ALEC Exposed — This Is Huge!

The secret, corporate-written agenda of the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council has been leaked. Take a look at ALEC Exposed. This is HUGE — spend some time there looking around.
Here is more info:

In April 2011, some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. met behind closed doors in Cincinnati about their wish lists for changing state laws. This exchange was part of a series of corporate meetings nurtured and fueled by the Koch Industries family fortune and other corporate funding.
… There, as the Center for Media and Democracy has learned, these corporate-politician committees secretly voted on bills to rewrite numerous state laws. According to the documents we have posted to ALEC Exposed, corporations vote as equals with elected politicians on these bills. These task forces target legal rules that reach into almost every area of American life: worker and consumer rights, education, the rights of Americans injured or killed by corporations, taxes, health care, immigration, and the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink.
The Center obtained copies of more than 800 model bills approved by companies through ALEC meetings, after one of the thousands of people with access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center. Those bills, which the Center has analyzed and marked-up, are now available at ALEC Exposed.

From a press release:
“An examination of the broad sweep of bills exposes a very radical agenda. Why is Wal-Mart involved with an organization that wants to turn Medicare and Medicaid into voucher plans? Why is Kraft working with a group that wants to privatize the public school system? Why is Coca Cola going along with efforts to take away voting rights from college students? Why are Bayer and Pfizer and all the big insurance firms in bed with big tobacco? We hope people will start asking these firms, which are all on ALEC’s corporate board, to quit undermining our democracy through ALEC,” said Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy.

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False Conventional Wisdom In The UK, Too

In England people “know” many of the same false things that people here “know.” Except in England the false things work against English working people instead of against American working people.
I am in England this week and next and am enjoying some pub conversations while here. (Several pubs, actually. Heh.) Here are some of the things that at least some British working people “know.” I think you will find them to be familiar:

  • The reason so many people are unemployed is because the government spends too much money.
  • Public employees get lavish pensions, which is part of why working people are falling behind.
  • The government spends a lot of its money helping countries in Africa and other places.
  • People are living much longer than they used to, so the retirement age should be raised.
  • The government gives a lot of money to people who come here from other countries and then get handouts that the rest of us (British) pay for.
  • Also, there are too many lawsuits.

Sound Familiar?
Does this sound familiar? It looks like the same false propaganda is being served up here in the UK — but with a UK twist. For example, the retirement system here isn’t “going broke,” it just isn’t affordable. (How come no one says our military is “going broke” or unaffordable?) People are coming here from Eastern Europe, not Mexico. The differences stand out for the similarities of the rest of it. Things that work to create anti-government tension and panic get reformatted and used elsewhere. Hey, if it works, why reinvent the wheel?
I did not hear that the problems come from companies not paying taxes, from bailing out the big banks, from the cost of wars, etc. I haven’t probed or argued, just asked what people think to see what is on people’s minds.
I have to emphasize this is just from some conversations and not with all that many people at all. I’m only writing because of the similarities of the justifications for cutting back on things working people get from their government. Again, this is just a few people. It’s like the old newspaper-pundit cab-driver test of conventional wisdom. But I heard echoes of the same stuff that is being dished out in the US.
Things We Know
Everyone reading this has read or is familiar with the premise of The Shock Doctrine (I hope) and maybe Winner-Take-All-Politics and The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy and some of the other key books. Anyway, we all see clearly what is going on behind these things that people “know.” We understand how it works, what the public is hearing and why, who they are hearing this from, and how people are being set against each other and distracted from what is really happening. Working people are being tricked into giving up their share of the common wealth, etc. We get it.
What To Do
But what do we do about it? I think our task, as always, is to get more info out to the public. As more people understand how shock-doctrine attacks work they are more able to resist them. But how do we get more info out to the public? And how do we do that without it sounding like WE are the nutcases? I mean, if you try to tell regular people the crazy things the right is planning for them you sound like an extremist for even saying such things. People are really tuned out these days and don’t see what is happening.
I think sites like OurFuture.org, AlterNet, Daily Kos, FDL, Crooks and Liars, etc. have developed a progressive information ecosystem where things are being explained a dozen ways, and understood, and reinforced, over and over, and a lot of people spend time there they are getting it. So how do we drive more people to those sites? How do we loop more people into the information ecosystem we have going on?
ONE thing I think we can do is ask our labor friends to start bringing their membership in to this loop. I think we have gotten the blogosphere tuned into labor issues, and it’s time for the labor community to start joining back with us now. Join the conversation, help us understand your viewpoint, while we all help; each other understand what is happening to us.
Maybe we can make the blogs and site more accessible to new people who show up to check it out, and explain more about how the comments work, about how to write a diary, etc… Maybe we all need “what this site is about” videos… I think this is a good next step.
What do you think? I think we have to start reaching more and more of the public. We owe it to them. How can we accomplish this?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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