Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yes, the Campaign to take back the Chamber of Commerce from Luddite Corporations has begun

Dear friends,

The campaign to take on the US Chamber of Commerce is getting bigger by the day, and yesterday in DC it blasted off.

Thousands and thousands of people–including youth from all 50 states who were joining the massive Power Shift climate conference–rallied on Monday in front of the US Chamber’s headquarters. Their goal: to expose the US Chamber as a corporate front group that is polluting our democracy and stalling climate action.

We brought many of your voices directly to Washington yesterday. Our team in DC received hundreds of quotes from small business owners across the country–quotes about why the US Chamber doesn’t speak for us. We printed these quotes on placards, helped rally thousands of people, and took a stand where the US Chamber couldn’t ignore us: their front door.

Check out a couple of the photos from yesterday’s event:

http://hq-salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1879/images/Chamber_blast_photos.jpg

The US Chamber claims to ‘represent American business.’ In fact, last year more than half their budget came from just 16 companies. They don’t say who those companies are, but since they spend most of their time fighting any legislation that might help slow climate change, it’s not too hard to figure out.

Looked at objectively, the US Chamber is a radical organization: they filed a brief with the EPA urging them not to act on carbon emissions because if the planet warmed humans could “adapt their physiologies” to deal with the change. If someone on a street corner told you that their plan for global warming was changing your anatomy, you’d give them a wide berth–but if you have a few hundred million in campaign contributions to hand out, it buys you a lot of respectability.

It’s now time to expose the chamber for what they are: a corporate front group that is blocking progress on the greatest challenges of our time. It’s time to strip them of their respectability and political legitimacy. The events here in DC are a great start, but our mission doesn’t end here in the nation’s capital.

Across the country this campaign to get businesses to declare “The US Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me” has begun to make real progress–thousands and thousands of small businesses have already signed up to say they can speak for themselves, thank you–and that they’re nimble enough capitalists to deal with a planet that runs on wind and sun. It’s not just small companies either–Apple Computer has quit the chamber, and local chambers of commerce from Seattle to New York have broken their ties with the US Chamber.

But here’s the thing: most people still don’t know that the US Chamber is run by a handful of corporations. They don’t know that 94% of the US Chamber’s record-breaking lobbying expenditures last year were directed towards politicians who deny the basic science of climate change. They don’t know that the US Chamber is blocking every possible effort to get our nation to lead on climate and clean energy. They don’t know that the US Chamber lobbied against the Civil Rights Act, the Disability Rights Act, and are now lobbying aggressively to gut the Clean Air Act.

We’re building this campaign to make sure that the truth about the US Chamber comes out. There will be much to do in the coming weeks and months, so expect more updates soon. But for now, just know that we’ve put The US Chamber on notice. They don’t speak for us, and with your help, we’ll make sure that they can’t.

Onwards,

Bill McKibben – co-founder of 350.org and “The US Chamber Doesn’t Speak For Me”

You should join 350.org on Facebook by becoming a fan of our page at facebook.com/350org and follow us on twitter by visiting twitter.com/350

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