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Excerpt: "ALEC brings together major U.S. corporations and right-wing legislators to craft and vote on 'model' bills behind closed doors."

Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)
Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)

Bill Moyers on the United States of ALEC

By Democracy Now!

28 September 12



MY GOODMAN: We begin our show today with a look at the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council. The organization, often known as just ALEC, brings together major corporations and state legislators to craft and vote on "model" bills behind closed doors. It's come under increasing scrutiny for its role in promoting "stand your ground" gun laws, voter suppression bills, union-busting policies and other controversial legislation. The organization's agenda has sparked so much controversy that 40 major U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Kraft and General Motors, have recently severed ties with ALEC.

ALEC is the focus of a new documentary by the legendary journalist Bill Moyers titled The United States of ALEC. It will air this weekend on Moyers & Company but is premiering today here on Democracy Now!

STATE REP. STEVE FARLEY: I've often told people that I talk to out on the campaign trail, when they say, "State what?" when I say I'm running for state legislature, I tell them that the decisions that are made here in the legislature are often more important for your everyday life than the decisions the president makes.

JOHN NICHOLS: If you really want to influence the politics of this country, you don't just give money to presidential campaigns, you don't just give money to congressional campaign committees. Smart players put their money in the states.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: ALEC has forged a unique partnership between state legislators and leaders from the corporate and business community. This partnership offers businessmen the extraordinary opportunity to apply their talents to solve our nation's problems and build on our opportunities.

LISA GRAVES: I was stunned at the notion that politicians and corporate representatives, corporate lobbyists, were actually voting behind closed doors on these changes to the law before they were introduced in statehouses across the country.

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: ALEC has been, I think, a wonderful organization. Not only does it bring like-minded legislators together, but the private sector engagement and partnership in ALEC is really what I think makes it the organization that it is.

BILL MOYERS: You might have heard the name ALEC in the news lately.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, for short.

REPORTER: The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

BILL MOYERS: ALEC is a nationwide consortium of elected state legislators working side by side with some of America's most powerful corporations. They have an agenda you should know about: a mission to remake America, changing the country by changing its laws one state at a time. ALEC creates what it calls "model legislation," pro-corporate laws like this one that its members push in statehouses across the country. ALEC says close to a thousand bills, based at least in part on its models, are introduced every year, and an average of 200 pass. This has been going on for decades, but somehow ALEC managed to remain the most influential, corporate-funded political organization you had never heard of - until a gunshot sounded in the Florida night.

RACHEL MADDOW: Trayvon Martin, unarmed, but for a bag of candy and an iced tea that he was carrying.

BILL MOYERS: You'll recall that the shooter in Trayvon Martin's death was protected at first by Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law. That law was the work of the National Rifle Association. There is its lobbyist standing right beside Governor Jeb Bush when he signed it into law in 2005. Although ALEC didn't originate the Florida law, it seized on it for the "stand your ground" model it would circulate in other states. Twenty-four of them have passed a version of it.

RASHAD ROBINSON: How did this law not only get in place in Florida but around the country? And all the fingers kept pointing back to ALEC.

BILL MOYERS: When civil rights and grassroots groups learned about ALEC's connection to "stand your ground" laws, they were outraged.

RASHAD ROBINSON: ALEC doesn't do its work alone; they do it with some of the biggest corporate brands in America.

BILL MOYERS: Before long, corporations were pulling out of ALEC, including Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, McDonald's, Mars, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson. Caught in the glare of the national spotlight, ALEC tried to change the subject.

KAITLYN BUSS: You know, I think that the entire debate needs to be reframed. And really what ALEC is is a bipartisan association of state legislators. We have, you know, legislators of all political stripes coming together to talk about the most critical issues facing the states and trying to come up with the best solutions to face some of the problems we're having.

MEGYN KELLY: Right. So, your point is it's not a partisan organization.

BILL MOYERS: But ALEC is partisan. And then some.

LISA GRAVES: In the spring, I got a call from a person who said that all of the ALEC bills were available, and was I interested in looking at them. And I said I was.

