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Intro: "Florida's now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest, let alone prosecution, sounds crazy - and it is. And it's tempting to dismiss this law as the work of ignorant yahoos. But similar laws have been pushed across the nation, not by ignorant yahoos but by big corporations."

Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)
Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)


ALEC, Guns and Money

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

26 March 12

 

lorida's now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest, let alone prosecution, sounds crazy - and it is. And it's tempting to dismiss this law as the work of ignorant yahoos. But similar laws have been pushed across the nation, not by ignorant yahoos but by big corporations.

Specifically, language virtually identical to Florida's law is featured in a template supplied to legislators in other states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed organization that has managed to keep a low profile even as it exerts vast influence (only recently, thanks to yeoman work by the Center for Media and Democracy, has a clear picture of ALEC's activities emerged). And if there is any silver lining to Trayvon Martin's killing, it is that it might finally place a spotlight on what ALEC is doing to our society - and our democracy.

What is ALEC? Despite claims that it's nonpartisan, it's 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. In Virginia, for example, more than 50 ALEC-written bills have been introduced, many almost word for word. And these bills often become law.

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+58 # LeeBlack 2012-03-26 11:46
The 'stand your ground' law is an example of poor and extreme laws that would not be allowed if there were strong federal government. States Rights supporters want to be able to ignore Federal laws and regulations. ALEC, and others, take advantage of States Rights. We are coming to a point where abortion could be illegal in Nebraska but legal across the state line in Colorado. The same applies to contraception. Our unity as a people is lessened.
 
 
+13 # karen12643 2012-03-26 12:54
So what are we supposed to do about it? These kinds of stories just make me feel helpless.
 
 
+13 # seeuingoa 2012-03-26 15:48
Quoting karen12643:
So what are we supposed to do about it? These kinds of stories just make me feel helpless.


Dear Karen 12643:

Join 99% and you will not feel
so helpless.
 
 
+12 # elmont 2012-03-26 16:55
Quoting karen12643:
So what are we supposed to do about it? These kinds of stories just make me feel helpless.

Well, for starters, perhaps we can find out who funds ALEC, and then vote with our dollars. UPS supports this creepy outfit? What's that about?? If any readers out there can provide an easy way to know who funds ALEC, please let us all know.
 
 
+12 # Pancho 2012-03-26 19:36
The Center for Media and Democracy has a good deal of info on ALEC. The Koch brothers, of course, are big players. They don't want poor people, working people, minorities, unionized workers, students, etc. to vote. It's cheaper to buy politicians if those groups say or can be kept home. They have other pages such as PR Watch and Sourcewatch that are very helpful.

Writer Beau Hodai has done excellent and virtually solitary work on the issues though now others, such as John Nichols at the Nation, have joined in the outings of the powers determined to control us all.
 
 
0 # Ajijico 2012-03-29 13:22
It would help if enough of us voted the radicals out of office.
 
 
+22 # Todd Williams 2012-03-26 13:44
United we stand, divided we fall. A loose coalition of 50 states barely held together is not my vision of America. Nor is it the vision of millions of my fellow citizens. But it is the warped vision of our corporate overseers - Kochs et al. The last test of the union's cohesiveness was the Civil War. We shouldn't have to fight that conflict again. For I fear the next battle to hold our union together may not be successful.
 
 
+8 # LeeBlack 2012-03-26 15:27
It's interesting to re-read The Federalist Papers and acknowledge again why we had a Constitutional Convention.
 
 
0 # MidwestTom 2012-03-26 12:52
What nobody is talking about is how this law came to be passed in the first place. One of the drivers occurred about 7 or 8 years ago. A condo owner and his wife went to dinner, when they returned they found thieves in the process of stripping the condo. He drew a gun on them and called the police. No shots were fired. He was arrested for using deadly force, the thieves went free. I do not think that one should be allowed to shoot someone for no cause. But the law had shifted too far in the criminals favor, now it may be too far the other way.
 
