Feb. 7, 2014 By Jack Jodell.
Oligarch: A very rich businessman with a great deal of political influence.
This is the second of a new intermittent series designed to spotlight the very sordid attempts by certain individuals and/or institutions to dominate the American political and economic system so as to ensure that our country’s poor and middle class are effectively shut out of power. These persons or groups aim to secure real political and economic control only for themselves, as members of the wealthiest 1% minority of this nation. They are, therefore, the enemies of all poor or hardworking Americans who are within the 99% MAJORITY. Thus they are, by the very nature of who they are and what they do, DANGEROUS FOES OF DEMOCRACY! The subject of this installment shall be the notably pro-business, and virulently anti-labor U.S, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
In late 1911, then-President William Howard Taft addressed Congress and cited the need for a “central organization in touch with associations and chambers of commerce throughout the country and able to keep purely American interests in a closer touch with different phases of commercial affairs.” Taft, an intelligent, fair-minded man who was, to a degree, the last of the early 20th century progressive Republican presidents, couldn’t possibly have known then the full and damaging effect of what he was calling for, or that his vision would someday become a rabid force for globalization that would marginalize workers’ power worldwide. For in April, 1912, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was born, Over the next century, it would find great success in networking itself to found member branches all throughout our country and even in a number of foreign countries as well. It survived the Great Depression and flourished as a very successful lobby for American business interests.
There was nothing wrong with the creation of this entity per se. However, as time went on, it morphed from a mainly loose-knit, primarily local type of group which often served as a boon to not only local businesses but also to the community they were in, to a malignant, nationally powerful lobby which has ended up serving the interests of major and even multinational corporations. The 1996 election of the notorious Tom Donohue as President and CEO of the Chamber directly led to its drastic transformation into its current far-right, corporatist status. This man has been a champion of every cause strongly opposed by progressives, labor leaders, women, and environmentalists. He has greatly and successfully expanded the group’s lobbying efforts in Congress, He has opposed increasing the minimum wage, and, very recently, criticized government efforts to help reduce income inequality. The Chamber has even helped promote our record disparity in wealth by strongly supporting George W. Bush’s ridiculous tax cuts for the rich a decade ago! It has aided attempts to deregulate Wall Street; has strongly opposed many pro-consumer, pro-public safety, and pro-worker laws for many decades. It has been greatly supportive of major polluters. The Chamber is a big advocate of the XL Pipeline, for example. As long as big oil can make even more big bucks, the Chamber of Commerce will continue to be its big ally. It has also opposed many women’s rights issues, and has even worked to roll back campaign finance laws. It has fought every single attempt to reform health care in America, dating from President Truman up until the present day. This horrible organization doesn’t even represent American business exclusively any longer, having set up a fund for foreign corporations to donate into, with the funds then being directed into political attack ads against selected public officials in this country. Like a renegade corporation obsessed with obtaining maximum profit for businesses regardless of the social or political damage which may result, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is no longer a moderate or benign lobbying group. Rather, it has become a dangerous foe of democracy, and will unhesitatingly even destroy that democracy if necessary to achieve its excessive lust for that profit. Thus, I strongly urge all American businesspersons and laborers to oppose this malevolent organization on all counts!