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U.S. chamber is voice of multinationals

Dear Editor:

For 20 years, I have been attempting to alert the public to the very dangerous consequences of swapping foreign-made goods for domestic, middle-class manufacturing jobs – and the income those jobs provide to make them consumers. Stated another way, we cannot be a consumer society without first being a production society – one that manufactures what it consumes.

How many people in Pitkin County depend on manufacturing? Practically none, so why this letter?

Because our middle class has existed in the past because 35 percent of our gross domestic product was created by a manufacturing-based society, not a financialized society. Although this area is based as a recreation economy, the middle-class people who learned to love to ski no longer have the disposable income to come here, and there are a lot fewer of them.

So I suggest the Aspen Chamber Resort Association take a broader view, one based on a perspective beyond local interest but not contrasting with it – a view of national interest.

In my 17 years as a CEO, I supported the national chamber when it represented the American economy – a collective voice for American enterprise. But multinationals took charge, and the chamber has become their voice.

Thousands of small chambers across the country send in their little dues in the belief that the national chamber still represents their interests. Wrong. It represents the interests of the companies profiting from bringing in low-cost goods made in some other country – Walmart, FedEx, most retailers – big-box ones that drive local merchants out of business. Obviously, Aspen Skiing Co. must rely on foreign skiers. But it is not necessary that we buy their goods to pay for their costs.

For the 16 years of my retirement, I have closely studied the negative forces that have driven our economy to its knees – financially and globally. I know; I have been in the D.C. fight for influence. To make my case, there are numerous articles available online detailing the practices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As I wrote as an addition to the praises of Steve Jobs, if only he had been a Boy Scout. (“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people at all times,” etc.) As far as I know, our local chambers of commerce pledge allegiance to the flag and have as their central purpose the economic health of this community, not Asian nations cannibalizing our industries.

Nelson Hoffman

Snowmass Village


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