Wednesday, May 28, 2003

IVINS: The Texas Toil

AlterNet -- It was horrible and sickening, but I could not stop watching the final days of the Texas Legislature. Fellow Texans, the ripple effects of this disaster will come to haunt us all.

Just for starters, this budget is going to cost about 144,000 jobs. Perhaps its most serious effect is on public hospitals. A health-care system so fragile that it is almost overwhelmed now – turning away ambulances for hours at a time, unable to admit a single patient – will be swamped after this. The counties will be desperate, the cities not much better. Every area of social service has been cut, not because we have a $9 billion deficit but because House Republicans do not believe government should help people.

We are watching government morph into something very strange. Benito Mussolini said, "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." The real driving force behind this session is something I bet most of you have never heard of – ALEC. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-funded, extremely right-wing group that sponsors conferences for state legislators and draws up model bills that are introduced all over the country. ALEC is particularly interested in privatizing government services and deregulating everything, and is anti-environment to an extent that's almost loopy.

Let's be very clear about this: People who want to privatize prisons and schools and social services are in it for the money. The real questions of government are always: Who benefits, and who pays?

One veteran lobbyist said of this session, "You look up and you suddenly realize that these people are playing a different game." They don't want to make government better. They don't want it to work well. They don't want it to help people.

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