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The US Chamber of Commerce is taking advantage of the current economic problems to advocate for the very things that caused the problems

While local Chambers of Commerce are generally a good thing, at the national level the US Chamber of Commerce has become a shill for multinational corporate interests. Their latest project is spending millions of dollars on a PR campaign to convince Americans to give corporations even more free reign.

The Chamber is running four minute ads in movie theaters called the “Faces of Lawsuit Abuse”, with the tag line “America needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.” Of course, their ads focus on frivolous lawsuits against small businesses, not on their real clients. According to the American Association for Justice:

The Chamber’s long terms goals are clear – get rid of the world’s best justice system and leave Americans injured by corporate misconduct with absolutely no recourse. While the Chamber doesn’t want everyday Americans to use the legal system, they are actually one of the biggest lawsuit-filers in Washington; except in their case, the Chamber sues on behalf of Wall Street banks, oil companies, and lead paint manufacturers. Given that the Chamber had feature roles in AIG, the subprime industry, Enron, and the banking crisis, they’ve earned an Oscar for causing the financial meltdown and creating an environment of less oversight and accountability.

Let me be clear — I am a small business owner and I have started a number of corporations, and America is definitely lawsuit happy. I would be very happy for a solution to this problem and would support it wholeheartedly.

But the problem is not just individuals suing corporations, it is also big corporations suing small businesses, and even (such as the MPAA suing alleged file sharers) corporations suing individuals. For the Chamber to hide behind feel-good phrases like “jobs” and “small business” for a campaign financed by large corporations is blatantly hypocritical. In the third quarter of this year alone, the US Chamber spent $39 million on lobbying. I’m sure they want tort reform, but I’m also sure they don’t give a damn about jobs and small businesses.

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4 Comments

  1. You are quite right when you said “they don’t give a damn about jobs and small businesses”, They work for the big corparation.

    Wednesday, December 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Permalink
  2. Daniel Habtemariam wrote:

    One thing I never understood is small businesses thinking that it’s government regulation and not big businesses that present a greater threat to their interests.

    One represents real competition on a level playing field while the other unscrupulously does everything they can to quell competition and retain their dominant position in the market. Historically, there is a long tradition in the United States of big business trampling on independent entrepreneurs, and of those entrepreneurs fighting back through the ballot box…but it seems we’ve lost that

    Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Speaking as a small business owner and someone who works with many small businesses, I think small businesses are very aware of the threat from large corporations. But it isn’t an either-or situation. There are plenty of government regulations that get in the way of starting a new business. Many of them are necessary regulations that we just have to put up with, but some of them aren’t. And even though big corporations are a big threat, big corporations also occasionally buy our small companies and make us a lot of money, so it isn’t in our own self interest to diss ‘em too much.

    Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
  4. Daniel Habtemariam wrote:

    “But it isn’t an either-or situation…”

    How clarifying. Thanks!

    As a non small business owner, I think my mistake is when someone says “government regulation”, I think of anti-trust laws, clean air standards, consumer finance protection agencies, and (the lack of) government action on healthcare…instead of some of the actual regulations you’ve experienced that get in the way of starting a new business.

    Monday, January 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink