Tag Archives: crony capitalism

ALEC “covers the spectrum in terms of bad policy for people” –FL news

ALEC will no doubt try to tar WCTV as “liberal media.” That will be amusing!

Troy Kinsey wrote for WCTV Monday, themselves as members of ALEC. Damien filer with ‘progress florida’ says its time for them to break their ties with a group that’s taking national heat over ‘Stand Your Ground’.

“This is not just about ‘shoot first’ laws; this is about everything from the so-called ‘parent trigger’ law that we saw during the last legislative session, the prison privatization schemes that we’ve seen crop up. It really covers the spectrum in terms of bad policy for people, and policy that’s really aimed at padding the pockets of the corporations that fund this organization.”

Hm, I wonder who in the Georgia statehouse are ALEC members?


No Gates for ALEC: who’s next to jump off the crony capitalism ship?

Apparently the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave more money to ALEC than Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, and Intuit combined, but no more. Who’s next?

Jessica Pieklo wrote yesterday for care2, Bill And Melinda Gates Dump ALEC,

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation became the latest high profile backer of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to withdraw financial support after pressure from groups opposed to ALEC’s support of “stand your ground” laws and Voter ID.

And private prisons, such as the one CCA wanted to build in Lowndes County, and “anti-immigrant” bills that creat many new crimes to fill those private prisons. And charter schools, such as the referendum for charter school tax credits on the ballot in Georgia in November. Some of our local “white fathers” pushed school consolidation a few months ago and charter schools are yet another attack on public education, backed by ALEC.

Roll Call reports that a foundation spokesperson said it does not plan to make any future grants to the organization. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed more than $375,000 to ALEC in the past two years.

Meanwhile, according to ALEC Watch:

ALEC’s more than three hundred corporate sponsors pay annual membership dues ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to advance their agendas, plus additional fees of $1,500 to $5,000 a year to participate in ALEC’s various task forces, where, according to an ALEC publication, “legislators welcome their private-sector counterparts to the table as equals.”

That’s the very model of a bad public-private partnership and crony capitalism. (More detail by ALEC Exposed.)

So what excuse does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have? Jessica Pieklo’s article says:

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The socialized costs and privatized profits of waste disposal

In her response to my post about Commissioners panic about trash at undisclosed location, Barbara Stratton seems unfamiliar (like most people) with economic externalities. Here’s a definition:

A negative externality occurs when an individual or firm making a decision does not have to pay the full cost of the decision. If a good has a negative externality, then the cost to society is greater than the cost consumer is paying for it. Since consumers make a decision based on where their marginal cost equals their marginal benefit, and since they don’t take into account the cost of the negative externality, negative externalities result in market inefficiencies unless proper action is taken.

When a negative externality exists in an unregulated market, producers don’t take responsibility for external costs that exist—these are passed on to society.

Which is socializing the losses. A famous ongoing case of this is BP making record corporate profits while dumping huge amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, continuing to destroy shrimping, wetlands, wildlife, and local people’s health.

And that’s what the County Commission is doing: privatizing the profits of trash pickup and socializing the losses onto landowners (who have to pay for fences and gates), onto the general public (who have to pay for law enforcement to catch dumpers), and onto those who can’t afford to pay for private dump fees (who will get stuck with fines instead). That is indeed, as Barbara says, “redistribution of wealth”: redistribution from the rest of us to the private waste pickup companies.

The Commission is ducking its responsibility to find an equitable solution that everyone can afford. Funny how they can deal with special tax lighting districts for subdivisions but they claim they can’t come up with a way to publicly fund waste collection. Could it be because all the voting Commissioners are town-dwellers who don’t understand that rural people don’t have exactly the same needs or resources as city people?

Barbara advocates,

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Avoid crony capitalism or conflict of interest —Barbara Stratton

Received Monday on Commissioners panic about trash at undisclosed location. My response is in the next post. -jsq

There are many injustices of socialism and redistribution of wealth (or garbage) and I’m glad to see you recognize this in the shifting of illegal dumping costs to landowners. I am also glad to see that at least the county is talking about privatization and not public/private partnerships (so far). When Hahira almost succeeded in placing a regional waste transfer station on city owned property
REZ-2007-32 City of Hahira, 0028 027 6751 Union Road, 2 lots, R-21 to M-2, DRI
I was concerned that the county was complacent in this because the Lowndes Board of Commissioners November 2007 meeting minutes showed they agreed to rezone the property for the purpose of the transfer station against the recommendations of the county planner, Jason Davenport. That rezoning action replaced a DRI (Development of Regional Impact) request for waste transfer station rezoning so it was easy to assume the county and possibly the region had a mutual agenda for the transfer station. During a recent discussion on the dangers of regional government with Valdosta mayor, Larry Hanson, I asked if the transfer station was a regional interest. He assured me the City of Valdosta had no knowledge and no interest in that transfer station prior to articles in the Valdosta Daily Times. I’ve not had an opportunity to discuss the possibility of mutual agenda with the county and if it comes up again in the future I am assuming proper procedures will be followed which mandate public meetings and input into the planning before a third DRI is entered, not after.

I worked a contract for the IT of a Pensacola, FL software company that had waste management software contracts all over the US. It was my job to be

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Coke and Pepsi exit ALEC

Yesterday Coca-Cola announced it would no longer be a member of ALEC, the law-drafting pressure group American Legislative Exchange Council. Pepsi already decided that last year. Voting with your pocketbook works! There’s plenty more to do: ALEC pushed Georgia’s HB 87 that provides “customers” for CCA’s ICE prison yet is opposed by local farmers; ALEC backed the “Stand Your Ground” law that Trayvon Martin’s killer is hiding behind; ALEC is behind the charter school constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in November. ALEC is crony capitalism in our legislature, our neighborhoods, and our schools. Here’s one way to oppose ALEC that works.

Leon Stafford and Aaron Gould Sheinin wrote for the AJC yesteray, Coke cuts ties with ALEC,

“Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business,” Coke spokeswoman Diana Garza Ciarlante said.

Here’s ALEC’s “model legislation”: A Resolution in Opposition to Deiscriminatory Food and Beverage Taxes,

…opposes all efforts — federally and on the state level — to impose discriminatory taxes on food and/or beverages.

Now I don’t like food taxes, either: they’re the very model of regressive taxes that affect the poor more than the rich. But beverage taxes? As in taxes on the sugar water Coca-Cola sells? Those might improve public health and increase state revenue.

So how much has Coke supported ALEC in this?

Ciarlante said the company would not disclose its financial support of ALEC but said it was restricted to yearly dues. She said it had been a member for approximately 10 years. The company had received some phone calls protesting its relationship with ALEC, she said, but declined to comment on the decision beyond the company’s statement.

I wonder how much other support Coke provided, as in for example introductions to power-brokers around Atlanta.

Coke’s rival Pepsi also declined to renew its ALEC membership when it expired at the end of 2011, spokeswoman Heather Gleason said. The company’s 10-year membership focused exclusively on tax issues related to the beverage industry, she said.

And Pepsi probably also didn’t want to talk about lobbying for tax breaks for sugar water while legislatures are cutting education budgets.

What does ALEC do, anyway?

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ALEC, Trayvon Martin, CCA’s private prisons, and charter schools?

What’s the connection between the Florida law that’s letting the killer of Trayvon Martin hide, the private prisons CCA runs in Georgia and other states, and HB 797, the Georgia charter schools bill that’s on the floor today for Senate debate today? ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Paul Krugman wrote yesterday for the NYTimes, Lobbyists, Guns and Money,

ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.

What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.

And in case you were wondering, no, the kind of privatization ALEC promotes isn’t in the public interest; instead of success stories, what we’re getting is a series of scandals. Private charter schools, for example, appear to deliver a lot of profits but little in the way of educational achievement.

Same as private prisons. The only real benefit goes to private prison company executives and shareholders.
Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from a Birmingham jail in 1963:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
And today we have an organized threat to justice everywhere. That threat is called ALEC.


Crony capitalism corruption, a non-partisan enemy —Barbara Stratton

Received yesterday on VSU Health Sciences: much better than a private prison. -jsq
You know my main argument against the private prison is I don’t like public/private partnerships and the sweetheart deals they encourage. Also, when I requested CCA to provide me with information that supports private prisons so I could research both sides they did not respond. This led me to believe they have no concern for community opinion even when citizens are open minded and seeking honest information. They seem to prefer back room deals with local politicians that escape community detection unless citizens are aggressively observant like LAKE members.

However, we are not on the same page about what I consider simplistic solutions for reducing the prison population. Education and good drug treatment programs are definitely positives, but they are not the silver bullet liberals proclaim them to be. Criminals evolve from complex heredity and environmental mediums that don’t magically dissolve via education or intervention protocols. Certainly these are to be encouraged because they do help some, but they will never totally replace the need for legal intervention and penal institutions. In addition to educational and medical institutions not being a magical replacement solution for crime, these very institutions often encourage crony capitalism corruption, which we agree to be a non-partisan enemy.

In summary, I support our criminal justice system which includes prisons, but I do not support any mixing of government and business. Public/private partnerships are crony capitalism playgrounds that undermine free enterprise and citizen control. Unfortunately our trusted elected legislators have already filled our GA Codes and State Constitution with government consolidation and multi county regional partnership initiatives. At present, they are pushing SB 284, already passed by the senate, and in the house, which will further enhance Land Bank Authority powers and partnerships. As citizens we all need to remember that increasing unelected bureaucratic authorities equals minimized citizen control. We also need to ask our local, state and federal elected representatives why they are listening to special interest groups that encourage authorities and public/private partnerships instead of protecting their constituents.

-Barbara Stratton Commenter

We don’t have to agree on every point to oppose (private prison) or support (government transparency) the same things. Indeed, there will always be criminals, but we don’t need to lock up more than any other country on the planet. The big change in the environment that has produced seven times more criminals now than in the 1960s is the War on Drugs. Time to end that failed experiment in prohibition. Meanwhile, indeed crony capitalism corruption is our non-partisan enemy.


What kind of local government body gives a private company “absolute discretion”?

Continuing my response to Barbara Stratton’s post: if public-private partnerships are the aspect of private prisons that you oppose, by all means oppose them for that. Did you catch this part in VLCIA’s recent response?
CCA has absolute discretion in issuing or withholding the NTP.
What kind of local government body gives a private company “absolute discretion” on whether to proceed with a project? What happened to those appointed officials’ own discretion as to the appropriateness of a project for the community? What if their due diligence turns up something unacceptable? For example, that CCA told Decatur County that both Lowndes and Decatur are getting a private prison (one state and one federal), so the guff CCA told VLCIA about Lowndes being the primary site was disingenuous at best. How about if CCA has already breached the contract by not supplying a required document? How about if VLCIA receives convincing arguments from the community that a private prison is a bad business deal?

Indeed, disaster capitalism or the shock doctrine is nothing like the capitalism Adam Smith recommended. The main point of the petition against CCA’s private prison in Lowndes County is that it’s a bad business deal: it wouldn’t save money; it wouldn’t increase employment; and it would be likely to close, leaving us all owing money.

Did the Valdosta City and Lowndes County elected governments appoint these people to abdicate their authority to a private company? Maybe they did, since those elected officials are in cahoots on this deal. CCA lauded them all for their support after VLCIA signed the contract with that “absolute discretion” language in it. Does that seem right to you?

Florida has just demonstrated that people of all parties can join together successfully to oppose prison privatization. Let’s do that right here in Lowndes County and stop the private prison!


The good old boy system, legalized, subsidized, & on steroids —Barbara Stratton

Received yesterday on CCA offers to buy prisons from 48 states. -jsq
As always, LAKE is doing a fantastic job of uncovering the shadows. However, please note there is a difference in capatalism & crony capitalism. Liberals have their fair share of the crony variety also AKA Soros & Monsanto, GM,etc. Free enterprise & capitalism is why our borders are being crossed legally & illegally, but crony capitalism will destroy us. If the government chooses to privatize there should be clear total delineation between them & the private business, not fascist public/private partnerships like CCA is courting. We need to resist P3s totally, but they are being welcomed with multi grant incentives & blessings of the Dept of Community Development & its Chamber of Commerce conduits. We are on the same team always for transparency in government & we can be on the same team against CCA if we focus on fighting the 3P concept.

Just a reminder, I used to work for CCA & I still love to see bad men in shackles (emphasis on bad). I don’t share most of what I call simplistic liberal views on prison reform, but I am certainly with you against crony capitalism especially the public/private partnership variety. As I’ve said before they are just the good old boy system, legalized, subsidized, & on steroids.

-Barbara Stratton


Thanks for the compliments, and we’re going to get you carrying a camera yet…. See next post for the rest of my response.