Think twice meaning the ability to hold two conflicting beliefs in one’s mind at the same time, and accept both. The wise man of the party knows where his memory needs to be changed; why he knows that he is playing a game with reality; but it is action think twice he also convinces himself that reality is not violated. This process must be conscious, or it will not be done correctly, but it must also be unconscious, or it will lead to feelings of falsity and guilt.
From 1984 and George Orwell
When it comes think twice, Big Brother is nothin’ compared to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). For those of you who woke up people (no doubt most of the people who read my column) who have never heard of ALEC, let me help you into their Orwellian world. Let’s start with the front page of their website which proudly states:
“The American Legislative Exchange Council is the largest organization in America do not take sides [emphasis mine] a voluntary membership organization of state legislators committed to minority government policies, free markets [emphasis mine] and federalism. With nearly a quarter of the state’s legislators and staff in various policy areas, ALEC members represent more than 60 million Americans and provide jobs to more than 30 million people in the United States.”
As Orwell makes clear, doublethink is a difficult concept to grasp and a difficult thing to master. So before we talk about ALEC’s professional application of “doublethink” to the idea of ”free markets,” let’s soften our approach to this by dealing with what they say is incoherence, defined by Oxford Languages as: “unbiased or neutral, especially when it comes to each. political group.” Pray. You will love this!
Their 100% Republican but 50/50 gender split eight-member leadership team is led by CEO Lisa B. Nelson. It’s great to see ALEC being praised for at least some kind of gender diversity despite DE&I, and climate change, and the anti-Woke / ESG cabal start-up statements I’ve been writing. And they will continue to do so.
Ms. Nelson has an impressive resume. He managed to leave the shackles of political science with a degree in international relations from Wake University of California in Berkeley to work as Public Affairs Liaison for the Speaker of the US House Newt Gingrich from 1995 to 1998. He worked for the Conservative. National Review magazine founded in 1955 by William F. Buckley, Jr. Mrs. Nelson also helped found the National Review Institute in 1991 whose “mission is to preserve and promote Buckley’s legacy and to advance the principles of liberal culture through educational and communications programs. .” I yearn for the days of emotional safety and stability in the GOP’s Pre-Trump Cult era (so hopefully the midterm elections?) when compromise was possible. Stay tuned for more on this.
Ms. Nelson also proudly serves as a board member of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF). SFOF complains that “Politics in the federal and state governments are very different.” It helpfully explains that the reason for this is that “Elected officials at all levels are being pressured to adopt policies that reduce economic freedom and harm economic growth.” Hmmm. Silly me, I thought polarization required two poles. SFOF may be breaking new ground here in physics with its concept of “Unipolar Polarization.” It may be possible to combine this with doublethink. I have two degrees from MIT but none of them are in science so please give me time to work on it.
ALEC has 23 executive members. In their subcategories (eg, spouse, children, grandchildren, interests, and church affiliation) only three identify as Republicans: Representative Seth Grove of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Speaker Philip Gunn of the Mississippi House of Representatives, is Representative. Dan Laursen of the Wyoming House of Representatives. I guess why state the obvious unless there are personal reasons to reduce any doubt about the true color of red, right?
ALEC’s alumni include six Governors, 13 Senators, and 65 of 84 Representatives. All Governors are Republicans, the only Democratic Senator is Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and the only two Democratic House alumni are Tom O’Halloran of Arizona and Ed Perlmutter of Colorado.
Finally, ALEC has 95 state seats. That was too many for me to look at the politics of anyone. Almost all of them are from Red States with some Purple ones thrown in. So I took a not-so-random but strategic approach by searching for members from a few of the True Blue States: Delaware, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New. York. Each has one member state, compared to two or three in the red and purple states. And, yup, an ALEC member from each of these states is a Republican. Including Representative Nicholas Boldyga from our home state of Massachusetts. I am so proud!
Many may struggle with the term “nonpartisan” which is almost 100% GOP group. But this is not true twice. It is artful, if deceptive and misleading, to write letters. What people worry about is ESG.
The Center for Media and Democracy has written about ALEC and offers a variety of opinions. They say that “ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much stronger than that.” [emphasis in original“ “Secretive meetings” of “corporate lobbyists and state legislators” work to craft “’model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense.” These model bills are core to the theory of change of ALEC. “Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.” So far over 1,000 of these bills have been crafted and with an impressive track record of a 20 percent success rate. ALEC knows its stuff and must feel irreplaceable in its important mission.
Okay, I’ll man up (which is more than I can say for ALEC and SFOF) and admit that this is a partisan view from the left and I lean more left than right. So let’s take the most recent example of an ALEC initiative that was just brought to my attention yesterday by a lawyer friend of mine. He sent me this article: “Lawmakers Asked To Curtail Free Speech Until Investors Stop Seeing Gun Manufacturers As A Bad Investment.” Here we see doublethink being enacted in exemplary fashion. LME. It’s kinda complicated so please read carefully. The reader can then draw his or her own conclusion about ALEC.
The article inspired me to do a bit of research and I found ALEC’s “Eliminate Political Boycotts Act.” Somewhat curiously—or perhaps simply through overly excited anticipation—it cites December 1, 2022, as the “Date Introduced.” Whatever the date, it is “AN ACT relating to state contracts with certain companies that engage in economic boycotts based on environmental, social, or governance criteria.” That dreaded ESG again 😱! ALEC has artfully prepared the legal language for this act to be easily introduced into any state legislature that is enamored of it.
The guts of the Act is that “a governmental entity may not enter into a contract with a company for goods or services unless the contract contains a written verification from the company that it:
i. does not engage in economic boycotts; and
ii. will not engage in economic boycotts during the term of the contract.”
The elements of this act are eerily similar to the Texas Section 809 Boycott Provision which I have already shown to be based on a logic of quicksand. This Act has pretty much the same problems and others. In particular, the Act gives the Attorney General broad enforcement powers such as requiring a purported boycotter to being examined under oath; examining any record, book, document, account or paper deemed necessary; and impounding the same “until the completion of all proceedings undertaken under this article or in the courts.”
As with Texas Section 809 it all rests on the meaning of the word “boycott.” Here the Act provides this helpful definition: “’Economic boycott’ means, without an ordinary business purpose, refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, limit commercial relations with, or change or limit the activities of a company.”
Which begs the question of “ordinary business purpose.” The Act states that ordinary business “does not include any purpose to further social, political, or ideological interests.” And how is this determined? It includes, but is “not limited to (i) branding, advertising, statements, explanations, reports, letters to clients, communications with portfolio companies, statements of principles, or commitments, or (ii) participation in, affiliation with, or status as a signatory to, any coalition, initiative, joint statement of principles, or agreement.” Sounds to me that pretty much anything under the sun can be seen as evidence of boycotting.
And now, drum roll please, think twice! To most people “free markets” means that people are free to make buying and selling decisions based on what they feel is best for their financial interests. I believe ALEC has the same meaning. However, in order to carry out his mandate, the Attorney General can, at his discretion, decide that a decision, for example, to lose weight or abandon the assets of, say, an oil and gas company, is a decision. What if it’s not as good as stock. Or is it time to sell at the peak to buy another company’s pot? Or for sector rotation?
ALEC’s doublethink states that in order for free markets to remain free it is necessary to restrict the freedom of those who can make decisions based on what the Attorney General would define as “opinions.” Even if it is based on sound economic logic. AG as the omniscient Big Brother.
As Orwell explains, “”The top of the pyramid [of Oceanic society] Big Brother is coming. Big Brother is infallible and omnipotent. Every success, every achievement, every success, all scientific achievements, all knowledge, all wisdom, all happiness, all virtue, is derived from his leadership and inspiration. “
Remember this doublethink. “The process must be conscious, or it cannot be done correctly, but it must also be unconscious, or it can lead to feelings of falsity and guilt.”
The Act is a conscious process. But its use will not be knowledge. Here the main ability of this law is revealed in Section 2 since the government can take the opportunity to use its power of Big Brother Boycott by adopting things like “laws or regulations” related to money, “acquiring goods or services that must be provided. in an economically feasible way ,” or other unspecified reasons.
In theory give this Law to scare the financial community. Do not unconsciously force it if it becomes difficult. But everyone knows that Big Brother can always intervene to ensure free markets. By taking away the rights of others.
Hats off to ALEC for the best use of doublethink I’ve ever seen.