Alec Dubro will be covering ALEC here at Main Street.
Let’s get this straight at the outset. I’d been around for over 30 years when a bunch of wheezing skinflints from the American Conservative Union formed the American Legislative Exchange Council, or, ALEC.
In other words, they stole my name, and, when I find some lawyers with plenty of time and money on their hands, I intend to sue them. I’m not sure for what, but then, that’s what lawyers are for.
Nevertheless, I’m the real Alec (not all caps, thank you) and I’m in a unique position to criticize the fraudulent and upstart other ALEC. So, let’s begin.
First, let’s destroy the canard that ALEC is in favor of limited government; the only government that ALEC really wants to limit is National Public Radio. ALEC’s goal is simply to redirect tax money from the hands of people they don’t like into the hands of people they like.
ALEC is part of an alliance of powerful supporters of the prison-industrial complex. According to The Nation, “ALEC helped pioneer some of the toughest sentencing laws on the books today, like mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders, ‘three strikes’ laws, and ‘truth in sentencing’ laws.” Although these laws haven’t had a significant effect on crime, and certainly haven’t reduced fear of crime, and have ensured that the prison industry has a steady stream of inmates.
But ALEC isn’t satisfied to support the companies that supply the prisons. No, it wants to privatize prisons, and increase the profits made in this cursed industry. And why not? The country’s largest for-profit prison operator, Correction Corporations of America, was a longtime member of ALEC’s “Public Safety Task Force.” CCA, which operates some 60 prisons with revenues closing in on $2 billion, wants more of the publicly funded industry, estimated at more than $74 billion a year.
These days, some states are rethinking the massive drug-law incarceration policies that cost billions and are a blot on the country’s human rights record. Not ALEC. They have merely moved their focus to the booming so-called detention centers, where people charged with immigration offenses are held until…whenever.
Construction on immigration detention centers has grown at an astounding 15 percent a year, and ALEC’s lackeys in government are pushing hard to steer that business to their for-profit prison allies like CCA. Notable on that regard is Russell Pearce, former President of the Arizona State Senate. Pearce, who has made a career of demonizing Latino immigrants, has pushed ALEC-drafted legislation to push for more CCA business, and has taken contributions from the prison industry. ALEC helped round up enough legislators to pass Arizona’s draconian and loathsome SB 1070, which, for some reason, resembles the bill that ALEC drafted.
“I’m a free-market kind of guy,” Pearce once told a TV interviewer in response to a question about his support of private prisons. His constituents didn’t agree – they found his positions so extreme that they removed him from office last November in a successful recall election.
This, then, is what ALEC really means when its members talk about the free market and small government. Taking our tax money and shoveling it into immoral, punitive, destructive – but profitable – industries through any means possible.
Any wonder why I’m thinking of changing my name?