Subtitles and transcripts of podcasts

Subtitles and transcripts are available for some podcasts linked to this blog, for example for all videos on ted.com. Under the video, select Subtitles available in, and to the right of the video, select Open interactive transcript.
For Russian readers / Для русскоязычных читателей: Для некоторых подкастов, описанных в блоге, например, для подкастов на сайте ted.com, есть субтитры и записи текстов. Под видео выберите Subtitles available in Russian, а справа от видео выберите Open interactive transcript.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Who's Really Writing States' Legislation?

Who but our elected officials would be writing our states' legislature? You may be surprised by the answer. It turns out that American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a low-profile joint organization of corporations and legislators, writes many of our model state legislative bills, according to NPR Fresh Air podcast How ALEC Shapes States' Legislation Behind The Scenes (audio, 32 min).

As journalist John Nichols, the author of the article ALEC Exposed, explains in the interview, ALEC's agenda is to broadly influence state politics in favor of business interests (mostly large corporations). ALEC's Private Enterprise Board consists of representatives from corporations such as Pfizer, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, AT&T, etc.
What influence does ALEC have? For example, ALEC, whose members also include private prison companies, helped pass laws that cause prison overcrowding, which would thus lead to more prison construction, which would in turn benefit the private prison companies - at our expense, and despite the already serious states' budget problems.
ALEC's agenda is quite broad. ALEC promotes privatization, globalization, tort reform (which would make it harder to sue corporations), small government, and decreasing environmental and other regulation. The full extent of this has become public information recently due to a massive leak of ALEC documents by one of its members. The full archive is now posted on alecexposed.org.
ALEC also has a position on elections. It is very much in favor of keeping the electoral college - otherwise, the political system "would allow a candidate with a plurality—however small—to become President." ALEC proposes making the voter initiative process harder for voters, but making campaign contributions easier for corporations (see the article ALEC Exposed: Rigging Elections by John Nichols).
For a very special treat, listen to the interview with the chairman of ALEC: La. State Rep. Noble Ellington, National Chairman Of ALEC, Responds To Report (audio, 13 min). Ellington has an air of bizarre authenticity and self-righteousness, especially when he takes offense to (rather mild) line of questions from NPR's Terry Gross. Perhaps the ALEC people are convinced that they are doing the world a favor, after all?

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