What’s the connection between
the Florida law that’s letting
the killer of Trayvon Martin hide
private prisons CCA
runs in Georgia and other states, and HB 797, the Georgia charter schools
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.