Posts Tagged corporate greed
The greedy, corporate, tax-evading pricks over at Apple Inc.said that they will not offer computers and other technological support to the Republican National Convention this coming July because of Trump’s comments about women, immigrants and minorities. The decision by one of the United States’ largest and most popular companies is the biggest corporate defection from the Republican convention, where the party will formally nominate Donald Trump.
News outlets and Clinton supporters are beside themselves with joy, seeing this as a significant win for progressive groups, which are pressuring major companies to boycott the convention over Trump.
And I am beside myself with outrage at how fucking naive and stupid people actually are.
The truth of the matter is that Apple will not endorse the RNC, not because of Trump’s stance on women and immigrants, whom they could not give a flying fuck about given their track record of running slave labor overseas and evading taxes here, but becasue Apple and all these corporations don’t need the Republicans anymore to do their bidding!!!
Hillary will be taking care of that from now on, just like she always has been.
And you know why? Because Hillary Fucking Clinton is a corporate shill and essentially a moderate Republican. She would have been a rising star in Ronald Reagan’s administration.
I really cannot believe how utterly deluded and naive people are. I cannot believe that they are buying this bullshit about corporations like Apple and all having finally turned a new leaf.
They have not.
And they are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, or because they care about immigrants, women, blacks or anyone. They are doing it becasue a Clinton presidency is not going to hurt their bottom line, and they know it. They do not care what the party they support is called as long as it helps them.
I mean, even the Koch Brothers have endorsed Clinton. the KOCH BROTHERS, who are the poster child of sinister corporate greed.
People need to realize that all those Republicans distancing themselves from Trump are not doing so becasue they necessarily disagree with Trump’s stances on women, immigrants, the poor, blacks and what have you. They do so because the crass way Trump says things makes them look back. It is much harder to get even stupid people on your side and to vote against their own self interest when you are blatantly homophobic, misogynistic and racist and thus bigoted.
Trump is not saying anything out loud that the Republicans have not been dog-whistling about to their constituents and “shareholders” and creating policies for, for decades now using polite language and euphemisms. They just don’t like him becasue Trump’s crassness is so off-putting to people.
And the goes for Apple.
It would look really bad for Apple Inc to endorse Trump. No one would buy the stupid, overpriced shit anymore and people would start boycotting them too.
I am really dismayed at the state of affairs lately. It is like everyone has fallen into this collective stupor that does not allow them to see things for what they are. It is like as a nation we are digging ourselves ever deeper into a mess of our own creation.
One of the reasons the wealthy in this country are wealthy, is because they are the beneficiaries of massive loopholes inherent in our skewed tax code as well as government subsidies paid for by tax dollars. In other words, the dramatic gains in wealth by the super rich are underwritten by everyone else as a result of skewed values embedded in the U.S. tax code. This means that the top 1 percent of America’s wealthiest households—97 percent of whom are white—are subsidized by the rest of the tax base.
A major contributor to the dwindling of the middle class is that the majority of the taxes they pay rarely benefit them, especially with regard to social safety net programs. Those taxes benefit the wealthy, who then get to sit back and save their money while the middle class covers them by picking up their slack. Remember that wage earners pay taxes on their sustenance, while the wealthy would be paying taxes on their wealth.
It is also no revelation that most of our taxes go towards the war machine, also euphemistically referred to as “defense department”, subsidies for oil companies and farms and a host of tax breaks for corporations that post record profits while siphoning their wealth overseas to avoid paying taxes, employing cheap labor overseas and paying domestic laborers lousy wages that do not keep up with increased cost of living and general growth.
This lack of equity has lead to the systematic erosion of the middle class by transferring wealth from the bottom to top, thus widening the income gap.
As much as corporations like to whine about hard times that are allegedly prompting them to keep cutting pay, benefits or lay people off altogether, research has revealed that, in fact, foreign profits held overseas by U.S. corporations to avoid taxes at home nearly doubled from 2008 to 2013 to top $2.1 trillion. GE tops the list, followed by Microsoft, Pfizer, Merck and Apple – all companies that are supposed to be the shining example of the American Dream and hard work. Turns out, their un-American, self-serving greed is of the same old garden-variety robber baron kind, only this time the velvet tones are neatly wrapped in wit and charm by these master manipulators who call themselves the purveyors of the American Dream.
The American Dream for whom, one wonders.
