Like many of you, I grew up with Schoolhouse Rock, catchy little animated nuggets of learning that were interspersed among kids' shows to teach us little darlings something without feeling like we were in school. One of my favorites was the civics lesson "I'm Just a Bill", which gave a quick tour of how a bill becomes a law, personally led by a Bill himself. Who could forget the triumphant conclusion: "We've signed you, Bill -- You're a LAW!"
That might be how things used to work. But now, particularly at the statehouse level, there's a new process in play. Cartoonist Mark Fiore, in cooperation with ALEC Exposed (via the Center for Media and Democracy) and Alliance for a Better Utah, has created a powerful update portraying how things REALLY work these days. Presenting: ALEC Rock! (Transcript below the fold).
Original Bill: (sings) I'm just a Bill, yes I'm only a Bill, and I'm sittin' here on Capitol Hill. Well, it's a long, long journ...
(Limousine runs down Original Bill on the road, ALEC Model Bill steps out)
ALEC Model Bill: Tough break, Billy-boy, but there's a new way to make laws these days. ALEC's the name -- and you better not have scratched the limo, pal.
See, it works like this nowadays: bunch o' corporations get together, and get tax write-offs for bankrolling a... charity... called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Sounds pretty official, huh? Then they schmooze and booze a whole lotta politicians from states all over the country at posh hotels. Corporate bucks also buy "scholarships" for politicians -- if you're a scholar of drinkin' scotch, smokin' cigars, and playing golf at a resort.
So now they're suddenly one big happy family: the corporations, the lobbyists, the politicians. They all get together, far away from your citizens and voters, and the unelected lobbyists secretly vote with the politicians -- as equals of course -- on the things the corporations want to do. Like gut clean air and water rules, raise your credit card rates as high as they want, crush them democratic unions, make it easier to get away with shootin' people, and profitize... er, privatize... schools, prisons, bail, immigration, and what have you. Hell, they'd privatize their own mothers!
So, once the politicians have been wined and dined, a little campaign contribution here, a good time there, the politicians... er, legislators... head back to their capitols or Congress and fast-track as many of these bills as they can.
And here I am. A model ALEC bill, soon to be law. (belch) It's a hell of a lot easier and more fun than how you used to do it, what with all those regular old citizens and meddling media watching your every move.
Face it, you're washed up. Corporations have made government of the people obsolete, Bill. It's a thing of the past.
Whaddya have to say for yourself, you old dreamer?
Original Bill: (weakly) Please.... help...
ALEC Model Bill: I oughtta "stand my ground" on you right here, put you out of your misery!
= = = = = = = =
This brilliant exposé and plea comes in conjunction with the 39th ALEC Annual Meeting which is being held in Salt Lake City this week. The Annual Meeting is where a big part of the corporate "secret voting" takes place -- along with the schmoozing, wining, dining, cigar-bars, the works. They're creating our laws this week, folks. And they've been slowly, quietly working toward this point for nearly 40 years. Only now, essentially since the Wisconsin Uprising, has the light truly begun to shine on how corporations are undermining and remaking our democracy in their own image.
Please watch the video, and share it widely!
For all of us "old dreamers" who believe in the original process, here's the original "I'm Just a Bill" we knew and loved:
P.S. Downstate Democrat posted a diary on this yesterday afternoon, but it has dropped off the Recent list. The video is such a clever and piercing piece, it deserves more attention!