I've been paying close attention to the protests going on in lower Manhattan and directly participated on Wednesday night. I decided it was the perfect forum for my "The US Chamber of Commerce is not An Official Government Body!" message which I've been growing and nurturing for some time now. Surely there are those around me wondering about the message's significance to me, and why I think it matters. Especially now.
Playing up my sign at Occupy Wall Street protest.
The message is predicated on the assumption that most people believe the Chamber to be an operating fiscal agency of the government, acting, in some capacity, as a civil beneficiary to the public at large. I was ignorant enough to have assumed so and suspect many others are now.
But it isn't. The US Chamber of Commerce is in fact a well financed lobbying group. An ideologically driven organization, powerfully networked and forcefully compelling in the establishment of a single ruleset that benefits big business. It is the self-designated monitor and "enforcer" of the philosophy that the quality of a free market component is the measure of humanity itself. All other values, all other models are secondary if valid at all. American culture, as a genuinely free society, can evolve many ways. The US Chamber of Commerce, however, makes sure it evolves in just one. One where the priority of corporations and commercialism dominate and define what each of us must live to compare and assess ourselves by.
Don't read me wrong. The group is entitled to its worldview that a free market with individual wealth as the high goal is the most important thing our government needs to focus on. I have no objection to any organized entity promoting its cause and eeking out its voice at an even democratic roundtable. With a little less stranglehold on the rest of us the US Chamber would be fine and just. But with its power, money, its social capital, and its fierce dedication and focus on the sole solution to the world's problems as being the freedom to conduct unimpeded business at the expense of welfare, collectivism, universal health care, educational opportunity, and the empowerment of a democratically elected government to manage all of that where and when necessary, makes it a problem.
My sign is but a dink against its bullet-proof dome that hits on the mere superficial perception of its very embodiment. If we acknowledge that first and foremost the US Chamber is just a group, no more well rationalized or "Jesus in the making" than any of the rest of us or any other group with a solution, it is the first step toward killing its hefty role in defining American life as one where only the ruthless and business-smart deserve to live and breed. The values of the US Chamber are not absolute and can be wrecked into submission.