Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Corporate executives work with conservative lobbying groups to influence state legislators

The Washington Post this morning teed off on the title of a famous Summit Entertainment film, “Ghostwriter”, with the concept, at least, in a Metro story, “Ghostwriter at work for Virginia’s assembly? Conservative Group Influential; Corporate interests fuel agenda, critics say”, story by Anita Kumar, link here

The story concerns seats at the table of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) link here.    Generally the group has tended to try to influence legislators into business-friendly and anti-regulation policies, possibly in sensitive areas like climate change or environmental protections and in insurance regulation, especially health care.

The story compares the group to the theoretically non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
On a national level, such groups tend to throw issues into the hands of lobbyists, and reduce the ability of people in business to think independently or speak their minds publicly without creating conflicts of interest.

A good example on the national level could be the way old legacy media corporations (and their lobbying) are lined up against Silicon Valley companies regarding SOPA and how to handle “piracy”.  Old style media would have an incentive to try to control the market and limit the opportunities for low cost competition.

But the groups ALEC and NCSL would make good topics for discussion in high school government classes.  Teachers could make up test questions asking students to explain (or compare) their influence and to consider the ethics of belonging to such groups.  SAT essay questions on the problems they pose could be imagined.  Maybe even the SOL's!

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