MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The US Chamber of Commerce ought to change its name to the Pirates of the Americas -- and maybe sponsor a ride at Disneyworld where everyone gets their pocket or purses picked at the end of the boat trip.
Not only does the Chamber advocate for policies that continue to hamper small businesses, fleece consumers, and increase corporate profits to stratospheric records at the expense of workers, it also wants to pretty much legalize allowing US companies to use bribery abroad.
According to Public Citizen, which authored a recent analysis:
The report, “License to Bribe,” highlights efforts over the past several years by the US Chamber of Commerce to weaken the FCPA. According to the report, the U.S. Chamber’s five proposals “show that the organization either greatly misunderstands many of the FCPA’s enforcement realities, or that it is purposefully oversimplifying how the law is enforced (or both).”
The report also describes responses to these requests, from experts and from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which have joint jurisdiction over FCPA matters and released guidelines seemingly in response to the US Chamber’s requests.
The responses highlight concerns that the US Chamber’s proposals would make the law less effective at curbing bribery and would weaken the health of both the world’s economy and of democratic institutions across the globe. The U.S. Chamber’s request for the FCPA to limit a company’s liability for the acts of its subsidiary, for example, was rebuffed by the DOJ and SEC because that change would give companies an incentive to create subsidiaries for the very purpose of engaging in bribery. The proposal is especially concerning given the fact that so many of the cases in which companies have been found guilty or paid settlements were ones in which this was the mechanism by which the corrupt behavior was taking place.
And, as the saying go, it gets worse according to the report, "License to Bribe: How the US Chamber of Commerce's Fight to Weaken Anti-Corruption Law Threatens the Global Economy, Small Business and Democracy."
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it supports the economy as a whole, but its actions on the FCPA show otherwise,” said Jake Parent, coordinator of Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch program, in a news release. “Making it easier for big companies to bribe foreign officials means that the kind of small businesses that drive job creation will have a harder time competing, and governments will have a harder time governing.”
Corporate America has long opposed the three-decades old FCPA -- the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act -- claiming that prohibiting US companies from bribing officials puts them at an international competitive disadvantage. In short, all of the hooey we hear about the integrity of corporate America from the Chamber is a big fat lie: just let globalized business stick wads of money in the wallets of overseas go-betweens and get contracts -- and cheap labor -- in return.
This, in legal parlance, is called bribery.
Why US corporations should be allowed to behave like pirates and brigands explains a lot about the Chamber's thinking. To harken back to the English satirist Jonathan Swift ("Gulliver's Travels), in a world of fools and knaves, the Chamber would argue, let the knaves be free to be unfettered knaves!
As for the rest of us, we're just fools, right?