Can I tell you something. Got to tell you one thing. If you expect the freedom that you say is yours prove that you deserve it. Help us to preserve it or being free will just be words and nothing more.
Kansas, 1974

Friday, July 22, 2011

Who does write legislation these days?

So is this how we ended up with a bill 2000 pages long that: no one actually took credit for writing; legislators voted on and passed into law without having read it; while insisting that the bill needs to be made law first for the public to find out what's in it; and is having a boatload of "unintended" consequences for most of America? Somebody somewhere cooked us up a healthcare reform model bill to foist on the American people? Hey it's outsourcing!
Who's Really Writing States' Legislation?

Legislators in ALEC pay a minimal fee to join the group, while corporations pay much more — up to $25,000, Nichols says.

"But once they're in, they sit at the same table," he says. "On the board of ALEC, you have an equal number of legislators and corporate members. ... They then set up task forces to deal with topics like health care, education, election law, and you have an equal number of legislators and corporate and/or interest groups [and] think tanks in each grouping. They have to agree on any model bill or model resolution."
The story is about a super bad double plus ungood unholy alliance between state level Republican politicians and corporations. Surely Americans aren't naive enough to think that Republican politicians are the only ones who do this or that this kind of influence doesn't occur at the federal level. I'm not making any judgements about whether this is a good or bad thing. Okay maybe I am because looking at what we've gotten so far out of the healthcare reform debacle I am not at all impressed. I'm waiting for a document dump from some left leaning ALEC type groups so we can all get in on the vain* popping faux outrage that just confirms what we already thought about the other side all along anyway.

Moving right along to my next comment the following was an amusing read.
Nichols, a political reporter for The Nation, recently wrote the introduction and co-authored two in a series of articles about the relationship that state-based legislators have with a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations to draft model bills that can then be introduced at the state level of government. An archive of ALEC documents was recently leaked to the Center for Media and Democracy.

"All of those pieces of legislation and those resolutions [in the documents] really err toward a goal, and that goal is the advancement of an agenda that seems to be dictated at almost every turn by multinational corporations," Nichols tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It's to clear the way for lower taxes, less regulation, a lot of protection against lawsuits, [and] ALEC is very, very active in [the] opening up of areas via privatization for corporations to make more money, particularly in places you might not usually expect like public education."
He says all of that like it is automatically a bad thing. I guess it all depends on which pair of rose tinted ideological glasses you're wearing on any given day.

*I initially typed "vain" then corrected it to "vein" then changed it back because their does seem to be a strong strain to vain self righteous preening running through the comments I've read on this so far. There's nothing that makes people feel so good as finding something to confirm their low opinion of those people (said in the snootiest most disdainful voice you can muster).

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