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Slate: Chamber of Horrors


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce must be stopped. Here's how to do it.

October 15, 2009- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the self-proclaimed voice of business in Washington—has been wrong on virtually every major public-policy issue of the past decade: financial deregulation, tax and fiscal policy, global warming and environmental enforcement, consumer protection, health care reform …

The chamber remains an unabashed voice for the libertarian worldview that caused the most catastrophic economic meltdown since the Great Depression. And the chamber's view of social justice would warm Scrooge's heart. It is the chamber's right to be wrong, and its right to argue its preposterous ideas aggressively, as it does through vast expenditures on lobbyists and litigation. Last year alone, the chamber spent more than $91 million on lobbying, and, according to lobby tracker Opensecrets.org, it has spent more than twice as much on lobbying during the past 12 years as any other corporation or group.

The problem is, the chamber is doing all this with our money. The chamber survives financially on the dues and support of its members, which are most of America's major corporations listed on the stock exchange. The chamber derives its political clout from the fact that its membership includes these corporations. Yet we—you and I—own the companies that support the chamber and permit it to propagate its views. Our passive, permissive attitude toward the management of the companies we own has enabled the chamber to be one of the primary impediments to the reform of markets, health care, energy policy, and politics that we have all been calling for. It is time for that to change.

How, you might ask, do we own these companies? Public pension funds and mutual funds are the largest owners of equities in the market. They are the institutional shareholders that have the capacity to push management—and the boards of the corporations. Yet the mutual funds and pension funds have failed to do so. They have failed to control the management of the companies they own because the actual owners of those mutual funds and pension funds—you and I—have failed to raise our voices. We haven't even asked questions.

FULL STORY HERE:

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