The Big Picture
The term "legislative exchange" must be an inside joke, with the "exchange" not being among legislators, but between those who have the money and those who want it. And ALEC is just the currently most visible arm of one of the most threatening power grabs by big money ever seen.
As the 2012 election season unfolds, investigative reporters are being advised about the multiplicity of new avenues for corruption of the political system in the wake of the Citizens United decision -- and not just on the federal level. As staffers from the National Institute on Money in State Politics write in the current print magazine of the journalists' organization Investigative Reporters and Editors, there's a flurry of activity to be concerned about. Among the issues the article pinpoints:
-"State supreme court races are really in play, since unlimited funds may now be spent advocating for or against candidates, as long as it's done 'independently.' The authors mention the likelihood that long-time justices, many of them honest and independent-minded, could be thrown out for rulings on controversial issues.
-"New ballot measures: 'Look for out-of-state money pouring into ballot committees'.... The authors don't say who would likely be pouring massive amounts into other states' races; while some funds would undoubtedly be from those seeking to influence hot-button issues like marriage equality, the biggest money is likely to come from corporations concerned with regulations and ordinances they find onerous.- Advertisement -
-"Check the top industry contributors to campaigns in multiple states. Is there a pattern, perhaps an orchestrated effort to change policies in favor of a particular..industry?
-"Is a candidate primarily financed by in-state or out-of-state money?"
See where this is going? After compromising the federal government as much as possible, you push for "states' rights," and then you go to work compromising one state legislature after another.
There are virtually unlimited funds available to buy the system, and from the corporate point of view, it's much cheaper to pay pennies on the dollar for friendly votes than it is to institute working-place safety measures, take good care of your customers, produce quality products, and compete fairly in a truly open marketplace.
Dollar-wise, these guys really ARE "smart Alecs."