Do you know about ALEC—the American Legislative Exchange Council? If not, why not? Why is it important to know about ALEC?

To learn more, read this blog post and/or participate in WISR’s September 22nd Seminar (6:30 pm to 8:15 pm at WISR), or contact me [johnb@wisr.edu] for access to a conference call phone line if you want to participate in the seminar from afar.
Those of us who are interested in promoting social justice, in working for constructive, progressive social change must be curious. We must continually ask questions, but oftentimes it is hard to know all of the important questions to ask and for which answers are needed to lead to new, relevant questions, and possible strategies for social change. For example, until the past several months I had never heard of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Why not? For one thing, this powerful group’s operations and huge impact are not well reported on by the mainstream media. I’ve begun to learn about places to look for news and insightful commentaries outside the mainstream media (see my blog page: http://johnbilorusky.wisrville.org/links/ ).

Rather than trying to give the information in this post, I’m suggesting a few links so everyone can begin to do their own research and learn more. Once you start reading, I’m confident you will soon see how very, very important it is for us to educate ourselves and others. Here are some links. . . .
First, a few links growing out of the story published in the July 2011 issue of the progressive journal on democracy and economic justice, In These Times:
http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/11603/
and for more detailed information . . .
http://dbapress.com/archives/2040
http://dbapress.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/DBA-Press-Publicopoly.pdf
http://dbapress.com/front-page/legislative-laundry-how-alec-funnels-millions-of-dollars-in-corporate-gifts-to-state-lawmakers-for-the-express-purpose-of-promoting-corporate-backed-legislation
http://dbapress.com/front-page/brownskins-and-greenbacks-alec-the-for-profit-prison-industry-and-arizonas-sb-1070
http://dbapress.com/source-materials-archive/publicopoly-alec-and-the-bid-to-make-private-all-that-is-public-source-materials-directory

In addition, here are a few other stories about ALEC found from recent news and commentaries in the “alternative” media:
http://www.truth-out.org/secretive-corporate-legislative-group-alec-holds-annual-meeting-rewrite-state-laws/1312911539

http://www.truth-out.org/hidden-history-alec-and-prison-labor/1312553212
http://www.truth-out.org/hidden-history-alec-and-prison-labor/1312553212
http://www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-news-section/69-69/6863-understanding-alecs-influence-on-your-state-law

And, if one wants to know more about ALEC, it is important to know more about the Koch brothers, who, by the way, supply a lot of funding to the non-profit (!!) ALEC. Here are several recent articles:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mbJhjCbwo8&feature=youtube [On why do the Koch brothers want to end public education?]
http://www.nationofchange.org/koch-responds-buffet-my-business-and-non-profit-investments-are-much-more-beneficial-society-13139[Koch Responds to Buffet: My Business and Non-Profit Investments are much more beneficial to society.]
http://www.nationofchange.org/strategy-seminar-koch-refers-obama-saddam-hussein-be-defeated-mother-all-wars-1315324303[Koch declares war on Obama.]

Certainly there are many other noteworthy recent articles not so easily found in the mainstream media. To illustrate this, I am citing a few here, so that the inquisitive-minded can see some examples, and learn about some sources of a lot more news and commentaries like this:
http://www.nationofchange.org/first-federal-reserve-audit-reveals-trillions-secret-bailouts-1314633089[First Federal Reserve audit reveals trillions in secret bailouts!]
http://www.nationofchange.org/do-liberals-have-be-losers-1314715963[Do Liberals have to be losers? --this article is a very interesting, seldom-heard economic analysis of why economic inequities result from much more than unfair tax laws.]
http://www.nationofchange.org/putting-corporate-tax-dodging-table-1315151420[Putting Corporate Tax Dodging on the table.]
http://www.nationofchange.org/what-does-student-centered-learning-really-mean-1315233966[What does student-centered learning really mean?]
http://www.truth-out.org/live-stream-protesters-occupy-wall-street/1316354502[Protestors occupy Wall Street, ignored by mainstream media.]
http://www.truth-out.org/corporate-media-still-censoring-stories/1315505645 [An article about “Project Censored,” based at Sonoma State—about stories censored by corporate media—and how the top 25 such stories are selected each year. . . . Indeed, we might ask whether or not students and faculty at WISR could be involved with them in this process of inquiring into important stories censored by corporate media.]

I encourage others to add their comments to this post–both about the content of these, and related articles, but also about other noteworthy stories, commentaries and important sources of hard-to-find information!

