Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Corporatocracy IV

I've discussed the manner in which ALEC and others involved in prison industry and labor are exploiting taxpayers, private sector workers and inmates. Let's take a look at how their manipulations are accomplished.

Create the Problem

First: determine what the corporate interests/needs are; say, rate increases for telecom companies, or deregulation of EPA standards for manufacturing corporations, or tax breaks for outsourcing our jobs to third world countries. Develop an imaginary problem then propose legislation to "fix" that perceived problem and have it in the wings.

Instill Fear

Second: corporations and lawmakers determine what laws must be enacted to the benefit of corporate interests. They devise a way in which to encourage the state voters to support the proposed legislation. This is usually accomplished through disinformation instilling fear into the minds of the public. This is nothing new - and has worked for decades for organizations like ALEC - and is accomplished through the media (Fox News is especially cooperative with this kind of fear campaign).

In example we only have to look to the now-current situation in Arizona. The fact is that illegal immigration has declined markedly from 2004 through 2010 (Migration Policy Institute). Apprehensions of such illegals has declined by 2/3 (1.5 million detained in 2004 and only 537,000 detained in 2009)

CCA and Geo Group - the number one and two corporations of the private prison industry that hold numerous state and federal contracts for housing prisoners and detainees - were losing money due to vacancies in their prison and detention facilities. Crime and immigration rates were declining as mentioned above. Even with ALEC influenced and enacted laws lengthening sentences and introducing new "crimes" to be prosecuted, incarcerated felons and detained immigrants were being released in numbers that exceeded the numbers of incoming felons and detainees. This created a huge number of vacant bed space. Each vacancy cost CCA and Geo Group between $30,000.00 annually (state prisoners) and $60,000.00 (immigrant detainees). Private prison corporations were experiencing a slump in "products". There was a definite need to somehow increase intake at these facilities and they sought a solution from ALEC, the PAC they belonged to and supported through membership fees, task force chair purchases and donations. First they had to create the pretense of a "problem". Illegal immigration was chosen to be that problem.

A fear campaign was needed and begun in 2009 informing the public that illegal immigration was rampant all along the border between Mexico and the U.S. We were told violence was pouring across the border into Arizona: citizens were reported killed (later debunked), be-headings were taking place (also later debunked) and the federal government was doing nothing to protect us from this uncontrolled flow of dangerous immigrants sneaking across our border into Arizona (after the current administration ordered troops to the border to assist ICE and Border Patrol Agents, a huge increase in federal funding for more agents and in spite of the use of drones to patrol the border). These articles of unenforced illegal immigration urged citizens to contact their representatives and voice their anxiety about this issue. We were urged to request those representatives to support legislation to protect us (as planned by ALEC). In an election year, the support of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) was recruited and added to the voices of Arizona Citizens, increasing pressure on other Arizona lawmakers hesitant to enact state legislation to protect Arizona's citizens.

So, the "problem" had been created, the public's "fear" had been aroused and it was then time to move to the third phase

Provide the Solution

Third: in stepped Arizona Senator Pearce (R)(executive member of ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force). The private-sector executive members of this task force include CCA, the American Bail Coalition (which is comprised of nine of the nation’s top bail bond insurer/bounty hunter associations), the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers Association, the National Pawn Brokers Association and Prison Fellowship Ministries. The private-sector chair of the Public Safety Task Force is the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Pearce had "submitted" his proposed SB1070 to ALEC members a full month and a half prior to introducing it to the Arizona Senate (and a full two months prior to a reading of it in the Arizona House). Pearce and 36 other Arizona Legislators belonging to ALEC, took the bill back to Arizona and proposed it in response to the public clamoring for laws to protect them from the hordes of illegals pouring over the border with drugs, killing ranchers and beheading innocent Arizona citizens.


Fellow AZ. lawmakers not up to date on immigration or aware that the furor over illegal aliens was fabricated by ALEC and 36 of their fellow legislative members, were inundated by citizen's calls. Phone calls and emails demanded safety and a solution to the immigration "problem". These lawmakers were taken by surprise by the pressure from Pearce and his cohorts and cries from constituents caused these uninformed legislators to fully support SB1070 without any real research on the issue. Again this is typical when dealing with corporate interests put forth from ALEC and their ilk. The issue always is made to appear immediate, demanding quick responses before rational minds can fully research the "issue" presented and make an informed decision. Once a law is created and enacted, repealing it is difficult.