BILL MOYERS: Lisa Graves, a former Justice Department lawyer, runs the Center for Media Democracy. That's a nonprofit investigative reporting group in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2011, by way of an ALEC insider, Graves got her hands on a virtual library of internal ALEC documents. She was amazed by its contents: a treasure trove of actual ALEC model bills.

LISA GRAVES: These are the bills that were provided by the whistleblower. That's just the index.

BILL MOYERS: There were more than 850 of them, 850 boilerplate laws that ALEC legislators could introduce as their own in any state in the union.

LISA GRAVES: Bills to change the law to make it harder for Americans to vote, those were ALEC bills. Bills to dramatically change the rights of Americans who are killed or injured by corporations, those were ALEC bills. Bills to make it harder for unions to do their work were ALEC bills. Bills to basically block climate change agreements, those were ALEC bills. When I looked at them, I was really shocked. I didn't know how incredibly extensive and deep and far-reaching this effort to rework our laws was.

BILL MOYERS: She and her team begin to plow to ALEC's documents, as well as public sources, to compile a list of the organizations and people who were or have been ALEC members. They found hundreds of corporations, from Coca-Cola and Koch Industries to ExxonMobil, Pfizer and Wal-Mart; dozens of right-wing think tanks and foundations; two dozen corporate law firms and lobbying firms; and some thousand state legislators, a few of them Democrats, the majority of them Republican.

STATE REP. MARK POCAN: ALEC is a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests that eventually the relationship culminates with some special interest legislation, and, hopefully, that lives happily ever after as the ALEC model. Unfortunately, what's excluded from that equation is the public.

BILL MOYERS: In the Wisconsin Statehouse, Democratic Representative Mark Pocan is trying to expose ALEC's fingerprints whenever he can. By one count, over a third of Pocan's fellow Wisconsin lawmakers are ALEC members.

STATE REP. MARK POCAN: When you look around, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, a lot of members of ALEC. Front row, ALEC. When you start going down to, you know, the chair of finance and some of the other members, are all ALEC members - in fact, ALEC co-chair for the state - row by row, you can point out people who have been members of ALEC over the years.

There's two main categories they have. One is how to reduce the size of government. And the other half of it is this model legislation that's in the corporate good - in other words, this profit-driven legislation: how can you open up a new market, how can you privatize something that can open up a market for a company? And between those two divisions, you're kind of getting to the same end goal, which is really kind of ultimate privatization of everything.

BILL MOYERS: Mark Pocan is something of an expert on ALEC. In fact, to learn as much as he could, he became a member.

STATE REP. MARK POCAN: What I had realized is if you join ALEC for a mere $100 as a legislator, you have the full access, like any corporate member.

BILL MOYERS: He also took himself to an ALEC conference for a firsthand look.

STATE REP. MARK POCAN: Hi. I'm State Representative Mark Pocan, and welcome to my video blog. I'm outside the Marriott on Canal Street in New Orleans at the ALEC convention, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

That was where you watched the interaction of a room full of lobbyists. You know, free drinks, free cigars, wining, dining. Many people just came from a dinner that was sponsored by some special interest, coming to a party that's sponsored by a special interest, so they can continue to talk about special interests.

LISA GRAVES: This is from the New Orleans convention. This includes a number of seminars that they held for legislators, including one called "Warming Up to Climate Change: The Many Benefits of Increased Atmospheric CO2."

BILL MOYERS: That 2011 ALEC conference, lo and behold, was sponsored by BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell, among others. Another of its events featured guns.

LISA GRAVES: This is the NRA-sponsored shooting event, for legislators and for lobbyists. Free.

BILL MOYERS: There was even one offering free cigars.

LISA GRAVES: Sponsored by Reynolds American, which is one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world, and the Cigar Association of America.

BILL MOYERS: It sounds like lobbying. It looks like lobbying. It smells like lobbying. But ALEC says it's not lobbying. In fact, ALEC operates not as a lobby group but as a nonprofit, a charity. In its filing with the IRS, ALEC says its mission is education, which means it pays no taxes and its corporate members get a tax write-off. Its legislators get a lot, too.

