Consumer Group Says Keys to Government Shouldn't Be In Hands of Big Business
Santa Monica -- Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today the appointment of top Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Richard Costigan as his legislative secretary. The non-profit, non-partisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) criticized the prospect that the governor-elect's top legislative post will be in the hands of big business's biggest lobbyist.
The Chamber of Commerce has been at the forefront of efforts to curb criticism and reform of corporations for decades through manipulation of politics, academia, the courts, the media, and the marketplace of ideas, according to FTCR.
"The free market is not the same thing as the free society, but that is the exact position that Costigan would bring as the governor's legislative right hand," said FTCR president Jamie Court. "Big corporations shouldn't be the gatekeepers of society's policy matters but Costigan's appointment could very well make that the case. The Chamber is not simply a voice for big business, but an aggressive advocate of the philosophy that commercial freedoms are the only ones that matter, which they have proven by their opposition to every proposal that advances social change in the legislature."
In his new book Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom And What To Do About It (Tarcher/Putnam), Court uncovers how the Chamber has become increasingly aggressive in prioritizing commercial gain over the good of society. Court revealed a confidential 1971 US Chamber of Commerce memo that is a three decade old blue print to control the key engines of American culture in order to limit scrutiny and reform of corporate abuses. The memo is available online at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/corporate/rp/rp003393.pdf
"The Chamber of Commerce is the biggest special interest in Sacramento. If its top lobbyist is appointed legislative secretary, all legislation will be forced to pass through the filter of the Chamber's values: Commercial gain always outweighs social costs," said FTCR consumer advocate, Carmen Balber. "If he makes this appointment, Schwarzenegger turns over the keys of government to an organization that has opposed every major consumer advance in recent state history."
The Chamber and other large corporations have too often prioritized the commercial gain of a few large corporations over the interests of the individual, the society, small business and ethical companies, what Court calls "corporateering."
"With this appointment, Schwarzenegger will have turned his back once and for all on his promise to represent the public, not special interests, in Sacramento," said Balber.
FTCR noted that the Chamber of Commerce's opposition to major consumer protections over the last decade has included: HMO patients' rights, insurance reforms, expanding healthcare coverage to the uninsured, corporate accountability measures, and protection of consumer privacy.
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