Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rick Snyder & the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Corporatist “Disaster Capitalism” on the Prowl in Michigan

Behold the Nerd Snyder's brass knuckled attacks on public education and local democracy; they are more brazen and destructive than former Gov. Engler's legendary ham-fisted assaults. Über-Ugly is on the rise, again.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is utilizing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) crib notes, a recall offense. The “Nerd” Governor can't make a move without employing ALEC models & policies and support from Michigan’s long history with ALEC and a long list of ALEC members.

Foremost in his attacks is his beefed up Emergency Manager Law and Emergency Managers in Michigan (EM) through Michigan Republican sponsored (led by the EM controlled Benton Harbor's own Phil Pavlov who championed the bill) EM dictatorial powers given Snyder appointed one-man rule set against the rights of local government under Michigan's long revered and respected "local control".

Also, TeaPublican Snyder continues to lead systemic Republican attacks on teachers and public schools (in all categories) and aggressively seeks to take down the very foundations of Michigan Public Education (rules, operations and imposition of privatization).

Lastly many, many areas of Michigan’s laws, rules and regulations are being “adjusted” at a furious pace to fit the whims of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy (spin-off of the national arch-conservative Heritage Foundation), and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) - heavily backed by the Koch Bros. and mega-wealthy families like Michigan's own DeVos & Van Andel clans.

It’s a virtual, spiral corporate feeding frenzy!

Corporate Coups d'état: How ALEC is creating Corporatocracy
across the Nation state-by-state, bill-by-bill, Legislator-by-Legislator

Michigan has become an infamous "Mean TeaPublican" Battleground State

Scott Hagerstrom, the Director of the Koch-funded Michigan Americans for Prosperity (AFP) makes it clear, that it is the Kochs, working directly through ALEC, that have provided the AFP plans to the Michigan Tea Party, to eliminate all organized resistance from the political sphere, and as Scott says, they are aiming to "take the unions out at the knees." This belligerence started in Wisconsin and now it's spreading across the country.

Snyder and crew have sought to make their attacks “below the radar” using methods that accomplish virtually the same things Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker (attempting to raise money in Michigan to fight his recall) has attempted, but doing so in a backhanded way.  Walker’s M.O. has been replacement legislation, Snyder has used "substitution" and "amendments" to settled legislation to accomplish his “re-invention.”

Snyder's in a world of trouble. Snyder's causing the kids of this state, our kids, to go into panic. Their schools, bus transportation, art & music, sports programs, band and field trips, advanced placement classes and/or ability to take a class at a near by college or university (while still in high school) - all this and more, much more is on the cutting table.

The concepts that are the core of the Snyder program (to reinvent by destroying what we have, to rebuild in the mode Rick dictates) use the metrics and formulas of ALEC as found in its fabricated playbook of data and theories in “Rich States, Poor States”.

The American Legislative Executive Council is a heretofore unknown far right, Koch Bros. et. al. think tank - controlled and funded by major corporations which have found a way to force feed the various state legislative bodies with legislation and resolutions championing and directly benefiting their specific needs.

The following is a partial list of ALEC's other corporate backers, those we know of, from Wikipedia:
  • Amway
  • American Nuclear Energy Council
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • Coors Brewing Company
  • Exxon Mobil
  • The National Rifle Association
  • Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America
  • Philip Morris
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
  • Texaco
  • VISA
  • and others.

Groups critical of ALEC claim that the organization is controlled by the entities that fund it’s operations and confabs, subsequently promote these donors' agendas and goals, along with making carefully crafted attempts to advance legislation which favor and advantage their interests.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is a political/ideological powerhouse, second to none. It calls corporate-serving shots nationwide. Most recently the power of ALEC has been laid bare in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, although ALEC subterfuge and "mainlining" of "just-fill-in-the-blanks" corporate written and approve legislation for states has been brought to the public's attention.

Little attention has been paid up until now as to the key early members were, those who set the tone and greased the skids for what has come to follow.

More than 30 years ago, a small group of state legislators and conservative policy advocates met in Chicago to implement a vision:
“A nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty. Their vision and initiative resulted in the creation of a voluntary membership association for people who believed that government closest to the people was fundamentally more effective, more just, and a better guarantor of freedom than the distant, bloated federal government in Washington, D.C.”

At that meeting, in September 1973, state legislators, including:
  • then Illinois State Rep. Henry Hyde,
  • conservative activist Paul Weyrich, leader of the New Traditionalist movement
  • Lou Barnett, a veteran of then Gov. Ronald Reagan’s 1968 presidential campaign
“(These men) together with a handful of others, launched the American Legislative Exchange Council.”

Among those who were involved with ALEC in its formative years were:
“(A)ll of whom moved on to become governors or members of Congress.”

Congressional members who were active during this same period included:
  • Senators John Buckley of New York,
  • Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and
  • Congressmen Phil Crane of Illinois
  • Jack Kemp of New York.
Source: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s home site in “About ALEC”.

Anyone with a smidgen of knowledge about the power and thrust of the Far Right, or what Grand Rapids native former President Jerry Ford called the “Hard Right,” knows the power, impact and influence the above mentioned group of “reactionaries and revolutionaries” on the outer fringe of radical conservatism have had.  Observers also know the great and course-changing impact these men had, and continue to have, on today’s governance.

ALEC's activities are very widespread and endemic to the lawmaking processes of state legislatures across the country, and for that reason, their activities have been accepted through ignorance of the secret and underlying purposes and objectives they promote.  The public finds it hard to believe such a group exists. But they do. Consider: "ALEC has approximately 2,000 legislative members representing all 50 states, as well as more than 85 members of Congress and 14 sitting or former Governors who are considered 'ALEC alumni'" (Source: Wikipedia, CMD and VLTP who has reported on ALEC in most levels of US Courts as well).

The ALEC Koch Trade in Michigan
Thus, as Snyder attempts to roll out his jaundiced version of what's good for your child in Michigan's public schools it is only fair that we accelerate  the process of ferreting out who's underwriting these "re-inventive" concepts and in coughing up the statistics of the kind that Snyder uses to make his full-frontal, brutal raid on our neighborhood schools.

If you love outsiders dictating to Michigan (who, what, when and where about your child or grandchild's education) you will want to follow the revelations coming about Snyder's the sources behind Rick's snide attacks on schools and the teachers who teach.

As ALEC purposefully puts Michigan schools in the worst light possible, Snyder accepts that flawed data. His response, "It's a fact." No, governor, it's as filtered and reported by ALEC and staff doing the insidious work of the anti-public schools crowd.

The 2008 ALEC Education Report barked our Michigan public schools, placing them at the near bottom with the right-to-work paradises, the Gulf states, such as Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. These are states with significant minority student populations. ALEC reports highlights states on the boarder with/or closer to Canada to the north: Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Montana, where minority students are far less concentrated; these states are ranked highest. No genus is needed to find an important factor in those findings.

ALEC employed ideological bully William Bennett to head up its annual education report.  (He's the harsh critic of public education, whom Reagan put into the Carter established Department of Education to obfuscate and destroy as much as possible of this far right-hated federal cabinet post). Bennett also runs a for-profit business. K-12 Inc is Bennett's idea of what he would like to do to profit from public education, especially through the means of privatizing as much of its functions as possible. Bennett covets a major economic windfall from the potential passage of Snyder’s radical "Cyber Schools" legislation (through his stake in K-12 Inc.) being interjected into Michigan’s education system.

K-12 Inc. also has had among its shareholders those well-known parochiaid/voucher mavens, Dick & Betsy DeVos.

See also: “The Truth About Cyber Schools” on Blogging for Michigan January 23, 2012 and long history of ALEC and Right-Wing orgs like Heritage involvement in education - “School Choice”, Charter Schools and Public School Privatization.

Michigan Pieces in Place: Snyder as the Pawn of the Kingpin
Koch Bros, Scaife, Olin and DeVos Family ALEC  Corporatocracy

Snyder's vision, informed and directed by The American Legislative Exchange Council and the Wealthy Elite, is another brazened attempt at an radical right-wing coup in Michigan, the same one all Americans are facing across the Nation. 

It isn't the re-invention ideal as Snyder proclaims: it's retro-pursuit of the long-standing disenfranchising goals designed to destroy America's great institution, free public education. In this process the harsh critics have found a willing pawn in Snyder. Combine this too, with the creation Snyder's Jim Crow EM Plantations in multiple Michigan cities, the latest target being Detroit, and the destruction of basic principals of democracy, representation of elected officials, perhaps the pawn, is really "castling" all Michiganders, king to rook.

ALEC's long march goes on, as the public will see
For the DeVos’ and in particular Betsy DeVos, the Koch Brothers (backers and funders of ALEC) and the mom & pop family-business-killers-the Waltons of Wal-Mart - public education is a target of great opportunity for quick profit and power lust.