STATE REP. MARK POCAN: In Wisconsin, I can't take anything of value from a lobbyist. I can't take a cup of coffee from a lobbyist. At ALEC, it's just the opposite. You know, you get there, and you're being wined and dined by corporate interests. I can go down there and be wined and dined for days in order to hear about their special legislation. I mean, the head of Shell Oil flew in on his private jet to come to this conference. The head of one of the largest utility companies in the country was there on a panel, a utility company in 13 states. And here he is presenting to legislators. I mean, they clearly brought in some of the biggest corporate names in special interestdom and had them meeting with legislators, because a lot of business transpires at these events.

AMY GOODMAN: The United States of ALEC. We will return to Bill Moyers' special report in a moment.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn to part two of The United States of ALEC, a special report by Bill Moyers. It's airing this weekend on Moyers & Company but is premiering today here on Democracy Now!

BILL MOYERS: The most important business happens in what ALEC calls "task forces." There are currently eight of them, with a corporate take on every important issue in American life, from health and safety to the environment, to taxation. In ALEC task forces, elected state officials and corporate representatives close the doors to press and public and together approve the bills that will be sent out to America. But Americans have no idea they come from ALEC, unless someone like a Mark Pocan exposes it.

STATE REP. MARK POCAN: When I went down to New Orleans to the ALEC convention last August, I remember going to a workshop and hearing a little bit about a bill they did in Florida and some other states, and there was a proposal to provide special needs scholarships. And lo and behold, all of a sudden I come back to Wisconsin, and what gets introduced? Get ready; I know you're going to have a shocked look on your face. A bill to do just that.

BILL MOYERS: Twenty-six ALEC members in the Wisconsin legislature sponsored that special needs bill, but the real sponsor was ALEC. Pocan knew, because the bill bore a striking resemblance to ALEC's model. Have a look.

But Pocan isn't only concerned that ALEC sneaks bills into the state legislature. The intent behind the bills troubles him, too.

STATE REP. MARK POCAN: Some of their legislation sounds so innocuous, but when you start to read about why they're doing it, you know there's a far different reason why something's coming forward, and that's important. If the average person knew that a bill like this came from some group like ALEC, you'll look at the bill very differently, and you might look at that legislator a little differently about why they introduced it.

This is not about education. This is not about helping kids with special needs. This is about privatization. This is about corporate profits. And this is about dismantling public education.

BILL MOYERS: The bill passed in the Wisconsin House but failed to make it through the Senate. However, in its education report card, ALEC boasts that similar bills have passed in Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Carolina and Ohio. ALEC's education agenda includes online schooling, as well. Take a careful look, and you'll find the profit motive there, too.

LISA GRAVES: What you see is corporations that have a direct benefit, whose bottom line directly benefits from these bills, voting on these bills in the ALEC task force. And so, corporations like Connections Academy, corporations like K12, they have a direct financial interest in advancing this agenda.

BILL MOYERS: Those corporations, Connections Academy and K12, which specialize in online education, can profit handsomely from laws that direct taxpayer money toward businesses like theirs. In 2011, both sat on ALEC's Education Task Force. But the two companies didn't just approve the model bill, they helped craft it. The proof is in one of ALEC's own documents. And there's more to the story.

STATE SEN. DOLORES GRESHAM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. House Bill 1030 has to do with the establishment of virtual public schools.

BILL MOYERS: Last year, an online schooling bill based on the ALEC model turned up in another state where ALEC has a powerful influence: Tennessee. It was introduced in both the state Senate and House by ALEC members. The bill passed, making private corporations eligible for public money for online education. Then, within weeks, the K12 corporation got what amounted to a no-bid contract to provide online education to any Tennessee student from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

So, let's review. The ALEC member corporations helped craft the bill. ALEC legislators introduced it and vote on it. And now there's a state law on the books that enables one of those corporations to get state money. Game, set, match. But remember, this story isn't about one company and the education industry and one law in Tennessee; it's about hundreds of corporations in most every industry influencing lawmakers in state after state, using ALEC as a front.