 
+12 # elmont 2012-03-26 17:00
Quoting MidwestTom:
What nobody is talking about is how this law came to be passed in the first place. One of the drivers occurred about 7 or 8 years ago. A condo owner and his wife went to dinner, when they returned they found thieves in the process of stripping the condo. He drew a gun on them and called the police. No shots were fired. He was arrested for using deadly force, the thieves went free. I do not think that one should be allowed to shoot someone for no cause. But the law had shifted too far in the criminals favor, now it may be too far the other way.

Please provide more specific info on this alleged incident, so I can look it up. On the face of it, your statement is hard to believe. No one, in any state, is required to 'retreat' in their own home.
 
 
+7 # pbbrodie 2012-03-27 06:31
The apocryphal stories like this that you often use are completely useless in a discussion like this. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to start using information that can be corroborated. How about provide some information to back your claim that the law has shifted in favor of criminals in the USA. If that is true, then why are there more people incarcerated in the US per capita than any other nation on earth? The USA even far outstrips the number 2 nation, Russia. Don't take my word for this, read it here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Incarceration_rates_worldwide.gif
 
 
+6 # dick 2012-03-26 13:02
The greedy NARA will soon sell its compliant members on the brilliant notion that they need to buy a few over priced Assault Rifles to defend themselves from SYG zealots. Like the Mideast war agitator profiteers, gun manufacturers & runners like to make $$ from all sides. A model statute that clarifies & brings some rationality & consistency to state by state self defense laws might be helpful. No point in trying to undermine or limit the legitimate inalienable right to self defense. Counterproducti ve.
 
 
+7 # Citizen Mike 2012-03-26 13:05
I do not understand how it is in the interest of corporate profits to encourage us to all be shooting at each other. What is ALEC's interest in promoting SHOOTERISM? Is it to enable corporate goons to freely use gunshots against union activists?
 
 
+4 # Hexalpa 2012-03-26 18:51
Quoting Citizen Mike:
What is ALEC's interest in promoting SHOOTERISM? Is it to enable corporate goons to freely use gunshots against union activists?


Sounds to me like you DO understand, Citizen Mike...but not just against "union activists"...ag ainst "anyone".
 
 
+27 # Majikman 2012-03-26 13:05
Several months ago NPR did a puff piece on ALEC by giving a long interview to one of its executives. The interview, preceded by a one sentence critical statement, allowed this exec. to lie, distort, dissemble with barely a hint of a soft challenge. Anyone not a political junkie, would be soothed by the oily assurances of this person and think ALEC was promoting good government in the peoples' interest.
I'm delighted Paul Krugman and others are setting the record straight. ALEC needs to be outed and the connections made to their odious partners in crime.
 
 
+17 # Vardoz 2012-03-26 13:05
There is no doubt that the corporate agenda is very destructive for the nation as a whole and our people's health, safety and welfare and that includes the planet which has now reached the point of no return and is in full swing plunging ever deeper into Global Warming. The fate of our Earth us in the hands of the polluters.

All this is because corporations have no regard for the impact or consequences of their actions. They have proven over and over that they are willing to destroy all protections and regulations for profit. It is a mentality that will end our ability to survive on Earth. Perhaps people are just too stupid to get it. The nation is drowning in guns and we have become a lawless, vigilante society that is filled with death, destruction and a deep disregard for the well being of people. It is a real horror show and it's a tragedy that our reps are so sold out and corrupt that they too have joined in the madness all for the sake of greed. If there is any such thing as anarchy this is it. This climate is unhealthy and dangerous for 99% of Americans.
 
 
+14 # cordleycoit 2012-03-26 13:10
Krugman is no revolutionary economist but he is a perceptive liberal with a positive world view. He sees the problem of dealing with fascism as it eats into the American fabric. He harkens back to Sinclair Lewis and the other muckrakers who exposed the Edwardian Trusts as the precursors to the Fascist state. He misses the choiceless choice of party politics but he hits home at the rotten core of market capitalism. Free marketeers need lots of bayonets to enforce the so-called free market. To rebuild the in name free economy we must have full jails and troops around the world defending capital from tribesmen and women armed with AKs, religion and starvation.
For capitalism to work internally we must have starvation and enslavement at home with the real threat of starvation, religious enslavement and incarceration.
To achieve this goal and they are close the far right must create gated communities warring with one another, ill-educated and lazy of mind. We must put a halt to the privilege of granting privilege and restore rigor in public education which has been starved into flatulence and sloth.
 