The middle class has not experienced much of an income growth for the past three to four decades while the 1% have seen their wealth multiply quite rapidly. General Electric, for example, has neatly stashed away over $100 billion overseas while paying an effective tax rate of merely 5% in the US.
All this has crated a situation whereby the middle class is basically digging its own grave, caught in a vicious cycle of little income growth, coupled with higher cost of living, paying the highest amount of taxes while at the same time not seeing most of that money they paid come back to them in the form of social safety net programs, ultimately resulting in them to slide down the social class ladder even further and with every slide slip deeper into the poverty trap.
Tax Breaks Are A spending
The hundreds of tax breaks lawmakers have written into the federal tax code – for instance, special low tax rates on capital gains, and a deduction for home mortgage interest – in order to promote certain activities they deem beneficial to society (which are not), function as a type of government spending.
In fact, tax breaks are officially called tax expenditures within the federal government because, from the perspective of the government, they are no different from spending on any other government program. That’s because, when the government issues a tax break, it chooses to give up tax revenue – so both spending and tax breaks result in the same outcome, which is less money in the U.S. Treasury.
The need for the money the government just decided to not collect from certain entities (that also happen to line the pockets of those very government officials – most of whom are millionaires) does not go away because the tax break was issued. That need is still there. And if the government cannot collect, or will not collect, it from the wealthy, then it will have to collect it from us.
According to the White House, in fiscal year 2014 tax breaks are expected to cost the federal government – and by extension all of us who do pay taxes – $1.18 trillion – slightly more than all discretionary spending in the same year.
For the government it means that it does not get to collect the revenue it needs to remain solvent, which in turn results in the government going after the easiest of entities to cut from – the poor who don’t have lobbyists residing in the Capital buying politicians.
This is evidenced by the fact that cuts, usually, almost always begin with and come in the form of slashing food stamps, public assistance programs and a host of other social safety net policies.
The class divide we are facing is facilitated by these very middle class-destroying economic policies that are promoted by politicians in both parties.
Democrats are not any better. They too agree on beginning every cut by going after middle class causes and the poor. They merely disagree with Conservatives over the extent to which those cuts are to take place. While I do want to give credit to some truly dedicated Democratic officials, I want to point out that voting for policies that ultimately go after the most vulnerable and marginalized entities in society to subsidize the privileged does not make you a progressive, nor is it a vastly different position from the Conservative one. That is hardly deserving of accolades. In fact, it makes you part of the problem, just to a slightly lesser degree.
In the end, for the working middle class it means that they have to pick up the slack of those who get tax exemptions.
Coupled with deregulation, lousy labor laws and standards that favor the corporations and their money-making schemes over employee/worker rights and human dignity, Citizens United, Too Big To Fail, and a host of other middle class busting policies, the middle class has essentially been reduced to nothing but a source of cheap labor and tax revenue, effectively shifting the economic burden of society away from the wealthy – who, among other things, by virtue of paying no taxes, can accumulate wealth easily and rapidly – and onto the working poor and middle class wage earners.
Given that a good number of our elected officials (including judges) are wholly owned subsidiaries of corporations, this situation is not likely going to change anytime soon. After all, what incentive would a lawmaker have to put a stop to the very corporate greed and exploitation that is subsidizing his or her campaign (and summer house, car elevator, shiny, gold plated bootstraps for his kids etc).
General Motors, Money and Free Speech
In 2001, General Motors considered, and rejected an ignition switch design that two prominent safety advocates say could have avoided the problem that led the automaker to recall millions of vehicles this year.
The company’s decision to reject the safety switch was motivated by cost. Without much oversight and accountability, GM just decided to forgo this important safety feature, resulting in not only recalls of vehicles but according to GM, the faulty ignition switch has been linked to 32 crashes and 13 deaths.
All so that GM executives may pocket a few million dollars more in bonuses and compensation.
Via the Citizens United ruling and the subsequent ruling earlier this month lifting the ban on aggregate campaign donations, the crooks in the Supreme Court took a huge step toward giving wealthy donors, including corporations, unlimited freedom to influence elections, considering corporations and the money they can give to influence political outcomes “people” entitled to “free speech” under the First Amendment.