Here's another example. The American Bail Coalition, which represents the bail bond industry, pulls no punches about writing ALEC's model bills itself. In a newsletter a few years back, the coalition boasted that it had written 12 ALEC model bills fortifying the commercial bail industry. Here's Jerry Watson, senior legal counsel for the coalition, speaking at an ALEC meeting in 2007. He has a law to offer.

JERRY WATSON: There is a model bill for you to review, if you might be interested in introducing such a measure.

BILL MOYERS: He'll even help legislators amend it.

JERRY WATSON: Now, if you don't like the precise language of these suggested documents, can they be tweaked by your legislative council? Well, absolutely. And will we work with them on that and work with you and your staff on that? Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: All the lawmakers have to do is ring him up.

JERRY WATSON: There is a phone number there for our executive offices in Washington, D.C. We're prepared to help you and your staff and support this legislation in any way that we can.

BILL MOYERS: And guess what? There's gold at the end of the rainbow.

JERRY WATSON: But I'm not so crazy as not to know that you've already figured out that if I can talk you into doing this bill, my clients are going to make a - some money on the bond premiums.

BILL MOYERS: And corporate interest conflated with the public interest.

JERRY WATSON: But if we can help you save crime victims in your legislative district and generate positive revenue for your state and help solve your prison overcrowding problem, you don't mind me making a dollar.

BILL MOYERS: ALEC members are seldom as upfront as the American Bail Coalition. In fact, ordinarily, ALEC's hand is very hard to see at all. But if you know where to look, you'll often find ALEC hiding in plain sight.

LISA GRAVES: ALEC has, in addition to its regular vacation resort trips, it also has special, what it calls "boot camps" on particular substantive issues.

BILL MOYERS: In March 2011, ALEC held one of those boot camps for legislators at the North Carolina Capitol in Raleigh. The subject was so-called tort reform, how to keep the average Joe from successfully suing a corporation for damages. The day after the boot camp, two state representatives presented the draft version of a House bill chock-full of ALEC priorities. It would, among other things, limit corporate product liability in North Carolina. One of the representatives, Johnathan Rhyne, was quoted in the Raleigh News [&] Observer saying of ALEC, "I really don't know much about them." That's odd, because Rhyne had been listed as a featured speaker at the ALEC tort reform boot camp. The paper also reported that Rhyne said the bill wasn't copied from ALEC model legislation. That, too, is odd, given how the sections covering product liability could have passed as twins.

The bill was controversial. It passed, but only after the product liability sections were taken out of it. But the tort reformers didn't give up. They were back a year later, this time with a draft bill aimed specifically to limit the liability of drug manufacturers. When the public was allowed to comment before a legislative panel, people who had lost loved ones came to testify against the bill. A son who had lost a father.

SURVIVING SON: You know, my dad's gone. All I can do is sit here and be a voice for him. He can't speak anymore.

BILL MOYERS: A grandfather mourning his granddaughter.

SURVIVING GRANDFATHER: If this bill passes, an innocent victim in North Carolina like Brittany could not hold a manufacturer accountable. Everyone needs to be accountable for their actions.

BILL MOYERS: Unmentioned to those in the room, ALEC was present, too, in the form of a lobbyist with drug manufacturing giant GlaxoSmithKline. His name is John Del Giorno.

JOHN DEL GIORNO: Several of the opposing testifiers today brought up very compelling, sad, empathetic stories.

BILL MOYERS: Not only is Glaxo an ALEC corporate member, Del Giorno himself is also a vice chairman of ALEC's national private enterprise board. The North Carolina bill has been tabled for now.

So now you've seen how it works for corporations. How about for the politicians?

ANDERSON COOPER: Last night was, as the president finally acknowledged today, a shellacking. Republicans gained control of the House, picking up 60 seats so far.

BILL MOYERS: When all of the returns were counted on election night 2010, ALEC was a big winner. Eight of the Republican governors elected or re-elected that night had ties to the group.

GOV.-ELECT JOHN KASICH: Guess what? I'm going to be governor of Ohio!

GOV.-ELECT NIKKI HALEY: There's going to be a lot of news and a lot of observers that say that we made history.

