ALEC, The Tea Party, And Their Dangerous Plan To Privatize Our Government

alecWhat I am going to say will probably come as little surprise to many of you, but it’s a concept still lost on many folks. As you know, one of the biggest talking points from the Republican Party and many libertarian groups is that many functions of government would be better handled by the private sector. Whether it is pension funds, highways or anything else, you’ll hear it repeated ad nauseam that government is wasteful and that the private sector can do it better.

There’s a couple of problems with this, especially when they say that government should be run like a business. First off, let’s address the “run the government like a business” talking point. While it does sound like a great idea, there’s a serious problem and false comparison there. Businesses have a main goal of making money for their owners and shareholders. In other words, profit first and the customer somewhere after that.

Yet, it seems that the privatization of every possible function of government, including education, is what front groups like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), FreedomWorks and others are pushing for – often while operating under a non-profit status and/or pretending to be a “grassroots organization.” Here’s a brief summary of how ALEC works:

Almost 98% of ALEC’s cash is from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, trade associations, and corporate foundations. ALEC describes itself as the largest “membership association of state legislators,” but only a little more than ten percent of its funding comes from legislative dues. Some of the biggest corporations in the world bankroll and thus subsidize the activities of the legislators who are part of ALEC. Corporations provide general support that covers the annual ALEC conventions — which are summer trips of politicians and their families to resorts for the annual ALEC meeting — and the preparation of “model” bills and glossy promotional materials. ALEC could actually be called one of the most powerful membership associations of corporations attempting to influence state legislators. But ALEC’s tax filings do not even count corporate donations as membership dues; they are listed under gifts. (Source)

In a way, the private sector has already taken over the actual job of legislating – or at least the process of creating legislation itself. For $50 a year, legislators and their staff don’t have to go through the trouble of writing some of the legislation they introduce and can use that time campaigning or attending to pet projects.

If you thought government was cold and uncaring now, can you imagine what it would be like if it was run by CEOs? I’ve worked in corporate America for the better part of the last decade and I can fully assure you that from my experiences, the private sector isn’t a shining beacon of accountability or transparency either. As an example, I worked at Sprint for 5 years and the company had a problem where, in my estimate, a minimum of $10 million was being lost monthly due to fraud. The issue had been going on for years but despite the pleas from myself as well as other departments, it was allowed to go on since too many people had a vested interest in allowing it to continue because it was profitable to them. While things like this happen in government also, in the private sector, you’re not likely to get fined, let alone go to jail – especially if you’re a high-ranking executive.

I’m sure we all have our personal nightmare anecdotes about the time a government agency screwed up, can you think of anyone who doesn’t? I’m actually living in Louisiana not because I want to, but because a department in Florida’s government messed up, massively. The problem with government is that it is run by human beings, and human beings are flawed and they’re also prone to corruption when there’s money, sex or power involved.

If you think it’s bad now, do you think it would really be any better with profit-hungry corporations and their shareholders running the day to day operations like the DMV, Social Security or paving the roads? Imagine being routed to an outsourced call center in India or Manila for help with child support or other functions currently handled by someone in your city or state? Because I can almost guarantee you that would be the case if these responsibilities were handed over to the private sector.

Not only would these corporations have control over functions our government currently handles, but our tax dollars would be going to them, which would then in turn be used for even more influence on political campaigns. Do you really think that’s a good future for our country? Because I sure as hell do not.

So, do you want to stop ALEC, FreedomWorks, the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party and their destructive, selfish corporate agenda? There’s only one way to do that, and that’s to vote this fall and make sure to get others to the polls as well. Here’s what is at stake in the midterm election in November:

—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives

—33 seats in the U.S. Senate

—46 State Legislatures

—38 State and Territorial Governorships.

Remember, they’re counting on your apathy and for you to believe that your vote doesn’t count. If we vote, we win. It’s as simple as that.


Facebook comments

  • Very informative article. I did not know about ALEC and some of the others. I remember the Day President Bushed pushed for the privatization of Social Security into a so called Private investment option. I’m a republican who opposed that idea. I have seen what this article exposes by watching the Private Correctional Industry take over government prison programs. The privatization agenda is destructive and for the most part all criminal activity is exempt from government over-site because it is a civil issue.

