Chamber of Corporatism

US-COCRyan McMaken over at the Ludwig von Mises Institute [h/t: Dough Henwood]:

If the US Chamber of Commerce were some kind of rogue player in the chamber-of-commerce game, that would be one thing, but unfortunately, chambers of commerce across America, and other lobbying arms of the so-called business community are in the business of lobbying ceaselessly for more government spending, for more subsidies, and for more state power in the name of “business-friendly” policies that often amount to little more than subsidy programs.

At the local level as well, chambers have become major advocates of tax increases and more government spending.

In 2005 in Colorado, for example, the Denver Chamber of Commerce was the largest single supporter of Referendum C, a state referendum that would increase government spending by more than $3.5 billion. The referendum would eliminate refunds that would have gone to the taxpayers in favor of more state spending on nonspecific projects.Download PDF The effect was a net increase of the tax burden on the state's citizens and more spending. The referendum had to be approved by a statewide vote, and the proponents spent $8 million to convince the taxpayers to approve the spending scheme, with the Chamber of Commerce footing more than $700,000 of the total bill.

In 2010, numerous chambers of commerce in Kansas came out against what they described as “drastic” and “devastating” spending cuts in the state. Bernie Koch, executive of the state's association of local chambers, opined in the Kansas City Star that supporting “new revenue” is the correct solution, and he quoted a statement from a group of chambers of commerce stating that “if revenues must be enhanced for basic government services our chambers can support rational state revenue enhancements.”

In other words, the chambers wanted tax increases.

There's nothing shocking here, of course. From time immemorial, business interests have attempted to use the power of government to enhance their own profitability and to limit the freedom of competitors. In modern times we call this rent seeking, and the chambers of commerce excel at it.