As the party conventions roll out this week and next, big business and its lobbying organizations like the Business Roundtable will be making big political donations and entertaining the influential in style. Their collective message, says Donald Cohen, will be about “the ‘burden’ and ‘uncertainty’ of government action to remove toxic air pollution, stop climate change, stem the dramatic increase of workplace repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel and give consumers information about calories in our Big Macs and human rights abuses built into our iPhones.”
“They use a cookbook of standard rhetorical devices and public relations campaigns designed to avoid responsibility for the pollution they create, the unsafe food and consumer products they produce, the dangerous work conditions they manage and the complex, indecipherable and ultimately dangerous financial devices they invent,” writes Cohen.
“First, they deny. Remember, smoking doesn’t cause cancer, global warming is a hoax, fats and sugars don’t cause obesity and the list goes on and on.
Third, they say the free market, not government action, will take care of problems. Business leaders assured us they just wouldn’t produce unsafe cars, food or toys since consumers wouldn’t buy them, financial markets will spread risk and self-correct and employers wouldn’t be able to hire workers if their workplaces were unsafe.
Fifth, they bemoan the loss of American freedom. Social Security was “the end of democracy,” the minimum wage is an “alien philosophy” and calorie counts on restaurant menus puts government in control over what we eat.
And seventh, they claim that it just can’t be done. Remember, catalytic converter technology to reduce auto pollution didn’t exist, nor did substitutes for asbestos or ozone-depleting chemicals (CFC’s).”
That would be great. But for right now I would just like big business interests to stop using one of their most popular and effective tactics of obstruction not on Cohen’s list—protecting small business.