BY VERN TURNER
It may sound ridiculous to have a retired biology teacher and engineer write about the doings of corporate America when he should be tending his garden or putting stroke. I feel obliged, however, to sound off about the outrageous behavior that our corporations are foisting upon the moral, ethical and scruples compass of our economy and business world.
For those who read this, know that your hard work and faith is being undercut by those very entities that built this country into the economic giant it is.
In 1952 corporate America paid over 30% of the federal tax bill to keep our highways in repair, our military strong, national parks in great shape and our overall infrastructure second to none in the world. Today, corporate America pays only 9% of the tax bill while the majority of the tax burden falls on the declining middle classes and the poor.
Oh, the rich will trumpet that they pay 58% of the tax bill, and they are correct. But the rich are generally taxed at a lower rate than the middle classes while the poor pay virtually no federal taxes because they don’t earn enough. The rich have purchased enough law to allow them to only pay 15% on capital gains and transferred wealth … whatever that means.
Meanwhile, corporations have purchased enough law such that they can bank their overseas profits without paying any U.S. taxes on them. They can also shift huge sums of money to offshore banks and thus avoid paying any U.S. taxes at all. Our seven largest corporations pay no corporate taxes via these and other tax avoidance schemes.
They still yell that the 35% corporate tax rate is what is driving them to get the laws changed so they can avoid paying taxes altogether. The last figures I read showed that over $30 trillion in untaxed U.S. capital lay in offshore banks – waiting for the ultimate rainy day, I suppose.
It wasn’t enough for corporate America to fiddle tax codes to their favor. No, they had to get the Supreme Court to declare that they were people and that they could donate unlimited amounts of private, secret money to any political candidate they wanted.
Well, if corporations are people, they should be barred from buying and selling each other; the Fourteenth Amendment forbids it.
Furthermore, the corporations have been using American ingenuity, labor, resources and infrastructure for over 200 years to build the economic behemoths they’ve become. Now they want to pull an “inversion” and re-incorporate in another nation so they can avoid even more U.S. taxes.
Walgreen’s had the good sense to feel shame from its customers who threatened to boycott should they go through with incorporating in Ireland. It just doesn’t get much more craven than this.
Our lawmakers, however, willingly accept the lobbying benefits and allow corporate America to abandon its people. If you want to know what an abandoned industrial society looks like, visit inner-city Detroit. Add to the vast slums and destruction zones, Detroit is now, by far, the most violent city in the United States. Poverty and hopelessness will do that to the fiber of communities.
The final question remains: How much corporate profit is enough? The answer is that it’s never enough.
Profit is more important to the stockholders than the health of the nation in which they reside. Profit at the expense of the infrastructure that the vast majority of the people depend on is the theme for corporate America.
Growth in profits isn’t enough, if you read the papers. It’s rapid growth of profits that matter most on Wall Street.
Corporations have purchased enough influence to all but destroy labor unions, but in spite of that, they shipped millions of jobs overseas to even cheaper labor markets. That’s what NAFTA is all about.
The value of corporate stock has more than doubled since 2009, but the earning power of the middle class and poor has declined. How does increasing growth philosophy jibe with a consumer class less able to support it? It cuts expenses where it can, and today corporate America is all about cutting its tax burden. This action, of course, leaves less money for the governments to maintain that wonderful infrastructure we all appreciate unless taxes on those who can least afford them are raised.
Taxes are the cost of civilization … unless you are a corporation or a stockholder or rich. Then, they become an intrusion to those who want more of what they already know they have too much of. The outrageous behavior of corporate America must be stopped soon, or all our cities will look like Detroit.
– Vern Turner is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. He lives in Marble Falls, TX, where he writes a regular column for the River Cities Daily Tribune. He is the author of three books – A Worm in the Apple: The Inside Story of Public Schools, The Voters Guide to National Salvation and Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third World Status – all available through Amazon.com.