by Max Brantley
OK, I obsess some on Little Rock government's dependent relationship with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. But their influence is enormous. And they represent, lobby for and advance points of view that are in the best interests of the corporate membership they represent. That is not always — rarely, in fact — in the interest of working stiffs.
So when the Chamber runs a secretive campaign for a half-billion-dollar city sales tax increase and gets a $20 million tip in return for a "technology park" designed in its image, I tend to want more disclosure, more accountability and better results than the city has ever demanded from the chamber in return for its co-dependency.
Another reminder came today of the reason why the Chamber is better off raising money from its members for its agenda and why the city should not — particularly because the Arkansas Constitution seems to prohibit it — give taxpayer subsidies to the chamber.
Jay Chessir, traveling partner with Mayor Stodola on wine- and fancy food-fueled publicly financed junkets to Paris; architect of the secretive and law-dodging sales tax campaign, and ruling member and administrative officer for the secretive and colossally screwed up Technology Park Authority, sent an e-mail recently that found its way to my inbox.
I thought you’d find this informative. Thanks.
This morning, Bruce Josten delivered the truth to our Board. More specifically, he delivered 10 Truths About America's Entitlement Programs, an important address about a very important topic — “…the urgent need to reform and modernize our entitlement programs”. With this speech, we hope to begin to get the facts out, to jump start the debate and ultimately, to pave the way for action on this critical issue.
I hope you’ll take a moment to learn the truth — the 10 truths — about America’s entitlement programs and join us in driving a national conversation, one that’s grounded in fact and leads to solutions.
Tom is Thomas Collamore, strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as mean and greedy and anti-working people a lobby as you'll find in America today.
Truth to the Chamber is that something must halt the success of "entitlements," meaning the Social Security and Medicare programs that American people pay with payroll deductions and that have, in just a few generations, lifted huge numbers of the elderly out of poverty and medical deprivation. They'll tell you that it isn't a cut in these programs to hold them at current spending levels or tiny percentage increases, though it is given the rise in living and medical costs. But you'll have to look hard for chamber support for limits on the percentage pay increases enjoyed by doctors, drug companies, medical companies, insurance companies and other enormous beneficiaries of evil "entitlements" — something most civilized western countries treat as an obligation to their people. Changes are needed, to be sure, though you'll see in an inspection of the Chamber's talking points that it misrepresents the situation on Social Security stability particularly. This is the kind of thinking that runs the Chamber of Commerce. And, by extension, Little Rock city government.