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 United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is an American lobbying group representing the interests of many businesses and trade associations. It is not an agency of the United States government.”
“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
38 thoughts on “The US Chamber of Commerce, the Enemy Within?”
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“Local and state chambers often support activity and legislation that should be considered quite apart from USCOC positions. Many of these are positions taken by your friends and neighbors that help business and the community.”
“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.”
“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”
My intent was to differentiate the USCOC, from the local organizations, which are mainly associations of local businesses organizing themselves as a community and networking with like minded people. Perfectly good idea and certainly not subversive. I apologize if I didn’t make that clear.
Just a reminder to aim a rifle and not a shotgun.
Local and state chambers often support activity and legislation that should be considered quite apart from USCOC positions. Many of these are positions taken by your friends and neighbors that help business and the community.
“The US Chamber is different from local and state chambers of commerce located in many cities, towns and states nationwide. The US Chamber focuses on national issues on the federal government level. Local and state chambers of commerce are independently started and operated organizations. Local chambers focus on local issues, and state chambers on state issues.”
Angryman, just saw your note. re citizens united and treason I was using your definition: “anything done that for the exoress purpose of injuring the people and aiding foreign corporations to the detriment of the american people is treason.”
As foreign corporatioins are able to give money along with US without disclosing from where, or whom, I felt it fell into that construct.
Thanks. I went back to their site and read the summary of the litigation concerning campaign finances. i see your point. I agree. it is Treason or sedition in my estimation too; although i understand the legal fine points also.
I’ve been thinking about your post of 11:22 AM and you raise a valid point, however, in re Bush/Cheney their actions post-9/11 can arguably be considered adhering to their enemies (in this instance their Saudi business partners) and giving them aid and comfort (by spiriting many of them out of the country and prosecuting a war against a country that did not attack us in furtherance of the regional political and economic goals of the country that did attack us – Saudi Arabia). As to your proposed tactics, I have no issue other than malfeasance is a more accurate description than the legal definition of treason although by the dictionary definition treason is reasonable. But to name names? I think it’s a tactic way overdue. Then again, you know me, I’ve never been exactly bashful about speaking plainly about the actions of people operating against the best interests of We the People.
Left a comment on your website so you’ll know how to E Mail me.
“If Mike has some more specific ideas about how to proceed or how I can help from my blog or otherwise; let me know.”
I’m struggling with just what approach to take myself. Part of the reason I’ve become a regular here is because it gives me an opportunity to speak out and hopefully communicate with people and to learn from others wisdom. As far as rolling back the advance of the Feudalistic Corporate State I think the best hope in years has come from OWS. The use of the “1% vs 99%” metaphor is brilliant because encapsulates a whole philosophy in a tiny phrase. It has entered into the language of debate and is even used by the
corporate media. Its’ optimal beauty is in its truth.
What I mean by truth is that for years the forces of darkness have outfoxed us by using memes like “High Taxes” to fool people. Underlying that is a lie.
Americans have relatively low taxes compared to the rest of the industrial world and wealthy Americans have been getting their taxes continually lowered since Reagan.
I’ve never believed that the public is stupid in general, but I do believe it is subject to following the brainwashing of propaganda. The philosophy of our public school system, hampered by limited funding, has been to discourage creative thinking and encourage rote learning. We have been taught to follow, rather than question authority and a good number of people have absorbed that lesson. Therefore many in the public “follow the leader”, rather than reason for themselves. If they watch the Four Networks, FOXNews, CN and HSN they have their news distilled into corporate propaganda. This becomes their authority and many follow it slavishly to their own detriment.
In tandem with this following authority, is that most of us are too busy earning a living and raising our families, to be able to pay serious attention to what is going on. They must be reached out to with sound bytes, rather than the complicated talking points that many on our side are so fond of using. That is why we need to respond to the propaganda and the crap, with memes of our own like “1% vs 99%” and naming people who shill for corporatism as traitors to America (or The American Dream). The more we do this, the more it will spread into the common vernacular and then there will be a more equal playing field of debate. You will note that in my way I’m trying to do this by constantly referring to the New Feudalism, Corporate Feudalism and Corporate Plutocracy. Its my way of trying to level the playing field of invective. As for further ideas I’m looking for them too and knowing my own limitations would accept good ones gladly. I’m too old to lead this fight, but I’m willing to do my part to “Save The America Dream”, to use yet another helpful meme.
I’m a huge fan of Keith Ellison’s initiative for Constitutional amendment. That would have immediate and concrete impact. Anything you do promoting it would be a great help.
I have only a rudimentary knowledge of this bill but i will read it and see if i can’t work it in to my site. I;m sure I can. Sound like it’s right down my alley. i have expressed repeatedly the need for more than just one amendment. i believe we need to consider more indepth and sweeping changes but details arfe for later. Thanks for all the legal information. As I say. I have alot of ideas and so forth but my legal knowledge is fairly limited; nonexistant where case law and legal precident are concerned. I won’t be citing prior decisions but I where would we be if we were all lawyers? Don’t answer that. I mean we do need some foolish visionaries and philosophical Envelope pushers don’t we? Well…..don’t we. hey Gene. Talk to you soon. Thanks again. I pick up alot of useful knowledge here. I’ll try to retain it so you don’t have to tell me twice
Certainly the Constitution and Federal statute make use of force an important fulcrum in divining the crime of treason. However, I’ve never been a fan of throwing treason against ones opponents, except of course Benedict Arnold and his like. To often treason has been used wrongly to harass and prosecute those who oppose a form of government, towards the purpose of maintaining a status quo.