GOV. JAN BREWER: A clean sweep for Republicans!

BILL MOYERS: And a star was born that election night: Wisconsin's new governor, a son of ALEC named Scott Walker.

GOV.-ELECT SCOTT WALKER: Wisconsin is open for business!

JOHN NICHOLS: I've known Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, for the better part of 20 years. And Scott is a classic career politician. And I don't say that in a negative way.

BILL MOYERS: Journalist and Wisconsinite John Nichols has tracked Scott Walker's career since the '90s, when Walker was a state legislator and then-ALEC member.

JOHN NICHOLS: And in 2010, he ran, not presenting himself as an ALEC alumni or as a ally of big corporations or big business people outside the state; he ran a very down-home campaign.

SCOTT WALKER: This is my lunch. I pack a brown bag each day so I can save some money to spend on, you know, the more important things in life, like sending my kids to college.

BILL MOYERS: Nichols says that despite the folksy image, in the years leading up to Walker's 2010 campaign, he had become a master political fundraiser.

JOHN NICHOLS: And he began to really forge incredibly close ties with a lot of corporate interests that he had first been introduced to in ALEC, individuals and groups like the Koch brothers.

BILL MOYERS: David and Charles Koch, the billionaire businessmen behind the vast industrial empire, are also political activists with an agenda. Their companies and foundations have been ALEC members and funders for years.

JOHN NICHOLS: The Koch brothers were among the two or three largest contributors to Scott Walker's campaign for governor of Wisconsin. And the Koch brothers get that if you really want to influence the politics of this country, you don't just give money to presidential campaigns, you don't just give money to congressional campaign committees. The smart ones, the smart players, put their money in the states.

SCOTT WALKER: Hi. I'm Scott Walker.

JOHN NICHOLS: It's state government that funds education, social services. And it taxes.

SCOTT WALKER: If you want lower taxes and less government, I'm Scott Walker, and I know how to get the job done.

JOHN NICHOLS: And so, the smart donors can change the whole country without ever going to Washington, without ever having to go through a congressional hearing, without ever having to lobby on Capitol Hill, without ever having to talk to the president.

JUSTICE SHIRLEY ABRAHAMSON: Please raise your right hand and repeat after me.

BILL MOYERS: The new governor moved quickly with a raft of ALEC-inspired bills. They included one similar to Florida's "stand your ground." Another made it easier to carry concealed weapons. There was a resolution opposing the mandated purchase of health insurance. And, of course, there was one limiting corporate liability. The Wisconsin legislature passed a so-called tort reform measure that included parts of eight different ALEC models. ALEC was elated, praising Walker and the legislature in a press release for their, quote, "immediate attention to reforming the state's legal system." But Scott Walker was also shooting for another big ALEC prize.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Now, some have questioned why we have to reform collective bargaining.

BILL MOYERS: Taking away workers' collective bargaining rights, that had long been an ALEC goal. A candid video caught Scott Walker talking about it with one of his financial backers, the billionaire businesswoman Diane Hendricks.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is, we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions.


GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Because you just divide and conquer.

BILL MOYERS: Despite an extraordinary public outcry and after a brief but intense political struggle, Walker's anti-collective-bargaining measures became state law.

JOHN NICHOLS: It was ALEC's ideas, ALEC's values, that permeated the bill and undid almost 50 years - more than 50 years of collective bargaining law in Wisconsin.

BILL MOYERS: But again, remember, this isn't just about one state. It's about every state. Take Arizona. It's practically an ALEC subsidiary. One report this year found that 49 of the state's 90 legislators are members. And two-thirds of the Republican leadership are on ALEC task forces. And, of course, the governor, Jan Brewer, was an ALEC member, too. So, not surprising, Arizona is among the states passing ALEC-inspired laws to privatize education at taxpayer expense. And no surprise again, Arizona is also getting ALEC-like laws to limit corporate liability.

REPORTER: Police will also be able to ask anyone to prove their legal status.

