Google: Doing Evil with ALEC

EvilGoogleGoogle Inc. is now aligned with the notorious ALEC.

Quietly, Google has joined ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — the shadowy corporate alliance that pushes odious laws through state legislatures.

In the process, Google has signed onto an organization that promotes such regressive measures as tax cuts for tobacco companies, school privatization to help for-profit education firms, repeal of state taxes for the wealthy and opposition to renewable energy disliked by oil companies.

ALEC’s reactionary efforts — thoroughly documented by the Center for Media and Democracy — are shameful assaults on democratic principles. And Google is now among the hundreds of companies in ALEC. Many people who’ve admired Google are now wondering: how could this be?

Well, in his recent book “Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy,” Robert W. McChesney provides vital context. “It is true that with the advent of the Internet many of the successful giants — Apple and Google come to mind — were begun by idealists who may have been uncertain whether they really wanted to be old-fashioned capitalists,” he writes. “The system in short order has whipped them into shape.”

McChesney adds: “Any qualms about privacy, commercialism, avoiding taxes, or paying low wages to Third World factory workers were quickly forgotten. It is not that the managers are particularly bad and greedy people — indeed their individual moral makeup is mostly irrelevant — but rather that the system sharply rewards some types of behavior and penalizes other types of behavior so that people either get with the program and internalize the necessary values or they fail.”

Google has widely mythologized itself as some kind of humanistic techno-pioneer. Obscured in a fog of digital legend is the agenda that more than ever is transfixed with maximizing profits while capitalizing on anti-democratic leverage of corporate power. Google’s involvement in ALEC is consistent with the company’s mega-business model that relentlessly exploits rigorous data-mining of emails, online searches and so much more.

Yet image-conscious companies can be skittish about public pressure. That helps to explain why dozens of firms withdrew from ALEC during the last year.

A few days ago — when my colleagues at RootsAction.org sent out an email alert about news of ALEC’s connection with Google as well as with Facebook and Yelp — more than 25,000 people quickly signed a petition urging those companies to “stop funding ALEC.” Several thousand of the petition signers added comments that can be read online along with the petition.

Those comments reflect widening comprehension of Google and the significance of its alignment with ALEC. Here’s a sampling:

“I expected better. Maybe that was naive.”  James C., San Jose, CA

“What happened to your big pledge? ‘Don’t be evil’? Guess it was just words…”  Lois W., Sun City, AZ

“Better check your definition of EVIL — look it up on Google…”  Armando A., Vista, CA

“Please don’t fund tyranny. You were supposed to be one of the good guys.”  Ernest W., Easthampton, MA

“Your credibility is fading associating with this kind of scum.”  John B., Easton, CT

“You are subverting the wishes of your clients/users while undermining democracy.”  Vincent G., Sioux Falls, SD

“Shame on you. Think about what the majority of your users want instead of the ‘rich’ guys.”  Karen B., Westminster, CO

“If you continue to support ALEC, I will along with countless others, discontinue use of ALL your products and services!”  Ronald P., Milford Center, OH

“Quit helping to Destroy our democracy.”  Kevin B., Lynnwood, WA

“Corporate power is corrupting this nation’s ability to have a decent governing system.”  Jean and Jesper C., Louisville, KY

“What is wrong with Google acting like the one tenth of the 1%? Too much filthy lucre has covered their conscience.”  Doug Y., Albany, CA

“Google! How could you do this? Don’t you realize this organization stands for ALL the wrong things? I’m sure most of your employees would not want to belong to ALEC. Please reconsider for their sake and that of all of us.”  Judith S., Carbondale, IL

“If you sleep with dogs, you get fleas.”  Robert J., Fern Park, FL

“Shame! We thought you were supposed to be a tool for the people, not a tool for the corporations!”  Sharon T., Irvine, CA

“Happy Sociopath Day to you people!”  Gary S., Big Bear Lake, CA

“Google has evolved to be one of the most unethical corporations in the world!”  Eric K., Montclair, NJ

“This is so obviously evil, and it causes real suffering.”  Terrell S., Seattle, WA

“Don’t you corporate executives make enough money? How much can you spend? Don’t you realize that people have to have money to buy your product? What the heck are you ‘dumb-asses’ thinking?”  Lon K., Waterloo, IA

“Good companies are becoming evil in order to please ALEC and the upper 1%. I thought Google would never need to stoop to that. I’m sadder than sad.”  Linda A., Medina, WA

“ALEC promotes corporate dominance over the democratic processes that our country was founded on. Shame on you!”  Judy D., Port Townsend, WA

“Laws should be written by elected representatives with citizen input, NOT by cookie-cuttered legalese templates created by and for the corporate interests.”  Liz A., Los Angeles, CA

“Noooooo Google! I love you but I will have to abandon you and many of your products should you do this. I really, really, really don’t want to do that! But will…”  Rochelle W., Reading, PA

“ALEC organizes capital to crush people by gaining any all benefits for the wealthy. That has consequences for children, elderly, disabled, veterans, working people — your customers. Please look beyond the near-term bottomline.”  Benita C., Burgettstown, PA

“Greed may be the worst terror facing this country. Greed, of corporations and some individuals, seems bent on destroying our democracy. We have to fight back!”  Anne G., Arlington, TX

“ALEC is evil. Those who fund ALEC are enabling evil. Enough said.”  Monty N., Helena, MT

“Google: Better get your house in order and your priorities straight. Average Americans are in no mood for this crap.”  Lawrence H., Fall Creek, WI

“For a company that loves to talk about the forward thinking way it treats employees, it surely seems acts just like every other ultra conservative corporate giant.”  Andrew W., Pittsfield, MA

“Why such cowardice?”  Mitchell S., Philadelphia, PA

“I knew the Don’t Be Evil mantra would disappear once the big money started flowing in. They’re no different than any other sleazy money-grubbing corporation in the cesspool of greed the USA has become.”  Gill F., Olympia, WA

“Disgusting professional activity on the part of this huge corrupt business. Google is going to have to do a lot of work to earn back the respect of a huge segment of the public; this only one of many recent revelations about Google’s despicable conduct as an entity.”  Susan H., Lafayette, IN

“Big money, big business, big lies.”  Stephen D., Grants Pass, OR

“Please stand for individual’s freedom rather than corporate greed and stop supporting ALEC.”  Carol B., San Rafael, CA

“Your company went from hip and caring to right of Attila the Hun and nasty in a few years…”  Roger W., Montpelier, VT

“ALEC has been a disaster for the vast majority of citizens in Wisconsin and other states. It has become a leading supporter of fascist attacks on women’s sacred reproductive rights.”  Edith M., Milwaukee, WI

“ALEC has done tremendous harm to this country and its political system. Any support for the organization is support for tearing down constitutional government.”  James F., Minneapolis, MN

“Just provide a service and take home your inflated paycheck. Stay out of the rest. And by the way, erase my browsing history, you nosey anti-American hacks.”  Jeff Cole, Tucson, AZ

“If Google and Facebook have any integrity left, please prove it by not funding ALEC!”  Douglas W., Chicago, IL

“ALEC is trying to dismantle our civil society. Do not be part of it.”  Jean Beck, Lynnwood, WA

“Have a heart!!!!!!”  Artalious S., McDonough GA

“ALEC is a big step backwards in human evolution, or a big step toward Big Brother.”  Victoria G., Portland, OR

“Disgusting. More government for the highest bidders.”  Michael P., Morton Grove, IL

“The worst thing about ALEC is its anti-democratic nature which buys votes to override the will of the people. As an information source this should violate your principles.”  Lon H., Ferndale, MI

“When you are as giant as Google, you ALMOST have stomp on us little people. Please please please be with US…”  Jon S., Lafayette, CO

“This is indicative of what happens when the founders of a company grow extremely wealthy. They align themselves more and more with the organizations that will further their agenda of market dominance and profit taking. The support of ALEC by the two founders of Google is particularly hypocritical because of their original pledge to not be evil. Shame on both of you.”  Bruce B., Port Townsend, WA

__________________________________________

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

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  • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

    I signed that the day it came out. I used the chromebook I had bought a month earlier because I thought Google was the best (sanest and most ethical) bet in the “cloud wars”. Do I feel like a sap now… uh huh.

    I was a Mac user for 20 years and I watched Apple descend into the cesspool of corporate evil. Now I get to watch Google do it. Gosh, it’s enough to make me think there’s something fundamentally wrong with this capitalist corporate model.

    • alizardx

      Consider Linux. I use http://www.kubuntu.org , it has a “conventional” desktop user interface

      It *may* be possible to convert your chromebook.

      • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

        Having a terminal connected to the cloud actually works pretty well for me. For the most part, all the off-line function I need is available in Google Docs. That was a main selling point for me… I can write anywhere and upload later.

        There are still many encouraging things about how Google does business. But once a business gets so large and sells public shares, nearly all businesses seem to cave in to lawyers, bean counters, market strategists and the small but dominant group of “investors” who push them to abandon human values and civic responsibility in favor of cash.

        I’d like to support business that gives me useful stuff and tries to keep profit and responsibility in balance. I thought Google was holding that line fairly well… which is why this ALEC thing is such a shock.

  • Ted Heistman

    “…tax cuts for tobacco companies…”

    don’t give a shit….

    “…school privatization to help for-profit
    education firms..”

    how bad could it be? public school sucks.

    “…repeal of state taxes for the wealthy and opposition
    to renewable energy disliked by oil companies…”

    sounds more nefarious. I’ll have to look into it. Not everything that gets good democrats panties in a wad is alarming to me.

    • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

      What’s a good democrat? Somebody who, instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, can ignore the jackass?

      • Ted Heistman

        Right, they want to ban cigarettes, protect teachers unions, stuff like that. Really mothering type vibe. Republicans used to have a Father type vibe, but now they are just batshit crazy.

        I can’t really relate to either party. It seems like an emotional thing. Intellectually I understand some of their arguments but their issues don’t resonate with me emotionally. Its just two weird tribal mentalities.

        Republicans seem slightly worse but I don’t really trust the left either. I am more of a Libertarian.

        Corporations are hostile to democracy. Tocqueville knew their would arise a Manufacturing Aristocracy and this could potentially destroy our democracy. This is the way it is now. Corporations compete with each other but at the same time there are some policies they all seem to want. So they just meet together to decide policy and work around the voting public. Its been going on for a while.

        • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

          You might appreciate a link charlieprimero posted recently about authoritarians and libertarians. The author is not American so the “libertarians” are not equivalent to the U.S. Libertarian Political Party, but might be equivalent to your own desire for and understanding of what actually is a good life.

          http://goo.gl/z023XO

        • alizardx

          Dem v GOP two neoliberal centrist factions. The difference at leadership level is how fast their donors want to boil the frog. Dem want a slow fire to extract max nutritional value, GOP wants to turn up heat all the way to get a quick meal, even if the level of heat means melting the pot and blowing up the stove.

          But neoliberalism is about cooking us, using government as a wealth-extraction and upward transfer mechanism and using surveillance / dissent suppression / police militarization to “protect” them from the consequences of their King Lemming program. That’s the common leadership value of Dem/GOP. This kind of government is usually the end stage of Empire.

          As for rank and file of both parties, they’re different marketing demographics and the common ideology has to be packaged differently.

    • alizardx

      Read this: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Reason to see info on corporate welfare recipients funding ALEC/Reason. Quick summary: if you aren’t part of the 0.1%, they aren’t just anti-democracy/labor, they’re anti-you.

  • BuzzCoastin

    Google’s “don’t be evil”
    is a mantra focused on doing evil
    not good

    people who trust Google or any other global corporation
    are not paying attention to their actions, just their propaganda

    Google made a showy withdrawal from China
    based on principle, so they said
    to avoid censoring content & spying on Chinese citizens
    and then they bent over and greased up for Uncle Homeland
    when he asked them to do the exact same thing

    • alizardx

      Can’t find the article at the moment, but saw one a few weeks ago that says google shuttle bus drivers aren’t even allowed to use bathrooms at google facilities.

    • atlanticus

      One would think that more people would ask “Why did this company go out of it’s way to preemptively say they weren’t evil? Hmm…could it be because they knew from the start that they might be involved in questionable things down the line?”

      • godozo

        Probably because they were just starting out. Anyone can be all good when they start – it’s as the company grows that opportunities to turn/become evil start to come about.

        Or, to mis-quote Uncle Chestnut, “The Rich don’t need to be bribed because they have ALREADY been bribed. How else could they have become rich?”

  • kowalityjesus

    Does anyone have a spare handbasket in which the internet can be carried to hell?

  • godozo

    I’ve heard that tossing “Don’t be Evil” for a new motto. The new motto will be “BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!”

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