 
+3 # kyzipster 2012-03-27 06:50
I'd say that very few economists are revolutionary but Krugman is generally correct in his analysis and has a great ability to cut through the lies that float around in the media.
 
 
+5 # Zealand 2012-03-26 13:11
The frightening element of this issue is American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their 2000 members who are active in govt positions, now 40 years since founding.
More astounding is that these templates are being used in other neo-con governments, like Canada, France, and New Zealand. Does anyone know if the Fake-Safety NZ Food Bill 160-2 is based on an ALEC template?
 
 
+14 # Barbara K 2012-03-26 13:13
Yes, the goofy law just gave people the right to be judge, jury, and prosecution & executioner for a crime that someone shouldn't be executed for. Or no crime at all, just a "feeling". How stupid have some become.
 
 
+17 # SouthBrun 2012-03-26 13:26
This outrageous law will be used when The Occupy movement begins anew. Mark my word.
 
 
+18 # jwb110 2012-03-26 13:30
Wait until a white man gets shot in a black neighborhood we will see how evenly the Stand Your Ground Law is enforced. Why Floridian smaller groups of citizens are not up in arms about this I will never understand.
 
 
+15 # dyannne 2012-03-26 13:33
Corporations just flat have too much power over our government. They buy their way into making laws that benefit them and harm us, the people. I heard that Wal-Mart was one of the major corporations behind this StandYourGround law. Wal-Mart is the largest supplier of guns and ammo in the country. Does that give anyone a clue to why they pushed this law?????? If it doesn't, you have bubble wrap for brains.
 
 
+10 # video4315 2012-03-26 13:37
We are fast becoming the United Corporations of America. What can be done? Boycott the corporations. Divest stock in those companies. Write letters to the editors. Talk with your neighbors and family members. Read, read, read...and connect the dots. I am amazed that the agenda and handouts from ALEC conferences haven't been leaked to the media and that they have not been published for scrutiny. I have long believed that the coincidence and similarity of legislation at state levels had to have originated in ALEC. More telling is that those states always have Republicans in control.
 
 
-13 # MendoChuck 2012-03-26 13:37
Once again we have another story written and published without all of the facts and information being available.
The media sells advertising and gears there information to attract readers and listeners. We have lost our so called "investigator reporters", a long time ago. Sooner or later the general public will learn to wait until ALL of the information is available before passing judgment. This mad rush to JUDGMENT is nothing more than a "Lynch Mob Mentality" at work.
I suspect there will be more coming out shortly that will never be told by the media. The "Main Stream Media" is not about to expose themselves as the short sighted corporations that they are.
I am no supporter of this ALEC abomination but I also know better than to allow the MSM to decide who, what, where and why and be judge, jury and when their main justification is making money.
 
 
+15 # Peace Anonymous 2012-03-26 13:51
Has common sense failed us all? What I find much more deplorable than the lack of thought in our legal system is the lack of principles in our lives. We seem to be much more focused on finding fault than we are in promoting any kind of moral principles for our children to follow. And we may blame government but it is our corporations who have no respect for principles which is evident on Wall Street and in our profit motivated wars. The only thing that is capable of changing this is the will of the people.
 
 
0 # Ajijico 2012-03-29 13:33
I remember saying that corporations exist to make money and are supposed to be amoral. Why would that have to be the case?
 
 
+7 # lilpat126 2012-03-26 16:22
We don't want to think. We are fat, lazy, and stupid. We eat adulterated food that big agra sells us, take drugs without question that big pharma sells us and wonder why we feel like shit. Most people out there have not felt good in so long they don't even know what it feels like.
This is part of keeping us agitated and at each others throats so they can control our entire lives. Why all of a sudden are there ads for Testosterone? Every man need it according to the ads. One of the major side effects is anger and violence. Get they ginned up and ready to fight and all they have to do is light the fuse. Bye, Bye the USA as er have known it.
 
