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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lies, Hypocrisy, Public Ignorance: The REAL Budget Toolkit

States & Nation Policy Summit in December 2009
Michael Hough, Task Force Director

Information contained in this blog is taken from "Inside ALEC" - a publication of the American Legislative Exchange Council. "Inside ALEC" is available only to its members. (I thought one could find just about anything on eBay, but I've checked and have never been able to find copies of this publication.) I did not cover all of the model legislation that appeared in this magazine - just that which I considered really blatant examples of their agenda. In actuality, in 2009 they proposed over 800 pieces of model legislation. 

This is some of what appeared in the January/February 2010 edition of "Inside ALEC".

1. ALEC says that they support the Constitution of the United States completely. They also want to amend any section of the Constitution of the United States that may result in reducing profits. They want to pass legislation that ensures that members have direct political clout/power - immensely beyond what they now have.

2. ALEC wants to prevent the government (police and other agencies, employers) from creating/accessing databases  on criminal history, forcing them to pay for a private service to create accessible databases.
3. Providing nutritional information is expensive. Providing healthy choices in restaurants is expensive. You, the consumer, don't need to know what you are ordering. 
4. The ALEC definition of "Quality Higher Education" is private colleges - they want to eliminate state-run colleges. Checked into tuition lately? Admission requirements for most private colleges? Can you afford it? Will your "C" student be accepted?

5. You may have good reason to send your child to a private, for-profit in many cases, school. Those for-profit schools, after all, are in many cases ALEC members, too... they will pay teachers less, require minimal education for those teachers. The implications of this are enormous and I cannot begin to enumerate them here.
6. Perhaps you've been fortunate thus far and have not ever needed to rely on Medicaid. Doubtless you know of someone who's been forced to - a child born with a disability, an elderly person whose savings have been decimated by paying for medical care or having to be in a nursing home. It could happen to ANY OF US. You need only to listen to the news to know that millions of people will be affected by the legislation now being proposed to drastically cut the availability of this safety net.
7. The European Union currently bans the sale of snus (smokeless tobacco, "chew", whatever you want to call it). Philip Morris, the tobacco company and an ALEC member, has seen profits drop greatly as people in the US quit smoking. The proposed "Model Legislation" solves this "problem" -  the US will urge the EU to drop their ban.
8. Remember the "Buy American" movement? The one that keeps jobs in the US? Forget it. We will reward countries that allow US corporations to move in and perpetrate the ALEC agenda.
9. Many countries can now be considered "Young Democracies". A resolution is proposed by ALEC that their corporate members take over the governments of these countries, ostensibly to prevent these "immature" governments from sliding back into authoritarianism. It doesn't take a mental giant to realize that this would be extremely profitable, create a dependence upon these corporations, and hey, ALEC is all about its OWN authoritarianism (see any of the other points in this blog).
10. Create a mandate to allow time (AT YOUR EXPENSE) for legislators to be "educated" (indoctrinated is a better term, is it not?) to support ALEC's "Model Legislation" - again, this legislation is all about corporate profits.
11. While we're at it, let's prevent the US government from buying any "alternative or synthetic fuels". We're perfectly fine with our reliance on the oil companies that are ALEC members.
12. Hydraulic Fracking is a process of drilling into the earth, injecting a mixture of chemicals and water, among other things, to extract natural gas. Perfectly safe, according to ALEC and its corporate members involved in fracking. Would you prefer to drink, cook with, bathe with, give your children, water that does NOT contain 17x  the normal level of methane? (Studies have documented that this is common in areas near fracking operations.) Would you prefer that you NOT be able to light your water on fire straight out of the tap? Not to worry, ALEC members will be more than happy to sell you the bottled water they produce!
Studies are also indicating a tendency to more earthquakes in regions where fracking is common... though scientists are still working on whether there is a causal relationship.
13. ALEC dismisses climate change due to human activities as "junk science". Yet there are certainly profits to be made by corporations that will assist, at a profit, companies with studies of their greenhouse gas emissions, and provide the necessary technology to help 'em reduce those emissions. (I have read ALEC documents that also blame developing countries without as many regulations for the lion's share of greenhouse gas emissions). Companies would be punished for not availing themselves of these "services". Hmmm... perhaps a little bit hypocritical? D'ya think?
14. ALEC wants to eliminate any possibility of establishing federal standards for how elections are run in individual states/counties. Not sure how that benefits anyone, but one only needs to look at Waukesha to see the effects of the lack of standardization.
15. Voter ID bills are also part of this particular piece of "Model Legislation"... another ALEC-created, nonexistent crisis. One ALEC document even encourages legislators to essentially lie to their constituents to garner support for these bills by using anecdotal "evidence" to "prove" rampant voter fraud. An uneducated, easily manipulated, conspiracy-theory-hungry public gobbles this up without question.
16. ALEC "Model Legislation" includes a proposal that would never, ever allow national popular vote. It is almost amusing, in a tragic sort of way, to read their contentions... that this would prevent elected legislators from acting "according to the wishes of the majority of their citizens". That it would "render minority groups voiceless". That it would "empower densely populated and ideologically homogeneous regions as well as radical fringe groups".
17. ALEC wants to prohibit any health-related warning labels on electronic products. Not only that, but this proposed legislation would prohibit retailers from informing customers about any health risks of said products. Apparently "freedom of speech" applies only to their members... including the big-name manufacturers of electronic products, naturally.

Model Legislation

Approved at ALEC's

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