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Category — U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Free Market Recommendations for Congress & Obama (oil and gas prominent in potential job bonanza)

Previous posts at MasterResource have been critical of the energy-related positions of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, such as The U.S. Chamber’s Energy Security Index: Where’s the Definition? by Robert Michaels and Dear U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Why Attempt to Resuscitate a Brain Dead Climate Bill? by yours truly.

The Chamber, in fact, was waxed and waned for and against the free-and-neutral market for virtually its whole existence. Such is life in political capitalism where special government favor is sought and received by business.

John T. Flynn’s 1928 essay, “Business and the Government”   (Harper’s Monthly Magazine), criticized the Chamber motto More Business in Government and Less Government in Business as “sloganeering.”

Flynn noted that new laws were coming far less from the imaginations of legislators as from “the legislative program committees of trade associations or from the special counsel of trade groups … backed often by resolutions from trade conventions and chambers of commerce.”

The Chamber, complained Flynn, was falsely selling a view of business “as a huge giant, gagged and shackled like a moving-picture galley slave to his oar,” to which Flynn forwarded his own ideal for the Chamber: Less business interference in government and more statesmanship in business. (Quoted in Bradley, Capitalism at Work, chapter 6, pp. 172–74.)

Flynn, early on, captured the essence of free-market capitalism and Principled Entrepreneurship™.

The September 5th Letter

The September 5th letter from the Chamber of Commerce to the U.S. Congress and President Obama, reprinted below, is noteworthy for its free market flavor. With government running on empty, and the public mood against Big Government in most areas, the Chamber has come a long way from its disappointing cap-and-trade position on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and its watered down energy White Paper.

The six point jobs plan was singed by Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the Chamber. [Read more →]

September 8, 2011   5 Comments

The U.S. Chamber’s Energy Security Index: Where’s the Definition?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy recently unveiled the “first-of-its-kind” Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk.  The U.S. Chamber in general does a lot of good work. I am a big fan of them than when they push for free-market capitalism instead of political capitalism, which is not always the case. But this report is disappointing to say the least. A thorough start-over should be considered.

The report, in its own words, provides “the first quantifiable measurement of energy security based on 37 individual metrics.” But herein resides a major problem. With so many inputs for  calculation, a definition of security is required.

But there is no such definition. We learn that the Index “addresses the need for an overarching framework with which to measure energy security in all its facets” (page 14). Shortly afterward we find that it “is designed to convey the notion of risk” (page 16). A “notion” is akin to what musicians say about “soul”: if you have to define it you can’t possibly understand it. But scholarship about energy security ain’t about soul.

Rotisserie Energy Security

The index is a weighted average of the 37 pieces of data, normalized to range from zero to 100. Even if you don’t know what’s in it you can learn a lot just by looking at the numbers. [Read more →]

June 4, 2010   1 Comment

Dear U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Why Attempt to Resuscitate a Brain Dead Climate Bill?

“Politically oriented capitalism, whatever particular form it takes, involves the granting by the state of privileged opportunities for profit. Such openings are available only to those with connections or to those who can pay for influence.” 

-          Scott, James. Comparative Political Corruption. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972, p. 52.

Joe Romm at Climate Progress (Center for American Progress) is holding out hope against hope that a climate bill–just about any climate bill–will be passable in 2010. He regurgitates a Boston Globe piece under the headline, Graham, Kerry, Lieberman meet with Rahm Emanuel — and then Chamber of Commerce, whose VP of Gov’t Affairs said, “generally we were in synch”!

This brings up the question: why is the Chamber of Commerce negotiating with the enemies of true (consumer-driven) economic recovery?

This incident reminded me of a section from my book Capitalism at Work (chapter 6, pp. 172–74) that deals with the Chamber of Commerce in a historical sense. (There is a Ken Lay surprise–read on.)

A collection of speeches given in 1966/67 by the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was published by McGraw-Hill as The Business of Business: Private Enterprise and Public Affairs. M. A. “Mike” Wright, chairman of Humble Oil & Refining Company (now ExxonMobil), urged his fellow executives to be more proactive in public and government affairs to improve the business environment and better society. “Virtually every business decision today is affected by public laws, regulations, and policies,” he stated, yet industry leaders were often “indifferent” or “negative” rather than “creative” and “positive” toward lawmaking. [Read more →]

January 26, 2010   5 Comments