Let me be blunt about it. Joe McCarthy vilified those who were merely Communist Party members as traitors. In almost all cases the membership alone was considered the “crime”, without any further acts involved. The theory was one of criminal conspiracy, without any more needed than attending a meeting, or two. This was a political use of treason, since in many instances the accusation alone had serious consequences like loss of income and blacklisting, but few were successful criminal prosecutions.
For me this work by the USCOC is treason in such a political sense. it’s about time we started hitting back at those who would impose a Corporate Feudalism upon us, by using their own tactics against them. Politics has unfortunately become, though perhaps it always was, a battle of sound bytes and slogans. I’m tired of the vilification that has been a constant barrage by the forces of authoritarianism to make those opposed out to be UN-American traitors. I want to start hitting back with the truth that it is they that are the traitors to our country and to our Constitution.
The true American Patriots, our side, always seems to falter in our bending over backwards to treat our enemies with fairness and civility. Reaching political awareness in the 50’s I watched as any opponents to the collectivist corporate conformity of that era, were made out to be unreliable traitors, too weak to stand up to the “Potemkin Village” threat of communism. The label of “traitor” was a very effective political tool in defeating those who would point out the evils of the Military-Industrial Complex and the machinations of our Corporate Oligarchy. Since then a multiplicity of chicken-hawks has portrayed themselves as protectors of these shores and their opponents as traitors to the cause. This was incidentally Bill Buckley’s “great” contribution to Conservative politics, he turned it from isolationism to an empire grasping imperialism. Historically,
led by Teddy Roosevelt, it was the “progressives” that were the imperialists. How things have changed.
My proposition is to start naming the real traitors to our country. OWS had made a good start by putting the 1% vs. the 99% into a useful meme. I propose using the traitor meme also, simply because it is a true one that can easily be grasped by the people. If politics is to be waged as a war of sound bytes, as it now is, than let us stop with the long explanations and hit the hard with their ow tactics. I know you agree that we are in a dangerous time, so it is well past the time of honorable discourse and the time has come to dose the Corporatists with their own medicine.
The Federal statues governing treason and sedition are found in general at 18 USC Ch. 15, Sec. 2381-2390.
Regarding sedition . . .
“18 USC § 2384. SEDITIOUS CONSPIRACY
If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”
In general, the key lies in use of force. Whether you could get the current courts to recognize campaign finance/graft and lobbying/graft as force is the question. It is arguably economic coercion, but in the current environment, you might have a hard sell on that given the abomination of Citizens United. Our Supreme Court has made some really, really bad calls over the years, but Citizens United and it’s precursor Buckley v. Valeo are two of the most dangerous to democracy decisions ever rendered by the Court. It’s probably going to take a Constitutional Amendment to get the money out of politics. There are plenty of people and organizations that want to do just that, like http://www.getmoneyout.com/ and Rep. Keith Ellison (MN – D) who has proposed the following Constitutional Amendment:
“SECTION 1: “Because of the compelling public interest in preventing corruption and the appearance of corruption among elected officials, and because corporations and other business organizations are not natural persons or citizens, Congress and the States may regulate the disbursement of funds for political activity by for-profit corporations, other for-profit business entities, or other business organizations, without regard to whether or not the activity is carried out independently from any candidate or political party.
SECTION 2: Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.”
Ok Gene, Again I do get your point. I admit I hadn’t considered the possible difference between the dictionary and legal definitions. Also I see your point about making the case stick on the basis of Campaign or Lobby graft. It seems quite clear to me that force is force whatever it’s nature. If I push you into a cell and lock the door I have forced you in. If i place food in the cell and tell you that you will be left to starve unless you go in to get the food and when you are in; I lock the door, I have still forced you in. But I get the point. I have never witnessed or expected the justice system to work on the basis of sound reasoning or fair play or Justice.
But; I think also that Mike has made an excellent point; that being that if we just keep saying, “Oh’ that’ll never work”; nothing ever will. If we don’t put up a fight; we just go down. Mike thinks we are spending too much time on philosophical discussion and not enough slamming the opposition. he may well be right. I do know that the other side seems to get alot more press and their words and lies are always out there. Maybe it’s time to be more forceful. hey there’s that word again. Force. But notice; this time I used it speaking of us not them.
If Mike has some more specific ideas about how to proceed or how I can help from my blog or otherwise; let me know. I’m not in the best health but I will do my best as i am able.
I would love to have a dialouge about this by e-mail or otherwize to see if we can find a way to co-operate and perhaps have more impact. Gene; chime in. I’m not a lawyer so if we should have a legal opinion; we should include one. Are btheir really any lawyers out ther on our side? Just kidding. Of course there are. Anyway all kidding aside. Let me know what you have in mind.
“Oh where is Joe McCarthy when we need him?”
I hate to say it because I loathed the man, but we have to do some McCarthy-ing, if we are to keep the Feudalistic Plutocracy at bay. We need to stop using Marquis of Queensbury Rules while engaging in a street brawl.
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