Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger.
During the Cold War a phrase “The Enemy Within” became popular. It was a reference at first to Communist subversion exemplified by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch-hunt. Later it was used with other issues such as in Robert F. Kennedy’s book “The Enemy Within” which dealt with corruption in the Labor Movement, specifically Jimmy Hoffa and his teamsters. Recently, Michael Savage, right wing talk show host, wrote a book using that same title, though in this case referring to liberals and progressives as being seditious. The connotation of this phrase is that the group so labeled represents an internal movement that is so dangerous to the interests of the United States, that it can be seen as subversive.
Some may be shocked then by the title of this post. Almost all of us have grown up thinking of the Chamber of Commerce as a uniquely American Institution. Throughout the US whether in cities or in hamlets, the business community has banded together to promote local commerce and build interrelated networks. When we think of this, we think mainly of local small businesses, which are the backbone of this nation’s economy. To be honest until this week I’ve never give much thought to the Chamber of Commerce until as a MoveOn.com member I received a petition from an affiliated new organization called SumOfUs.
“SumOfUs is a brand-new global movement of consumers, investors and workers using our collective economic power for good. Together, we will work to hold the world’s corporations accountable to the public interest and move our global economic system towards social equity, democratic principles, and long-term sustainability.” http://googlequitthechamber.org/about/
The purpose of the petition was to get Google to follow the lead of other large corporations and quit the US Chamber of Commerce. The petition made various claims regarding the US Chamber of Commerce which I’ll deal with in this post.
However, I wouldn’t present this post without doing some research on the “Chamber” and its’ activity to look into the validity of the claims being made by the SumOfUs organization. In doing this research I came to realize that in my opinion the United States Chamber of Commerce is an organization that does not act in the best interests of this country and that one can call it subversive, even though it is not treasonous. These are my reasons for this belief.
My supposition was that “chambers of commerce” were a uniquely American institution and I discovered I was wrong in that belief. The first chamber of commerce was founded in France in 1599. This type of institution is defined as:
“A chamber of commerce (also referred to in some circles as a board of trade) is a form of business network, e.g., a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community. Local businesses are members” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chambers_of_commerce
Contrast the information contained in the above link with this information on the United States Chamber of Commerce:
“the Chamber claims a direct membership of 300,000 businesses, and 3 million through its various affiliates such as state and local chambers. Some of the Chamber’s members and donors are Goldman Sachs, Chevron, Texaco, and Aegon “
We see that rather than a business networking organization, as are most local Chambers of Commerce. The US Chamber is specifically a lobbying organization. In fact it is the largest lobbyist in our country. Not only is it the largest lobbyist in the US, but its major source of support comes from a small number of multi-national corporations, whose natural interests are not those of the United States, or of its people.
“Although the Chamber has misrepresented itself and claimed to represent 3 million businesses (later modified to 300,000 after a Mother Jones exposé), in reality it actually represents a small group of multinational corporations. In 2008, half of its donations came from just 45 corporate donors. In 2009, nearly half of the Chamber’s money came from a single donation from the health insurance industry trade association. Moreover, the Chamber doesn’t appear to truly care about jobs or small businesses — evidenced by the fact that the Chamber killed legislation to create millions of new clean energy jobs and expand America’s competitive advantage in clean energy technology.”http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2010/11/23/131597/uschamber-obama/
Journalist, pundits and TV News Readers constantly reference the USCOC as an organization working in the interests of American Business. I contend that this is not the case. My opinion is that the interests of American Business and those of the multi-national base support of the USCOC are actually inimical to each other. The basis of my belief is first based on the logic of the contention. Were I the CEO of a multi-national corporation my correct interest would be in succeeding in the Global Marketplace. This would entail looking for the largest markets by population, catering to those populations and also finding the cheapest labor possible. In my long range planning as a multi-national CEO the tribulations of the US labor market, the needs of US based businesses and their inability to compete in the global market would be of little concern. The total populations of China and India in 2011 are 2.5 billion people; US population is 314 million. http://www.geohive.com/ As these and other population centers increase, their sheer numbers make them more attractive than a US market of declining income and vanishing industrial capacity.
Above I’ve laid out the schematics of my argument that the USCOC represents a subversive element in our country that will in the end succeed in making America indistinguishable from a third world nation. Now let me present some specific arguments that lead me to this conclusion.
1.-“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is responsible for many of the policies that have made America the most unequal in terms of income/wealth distribution in the industrialized world. On tax policy, the Chamber has pushed efforts to repeal the estate tax while helping to pass the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Corporate tax loopholes promoted by the Chamber ensure that corporations like ExxonMobil pay zero corporate income taxes while regular American workers foot much of the Treasury’s bill. The Chamber also opposed the creation of a minimum wage, and has lobbied against nearly every increase in the federal minimum wage. “
2.-”The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t even necessarily represent American businesses. As first reported by ThinkProgress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently began a fundraising program soliciting foreign corporations to give to the Chamber’s account that in turn was used to run attack ads during the midterm elections. The Chamber admitted that it fundraises from foreign donors, but has refused to reveal how it finances its political campaign expenditures. ThinkProgress noted that the Chamber has aided its foreign members by lobbying this year to kill a bill to close tax loopholes for businesses that ship jobs overseas, and has even sponsored seminars to teach businesses how to ship their jobs to places like China.”
3.-”The U.S. Chamber of Commerce often places the profits of its member companies over American foreign policy objectives. Last year, the Chamber lobbied against President Obama’s efforts to place economic sanctions on Iran. In 1941, the Chamber was one of the most outspoken opponents of intervening in World War II (Chamber officials feared that war would give Roosevelt more power and wartime spending would lead to higher deficits, then higher taxes).”
4.- “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has worked to give corporations unfettered control of government. For instance, the Chamber successfully filed an amicus brief in the Citizens United case to roll back nearly a century of campaign finance laws. Because of the Chamber’s efforts, corporations can spend unlimited amounts in American elections. Now the Chamber is attempting to repeal legislation aimed at discouraging American businesses from bribing foreign governments.” http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2010/11/23/131597/uschamber-obama/
My argument here has been specifically about the USCOC being an American organization, whose interests and actions are inimical to the interests of the United States in the global marketplace, focusing more on the needs of their chief funders which are multi-national Corporations. Goldman Sachs, Chevron, Texaco, Aegon, GE, Exxon and even Ford are no longer American companies, even if some were founded by Americas in America. They are multi-nationals and their interests are perforce not coincident to the interests of this country, or its’ people. The United States Chamber of Commerce is primarily supported by multi-national entities and its lobbying efforts are focussed upon the needs of these non-american entities. This must be recognized so that people can understand that not only does the USCOC work against the interests of the America people, but it also works against the interests of American businesses.
There are further arguments detailing the pernicious nature of the USCOC that can be found at this link: http://googlequitthechamber.org/reasons/ I think you will find them informative and persuasive. They discuss the opposition of the USCOC to worker’s rights; civil rights; women’s rights; LBGT rights; environmental responsibility; global warming; health care reform; net neutrality; and many other issues. The USCOC in my opinion is a pernicious lobbying organization. It probably has acted within legal boundaries and therefore it has a right as an organization to act in what it defines as its own interests. However, I think people should generally be aware of the nature of this institution and use that information to decide whether its policies ad efforts should be supported, or opposed. I’ve presented my opinion with what I consider to be evidence supporting my contention. I invite the reader to examine it and come to their own conclusions.
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~Submitted by Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger