A Perfect Example of What Killed American Democracy

January 13, 2021

No sooner did I publish yesterday’s post, in which I blamed the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision in 2010 for the death of American democracy, when a perfect example of that emerged.

Before I get into that, I have a question for you. What do you know about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and your own local chapter? Is it a branch of the U.S. Commerce Department? Is its purpose to promote commerce in America? The name of the organization would lead you to believe that the answer to both of the latter questions is “yes.”

You’d be dead wrong. The Chamber of Commerce is a French-based organization whose sole mission is the promotion of “free” trade. (Check out this post from 2009 for an explanation of this fatally flawed economic theory and how it has devastated America’s economy.) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is that French organization’s American-based operation. Your local Chamber of Commerce reports to and funnels funds to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here, it’s worth noting that in 2019, France – a nation whose workers enjoy benefits American workers can only dream of – enjoyed a trade surplus with the U.S. of $19.9 billion, despite being arguably the least productive nation on earth.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its local chapters makes a show of lobbying in favor of American businesses when issues important to them arise like taxes, regulations, minimum wage, etc. However, the effect of all of those issues combined is trivial compared to the one trillion dollars per year of business that is robbed from them through the world’s trade surplus with the U.S. On that issue, I challenge anyone to show me one single instance in which the Chamber has spoken out against the trade deficit and in favor of changes to trade policy aimed at restoring a balance of trade. No Chamber of Commerce organization, not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or any one of its thousands of local chapters, has ever uttered a peep of protest about the U.S. trade deficit. The Chamber of Commerce masquerades as a pro-business lobby, all the while concealing the fact that it is working against American business on the one issue that dwarfs all others.

Thanks to the “Citizens United” decision by the Supreme Court, this French-based lobbying organization is considered to be an American “person” under the constitution. Its money – all the money collected in the form of membership fees from hundreds of thousands of American businesses that it strong-arms into joining its local chapters – is considered “free speech” which cannot be constrained under the 2nd amendment.

With all of that said, check out this article which appeared on Reuters yesterday. The CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce accuses Trump of undermining U.S. democracy. Scroll to the bottom of the article, and read this:

“… in a nod to Biden’s progressive agenda, he said lawmakers should fund “rapid training programs” to connect the unemployed with jobs in new sectors of the economy.

Donohue also said the Chamber will push for a new bill to boost legal immigration to help businesses deal with a shortage of workers.”

Pushing “training programs” is a classic pro-free trade gimmick used for decades to placate workers who have lost their jobs to off-shoring. And, incredibly, even in the midst of a pandemic when sixteen million Americans are unemployed, the Chamber has the audacity to suggest that we need to continue flooding the U.S. with immigrants “to help businesses deal with a shortage of workers.”

Earlier in the article, the Chamber CEO vows to cut off funding from Republicans who supported Trump. Is it Trump’s rhetoric that concerns him, or is it really the fact that Republicans began supporting Trump’s efforts at levying tariffs in an effort to fix our trade deficit?

This is a perfect example of the demise of our democracy. Our politicians are bought-and-paid-for by global corporations and foreign lobbying organizations. Your only choice is between two candidates who, on the most critical issues, take the exact same position – the position they’re paid to take. This isn’t democracy.


Supreme Court Decision a Major Victory in Fight against Illegal Immigration

May 27, 2011

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/26/us-usa-immigration-court-idUSTRE74P4C720110526

You’ve probably heard the news already (see the above link) but, if not, the Supreme Court yesterday upheld an Arizona law that would revoke the license of any business in the state of Arizona who knowingly hires illegal immigrants.  At least eight other states have such laws.  Now that the Supreme Court has given the green light to enforce them, we can expect other states to quickly draft laws following the Arizona example. 

Perhaps the biggest consequence of this decision is that it will virtually mandate employers to use the E-verify system to assure that job applicants are in the U.S. legally.  If accused of knowingly hiring illegals, employers must prove that they actually took steps to prevent such hirings.  Use of the E-verify system may be the best – and perhaps the only – proof that they took steps to prevent hiring illegals.  In fact, failure to use the system may constitute proof that they were turning a blind eye. 

