Tag Archives: Chamber of Commerce

Three Pillars of Conservative Power are Teetering

New Orleans        I’ll be honest I’m enjoying reading every line of this.

Page 6 of the Wall Street Journal had another article on the high-life high jinks of Wayne LaPierre, the chief muckety-muck of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Earlier they had reported on some $270,000 worth of clothing that LaPierre had charged to a vendor.  Today, they revealed that the vendor was Ackerman McQueen, the Oklahoma City based public relations and media contractor for decades to the NRA, and a company with whom LaPierre had historically been thick-as-thieves.

The other shoe that dropped was not related to haberdashery, but travel.  A letter was leaked that Ackerman McQueen had sent the NRA board about $240,000 worth of travel expenses that LaPierre had charged to the company’s credit card without adequate documentation.  The junkets included trips to the Bahamas and Italy.  All of this could be grist for the mill in the New York State investigation about the NRA’s tax status of course.  It also indicates the wounds are still bleeding in the internal disputes within the NRA over the falling out between LaPierre and his forces on the board versus the Ackerman McQueen allies.  Hey, LaPierre had their credit card for a reason, and I would bet money that none of these half-million bucks worth of expenditures would have every hit the light of day if they hadn’t fallen out.  Meanwhile LaPierre was being paid $1.4 million a year according to the 2017 IRS 990 filing for the NRA with the IRS.

That’s not all of the good news.  The scourge of workers and people-first policies in the name of business, the Chamber of Commerce, was front page news in their fall from influence, if not grace.  Executive salaries are up of course but lobbying expenditures and corporate donations are down in recent years.  Reportedly Trump wouldn’t shake their lobbyists hand, because they didn’t back him in the 2016 race.  Furthermore, his wild-right roll has made their traditional business-first conservationism passé.  Republican congressmen and senators were routinely quoted saying their emperor has no clothes anymore.  Meanwhile they are having an internal shake up as well, because they were out of step with big corporate power on social issues like gender and sexual discrimination.  They even have had to revise their vote-scoring system to boost the scores of some of the hated Democrats.  Their boss, Thomas Donahue, made $6.6 million in 2017, travels in a chauffeured SUV in DC with a two-man security detail, flies the chamber’s private jet to his Florida vacation home, and brings his doctor along on overseas trips.

Nonprofit DC lobbying is great work if you can get it, or so it seems.

All of this was in the businessman’s daily news source, Rupert Murdoch’s The Wall Street Journal.  The editorial and op-ed pages can still peel paint off a car, but the rest of the book is burning up the track.

Old line conservatives and Republicans of all stripes must be screaming in the middle of the night when central pillars of their house like the Journal, the NRA, and the Chamber of Commerce are showing deep cracks and roof cave-ins, leaving them few of the usual places to hide.

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Please enjoy Kris Kelly’s Birthplace.

Thanks to KABF.

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Right-to-Work Equals Less Unions

 New Orleans               Rarely do we see the evidence of plain and simple attacks on unions any clearer than in the reports quoted by Steve Greenhouse in today’s New York Times.   In an article about the impending fight in Indiana where the Republican union haters and labor baiters are mounting an effort to impose so-called “right-to-work” laws allowing workers (“free riders”) covered under collective bargaining agreements to pay neither dues nor servicing fees for the legally mandated and contractually enforceable representation by the union, he cited some compellingly studies:

“Many studies have assessed the impact of right-to-work legislation, although much of the research is from years ago, when right-to-work was a hotter issue.

Henry Farber, a labor economist at Princeton, said right-to-work laws, by allowing “free riders,” shrink union treasuries. One study found that the portion of free riders in right-to-work states ranged from 9 percent in Georgia to 39 percent in South Dakota.

In another study, David T. Ellwood, the dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and Glenn A. Fine, a former Justice Department official, found that in the five years after states enacted such legislation, the number of unionization drives dropped by 28 percent, and in the following five years by an added 12 percent. Organizing wins fell by 46 percent in the first five years and 30 percent the next five. Over all, they found, right-to-work laws, beyond other factors, caused union membership to drop 5 percent to 10 percent.”

If anyone needs help with this, essentially if you weaken the resources of unions, then there is corresponding reduction in the amount of organizing, which is part of the point of such laws, and, furthermore, when workers see that the unions have been weakened in this way, they respond significantly by not voting in favor of union representation at their jobs.  Business manages to slice the heart of labor on both of the sharp ends of this sword by reducing organizing by more than one-third and sending the message that when unions do manage to organize, they have the strong hand, thereby enticing workers to vote NO more than half of the time.

This is how class war works at the legislative level.  No question that the Republicans are committed to that course when they “occupy” a state capitol.

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