Friday, November 4, 2011

Can't Pay the Bills? Tear Out the Lights

After my last post, I received a comment on another blog.
"The problem with numbers is that everybody's got some, and almost nobody knows what they add up to.  The system is intentionally obscure.  If you use numbers, you are just going to get buried with other people's numbers.  Better to stick with visceral evidence.  Who is suffering?  Who is dying?  How?  Why?"
That is fair.  My last point addressed the unfairness of the current political system in numbers.  But what does this do to people?  How does it affect them?  And BLAM!  This morning I find this article about what happens when a Michigan City can't pay the electric bill.

"HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (AP) -- As the sun dips below the rooftops each evening, parts of this Detroit enclave turn to pitch black, the only illumination coming from a few streetlights at the end of the block or from glowing yellow yard globes.

It wasn't always this way. But when the debt-ridden community could no longer afford its monthly electric bill, elected officials not only turned off 1,000 streetlights. They had them ripped out -- bulbs, poles and all. Now nightfall cloaks most neighborhoods in inky darkness.

"How can you darken any city?" asked Victoria Dowdell, standing in the halo of a light in her front yard. "I think that was a disgrace. She said the decision endangers everyone, especially people who have to walk around at night or catch the bus."
THIS is how the greed of the 1% affects the people of this country.  This is a neighborhood deep in poverty and has had a debt crisis.  It has more people than jobs, burnt out lots, vacant houses, and unused buildings.  Population levels have steadily decreased and the community is in decay.  Most of these local debt problems arise from the banking, housing, and other criminal corporate behaviors.

And yet, the same corporation that is holding Highland Park, MI to its debt, is DTE energy.  DTE energy had a negative tax rate this year, meaning they made billions in profit AND received money from the government.  They hold this community hostage to what is essentially chump change for them!

They have torn out two-thirds of this city's lights.
Torn out.  Nice short term solution.  Lets not think of the long term needs.

Would you like to walk home through the city in the dark?
Would you like to worry about your kids coming home safely?
Would you like to fear every dark space where your home is?

All for what?  Because DTE demands that this city immediately pay off their debt?

The only numbers that are ultimately important here are 99%... and 1%.  The 1% steals our money, and takes money from the government that they control through their lobbying.  The 99% have to suffer as a result of their greed, criminality, and inhumanity.  Are you going to stand for that?  Are you going to watch as the communities of the masses are destroyed?

I look again at the comment the other person left me.  Who is suffering because of the 1%?  How are they suffering?  Why?

Don't let the corporations destroy the social contract that the government has with its people.  It's "We the People" not "We the 1%."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

U.S. Corporations Paying No Taxes

I know this is probably old news for a lot of us, but if I get one person to realize this for the first time, I've achieved what I want.  If you are not aware, between 2008 and 2010, thirty large and wealthy American Corporations paid zero income tax.  As you read this post, think about how much income tax you paid this year.

"(Reuters) - Thirty large and profitable U.S. corporations paid no income taxes in 2008 through 2010, said a study on Thursday that arrives as Congress faces rising demands for tax reform, but seems unable or unwilling to act.
Pepco Holdings, a Washington, D.C.-area power company, had the lowest effective tax rate, at negative 57.6 percent, among the 280 Fortune 500 companies studied.
The statutory U.S. corporate income tax rate is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, but over the 2008-2010 period, very few of the companies studied paid it, said the report.  The average effective tax rate for the companies over the period was 18.5 percent, said Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, both think tanks."

 From the actual report itself (.pdf file), the following thirty companies paid ZERO income tax, as well as receiving millions...oh wait, I meant billions in tax rebates from the government.

(1) Pepco Holdings (2) General Electric (3) Paccar (4) PG&E Corporation (5) Computer Sciences (6) NiSource (7) CenterPoint Energy (8) Tenet Healthcare (9) Atmos Energy (10) Integrys Energy Group (11) American Electric Power (12) Con-way (13) Ryder System (14) Baxter International (15) Wisconsin Energy (16) Duke Energy (17) DuPont (18) Consolidated Edison (19) Verizon Communications (20) Interpublic Group (21) CMS Energy (22) NextEra Energy (23) Navistar International (24) Boeing (25) Wells Fargo (26) El Paso (27) Mattel (28) Honeywell International (29) DTE Energy (30) Corning

But what does it all mean?  Taking a closer look at these companies shows us the following industries.

- 14 Energy / Utility Companies
- 3 Transportation Companies
- 2 Healthcare Companies
- 2 Conglomerates
- Remaining in Chemicals, Communications, Advertising, Aerospace, Defense, Banking, Finance, and Toys

Do you think its any coincidence that there are so many energy companies on this list?  How about healthcare?  How about these giant conglomerates, like G.E. that are on this list?  And it's more than just these companies paying zero income tax, they are actually receiving money from the government to the tune of billions of dollars.

Take G.E. for example.  In 2010, G.E. had a profit of 4.2 BILLION dollars.  The government gave them tax breaks to the tune of 3.3 BILLION dollars.  This gave them an effective tax rate of -76.6%.  Seem fair to you?  What was your tax rate?

How about an oil company?  In 2009, Exxon-Mobil had a profit of 2.5 BILLION dollars.  The government gave them tax breaks to the tune of 950 million dollars.  This gave them an effective tax rate of -38.3%.  Seem fair to you?  What was your tax rate?  How much were you paying per gallon of gasoline in 2009?  How much did that affect your life?

Oh I know!  How about the company that held our country at gunpoint?  In 2008, Goldman Sachs had a profit 4.9 BILLION dollars.  The government gave them tax breaks to the tune of 786 million dollars.  This gave them an effective tax rate of -16%.  Seem fair to you?  This doesn't even include the bailout funds.  Or all the foreclosed homes.