The move to exclude millions of people who do not have the money to influence political outcomes does not only deeply compromise the political integrity of our governmental institutions, but, as Justice Beer wrote in the dissenting opinion, this “decision eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”
Again, the entities that will be paying the price are middle class wage earners who cannot, on the political sphere, match the wealth of a powerful corporation or a billionaire – not without allies, effectively resulting in only people of extreme means and wealth being able to influence elections.
Equating free speech with spending money in elections is, furthermore, not only deeply undemocratic, but it is no different than making voting contingent upon an individual’s wealth. No one can tell me that the vote of a poor citizen carries as much weight as the “vote” of a millionaire.
Of course, corporations are only people insofar as they can donate unlimited funds to buy surrogate politicians to do their bidding. When it comes to corporate accountability – another feature of being a person – however, corporations remain immune and cannot be held accountable.
Case in point, again, General Motors that is currently seeking lawsuit protection in federal courts for knowingly equipping their vehicles with faulty parts, resulting in millions of recalls as well as dozens of crashes and deaths.
This is a company that paid no federal income tax for 2011 despite earnings of $13 billion since 2009. Why? Because the Treasury Department (hint: our corrupt lawmakers that run the Treasury Department) gave GM permission to use the $18 billion in losses from the pre-bankruptcy company, the so-called old GM, to cancel out any profits it has made since it emerged from bankruptcy.
In essence, GM would have to make $1 billion for 18 consecutive quarters before the federal government, which bailed out the company, sees a nickel in income tax from GM.
In other words, GM got bailed out with tax payer monies and it not only not paid them back but is also not getting to put a dime into the very government coffers whose funds bailed them out in the first place!!
Guess who, amid this grand gesture of corporate welfare, will be tasked to pick up GM’s tax exemption? The middle class working stiff. (Not that other corporations in this country pay more, or any, taxes either. See this).
Hard work has very little to do with why the wealthy are wealthy. Why corporations and their executives keep getting richer by the minute and have become “too wealthy to fail” while those who work for them cannot afford buying a house or sending their kids to college or have any kind of social safety avenues available to them if some catastrophe were to happen.
The problem with poverty and a vanishing middle class in this country is systemic in nature with corrupt, greedy and self serving entities as the gatekeepers at every level, insuring that those wallowing in wealth remain where they are while those who subsidize them think they are on their way there while at the same time giving up their standard of living, their quality of education, their jobs, their worker protections, their civil liberties, their social safety net, their environment, their economy and their very democracy itself.
We are a at point now where those in the 25-to-34 age group are the best educated cohort in American history, with more than a third having a bachelor’s degree or higher. Yet nearly 50% of those are either jobless or underemployed, indicating that clearly, and while important, education alone does not create jobs and opportunities that lead to prosperity. For that, a fair and functional economy is needed — one in which the government, a government filled with people who have integrity, not the corrupt opportunists that are in its employ now – plays a robust role, alongside consumers and businesses, to promote full employment and to ensure a just distribution of gains.
The 2010 feature The Company Men makes a significant statement about corporate morals, or lack thereof, and how corporations view as acceptable the devaluing and discarding of the men and women whose life’s blood made them what they are while only caring about the bottom line and shareholder interests. Naturally, it begs the question of whether it is enough to merely compensate such people with mere wages and benefits, or is respect and honor, and thus the acknowledgement that their wisdom and experience make them indispensable to a company’s continued future, due as well.
It also quite expertly showcases the immense greed that takes place in all of these places where – on the one hand – the executives who sit in their cushy 400 square feet corner offices with ceiling-to-floor windows and mahogany desks talk about cutting down and casually and without compunction lay off thousands of people while – at the same time – somehow having found the funds to buy a brand new building whose entire floor they retrofit to house three executes each pulling $15 million a year in cash plus about half of that in stocks and securities.
They lay off hard working, middle class, mind you, folks who have put in decades and endless hours into their jobs and who have mortgages to pay, kids to send to college and lives to live while in the same breath planning their exclusive winter getaway to some luxury resort with $500 dinners and $5000 a night suites. And these very men have gotten this rich not by actually producing something, or building something tangible that you can feel, touch and smell, but by pushing figures on a sheet – which is perhaps why they view their employees as nothing more than said figures on a sheet to be added or deleted off at will.