This Arizona law is actually completely separate from the law enacted by Arizona last year, requiring law enforcement to check the legal status of anyone suspected of being illegal, which drew so much attention and condemnation by the president last year.  The Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on that law. 

Regardless of how the Supreme Court decides on that next law, this decision is a huge victory in the fight against illegal immigration.  Employers not already using the E-verify system will be soon be implementing it in droves.  Without the draw of employment, this will have a chilling effect on illegal immigration. 

 The vast majority of Americans are sick of illegal immigrants taking already-scarce jobs and driving down wages.  While both political parties at the national level have been quite effective in lobbying against any effort to rein in businesses’ source of cheap labor, they hold no sway whatsoever over states and municipalities where politicians live or die by simply doing the will of the people.  Now those local governments have a major weapon at their disposal to enforce immigration laws if the federal government insists on abdicating its responsibility.


Supreme Court Ruling Illustrates Need for Constitutional Overhaul

January 22, 2010

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60K3SK20100121

As reported in the above-linked Reuters article, the Supreme Court yesterday gave the green light to unlimited spending on election media blitzes by corporations and anyone else with deep enough pockets.  One quote from the article says it best:

“It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans,” Obama said.

Never mind Obama’s party affiliation.  He’s right.  This ruling strikes down the concept of “free speech” and makes “speech” a commodity for sale to the highest bidder. 

But let’s back up a little and begin with the first amendment, upon which the court’s ruling is based:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This amendment was adopted in 1791.  At that time, radio had not yet been invented.  There was no electronic media.  Movable-type printing presses had barely evolved from Gutenberg’s original invention, and were still limited to a rate of about 250 sheets per hour.  The most recent presidential election in 1789 was actually our nation’s first.  It was uncontested and George Washington was elected our first president. 

In short, the writers of the first amendment had absolutely no clue how elections would be contested even then, much less 220 years later.  They envisioned campaign advertising that consisted of flyers posted in the town square, free speech meant the right to stand up on a stump and say whatever you want, and the right to peaceably assemble meant gathering around the guy on the stump to hear what he had to say.  Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine that speech could be commoditized, sold to the highest bidder and pounded into our heads through electronic media blitzes.  They couldn’t envision a future in which money was speech and massive global corporations would be interpreted to be “the people” or even an assemblage of the people. 

In 1791 it was inconceivable that the human population could ever explode to the point where every square foot of land and every resource would be pressed into service to keep our economy going.  The western boundaries of the American continent were scarcely known.  It’d be another twelve years before the Lewis and Clark expedition would explore the Louisiana Purchase.  And, beyond a handful of intellectuals in Europe, the field of economics didn’t even exist.  It’d be another 26 years before the first economic theories regarding foreign trade would be proposed.

Since that time, our constitution has been amended seventeen times, bringing to twenty-eight the total number of amendments.  These subsequent amendments (beyond the original ten in the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1791) have dealt with issues mundane and profound, ranging from pay raises for Congress to the abolition of slavery and the authorization of the federal income tax.  But since 1950, only five amendments have been adopted.  In the last 39 years, there has been only one, limiting congressional pay raises.

The antiquity of the provisions of the constitution and its amendments, which provides the basis for supreme court decisions like this most recent one, is distorting our democracy in a way that threatens our survival as a nation.  With yesterday’s ruling, the court has unwittingly tilted power in favor of the faction which benefits by unlimited population growth to the detriment of individual citizens.  The court doesn’t understand the break that occurred in the interests of corporations versus the interests of individual citizens when a critical population density was breached.  Nor do they care.  Their purpose is to interpret rules established by people who lived in a world that no longer exists and blindly apply them to a world our founding fathers couldn’t even imagine.  It’s the constitution and its amendments that are the problem, not the Supreme Court.

Our constitution is in desperate need of overhaul and further amendments.  The two I’ve proposed on this blog, the 28th and 29th amendments, would go a long way toward sustaining our prosperity for generations to come.