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Who Does the Biggest Lobbying Force in the US Represent? Not Its Members


#1

Who Does the Biggest Lobbying Force in the US Represent? Not Its Members

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Who does the biggest lobbying force in the United States represent? Not its members.

That's according to a new investigation (pdf) by a group of U.S. senators, which found that on the issues of tobacco use and climate change, there's a profound disparity between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's positions and those of the companies it supposedly speaks for.


#2

From the article:

"Despite the Chamber's description of the Board as its "principal governing and policy-making body," not one Chamber Board member explicitly indicated that they were fully aware of and able to provide their input and views to the Chamber regarding its actions on tobacco and climate."

This is simply one, admittedly important, example of the generalized dominance of management over boards, throughout the economy.

Even my community food co-op has undergone what i refer to as a "management coup," instituting empowerment of management and restriction of board authority. It's the standard business model.


#6

Kinda ironic that the .01% run both the bastion of the business community, who is supposed to act on the will of its fiscal supporters, and the duely elected representatives of the people and those of the states who are sworn to do the same for the citizens of the nation. Even worse they aren't even human, they are law created pieces of paper. they are corporations


#7

If she does she Will be a one term president.


#9

no surprise there.


#10

Should be grounds for an interesting lawsuit, if some of the "members" want to take a stand.


#11

The system is twisted in multiple ways. Aside from a lawsuit by members, the board can simply direct management. Boards are generally loath to do so.

Partly because of the structure of limited liability, as long as the board simply accepts what management (or counsel, or human resources) reports to them, they are legally covered. If they start to issue directives to management, directors on the board put themselves at risk for lawsuits.

And through case law, courts in the US have created the situation in which corporations are obligated to seek the best financial return, irrespective of other priorities. It has been a struggle to even establish the legitimacy of the B Corp, which is now legally allowed to balance the legal obligation to seek financial return, with other obligations that they write into their articles of incorporation or bylaws.

And with the primacy of management that has been developed, in many corporations, not only does the CEO sit on, and have voting privileges, on the board - even though it is the board that hires and (theoretically) supervises and directs the CEO - the CEO serves as president of the board in addition to their management duties.

It's a deeply flawed system, which dis-empowers the owners who elect the board. Shareholders in publicly traded corporations struggle to have any influence at all over business direction or priorities, and are again assumed under this system to only be seeking top financial return, not to have ethical or ecological priorities of any kind.

Of course the US Chamber is an association and not an enterprise, but the legal structure that has been built up still affects board / management relations in similar ways.

There's more twisted flaws but i gotta run!


#13

it's/kind/of/hard/to/understand/what/they/talk/about/at/meetings/or/how/they/decide/to/vote/for
management/positions/these/masters/of/the/universe.perhaps/we/are/not/getting/the/full/story?


#14

Hello Webwalk,

My preference is that all larger corporations become worker and community co-ops. One PERSON, one vote.

One dollar one vote will ALWAYS find a way to be corrupt.


#15

No surprise here as dominating, lying, secretive, coercive, undemocratic forces continue their work while the public snoozes.
"What's on TV dear?"


#16

i should point out, to their credit, the Seattle Chamber withdrew from the US Chamber after their lobbying for climate denialism first became a public controversy.


#17

Who cares about lobbying when there is no law anyway? Or, I guess that is what lobbying gets you. I just got an email from Google Fiber and it shows their complete jettisoning of any pretense of keeping agreements within law. Here is a quote of two of the provisions noted in the email:

  • A new disputes clause that requires the use of binding arbitration to resolve disputes rather than jury trials or class actions

  • A new section that clarifies that we have the ability to make additional changes to the Terms of Service in the future to reflect changes to the law or changes to our Services

  • A number of other smaller clarifying changes

In other words, forget law, they (as do so many other companies) declare they can make any changes or decisions at their own desire and we, on our side, get totally screwed and have no options, such as we can't make our own, equally arbitrary decisions any time we want.

Cheers!


#18

i recall when Google's "new privacy policy" came out two or three years ago. i read the whole thing, which was long and not easy to quickly grasp, but what it basically boiled down to was, you don't have any privacy.

Fuck Google.

