn’t just influence laws, it literally writes them, supplying fully drafted bills to state legislators.
ALEC seems . . . to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.
What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism. [boldface added]
In Arizona, Melvin's measure calls for the transfer of lands to the state from the federal government. He brought the bill to Arizona after hearing about it late last year from the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that often provides state lawmakers with model legislation, written by its own staff.
That's important information which, until recently, was left out of most articles.