In a perfect world the outcome would have been that of other such campaigns by corporations and ALEC; Arizona's citizens would relax, safe from murdering illegals, Senator Pearce (and his 36 fellow ALEC lawmakers) would be hailed as heros for proposing legislation that saved Arizona, the federal government under the Obama Administration would be remembered as having failed American by refusing to take affirmative action to protect it's citizens from illegal immigration, CCA and Geo Group would realize increased profits from housing all those new illegal immigrants and ALEC would have another law they could take credit for. This is exactly how it had worked numerous times in the past when put into action by ALEC or other PAC's on issues such as crime, sentencing, deregulation and other issues important to corporate interests. This time however, there was a problem...

Corporate and Legislative Conspiracy exposed

After SB1070 passed both houses, Arizona Governor Brewer signed it into state law. Before the new law could fully take effect, the federal government sued Arizona over the law. The controversy surrounding SB1070 - that already had appeared in nationwide headlines - began to be fully researched. Media articles started to hint at connections between CCA, Geo Group and Governor Brewers immediate staff. It was soon discovered that two lobbyists for CCA were important members of Brewer's staff. One was a policy advisor and campaign manager to Brewer (Chuck Coughlin) and the other was her deputy chief of staff and communications director (Paul Senseman). Coughlin owns a lobbying firm that lobbies for CCA and Senseman had previously worked for a similar firm that lobbied for CCA. He had left that firm but his wife continues to work there, lobbying for CCA.

It was further discovered that CCA and Geo Group were both big contributors to Brewer's campaign and CCA's political action committee and its lobbyists contributed another $60,000 to Brewer's top legislative priority, Proposition 100, a sales tax to help avoid budget cuts to education.

Arizona Senator Pearce's links and relationship to ALEC was exposed as were campaign contributions paid to him by CCA. His "submission" of the text and content of SB1070 to ALEC's Public Safety and Election task force prior to his actual presentation of the bill to Arizona Lawmakers was also exposed. The involvement of 36 other Arizona Lawmakers. In addition to the contributions by CCA to Brewer's campaign and legislative priorities they were identified as holders of the federal immigration detention contracts with the federal government and confirmed that they and Geo Group are both members in good standing with ALEC. It was further reported that CCA was the Chair of the Public Enterprise Board of ALEC as far back as 1999.

The full scale of the manipulations by CCA, Geo Group, Brewer, ALEC, Coughlin, Senseman, Pearce and 36 of his fellow lawmakers who were ALEC members were exposed. Americans finally realized corporations would stop at nothing to increase profits while expanding their power and wielding influence.

ALEC can now be seen for what they are: a cabal of private interest corporations partnering with 1/3 of all U.S. Lawmakers to impose their will over our government and it's citizens. Some of us looked to the past through research and discovered the many other manipulations practiced upon all of us by this "clique": Tort reform legislation, sentencing laws, deregulation of government oversight authority of everything from prison industries to EPA standards and enforcement, introduction of Faith Based Community Initiative programs (begun under President George Bush to provide federal funding for religious groups on community issues), telecommunication legislation beneficial to the likes of AT&T and insurance legislation beneficial to healthcare, life, auto and other insurance corporations. I also found the close relationship between ALEC and their members and Fox News and their media outlets.

ALEC's Annual Meeting events include speeches from notable and influential politicians and supporters. In 2007 the Annual Meeting was held in Philadelphia. Speakers and guests included: President George Bush, Presidential candidates Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee, Fox News' Neil Cavuto, Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey. All of these speakers are big supporters of corporations and have voiced a desire to limit government influence in America.

To understand the limiting government argument fully, one must realize the basic difference between corporations and government. Government operated programs, agencies and departments are "non-profit". Corporate operations are always "for-profit". Their classification may be as a non-profit LLC, corporation, 501(c)(3) or 501 (c)(6) but profit is always the ultimate goal. With the paid support of lobbyists and organizations like ALEC, corporate interests always have the upper hand in this battle. Government does not have the money or authority to "lobby" for government programs or on public issues. If they tried to do that, these corporations would scream loudly that the government is trying to unfairly use it's power to influence issues in the private sector.

Bottom line is we now know exactly how corporations and their lobbyists and organizations such as ALEC have changed the face of our country and government. We have learned just how unimportant private sector jobs are to them. They have always fought against organized labor or fair wages and in that fight they have been willing to move operations overseas or behind prison fences - out of the reach of American workers who purchase their products and use their services. It's okay for us to buy from them, but not work for them at a fair wage.

In the next segment I've identified companies and corporations who support the corporate take over of America. Once identified I hope my readers will consider avoiding any purchase of their products or services. The only way to stop this Corporatocracy is to limit the ability of corporations to fund lobbying and campaign contributions to influence beneficial corporate legislation. The quickest way to do this is to reduce their earnings through a loss of sales or services.

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