The sad reality is that too many of America’s companies (which means, not just Wall Street) have gotten quite cozy with this callous arrangement whereby actual people and their lives have stopped mattering, while greed and the bottom line have fully taken over. One example in this movie is the CEO who fires his best friend (Jones) whom he’s known from college and who helped him build the company he is being fired from, from the ground, without a trace of irony and compunction and even a smile on his face because hey, “business is business” and apparently nothing else matter; friendship, loyalty, devotion, honor and just doing the right thing are secondary when it comes to amassing wealth.
Companies today seldom strive for a higher standard of value that extends beyond the dollar and this movie does a great job at showing that.
That said, it still felt a bit out-of-touch and as if it was written by people who have genuinely never experienced economic hardship. So, if you are into movies where for some of the characters the idea of being poor is that they are no longer multi-millionaires but just regular millionaires or whose idea of being broke is that the wife cannot take the company jet to go shopping or that you may have to do the unspeakable, which is rent a town home instead of living in an estate with twelve gardeners, then this is the movie for you. Have at it.
Try feeling bad for people who went from 180k a year to half that. Try feeling bad for people who own ten million dollar mansions, who won’t be eating filet mignon and lobster every night anymore ’cause they got canned; try feeling bad for people who commit suicide because they can’t send their kid to a senior trip to Italy or just don’t have the heart to tell that kid what is going on (but think that being dead is apparently a better option than admitting that they have no money to send them on such a trip).
Try feeling bad for people whose monthly mortgage is just as high as one year’s tuition at Brown. Try feeling really sorry for someone who no longer gets to start their work days at 11am because they had just spent the last three hours on the golf course; feel heartbroken that some rich puke had to sell his overpriced sports-car or could, god forbid, not buy his kid a $400 dollar x-box.
I personally found it hard to feel entirely too sorry for them because real struggle post recession for many was facing card-board boxes as an alternative to a home, bankruptcy, loss of their entire life savings and retirements, loss of their health care as a result of loss of their jobs, not to mention chronic unemployment with sustenance level unemployment insurance pay (which ran out), the inability to feed their children and themselves and generally having to navigate a tedious existence stuck in the trenches of destitution without any real prospects in sight, thanks to a host of middle-class busting policies by both of our parties and a practically non-existent social-safety net.
It is amazing how the architects of the Ownership Society and Hard Work – people who carelessly assert that those who don’t have everything they need just aren’t trying hard enough or are lazy mooches and and who tell those very same people to “live within their means” and “suck it up” – themselves fall into a deep emotional and existential crisis when they are tasked with the unspeakable act of having to navigate life not as a semi millionaire, but as an ordinary, middle class person, and thus like hundreds of millions of others, who rent instead of owning and who drive one car instead of housing six in a garage the size of a family town-home.
These people expect poor people or just the normal guy on an average salary to not complain about being poor, low wages, lousy benefits and exploitative employers, but they themselves aren’t even willing to live, literally, even for one second without the luxuries and perks that come with immense wealthy and, who view their lives as so worthless without such wealth that they, in fact, commit suicide when all the luxuries, emphasis on luxuries, are taken away from them.
Objectively, none of the people in this movie, even after they lost their jobs, was in such a bad shape that one could call it destitute and, in fact, they were better off than most Americans today. It’s just that they no longer could spend $600 a month on dry cleaners or thousands of dollars on the country club membership.
As mentioned above, one of the characters commits suicide because he cannot pay for his kid’s tuition and his mortgage at the same time. While watching that I was sitting there thinking: really? You are willing to throw your life away and die because your head is so high up in the clouds that you cant even conceive to oh, I don’t know, maybe get a student loan for your kid and rent? You’d rather be dead than to tell your daughter that she may have to take a job to pay for her senior trip to Europe? You’d rather be mud and worms than to take out a student loan and rent the roof above your head?
Watching members of the 1% – which these people were, more or less, hit “hard times” – which really just means not living in obscene wealth they mostly cheated others out of (hence the economic meltdown), is not interesting and it does not evoke my sympathy. Yes, it really is bothersome to go from an almost 200k salary to a 90k one, but not as troublesome as going from a 50k salary to 0 without a job in sight and unemployment running out. Not being able to go to the country club doesn’t make you poor, but making $12 an hour, paying 35% of that in taxes and renting, does.
Halfway through the movie i realized that these people don’t know what real struggle is. What it means to only have 5 dollars left in your checking until payday, what destitution really is and it made me realize that being poor is not for weak and lazy people, but apparently being rich is.