By Donald Cohen There’s an old adage that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. That seems to be the unofficial motto of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which has spent the last forty years repeating (and repeating and repeating) the mantra that government regulations on businesses “kill jobs” and economic growth. But their predictions are repeatedly wrong. The laws that they warned would bring economic ruin have become the basic health, safety, and environmental safeguards we now take for granted.
As the nation approaches the first anniversary of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, opponents are claiming that the new measure is extraordinarily damaging, especially to Main Street. But industry’s alarmist rhetoric bears striking resemblance to the last time it faced sweeping new safeguards: during the New Deal reforms. The parallels between the language used both then and now are detailed in a report released today by Public Citizen and the Cry Wolf Project.
Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held its "Jobs For America Summit". Consider it part of a continuing campaign to convince the public that the organization cares about something other than the profits of its largest donors. (It doesn’t.)
Yesterday New Hampshire Governor John Lynch stepped up and defended America’s only policy initiative against climate change. Lynch vetoed Republican legislation that would have removed his state from the continent’s functioning carbon dioxide pollution cap-and-trade system, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI.)
A recent fatal explosion at a Gallatin, Tennessee metals plant fueled by high concentrations of industrial dust highlights the need for action to protect American workers. Unfortunately, the workplace rules that would have prevented the tragedy still don’t exist .
I recently came across a 1986 Ralph Nader op-ed extolling the virtues of automobile safety and reminding us why government action, in this instance, was so necessary.
The occasion for Nader’s opining was the 20th anniversary of the publication of Unsafe At Any Speed (1965), a searing depiction of an auto industry with little concern for the safety of their product. LBJ signed The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act into law a year after Nader’s book hit the shelves and a nw federal agency was created to address the myriad oversights of the American auto industry: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Big Three—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—were horrified by this unprecedented incursion into their domain. “Many of the temporary standards are unreasonable, arbitrary and technically unfeasible,” Henry Ford II whined. “If we can’t meet them when they are published we’ll have to close down.” The Big Three, of course, did not shut down. Instead, after much kicking and screaming, “arbitrary” features like seatbelts, headrests, and turning signals became standard issue.