    • Nemisis

      I remember when medicare/medicaid prescription plan became privatized. They seemed to have computer issues then too…same company I think.
      The GOP went after Clinton after he kept shooting down SS privatization, $80 million later we found out he likes oral sex.
      I also remember when Reagan Wanted it, privatized and voluntary SS, but decided not to. Reagan believed it to be a Ponzi Scheme. (sometimes he’s right) making it voluntary might have produced the bankruptcy that has been warned about since I can recall so at least the ’70s.

      • FD Brian

        yes, lets privatize the SS system and let a Bernie Madoff run the whole thing.

      • Nemisis

        If we privatize SS we should let Romney run it…He has the experience.

      • FD Brian

        I’m not positive you understand what Romney’s expertise is. Can you explain why you think so.

      • Nemisis

        You know exactly what Romney is good for. If a company needs to be taken into bankruptcy and it’s assets sold overseas, who better than Romney?

  • Jim Bean

    At this point, our government is already as privatized as Russia’s and Obama has assume a role as dictatorial as Putin.

    • Nemisis

      could you read your comment and then explain it?

      • Jim Bean

        I can explain it with a question: what are the two biggest legislative issues that Obama tried the hardest to work out a bipartisan agreement on?

      • Nemisis

        The budget, and Student Loans?

    • RickFlash

      Brilliant. That’s why there’s talk of suing and impeaching our “dictator”. But they don’t want to do it ’til the elections are over. What a real dictatorship. Please look up the definitions of words.

    • Warren Mcguffin

      Take your meds as it is obvious you are not in touch with reality.

  • Eg Kbbs

    Missouri gives a good example. One person (Sinquefeld) with a lot of cash has funded the Missouri ALEC as well as many shadow groups such as the Campaign for Growth (which is sponsoring a candidate to run against the repub incumbent who is red-as-red-can-be but made a vote the Tea Baggers didn’t like). He has stated his intent to dismantle public education (as it is like slavery). He pushed for the taxes on the upper percentiles to decrease (following Kansas, despite that being a miserable failure there). They pushed the maintenance of roads (the Department of Transportation) off the budget and have a vote whether to institute a sales tax to pay for road repair. etc. etc.

    In almost every bill I’ve seen this year, you have to ask where and why ALEC is pulling that string (not immediately obvious, but destroys govt down the way)

    • Cemetery Girl

      Dismantle public education? So then what, we go back to education being an option (and not required) and paying for education out of pocket as opposed to taxes? Do they have no understanding why the public education system came into being? The demand for a labor force that had basic literacy and education. The education in this country isn’t lagging far enough so we just do away with it?

  • Jim Bean

    Here is why the private sector will always do it better. (For the record, I am retired from private industry and my wife is still working for a government agency. So, I’ve seen it first-hand.) Each year, my employers produced an operating budget. Then, throughout the year the organization was incentivized to work as efficiently as possible because budgeted money not spent by years end transforms to additional profit and/or money to re-invest in the business.
    My wife’s government agency also produces an annual operating budget. The difference is, they work diligently throughout the year to ensure every penny budgeted gets spent – to the point of spending wildly and recklessly toward the end of the year – because if they don’t spend every cent budgeted, they can’t credibly argue they require at least that much (taxpayer) money next year. This is a force as irresistable as gravity and consequently, the private sector will always do it more efficiently.

    • FD Brian

      you are actually comparing 2 entities that are doing different things and in all fairness the two can’t be compared as simply as you have tried to do. You might think the private sector could do it more efficiently, but that may not be the case when the work is not revenue generating, which is what most government work is.

  • FD Brian

    privatization would only works in a competitive environment, you would have to have 20 dmv’s in every city, and I can’t imagine the monopoly affect that would happen when only 3 people own the interstate system.

  • surfjac

    I can’t wait…a corporate toll booth on every road in America.
    Fire Departments only come if you pay up!

    Who elected A.L.E.C. to political office anyway?
    Give it away give it away give it away give it away now

    Give it away give it away give it away give it away now

    Give it away give it away give it away give it away now

    I can’t tell if I’m a kingpin or a pauper

  • Michael Siever

    Notice how you never see these right-wing goons calling for the privatization of the military, even though they hate government spending, and love the military. They should practice what they preach and call for the privatization of the military, since that government funding is blood money, every nickel of it.