Avatar of John Bilorusky

About John Bilorusky

John Bilorusky is President of WISR and Member of WISR's core faculty. John was one of WISR's four founders in 1975, and WISR has been, and will continue to be, the hub of his professional and community involvements. John received his BA from the University of Colorado (cum laude in Physics and cum laude in General Studies) in 1967. He received his MA from the University of California at Berkeley in 1968 and his PhD in Higher Education from UC Berkeley in 1972. He has also held major faculty appointments in the College of Community Services at the University of Cincinnati (1971-73), in the Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Studies at UC Berkeley (1970-71) and at University Without Walls-Berkeley (1973-74). He has actively written and published in the field of adult learning and social change. He lives with his wife, Janet, and 12-year-old twins, Kyle and Nicole. He actively volunteers in local public schools and youth sports programs. He has an adult son, Clark, who is pursuing his BA at UC Berkeley.
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One Response to Do you know about ALEC—the American Legislative Exchange Council? If not, why not? Why is it important to know about ALEC?

  1. Social Injustice and Oppression . . . Self-Sustaining Momentum, Conspiracy or Both?: What We Can Learn from ALEC

    Today, I publically confess to one of many areas in which I have long been ignorant, despite my curiosity and inquisitive, critical-minded attitude toward societal oppression and injustice, institutionalized conspiracies do exist and have a significant negative impact on the people of the US and indeed of the world.

    In the late 60s and early 70s, when I was in graduate school at UC Berkeley, there was a lot of discussion about how the power elite were exerting were conspiring against the people of this country and other countries. Most of these discussions were in vague generalities, and they often seemed to me like they were a bit paranoid and over the top.
    Also, I remember discussions co-teaching a class in the social science interdisciplinary studies program at Cal with Terry Lunsford, late WISR faculty member who became my dear friend and colleague for almost 40 years before his recent passing. Terry, who was very critical of social inequities and injustices, and a deep thinker, would often suggest that conspiracies, even though they might happen from time to time, weren’t really necessary because the of power dynamics in the society. In effect the network of connectedness among institutions, laws, policies, social structures, and informal processes was such that these injustices (my words, here) had a kind of self-sustaining momentum. This made a lot of sense to me. Certainly, we came to learn of many conspiracies, quite famously the Watergate scandal, and we knew the many that we would never know about.

    Still, for many years, I had a strong sense that as dramatic, upsetting, infuriating and/or titillating as these conspiracies might be, they weren’t a primary force behind societal injustices and resistance to change. In effect, I took the view from my experience as an undergraduate physics major, who knew that according to Newton’s famous first law of motion that “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” I no longer hold this view—this inertia to change is important, but conspiracies are also very powerful and significant.

    I now believe that conspiracies happen every day—some of them are large and audacious and many of them are subtle and insidious. I do also believe that the “deck is indeed stacked” against those of us who believe in the high ideals that we were taught that this country was founded on. However, Howard Zinn and others have taught us that these teachings of US history were quite inaccurate. Those of us who wish to challenge the status quo must exert extra power just to slow down injustice, and it is not easy for us to get a “fair hearing” in societal debates—especially because of how powerful interests so dominantly control popular, mass media (from Fox News to CNN). And, as Herbert Marcuse aptly pointed out many years ago, “Repressive Tolerance” perpetuates the status quo—if “all sides” of a conflict or debate must be equally tolerant of one another, this will favor those in power—a viewpoint similar to my physicist’s view, of the power of inertia. Something in motion stays in motion unless a force counteracts, and something at rest stays at rest unless a force moves it. Marcuse pointed out how the noble value of “tolerance” prevents us from stopping the snowball of oppression as it grows larger and gathers momentum down the side of the mountain.

    As unnecessary as conspiracies may seem in the face of this challenging state of affairs, I now believe that they are recurrent, deeply rooted, and even institutionalized. I don’t know enough of recent history to have a thoughtful position on whether institutionalized conspiracies are more common, more alive and more powerful than ever before, but they are indeed quite significant. If the organization and power behind conspiracies is stronger, there are many questions to ask about this, including: are the power elite more desperate to hang on to what they perceive as tenuous power, and therefore, have they become more conspiratorial? Or, have they become bolder? Or more greedy? And, what do the answers to such questions tell us about the strengths and vulnerabilities of those who would intend to perpetuate these social injustices? On the other hand, if it has always been this way, then why has a curious and inquiring person like myself been so ignorant for so long? If so, what can I learn from my history of ignorance that will help us to bring about constructive change?
    In this inquisitive commentary, I will not directly explore these questions, but I do urge all of us to explore them together, and with a sense of urgency. Here, I propose to invite others to learn about and examine what I have learned over the past few months about an especially powerful, not very well-known, but still very well-documented institutionalized conspiracy, ALEC—the non-profit (!!) American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by the Koch Brothers. See my post of September 20, 2011 at johnbilorusky.wisrville.org

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