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June 05, 2012

Meet the NCSL: The Liberal Lobbying Group You're Supporting, Because It's Taxpayer-Funded

And also, oddly, exempt from the normal reporting requirements for lobbying organizations.

Mike Flynn writes of the NCSL at Big Government.

You're paying for it, so you might as well know what your tax dollars are buying you.

I'm going to do an extended quote here. If objects, I trust they'll let me know.

In 1975, Congress created the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to provide a vehicle for state legislatures to jointly lobby Congress. Ideally, it could serve as a bulwark against further federal encroachment on state government. Like any organization that isn't explicitly conservative, however, NCSL soon became a hard-left institution. Run by a very liberal staff, with the nominal bi-partisan membership dictated by Congress--every member of a state legislature is automatically a member of NCSL--it has leveraged support from labor unions, leftist foundations and rent-seeking corporations, combined with taxpayer support from every state, to lobby to expand the role of government in our lives. It is the most effective lobby to expand government that no one has ever heard of. That changes today.

While it provides some technical training for legislative staff across the country, NCSL's most important work is in drafting hundreds of "policy positions" on virtually every issue touched by the federal government. These are crafted by state legislators and staff, with significant input from unions, corporations and interest groups. NCSL staff use these "positions" to try to shape federal legislation. While NCSL strives to appear bi-partisan, virtually all of its positions have a leftist tilt. It generally opposes federal legislation that imposes a conservative policy, e.g. tort reform, and supports legislation that imposes liberal policies, e.g health care mandates. In 2009, it shrugged off its bi-partisan veneer and came out strongly in support of ObamaCare and the "public option" for health insurance. And, you paid for it.

Remember, this is a "bipartisan" outfit that supposedly represents state legislatures -- 26 of which have filed suit to overturn ObamaCare.

NCSL's main stream of revenue comes from appropriations from state taxpayers. Each state is "accessed" dues based on a formula correlated generally with the size of the state. This stream from state taxpayers provides NCSL with around $20 million a year. It also collects a significant amount of revenue from federal grants. It has created a non-profit foundation, where labor unions, corporations and foundations can become "sponsors."

Flynn goes on (read the whole thing, you've already read 2/3rds of it) to find out about their secret meetings (paid for by you, but the public isn't invited) and to promise will be exposing it.

He also makes a crucial point: We play games according to the rules that exist. Games proceed according to the rules that exist.

Football became a very different game when, for example, the flying wedge was outlawed in the 20s. Suddenly the game went from a bunch of guys running down the field -- like rugby, but with hard hits and serious injuries (sometimes deaths) -- to a game more like the one we know today, with linemen taking a three point stance before hitting the other guy, rather than running full-tilt for ten yards before hitting him.

If you want to change the game, change the rules.

Organizations like NCSL are why the game operates as it does. If you think it seems that there's a perpetual bias in this country for expanding government, then look at the rules that cause this.

One of the rules is that left-wing organizations tend to be funded by taxpayers -- they seek our rents, in order to lobby for further rents -- so the game is substantially rigged to produce this very outcome.

If you want to change the game -- not merely eke out a few yards here and there, while giving up touchdowns left and right -- you have to change the rules.

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posted by Ace at 03:20 PM

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