Paul Krugman writes that one of the consequences of the Trayvon Martin shooting is that people are beginning to focus on so called Stand Your Ground Laws and the people behind them. What we’re discovering is that the people behind these laws have gathered under the acronym ALEC. And the truth is they are “the usual suspects:”
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.
Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.
What’s truly disturbing is how an oligarchy has stayed under the radar. In a nation which supposedly stands for open government, covert operations — military or civilian — have become a widely practised art. More than that, writes Krugman, the so called proponents of “free market capitalism” have actually worked hard to make crony capitalism as American as NASCAR:
What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.
The snake oil salesmen are on a roll.