Chamber of Commerce
I am not now and never have been a member of the Chamber of Commerce. It’s one of my few remaining liberal credentials. I’ve done a lot of work for local Chamber members, over the years. I’ve even provided professional services – for a healthy fee- for the local Chamber. But I’ve never been a member.
Partly it’s because the Chamber lies. A lot. Its website implies it has three million members. Its total membership is more like 150,000 – 200,000. That’s less than one percent of all businesses. The Chamber says is has a “growing network of grassroots business activists,” but the evidence is that it actually is shrinking in total membership. Although MoJo may not be the most neutral authority on this subject.
More troubling than the “mere puffery” and lies, though, is that the Chamber is absolutely opposed to all reform. The Chamber spent $34.7 million in the third quarter of this year on lobbying expenses alone, fighting all health care reform, climate policy change and economic reform. The consistent theme in its $300,000 per day lobbying effort is that any change that might hurt short term profits is evil and wicked. Never mind that the change might protect long term profits; the Chamber can’t see beyond this quarter’s balance sheet.
The Chamber claims to be deeply disturbed by the deficit, yet supported the Wall Street bailouts. And the years of President Bush’s deficit spending. So hypocrisy can be added to the Chamber’s sins.
The Chamber has become so strident that some businesses are quitting. I applaud Apple, Inc. and other multi-nationals for publicly resigning. I hope more follow. The Chamber’s party line of no government regulation, its focus on short term profit at the expense of everything else, triggered the worst recession in decades and a climate crisis. The Chamber doesn’t have a solution, even at $300,000 a day; only the same tired whining. They need to be ignored.