BILL MOYERS: And Arizona, you'll recall, made news in 2010 with a law allowing police to stop someone for looking Hispanic and detaining them if they weren't carrying proper papers. So, it probably won't shock you to learn that Arizona's immigration law also inspired an ALEC model, a version of which was passed in five other states.

STATE REP. STEVE FARLEY: All of us here are very familiar with ALEC and the influence that ALEC has with many of the members here.

BILL MOYERS: ALEC's nomination of Arizona proved too much for State Representative Steve Farley.

STATE REP. STEVE FARLEY: I just want to emphasize, it's fine for corporations to be involved in the process. Corporations have the right to present their arguments. But they don't have the right to do it secretly. They don't have the right to lobby people and not register as lobbyists. They don't have the right to take people away on trips, convince them of it, and send them back here, and then nobody has seen what's really gone on and how that legislator has gotten that idea and where is it coming from.

BILL MOYERS: Farley has introduced a bill to force legislators to disclose their ALEC ties, just as the law already requires them to do with any lobbyist.

STATE REP. STEVE FARLEY: All I'm asking in the ALEC Accountability Act is to make sure that all of those expenses are reported as if they are lobbying expenses, and all those gifts that legislators received are reported as if they are receiving the gifts from lobbyists, so the public can find out and make up their own minds about who is influencing what.

BILL MOYERS: Steve Farley's bill has gone nowhere. ALEC, on the other hand, is still everywhere, still hiding in plain sight. Watch for it coming soon to a statehouse near you.

AMY GOODMAN: The United States of ALEC, a special report by Bill Moyers. It will air this weekend on Moyers & Company. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. Back in a minute. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+19 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-09-28 22:55
Next it's TPP. Wake up America. Boycott the corporations that sponsor/sponsor ed these blood suckers.
+25 # BeaDeeBunker 2012-09-29 03:11
Every elected official who has taken the oath of office, and has also signed ALEC's pledge of 'No Taxes, No Way' is guilty of treason, since no one serving in public office can serve two masters!

In a representative democracy, when you take that sworn oath, you swear to have only one master, that being the people you represent, period. Anything else is a gross conflict of interest. Serving a second master, especially if you serve that master in secret, is an act of treason. You act as a Fifth Columnist, a treasonous offense, and you are subject to full prosecution under the laws of the United States of America.

This is what I believe, as a first generation American citizen.
+14 # WolfTotem 2012-09-29 03:49
“The proposal of any new law or regulation which comes from this order [the businessmen] ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.”
Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations

Adam Smith is, of course, the patron saint of free market economics, but if they met him, ALEC et al would probably regard as a Commie the man who wrote: “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion."

Smith deeply mistrusted what we'd call special interest lobbies: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

ALEC may seem to be promoting free markets but in reality they're far more retrograde: pushing a new feudalism, but one in which the corporate barons provide the serfs - us - with no protection. As Smith wrote:
"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."
+14 # angelfish 2012-09-29 09:01
All that ALEC has done is, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, allowed Big Business the Extraordinary opportunity to Rape the American people at will! WHERE are the Congressmen who will STAND UP for Americans rather than lay down for organizations like ALEC? This is sickening and hard to realize that it's been going on SINCE Reagan and, probably, well before! HOW do we get them and ALL Lobbyists who feed at the National Teat, OFF it? The ReTHUGlican make me laugh, complaining about poor people on the Welfare Dime! What about THESE Blood Suckers? Remember in November and never, EVER vote ReTHUGlican!
+3 # Jim Young 2012-09-29 12:50
Greenspan said, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.

I say: "If you put “piratizers” in charge of the Sahara, they would want more than our GDP in bailouts to save a rigged financial system that would let them hoard it off shore, claim they had 5 times as much sand when sucking in investors (but would claim only 2% of it was taxable on their returns) and not let anyone use it productively."

