Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Minor Musing About The South Dakota Legislature And ALEC

Today's Argus had a he said/she said article about the South Dakota Legislature's executive board's decision to pay legislators' memberships in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Democrats point out that the group is pro large corporation advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers and other conservatives. Republicans take issue with the assertion that the Koch brothers use ALEC to push their agenda and claim that the group educates legislators.

Then there's this bit of reasoning:
Sen. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, said interactions with corporations at ALEC meetings are positive.

“Yes, there’s corporate people there, too. But you can learn from them,” Maher said. “What better opportunity than to sit down with these people and have a discussion and promote the state of South Dakota as a tax-friendly state?”
So, ALEC isn't about a right-wing agenda; the group merely allows legislators to convince ALEC's corporate members that South Dakota is a tax friendly state. Corporations should have their own bean counters to determine that fact, so the corporations shouldn't need much convincing.

If it's not about the Koch brothers and it seems unlikely South Dakota needs ALEC meetings to prove the state's low tax bona fides,  then it seems that these meetings are ways for ALEC's corporate members to convince legislators which corporations should be winners and which should losers. Given that ALEC purports to support free enterprise capitalism, attempts to have the government pick winners and losers seems either ironic or more than a little disingenuous.

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