Wisconsin Legislator: “I Caught a Glimpse of ALEC Nation”
This is a fascinating article on how ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) works, written by someone who experienced it first hand, Wisconsin Representative Chris Taylor:
In the last two days, I have been completely submerged in the ALEC universe, at times fascinated by the extensive infrastructure the group has assembled while horrified at the policy and practical results for the average person.
The backbone of the American Legislative Exchange Council is an infrastructure that has been developed over the last 40 years that melds together rightwing think tanks, corporations and legislators. This ménage a trois has created a policy-making machine that produces a corporate agenda to elevate private profits over the needs of most people.
Until recently, ALEC members have been quietly working out of the public eye to develop their agenda so that when given the opportunity, they are ready to start creating an ALEC nation. That time has come. And they are ready.
As I sat in workshops, subcommittees and task forces on education, labor and employment, “federalism,” tort “reform,” energy, and the environment, I realized that ALEC had invaded Wisconsin in a far more comprehensive way than I had believed. Our state has become an ALEC petri dish in preparation for what they hope is an ALEC nation, where free market principles and freedom from government and regulations reign.
Fortunately, ALEC’s hypocrisy is palpable.
It seeks to use accountability and transparency policies to expose what they believe are the deficiencies of government, while denying that these same principles should be applied to corporations making political expenditures or drafting bills for state legislators.
It knows that the public doesn’t support corporations influencing legislation in the ALEC model, nor the money that flows from them to politicians, whether through ALEC “scholarships” or corporate campaign contributions.
There is also another crack: The policies that ALEC pushes don’t help most people.
They won’t help most children get the public education they need to be successful, or support a fair tax structure or pay a family supporting wage.
The ALEC universe is disconnected from most people’s lives.
And that is where we can win.
Rep. Taylor was interviewed about her experience at the ALEC conference. Here she talks about a breakfast sponsored by The Heartland Institute, a climate change denial think tank:
Riley: What was the presentation like?
Taylor: It was incomprehensible. I could not follow it. It was so zany and weird. He said CO2 was not that bad for us because crops grow bigger with a lot of CO2. My husband’s an environmental historian, so I asked him, “Is that true?” He said, “Yeah, but it doesn’t mean CO2’s good for you.” The whole premise was you need to challenge the left, that there’s many, many holes in global warming, and we don’t do enough to challenge them.
We also had a presentation on the Endangered Species Act at a lunch sponsored by the Texas Oil and Gas Association. The presenter said that the Endangered Species Act threatens the economy of every single state in the nation. It’s leading to high unemployment rates, threatens local economies, it doesn’t allow growth, etc. — that this is a matter of life and death, to get rid of the Endangered Species Act, because every state’s economy is going to topple if it remains in effect.
I wasn’t very impressed by the environmental presentations, frankly. I didn’t think they were very good.