Watch (full version). If we privatize everything, we will end up renting water and air from them. They will buy it with junk financial instruments, "own" all the real sand and 5 times as much fictional sand, while complaining about the lowest taxes in modern history, and ridiculing their version of "free loaders" that don't earn enough to pay INCOME taxes (while they are the biggest free loaders of all with $16.6 trillion in bailouts we gave them and the hoarded $32 trillion they keep off shore

See and Bush appointee, Sheila Bair's latest,

I don't need infotainment people (Fox, NewsMax especially) passing themselves off as experts (accusing at least 33 times as many real experts of being wrong or misleading).
+9 # DorothyK 2012-09-29 10:54
How can we find out which candidates or legislators are members of ALEC? As the article says, they work at local level. Therefore, we have to start at local level. I will NEVER knowingly vote for any candidate with membership in
in ALEC, and I will NEVER vote Republican/Tea party. I just need to know how to discover a candidate's affiliation with ALEC.
And how do we discover which corporations are members of ALEC? I will do my best to NEVER spend any money with their business. My little bit of spending might not mean anything, but I'm positive that it will have an impact if we ALL boycott these corporations. Again, as the article says, we have to start at the local level.
0 # waldemar 2012-10-03 23:02
Go to
It has all the known politicians registered with ALEC.
+5 # mdhome 2012-09-29 10:58
disgusting, a way for corporations to take your tax money.
+6 # DorothyK 2012-09-29 11:01
+5 # David Starr 2012-09-29 12:15
Quoting Ronald Bonzo Reagan: "ALEC has forged a unique partnership between state legislators and leaders from the corporate and business community. This partnership offers businessmen the extraordinary opportunity to apply their talents to solve our nation's problems and build on our opportunities."

Quite an unwitting, prettyfied admission. It sounds like corporations and government are merging together more and more. So a goverment by and for the people is becoming privatized as a goverment by and for the corporation?
Solving the nation's problems and building on the nation's opportunities should be prioritized as a peoples' issue, not private capital, again, dominating public labor and policies..
+4 # Jim Young 2012-09-29 13:12
We all did about 14.7% better under Clinton, though the top few percent improved more than the lower quintiles, just as they had begun to do under Reagan. Reagan adjusted tax rates (cut loopholes and bad incentives without calling the revenue increases that took back 1/3 of his cuts as actual tax increases by another name). We all did 5% worse under Bush 43, though the top few percent lost (or gained less) than under Clinton. Amazingly, the top few percent have done better under Obama than anyone in recent history according to

I really don't care how much the top makes as long as they do it in ways that quit gutting the middle so much that our overall economy suffers. There is a danger in them acquiring ownership of everything, taking us back to something like the English manor system with less productive "tenants and laborers," but there is room for them to take far more than many would consider their fair share (4 or 5 times more than they used to get for their now junky services that have 5 times as much speculation as real investment). See and Bush appointee, Sheila Bair's latest,
+3 # David Starr 2012-09-29 14:49
@Jim Young: Nice briefing of Reagan's dealing with tax rates. Altough it was better under Clinton, in terms of percentages, it doesn't sound as significant as, as you put, them acquiring onwership of everything. That's the point with both Repubs and Dems: Being ideologically the same, and thus forming the kinds of policies accordingly within governent, this has a chance of being perpetual, unless there's a real, ireversible change in ideology. Capital continues to dominate labor. With that, it will be business as usual. It doesn't matter to me if the few have done well under Obama in terms if it being some positive feat. Especially since the recent history of deregulation, financial sector domination of the economy, and with that the banks more able to "gamble" with peoples' money-and as a result, the 2008 Great Recession-the situation hasn't really changed when it comes to both "parties" and the private corprorate beaucracy doing that "economic voodoo" they do so well; or badly. Rather than tinker the symptoms, the disease itself should be cured.

Recommendation: the documentary, "Inside Job," giving the entangled details.

I beleive Abraham Lincoln once said that labor is superior to capital. Yeah, having capital work to promote the general welfare, not private monopoly.
-1 # Jim Young 2012-09-30 09:24
Quoting David Starr:

Recommendation: the documentary, "Inside Job," giving the entangled details.

