And We Thought They Were Our Friends?

Many people — including working men and women — still regard the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a patriotic, pro-American organization.  And why wouldn’t they?  It’s been around long enough to have become a household name, and its public relations campaigns have been masterful.  As for its role in politics, I’ve even heard people describe the Chamber as “a booster or cheerleader” rather than an actual participant.

They couldn’t be more wrong.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not only a “participant,” it’s a driving force, a juggernaut, an ideological king-maker.  By aligning itself with America’s plutocracy and free-market fundamentalists, the Chamber of Commerce has become a virtual clearing house for anti-progressive politics.

Since the early days of the Reagan administration the Chamber has funneled, literally, billions of dollars into efforts to defeat candidates, neutralize movements, and kill legislation that seek to strengthen or protect the middle and lower-middle class.  Which gives a whole new meaning to the term “booster.”

Think of any progressive policy, and it’s a good bet the Chamber has opposed it: the minimum wage, enacting the EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act), bolstering the NLRB, campaign reform, health care reform, immigration reform, elimination of corporate tax loopholes, meaningful reform of financial institutions, more stringent safety regulations the mining and oil drilling industries, etc., etc.  The list is endless.

Hard as it may be to believe, the Chamber of Commerce has even weighed in on labor reform in faraway China.  They oppose it.  Why?  Because raising the social consciousness of a billion Chinese workers could eventually cut into corporate profits.  There’s no limit to their scope.  You name a progressive idea, and the Chamber has campaigned against it.

The Chamber regularly opposes any attempt by the U.S. government and organized labor to level the playing field when it comes to us competing with foreign businesses that are being subsidized (legally or illegally) by governments looking to expand their own national economies.

Now why would a U.S. institution support policies that benefit foreign corporations but hurt the American worker?  The answer is simple:  Because multinational conglomerates and Wall Street bankers stand to profit from such arrangements, and because, in truth, the complaints and hardships of American workers, no matter how valid, are irrelevant.

Therefore, it was no surprise that the Chamber opposed the Obama administration’s decision to assess duties on the “dumping” of foreign paper on the American market.  On October 22, the USITC (U.S. International Trade Commission) finally recommended that the Dept. of Commerce begin anti-dumping measures against China and Indonesia by levying duties on their coated paper imports.

Taking the knee-jerk position that assessing duties on foreign paper represented government interference in the so-called free market (and had the potential to instigate a trade war with China), the Chamber, as predicted, opposed the measure.

Begun in 1912 as a modest, loose-knit association of various commercial and trade organizations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is, today, the largest lobbying entity in existence.  Fact:  Each year the Chamber spends more money than any other lobbying group in the world.  That bears repeating:  The Chamber of Commerce spends more money than any lobbying group in the world.

If the implications weren’t so dire, the Chamber’s slavish willingness to serve America’s masters and perpetuate the myth of “trickle-down” economics would be almost comical.  After all, there’s never been a wealthy customer the Chamber didn’t like, or a powerful profit-center it wasn’t willing to fight for.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich noted that the top twenty-five hedge fund managers on Wall Street earned $3 billion or more each.  Wretchedly excessive as those figures are, their income tax bite, according to Reich, averaged out at less than 17-percent.  Yet the Chamber has spent millions of dollars trying to extend George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Although it’s understandable why people wring their hands over the emergence of the Tea Party movement, it’s crucial we recognize that the big dog in this fight is the Chamber of Commerce — which has been further empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision, which allows moneyed interests to whale on the political process.

The Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to one, single-minded goal: the preservation and prosperity of the ruling class at the expense of the middle and lower-middle class.  They have names for that sort of thing.

David Macaray is a playwright and author, whose latest book is How to Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows: Weird Adventures in India: Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims When the Peace Corps was New. Everything you ever wanted to know about India but were afraid to ask. He can be reached at: Read other articles by David.

7 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. bozh said on November 1st, 2010 at 8:15am #

    Ok! So a region is called a “country” and 200+ voelken “americans”. In fact, the region appears totally governed by money [that of Chamber of Commerce also] and may be deemed or called Disunited Nations.
    Is it a surprise that regional mafia does not recognize any other Disunited Nations?
    And each of these folks having at least one serious grievance against at least one other volk [ethnos], and we get what? Ok now, just look!
    Add to this fact that disunited people r lead by strongly-united uncles: jose, ivan, luther, pierre, pedro, sam, joshua, tom, hans [some aunts also].
    And add yet another fact that some people blame only uncle joshua, and hell breaks loose. tnx

  2. franco_american1962 said on November 1st, 2010 at 8:38am #

    “America’s plutocracy and free-market fundamentalists, the Chamber of Commerce has become a virtual clearing house for anti-progressive politics.”
    ‘Virtual’ clearing house? Progressive-politics? Yeah, that is how the U.S. is going to “progress”, with greater bureaucratic overlay and higher taxes, just like Europe. Obviously, many disaffected individuals on this site are hostile to the whole of western culture, and not just over what needs fixin’. I fail to see how a heavily bureaucratized and centralized State can mean anything but that of a few decided for the many. No thanks.

  3. franco_american1962 said on November 1st, 2010 at 8:56am #

    With most folks on this site being Marxist-centric (and equally obscure), I fail to see any “progressive” about an economic system that fails to deliver on its promises. With most of Western Europe having known nothing but some form or other of Socialism since the end of the First World War, it is no surprise that many on this site fail to see the forest for the trees. Still, there are those, and numerous they are, who have come to confuse the “security” of a socialist-welfarist polity over that of a free-market, as well as individual economic self-determination. I don’t buy into any Socialist Utopia, with the notion of the “collective good”. I don’t much care for bureaucrats running a dog and poney show.

  4. bozh said on November 1st, 2010 at 9:14am #

    Well, i am not against western culture, taken as undefinable; i.e., used as folks use it.
    In folk usage culture comprises loving songs, taletelling, fables, morals, manners, sharing, helping out, working, peace, not stealing.
    In nobles’ usage it means: rob, oppress, conquer, making arms. invading, sending people to death [oil rigs, mines, forests, war zones, roads], etc.
    Is one surprised that hitler made ‘perfect’ sense in Mein Kampf? Even the ruling class of disunited nations [in US] found it verri intrresting! tnx

  5. hayate said on November 1st, 2010 at 10:29am #

    franco_american1962 said on November 1st, 2010 at 8:38am

    franco_american1962 said on November 1st, 2010 at 8:56am

    IE: yes massa rich man, I sooooo appreciate the little crumbs you leave for me on the sidewalk. I will sing my praise for you and yours till the day I die.

  6. teafoe2 said on November 1st, 2010 at 10:50am #

    so what does it take for a post to be found “off topic”?

    Mr Spaghettiman 62 takes aim at something that’s on his mind, but no reference to which can be found in Macaray’s article. Macaray’s article attacks the Chamber of Commerce, but does not advocate for or against socialism or a welfare state.

    If Mr Spaghetti wants to attack socialism, or advance a claim that Nazism was a form of socialism, shouldn’t he write an article and submit it for publication, instead of trying to change the subject under discussion from the one Macaray wrote about to another?

  7. kalidas said on November 1st, 2010 at 3:37pm #

    I imagine Kim and I forgot what his name was I haven’t heard from him in so long, will let us know when and if we run roughshod. (or demonize anyone to an unacceptable degree) Not sure what degree that is but I reckon it’s in the neighborhood of the nth.

    They are pretty darn liberal with me, I know.
    And I appreciate it.

    As for off topic, hoz’s a pr’son sposed t sprd a litl h’mr?

    Whoops, there I go again..