Split Roll for CalChamber Members?

Steven Greenhut: Flashreport’s Jon Fleischman rightly takes the California Chamber of Commerce to task for its apparent sell out of taxpayers. The chamber’s unprincipled president and CEO Allan Zaremberg was a booster of the record-setting tax increases in the 2009 budget deal and under his watch the chamber has become more of a big-government group than advocate for the state’s hard-pressed business community. When do you ever hear the chamber blast excessive regulations or call for cuts in government or reform of government services? The ballpark answer: never. Fleischman called it wishful thinking to believe that the chamber’s leadership would ever challenge the status quo in Sacramento. It buys access and many of its board members are Democrats. During the Gray Davis era, 90 percent of the chamber’s political money went to Democrats.

The chamber shills for redevelopment agencies and regularly supports massive tax increases. Ironically, the unions always point to the business community as a counterweight to their influence, yet with the chamber and other similar groups the business community usually is pushing in the same direction as organized labor. The chamber thinks that it can buy protection from the Democrats, but that doesn’t happen. The Dems always come back for more, always regulate more, always make business the bad guy. Then cowardly business leaders come hat in hand back to the Democrats and give the real tax fighters the back of their hand.

Since Zaremberg loves taxes, maybe the Democrats should impose a split-rolls tax on chamber members. Maybe they can add a special income and other business taxes on these members, given that the chamber’s leadership loves to impose taxes on the rest of us. Since taxes are apparently good for the state and good for business, then the chamber’s business members should lead the way and start with large tax increases on them first. If that doesn’t work, then perhaps the businesses interested in saving the state rather than giving away the store should form a new business group that really fights for them.

MARCH 4, 2011

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  1. Richard Rider, Chairman San Diego Tax Fighters
    Richard Rider, Chairman San Diego Tax Fighters 5 March, 2011, 09:02

    Rule of thumb — gleaned from 30 years’ interaction with various Chamber of Commerce organizations: The larger the C of C, the more Big Government the agenda.

    It’s a remarkable correlation. Small C of C’s are more populated by small businesses. The large ones are populated by big businesses and nonprofits — often “rent seekers” who view government as low hanging fruit for contracts, subsidies, etc.

    Moreover, today’s C of C organizations’ boards include activists from government and labor. They now have a significant — sometimes VERY significant — influence on C of C positions taken. Check it out — you’ll find school district employees, labor union PR flacks and other government reps working diligently within C of C’s to to make such outfits support higher taxes and more regs.

    The perceived membership — the business community — too often is too busy trying to make a living to be active within the C of C.

    I once asked the 40 member board of the large San Diego Regional C of C this question — “How many of you are in a business where a significant part of your revenue is subject to the sales tax?” Six raised their hands. Even THEY were surprised.

    The rest of the board represents government, labor, nonprofits, attorneys and others that have little or nothing to do with COMMERCE as most think of that activity.

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  2. Richard Rider, Chairman San Diego Tax Fighters
    Richard Rider, Chairman San Diego Tax Fighters 5 March, 2011, 09:27

    Insight into how a big C of C thinks:

    The Best San Diegans Ever

    The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is honoring what it calls the “Top 10 Lifetime San Diegans.”

    (Drum roll, please)

    Here they are:

    Developer and philanthropist Malin Burnham. (A tireless rent seeker)

    San Diego County Supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob.

    Hotelier Ann Evans (whose hotels get s sweetheart bayfront lease from the city)

    Kris Michell, a top aide to Mayor Jerry Sanders.

    Restaurateur Ralph Rubio.

    Former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau.

    Indian gaming leader Danny Tucker.

    Former Port Commissioner Frank Urtasun.

    Congressman Brian Bilbray.

    ANALYSIS: Only ONE of the 10 honorees were involved in a business that collected material amounts of sales tax. Half are government officials.

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  3. Richard Rider, Chairman San Diego Tax Fighters
    Richard Rider, Chairman San Diego Tax Fighters 5 March, 2011, 09:48

    CORRECTION: I left out a MAJOR statist component of most big C of C’s — big construction firms seeking juicy government contracts. They DOMINATE some boards, and pay big bucks to operate such C of C’s.

    Here’s an example of WHY and HOW they do this:

    I was campaigning against the June, 2006 statewide $600 million construction bond for libraries (Prop 81).

    I made four presentations to the San Diego Chamber of Commerce — representing the “no” position on the bond measure. Along with a proponent for the bonds, I spoke to three different C of C sub-committees, and then to the general governing body.

    The first committee decided not to take a position, seeking more information – after first mindlessly voting to support the measure. The second committee voted against the bond. The third committee (each committee consisted of about 20 people) voted even more strongly against the measure (15 to 6).

    However, when I presented the same arguments to the governing body, in record time they voted 26 to 5 in favor of the bond issue. They completely ignored the more detailed study of their three committees and the resulting votes.

    Why? From what I could see, the governing body is made up of people who supported the Charger ticket guarantee — especially backers of the government-dependent construction industry. The Chamber of Commerce’s de facto position is that any government tax or bond that results in the issuance of construction contracts merits automatic support. To my knowledge, our “conservative” Chamber of Commerce has never voted against any measure that included building contracts.

    I’m convinced that if the government wanted to issue bonds to dig a gigantic hole in the ground and then simply fill it back up, the Chamber of Commerce (along with their labor union allies) would eagerly back the plan as a profit center for these businesses and their employees.

    BTW, in a stunner, our ragtag band of opponents did indeed defeat this measure in the election – surprising almost everyone (including ourselves!). And, contrary to what most people think, such state bonds can be issued with a SIMPLE MAJORITY vote of the electorate.

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  4. John Seiler
    John Seiler 5 March, 2011, 18:32

    Richard: Thank you for your great insight. You’ve been a great friend of taxpayers for decades.

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  5. Richard Rider, Chairman San Diego Tax Fighters
    Richard Rider, Chairman San Diego Tax Fighters 5 March, 2011, 20:11

    Decades?? Egad!!!!

    Sadly, you’re right.

    Reply this comment
  6. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 6 March, 2011, 12:48

    Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

    Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

    Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer “bailout” of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.

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  7. Tylerle13
    Tylerle13 6 March, 2011, 15:13

    Wow Steveo, looks like you have been listening to the preachings of Americas Sweetheart, Michael Moore. Damn capitalism, damn the free market, and damn this country!

    Those 400 “obscenely rich” people have investment exposure in just about every industry in some way, so it would be more shocking if some of their companies didnt benefit from the bailout in some way. And your Union buddies got their own kickback with the hundreds of Billions of dollars of BS stimulus funds they squandered on “creating or saving” 64227897432179 imaginary jobs. You cant try to use the fact that some capitalists benefitted from the bailout as justification for the unions to continue robbing the taxpayers, especially since the unions got a bailout of their own.

    Steveo, if you ever get tired of defending scumbag union bosses, you could probably make a decent living hussling people at 3 card monty. Your always trying to do the unions bidding through slight of hand or just leaving out important pieces of information. In both scenarios you are just trying to get your hands on other peoples money, so it should be a smooth transition for you.

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