The next major attack is already underway; again funded and cheered on by Betsy DeVos. It's her dismemberment and undermining of public universities and colleges.

Who would believe anyone, much less today’s radicalized Republicans, would literally stoop so low as to turn government and the taxpayers against our local schools so much a part of our state like in Ovid, White Pine, Monroe and Alpena, communities where and kids matter so much.  Republicans cannot hate teachers and professors and at the same time hold a dishonest honest claim to care about students.

The Michigan TeaPartisan's (Michigan Tea Party Republicans) radical and aggressive punishment attacks on educators are a clear indication of a very low-class mentality, festooned with haranguing diatribes, and the extremely rude conduct on the part of select TeaPartisans during education hearings in Michigan's legislature; all centered on crashing down on education and educators. Such is the sorriest of sights.

Snyder's ALEC centered education plan is a tragic loss - loss for Michigan's kids. And a tragic loss for taxpayers supporting neighborhood public schools. Killing local option and local government via the dictatorial EM regime is just plain evil and unacceptable.

Suppressing the right to vote and taking away the power of elected officials in units confiscated by Snyder can only be described as totalitarian in spirit.

The public must step up and fight back.  Not tomorrow, Today!

On the Reader:
Read a detailed SERIES on Betsy DeVos organizations attacking Public Education across the county by Rachel Tabachnick:
Part One: Voucher Advocate Betsy DeVos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Style Attack on Public Schools 
Part Two: Pro-Voucher Astroturfing:  Campaigns Across Nation Coordinated by DeVos, Funded by a Few Mega-Donors 
Part Three: Betsy DeVos Announces PA Governor Tom Corbett Will Keynote Pro-Voucher National Policy Summit

Further reading on the American Legislative Exchange Council:
Investigate more about ALEC and read ALEC model legislation on the ALECexposed.org portal.
Read a Report on ALEC connections to Congress and the Federal Courts.
Read a early series of articles on ALEC in the Nation.
See how many ALEC bills and laws in US States identified so far.

Read a list of US and Multinational ALEC Corporate Members identified.
See what ALEC investigators and researchers have uncovered in State Reports on ALEC:
Arizona (Supplement) - Maine - Missouri - Michigan - New Hampshire - New Jersey - Ohio - Pennsylvania - Texas - Utah - Virginia - Wisconsin or find more information on your State.

Related Slates:
First piece focused on ALEC Disaster Capitalism on the Gazette:
Rick’s Re-Invention: A.L.E.C.’S Corporatist “Disaster Capitalism” on the Rise (April 2011)
Piece on Betsy Devos, ALEC and Education on the Gazette:
Betsy DeVos & The Amway Clan’s Abject Failure to Reach High Moral Ground via “Corporate Social Responsibility” (December 2011)

Best of ALEC posts on the American Legislative Exchange Council on the Gazette:
No Brainer Legislation & No Brain Legislators who slavishly deliver for the Corporatocracy (via ALEC) inside Michigan’s Legislature (July 2011)
Our Guides to the Bottomless Pit: Wolfram, Von Hayek, Lewis F. Powell, & A.L.E.C. (September 2011)
Smart A.L.E.C. in the Michigan: The secret is There is No Secret… But Oh Yes, There Is! (July 2011)
Who needs the Koch Brothers? We’ve Got Rick Snyder, ALEC and his “Buffo” Team of Privatizers! (July 2011)
Michigan ALEC State Chair Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker: A Cheery Face & A Fake Defense  promoting corporatist direct access to Michigan lawmaking (August 2011)

More on the American Legislative Exchange Council (tag) and the Emergency Management issue series in EM Plantation/Jim Crow on the Gazette.

1 comment:

  1. Tony Bennett is unfortunately our Superintendent of Schools here in Indiana. He was keynote speaker at ALEC's States and Nation conference in Phoenix last November and today is criss-crossing the nation lobbying on behalf of ALEC's model education legislation.
    This is ALEC's current "Top" initiative, seeking to capitalize off the billions of dollars spent on education in the U.S. Pools of taxpayer dollars attract ALEC and their corporate sycophants like bees to nectar. They simply cannot resist envisioning all that money in their bulging bank accounts - and if it harms education, imprisons and denies rights to voters in the process, that's considered collateral damage and of no consequence to them.