On the other hand, why do so many people go along with Google and Facebook and the other "free" communication and social media services, when we understand that their business model is based on data-mining and analyzing our social behavior and our personal interests, and "monetizing" that data by selling either our information, or targeted access to our consciousness, to other corporations? Not to mention using the aggregate social interaction data to develop extremely sophisticated methods of manipulating our desires and our behavior?

As the trite saying goes, "If you're not paying for the service, then YOU are the product."


#19

Also, mandatory arbitration clauses, and contracts that are "legally" written so that one side can arbitrarily change the terms of the contract at any time, are patently outrageous and should be blanket illegal. How many people even bother to read the TOS agreements that you must check your agreement to?


#20

Does your food co-op have a board of directors? I thought that the co-ops are ultimately controlled by their members.

As I have always assumed, boards of directors within international corporations are there to elect each other, enrich themselves with perquisites, and grant their high corporate executives obscenely huge salaries and bonuses.

Lastly, anyone who believes that the US Chamber of Commerce exists for any reason other than to underwrite the activities of and interests of owners and high executives of large international capitalist corporations is a damn fool.


#21

Yes there is a board, elected by members. But a technically democratic form does not necessarily translate into actual functioning owner democracy.

My experience after many years in the co-op world, is that the consumer owners of consumer co-ops - as opposed to producer owners of producer co-ops, and especially worker owners of worker co-ops - generally become disengaged from their ownership responsibilities as the consumer co-op grows larger.

For perhaps the most extreme example, REI is legally a consumer co-op. But with millions of owners in dozens of cities, how many of those owners even understand that they are truly the legal owners of the co-op? How many vote in board elections? REI's governance has been revamped to the point where member quorum for an election has been reduced to just 1/2 of 1% of the owners. And then, how many REI owners who vote have any idea what the actual issues on the board are, or what direction the board candidates actually intend to take the co-op?

The US food co-ops are nowhere near that large, but with tens of thousands of owners at the more well-established food co-ops, most owners like their store, but remain very distant from actually monitoring the board or getting to know the directors. Quorum for an election has been reduced to 5% or 3% of the owners at numerous successful consumer food co-ops.

So while indeed the technical structure of co-op owner democracy exists, in practice almost no member-owners of the larger food co-ops actually engage seriously with their responsibilities as business owners. The stage is set for the mainstreaming of the management of business operations. And with "growth" the new mantra in the food co-op sector - and with the same increased risks of liability for boards that actually direct their managers, rather than simply accepting monitoring reports from their managers - the incentive for directors to move toward strong, empowered management is high, with some co-op groceries now calling their General Manager the CEO rather than the GM. And at my co-op, the GM is now the board chair.

Worker owners of worker co-ops are in a much different situation. Not just engaging with the business they own as occasional shoppers, worker-owners engage with the businesses they own for dozens of hours every week, directly interacting with the business's managers on a regular basis. And instead of relying on their co-op as a nice place to buy healthy food, they rely on their co-op as their source of livelihood. So the level of engagement of the owners at worker co-ops is generally way higher, orders of magnitude higher, than at consumer co-ops.

And yes, if i had not had to run off, i would have added the point that corporate boards often simply appoint board members themselves, with no shareholder role at all.


#22

That's only if you believe she can be voted out. She hasn't been voted in. But she's there, as was planned for 8 years ago.


#23

Thanks for the feedback, was substantial, never expected that.


#24

I was one of the ones that thought I was clicking on "decline for now" that actually began the install of Windows 10. Of course it was free. Not a computer geek, but my common sense is that what the new system does best is harvest all that information you mentioned. I disabled the "personal assistant" but that is only the visible face of it. More often than not now when I power off I get the message that "This App is preventing your computer from shutting down" WTF? I wasn't running any App! I had no open programs and I have felt no need to investigate, purchase, or use any of the Apps that are being hawked. Worse still, if you click on the icon of the App that Windows is telling you about YOU GET NOTHING. Doing the old ctrl alt del to get to the control panel it is impossible for me to decipher from that which one of the listed operations is causing the hang-up.


#25

Thank you for your lobbying efforts EnemyofWar, we citizens need to follow your lead on this critical issue. I also am sure your solution is indeed the path to go, toward eventual nullification of the Chamber's harmful goals. Nice work.