“Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, offered a helping hand to the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama while in Denver on Tuesday.”
“With General Motors teetering near bankruptcy and Ford not far behind, Donohue supports a government rescue for automakers, garnering criticism from free-market purists.”
“‘Don’t tell me about philosophy,’ he said. ‘If we let this thing go under, we are looking at millions and millions of unemployed people.’”
Translation: “Forget economics or even a reasoned argument, just do what’s politically expedient and do it now.”
This is actually pretty typical behavior from the nation’s business leaders. The primary interest of business interests such as the US Chamber of Commerce is not to defend the free market, but to use government to forward their own ends. Sometimes this takes the form of using the power of the state to protect themselves from competitors (as is sometimes the case when business agitates for licensing, copyrights, or regulation of certain industries), or it takes the shape of business efforts to socialize their costs.
Consider how enthusiastically business interests campaign for government roads, government schools, government airports, and so on. Businesses don’t have to pay as much to train the workforce if they can get the taxpayers to subsidize the higher education system.
Business interests also lobby for “economic development” projects like taxpayer-funded stadiums and convention centers because that’s “good for business” too.
Big business (rightly) fights taxation on their profits, but taxation of ordinary taxpayers is fine as long as those funds go to offset the costs of doing business, or if it bails out one of their own like a GM or a Ford.