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Monday, March 26, 2012

Paul Krugman: Lobbyists, Guns and Money

The increasing "corporatization of our political life" has far reaching consequences:

Lobbyists, Guns and Money, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Florida’s now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening..., 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...
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. ...
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 — ...turning ... public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization ... are ... very much involved with the organization.
What this tells us ... is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government ... 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 steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC ... is about expanding crony capitalism. ...
Yet that’s not all; you have to think about the interests of the penal-industrial complex — prison operators, bail-bond companies and more. ... This complex has a financial stake in anything that sends more people into the courts and the prisons, whether it’s exaggerated fear of racial minorities or Arizona’s draconian immigration law, a law that followed an ALEC template...
Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population.
Now, ALEC isn’t single-handedly responsible for the corporatization of our political life... But shining a light on ALEC and its supporters — a roster that includes many companies, from AT&T and Coca-Cola to UPS, that have so far managed to avoid being publicly associated with the hard-right agenda — is one good way to highlight what’s going on. And that kind of knowledge is what we need to start taking our country back.

    Posted by on Monday, March 26, 2012 at 12:42 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (77)

          


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