Columbia, SC — Webster defines “smart alec” as “An obnoxiously conceited, self-assertive person with pretension to smartness.” Similarly, ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, pushes corporate-sponsored bills through state legislatures, using campaign support as enticement, sometimes offering “scholarships” for trips. Many lawmakers don’t know what they’re voting for; the legislation may be misleading.
These bill mills attack workers’ rights, block health care, push privatization of schools and disregard the environment. South Carolina and Georgia have the highest percentage of ALEC lawmakers in the South. Forty companies, including Amazon, Coco-Cola, McDonald’s and Walmart, have cut their ties to this group. Yet our legislators continue to push this stuff.
I heard about ALEC when I attended the January rally at the State House. SC AFL-CIO President Erin McKee asked us to ask our lawmakers who would support such bills, and why. You’d think the tea-party enthusiasts who were meeting simultaneously on the other side of the State House would want to ask the same questions of legislators, since as I understand they also are against making it easier for big business and the ultra-wealthy to control government.
The political world is a strange, convoluted one, isn’t it? A number of tea-party legislators are also ALEC members, yet ALEC and a few sister organizations have unimaginable money, which they’re willing to spend to change your government to their benefit. And that’s a serious threat to our quality of life, freedoms we take for granted and the American Dream.