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John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado

There’s a new bully at large in the land, and its name is ALEC.

That’s short for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a radical-right lobbying group posing as a nonprofit that provides a venue for corporations to write state laws designed to make those corporations richer and more powerful, sneakily undermining the democratic process.

Legislators in attendance at ALEC functions carry these propositions back to their state capitols and work to get them made into laws, without ever acknowledging their source.



In short, ALEC offers corporations a chance to get around the inconvenient framework of our republic and its legislative processes.

Sounds pretty cozy, eh? Not only do corporations buy the elections for their pet legislators, they hand-feed them the bills that, if they become law, give the corporations even more power to continue corrupting the nation’s body politic.



What’s more, according to Common Cause and other watchdog groups, this smart-ALEC is fed by corporate slush funds and people

like the Koch brothers, David

and Charles.

An estimated 98 percent of its finances come from corporations, corporate trade groups and corporate foundations, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a wiki-based investigative journalism group.

Oh, right, the state legislators who are members of this piratical outfit each pay a $50 yearly fee, the CMD reports. Those fees make up the remaining two percent of ALEC’s annual allowance.

According to numerous published reports, ALEC has his fingers deep in the legislative pie in every single state in the U.S., pushing bills and resolutions that neither you nor I would ever want to see become law.

“These bills and resolutions reach into almost every area of American life: worker and consumer rights, education, the rights of Americans injured or killed by corporations, taxes, health care, immigration, and the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink,” states the CMD on its website. “Only by seeing the depth and breadth and language of the bills can one fully understand the power and sweep of corporate influence behind the scenes on bills affecting the rights and future of every American in every single state.”

With an eye toward showing citizens just who and what ALEC is, the CMD has mounted a campaign called “ALEC Exposed” that details the workings of this bunch. Check it out if you don’t want to believe me.

With some 1,000 bills and resolutions either now on the law books or in the works to become laws, it’s impossible for me to list all the areas of interest behind

ALEC’s machinations.

But that list would include the privatization of Medicare, Medicaid and other government health-care programs for seniors, the poor and the underinsured. If you’re not wealthy and you think its hard getting decent health care now, well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

The list also would include an effort to do away with teachers’ unions, privatize the nation’s schools, and completely reverse more than 200 years’ worth of guarantees that everyone in the U.S. have access to a good education. What once was a model school system, a beacon for the rest of the world, is in shambles thanks to this kind of thinking

In essence, ALEC is the tool of those who want to enshrine the elitist trends that have infected this country for the last half-century. Those of us who are not wealthy do not deserve a decent home, a decent job, a decent education and a decent life, in ALEC’s view.

What we do deserve, ALEC would be quick to explain if he were an honest human being, is to slave away all our lives for low wages, and die as soon as can be arranged once we lose our productive abilities.

That is the new American dream, friends and neighbors – a nightmare of social Darwinism cobbled together by the corporations that owe their very existence to us, the workers and the doers.

All ALEC has to do is keep us on our knees, our eyes glued to fancy toys and virtual reality, our brains and bodies dulled and dumbed down, and it’s clear sailing for him and the 1-percenters who created him.

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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