How could I forget about healthcare!  In 2009, the for profit healthcare group Tenet Healthcare had a profit of 193 million dollars.  The government gave them tax breaks to the tune of 53 million dollars.  Tax rate of -27.3% anyone?  Tenet operates 139 for profit health centers in the United States.  They've been involved in psychiatric fraud, medicare fraud, unnecessary heart surgery scandal, and Hurricane Katrina scandal.  So it seems only fair that they receive money from the government.


See where I'm going with this?  How is it that the rest of us, the 99%, have to see our jobs destroyed (sorry, I meant, "Management wanted to curtail redundancies in the human resources area, so many people are no longer viable members of the workforce" - thanks George Carlin), our pensions destroyed, our retirement destroyed, and then our social safety nets destroyed?  And then watch as that money, OUR tax money, given away to the 1%?  This is purely and simply reverse Robin Hood!

This is why people are fed up.  This is why people are protesting.  The 99% are slowly losing everything they've worked so hard for, while the 1% are bleeding this country dry all in the name of their corporate profits and CEO pay.  You want healthcare?  Sorry, government tax break for the corporate 1%.  You want affordable gasoline?  Sorry, government tax break for the corporate 1%.  You want to heat your home in the winter?  Sorry, you have to go broke so the government can give its tax breaks for the corporate 1%.  You want your labor to be valued by forming a union?  You know, the same labor that created this wealth?  Sorry, aint happening.

And so it goes.  On, and on, and on, and on...

It's infuriating.  If you have time, read the report, however I warn you its 71 pages of infuriating material.  I will blog about parts of this report more.

Finally, to end this post...

Corporations will say rightly that the loopholes that let them slash their taxes were perfectly legal, the report said.

"But that does not mean that low-tax corporations bear no responsibility ... The laws were not enacted in a vacuum; they were adopted in response to relentless corporate lobbying, threats and campaign support," the report said.
 Don't let these people lie anymore.  Don't believe anything they say anymore.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Delegitimizing Occupy Wall St.

As the Occupy Wall St. protests continue not just in New York but also around the world, the main stream media... I'm sorry, I meant the lame-stream liberal media... seems to be doing everything it can to delegitimize both the movement and the protesters themselves.  I wake up this morning on my day off (you know, from running away, being "brave") and see this on the front page of Yahoo! news. 

NYC arrest records: Many Occupy Wall St Protestors Live in Luxury

"For each of the 984 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested in New York City between September 18 and October 15, police collected and filed an information sheet recording the arrestee’s name, age, sex, criminal charge, home address and — in most cases — race. The Daily Caller has obtained all of this information from a source in the New York City government.

Among addresses for which information is available, single-family homes listed on those police intake forms have a median value of $305,000 — a far higher number than the $185,400 median value of owner-occupied housing units in the United States.

Some of the homes where “Occupy” arrestees reside, viewed through Google Maps and the Multiple Listing Service real estate database, are the definition of opulence."

A couple things to address here.  

Why is this important?  Why is the media publishing financial information about those arrested?  It's bad enough that these people got arrested for expressing themselves under the first amendment of the Bill of Rights.  Now they have to have their personal lives and finances under scrutiny not just by the police, but by the general public?  It's one thing if you're a politician and you put yourself out there to be scrutinized by the general public.  But people who are protesting should not be afraid of losing all their privacy.

Even if the people protesting are "wealthy", they are still part of the 99% as defined by the protest movement.  Can anyone in the media really defend the 1%, those 400 top earners who make the top wealth in the entire country?  It's easy to generalize and entire group of people, but just because some of these protesters have higher home values does not make them any less legitimate or make their grievances any less legitimate.  If that were the case, then not a single one of our elected officials would have anything worth listening to.

Lastly, the whole point of this article is to frame the protesters in a way that makes the movement seem absurd, violent, illegitimate, and privileged.  Some examples of the article that does this.

"While it would not be fair to conclude that the arrested protesters are fully representative of a movement that is not completely understood, this information forms the most complete snapshot yet of the demonstrations’ more militant participants....
 "It also reinforces the persistent critique of protesters as entitled, upper-class agitators with few legitimate grievances....
 "Sleeping beside the hardcore activists are increasing numbers of wealthy students turning up to make the most of the party atmosphere, drugs and free food..."
"While they dress down to blend in, the youngsters’ privileged backgrounds are revealed by glimpses of expensive gadgetry or the absent minded mention of their private schools during heated political debates...."

Apart from being deceptive and dishonest, some parts of this article are straight up lies.  This movement has been non-violent and non-militant from the start.  If there has been any violence, it is being initiated by the police.  And this lie of drugs at these protests is completely unfounded and has had no proof at all.  But hey, if you keep saying a lie or group of lies over and over and over again, people are bound to start believing you, right?

On a final note, this was linked from Yahoo!'s front page to a "news" organization called The Daily Caller.  Who is the Daily Caller?  With a little research, I find that the Daily Caller is a "news" website founded by disgraced TV host Tucker Carlson with the help of his bowtie.  He founded it with Neil Patel who was a former advisor to Dick Cheney.  Who knows, maybe a certain former Alaskan governor can join this "news" site to make it even more important?  *cough* conservative circle jerk *cough*
When you go to their website (which I will refuse to link to here), you will see the following articles after the above discussed articles:
-  "Study: Public School Teachers Aren't Underpaid"
-  "Roger Stone Warns GOP of Great Danger of Third Party Candidate"
-  "The Quick and Dirty Guide to Sexual Harassment"
-  "Cain Sexual Harassment Allegations May be Fundraising Boon"
-  "Regulation is This Halloween's Goblin"

And on that note....*pitter patter*...Brave Sir Robin Ran away!  Bravely ran away....

p.s.  Free food at protests?  Those communists!  E-V-I-L