 
+4 # Skyelav 2012-03-26 20:01
ALEC aside, until we decide to fund law enforcement and their training, you are going to get good arguments for theownership of protective weapons. I would not drive my car at night in most places without defense of one kind or another. I would not go painting in remote places without the same. The gun laws that are full of holes need to be fixed. Make it mandatory penalty felon ies for gun sales to non "Bradied" people. Make sure these people have training, unlike the gentleman in Florida, who was obviously deficient in some areas. When are we going to look at the real problems like alcohol and a piteous poor mental health system? Let's add corporate values to that list.
 
 
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-03-26 21:38
Perhaps we should stand our ground, if they want to prove something by killing innocents, than maybe they should be as vulnerable. That Law seems to be pretty open ended. They are threatening our lives daily...so are they asking for us all to buy guns and then be killed for doing so? Or are they asking for the end of days. I am very confused but the Laws could now be open to diverse interpretation. ...If they open it up that people have mental problems...well , they should never have been sold guns to.

This kid was asking for help, this thug is no different than a rapist, he should be behind bars.
 
 
+6 # GravityWave 2012-03-26 21:59
The Southern Poverty Law Center just reported that hate-crime and anti-governmet groups membership is up for the third year running and both are at record levels. Over a thousand members each.
Nothing has been done about police brutality to OWS and police certainly are outside the law much of the time. Chicago put into place truly draconian legislation for crowd control before the coming G-8 meeting there but then moved it to Camp David even at that.
Our home town police are trained like S.W.A.T. now. It certainly looks like we are preparing for a fire storm. I still want Obama to win and I, at this point, am hoping the police will side with the law. But who knows. I'll still take my chances with Obama.
The Republicans have a lot to answer for. They have manufactured this whole crises of racism and climate denial. These good christians have nearly torn down the greatest nation ever with arrogant stupidity, greed, and lack of character for being too ashamed to admit they were wrong, eat some crow and go about making things right again. There's not a gentleman among them. Nor a brain bigger than a pea.
We have to get progressives to the polls. And we should vote write-in. Help register voters and give til it hurts bad for prez and congresspersons to try to take back the House and keep the senate. Having law on our side will help if anything will.We need a lot of victories.
 
 
+8 # Painter 2012-03-27 00:10
The Corporate Board of ALEC includes:

(As of 2011)
CenterPoint 360, W. Preston Baldwin - Chairman
Altria Group, Daniel Smith
American Bail Coalition, William Carmichael, Jerry Watson
AT&T, William Leahy
Bayer Corp., Sandy Oliver
Coca-Cola Company, Gene Rackley
Diageo, Kenneth Lane
Energy Future Holdings, Sano Blocker
ExxonMobil Corporation, Randall Smith
GlaxoSmithKline, John Del Giorno
Intuit, Inc., Bernie McKay
Johnson & Johnson, Don Bohn
Koch Companies Public Sector, Mike Morgan
Kraft Food, Inc., Derek Crawford
Peabody Energy, Kelly Mader
Pfizer Inc., Michael Hubert
PhRMA, Jeff Bond
Reed Elsevier, Inc., Teresa Jennings
Reynolds American, David Powers
Salt River Project, Russell Smoldon
State Farm Insurance Co., Roland Spies
United Parcel Service (UPS)[2], Richard McArdle
Wal-Mart Stores, Maggie Sans

(Source Center for Media and Democracy)

Time for some serious boycotting!
 
 
0 # cynnibunny 2012-03-27 13:19
"...if there is any silver lining to Trayvon Martin's killing...."
It is an unfortunate, and I'm sure an unintended, phrase that Krugman uses here. There should be better editing.

There is never a silver lining to a death.

Let's not become too idealistic and single-minded when we write for the greater public. And no, I don't believe Krugman is insensitive; it's just a well-worn phrase that creeps into our writing from time to time, sometimes inappropriately .
 
 
0 # D_way 2012-03-29 00:36
Common Cause has been doing a lot of work to expose ALEC. This page is MN specific: http://www.alecmatch.org/. Gee, they all look so friendly, don't they? The Common Cause effort is ongoing in exposing the corporate friendly (to put it mildly) legislative mill. Learn more:
http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=7743229

It's time for everyone to get involved! How, you ask? http://the99spring.com/ , is a good place to start; see you out there!
 

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