"Inside Job" is a great way to see the problem for open minded people, but generates automatic negative reactions in those who prefer to let infotainers give them their talking points. I have very many very conservative friends, so, in accordance with Kareem Abdul Jabbar's advice to "try to get my point across without offending or confusing people," I prefer to refer only to expert sources within the industries that came up with what they thought were good ideas. Many were well intentioned, but too many ignored unintended consequences or to in any way account for past failures of similar policies. "Money, Power and Wall Street" shows mostly well intentioned experts in their fields. This article and other ones I've mentioned in other posts, try to stick to the experts in the field, in the hopes that a few of my old friends will take a minute or two to actually do more research. I'm encouraged by the ones that do ask for more background on the 97% of ads that are sometimes so negative they have trouble believing them.
+2 # David Starr 2012-09-30 12:45
@Jim Young: Quoting: "'Inside Job' is a great way to see the problem for open minded people, but generates negative reactions in those who prefer to let infotainers give them their talking points." Yes, an unfortunatley valid point; the dumbed down effect.

But is it a case of simply letting them stay unaware, e.g., the possibility of them not to going beyond the talking point, perhaps perpetually?

That doesn't help them or society if the current situation continues. I'm not saying to conduct a Stalinist purge. Simply, getting info out there and hope more people will be in tune with it, rather than the talking points. Plus, I'm not exactly fond of a person playing president destroying many peoples' lives in a fabricated war. And it's been a historical pattern. Thus, thinking of the next "cooked up" war, the pattern will, hopefully not, continue. So, somehow, effectively, tactically and directly in the appropriate circumstances, the Left opposition has to be persistent.

Abdul Jabbar's comment cannot be dismissed, since it's sensible...but ideally. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but we do have shades of gray to go along with B/W. I would prefer a civil discussion, but when you have a side wanting to take us back to some kind of "Dark Age," and being incompetently, or perhaps, dangerously, belligerent about it, it becomes difficult when you have a side "hellbent" on imposing that agenda; and when a lot is a stake.
+6 # chrisconnolly 2012-09-29 12:16
Not only do these malevolent corporations want to privatize every public service, they already get to collect our payroll taxes only to pocket them. The states do this to satisfy the extortive threats by corporations of taking job creating business elsewhere. The ALEC's of our country are out to turn us into their surfs(slaves) while denying us all protections. Please vote only Democrat for now.
+1 # Jim Young 2012-09-29 12:59
Quoting chrisconnolly:
Not only do these malevolent corporations want to privatize every public service, they already get to collect our payroll taxes only to pocket them. The states do this to satisfy the extortive threats by corporations of taking job creating business elsewhere. The ALEC's of our country are out to turn us into their surfs(slaves) while denying us all protections. Please vote only Democrat for now.

I'm peeking into British history to see how well (or poorly) this did for them as we passed them by in real productive output and per capita GDP in the 19th century. Why would we want to be tenant or laborers under a system that takes us back 150 years? See for an idea of how it was supposed to work for them before the reality check of unintended consequences trumped dogma.
-2 # brux 2012-09-29 13:06
The vision of the future pushed on us by these kinds of groups does not meet with what people want and expect the government to do.

I can understand how corporations and government need to work together, no one really says they should not, what I object to is the people being ignored and in many cases just thought of as irrelevant slaves in the system for the use of the corporations and military.

The people need a voice in what kind of lives they want and what kind of country - without that we have what is basically and oppressive fascist tyranny.

It seems like America has come to the point, again, where we think we can decide to only please enough people and power at the top and decide that everyone else is expendable or irrelevant and need to be pushed down and exploited. That is not the American way and we cannot even call ourselves America if we behave that way towards our own people.

By the way, if we want a democracy we cannot keep allowing people from countries with no democratic tradition to move here and engage in full politics, that is what ends up ruining democracy more than anything.
+4 # Kathymoi 2012-09-29 14:31
I love Bill Moyers! Thank you, Mr. Moyers.
This is a very clear report. Plenty of information in here.
+5 # billeeboy 2012-09-29 15:08
All empires implode when they over reach and become corrupt. There is no reason to think the American Empire will escape this historical imperative. American Exceptionalism, indeed!
0 # waldemar 2012-10-03 23:04
To learn more about ALEC, and see which politicians & corporations are members, go to

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