How big business buys the right to dodge US taxes

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L’état, c’est moi. AP/Jason DeCrow

You can’t get mad at a company for doing every legal thing possible to make a buck, right?

That’s the typical response when companies like Burger King or Chiquita Banana use tax loopholes to take their companies overseas (at least on paper), or when firms like Apple, Google, or General Electric find ways avoid taxes on billions of dollars of global income. It may be bad for US taxpayers but, hey, blame lawmakers for doing such a crappy job; the companies are just following the rules that have been created for them.

But this is a naive way to think about how companies and legislators interact. Congress doesn’t fill the tax code with loopholes on a whim or even on accident—it does so because companies and their lobbyists spend millions of dollars influencing legislators to write, and maintain, a tax code that suits them. That means protecting loopholes that allow companies to defer taxes on foreign income (and allows them to define as much of their income as possible as foreign). These structures, in turn, have created the stockpiles of offshore cash that make a merger-related move to a foreign jurisdiction so lucrative, and so tempting.

Lobbying is a roughly $3.2 billion-a-year industry in the US capital, according to data collected from lobbying disclosures by the Center for Responsive Politics. Just in the first half of this year, 1,802 different parties hired lobbyists to talk to Congress just about the tax code; it was the second-highest lobbied issue, after spending and appropriations. That number isn’t all corporations—some of it reflects public interest lobbying—but the bulk of lobbying expenditures comes from large companies and their representatives.

Disclosure requirements for lobbying are not very tight—lobbyists write their own disclosures and need not break out individual issues—so it’s nearly impossible to say how much money was spent on tax matters alone. But we can look through the data to find a few key points that otherwise might get lost in the obfuscation.

Pfizer, which attempted a tax inversion earlier this year, paid $80,000 this year to the Washington Tax & Public Policy Group so that Gregory Nickerson, formerly a top staffer on the House of Representatives’ tax committee, would lobby Congress about international tax issues on their behalf; Coca-Cola paid the firm $50,000 for the same services in the same period. And Microsoft alone spent nearly $1.2 million in the first half of the year lobbying Congress on matters including international tax issues.

Covidien, a Dublin-based medical-supply company that merged with US firm Medtronic in a tax inversion earlier this year, paid one lobbyist $80,000 to monitor international tax issues in the US Congress this year. In the same period, Medtronic spent $350,000 to hire five different lobbying firms to fight the “Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2014,” while also deploying its own, in-house lobbyist. AbbVie, a pharmaceutical firm that just sealed a tax inversion deal, has spent more than $210,000 this year on lobbying, with international tax issues high on the agenda.

Are you starting to see the pattern?

Of course, this influence has limits. The existing corporate tax code is not what the companies would have created were it entirely up to them, and many politicians are pushing (albeit in vain, it appears) for reforms that would raise taxes on corporations. And though we haven’t reached a tipping point yet, the public backlash against companies that capitalize on politically unpopular allowances is building.

But for all their muddied complaints about competitiveness, there is little evidence that US multinationals are at a disadvantage to firms in other countries, and so they are happy to kill a tax code overhaul as long as the current system allows them to slip their cash—and, increasingly, their entire companies—out of the United States.

Found at Quartz.




When Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down on July 17, 2014, we were immediately inundated with base propaganda trying to convince us that the shootdown could be traced back to the Kremlin. But what was this rush to judgement based on? What have we learned about the crash since then? Why has MH17 completely disappeared from the news cycle? And who really stood to benefit from the disaster? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this week’s edition of The Corbett Report.



Common Core To Eliminate ‘White Privilege’?

I’ve looked quite a bit at Common Core, and frankly I’ve been puzzled at the curriculum, which seems to ignore common sense, science, and basic respect for humanity.

A reason for this aberration has been advanced by someone in a position to influence Common Core: as penance for his white privilege. Here’s a part of the very disturbing key quote:

The reason why I helped write the standards and the reason why I am here today is that as a white male in society, I’ve been given a lot of privilege that I didn’t earn…”

I thought Common Core was about educating children, but this one man says otherwise. It’s not a one man show, and the shamelessness at which this guy says this gives me every reason to believe he said as much when he was talking to other Common Core bureaucrats. I bet these bureaucrats nodded their heads vigorously, and agreed with this point of view.

This isn’t about education. It’s about a social agenda.

I’m serious, watch the video and see with your own eyes. Also see with your own eyes as the crowd responds with disgust. It’s proper disgust, mind you, little different than when someone first starts smoking, and gags. Only with exposure does the body become accustomed to smoking, and only with exposure to this sort of ideology does the mind actually buy into “white privilege” without revulsion.

I’ve certainly been lectured by “my betters” about how unfair things have been at times. I know, things have certainly been unfair in the past, there’s plenty of unfairness now, and I’ve been pretty blessed, no doubt about it.

Communism is very fair. It makes us all equally poor.”—attributed to a North Korean General

–there’s a certain ideology that, goshdarn it, just never seems to work out the way the believers think it will, no matter how utopian the social agenda.

But is it really all about my being white, and male? Should we damn a generation of children, making them all illiterate and innumerate, just to eliminate the “white privilege” that is supposedly responsible for some children learning to read?

Around 40 years ago:

Dentist’s office: “We’re open Monday through Thursday, 10 am to 3 pm.”

My Mom: “Those are school hours, how am I supposed to take my son to see you?”

Dentist’s office: “Oh, parents just take their kids out of school.”

My Mom: “I’m not doing that. He can get through life without teeth, but he’ll never make it without an education.”

–My teeth are fine, by the way, Mom just got a different dentist for me. No, I didn’t earn having parents like this, but I am grateful, shouldn’t that count?

I’m blessed, but that blessing didn’t come from being male, or being white. I had parents that cared about education, and didn’t allow anything to get in the way of that.

Continue reading all of this HERE.


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What Cops Really Do

From a police reporter’s notebook

The police are out of control all across the country. They can kick in your door at three al.m., shoot your dog, and handcuff your daughters, and you have no recourse. All of this happens with the explicit, intentional help of the federal government. There is nothing to be said for them, police or government.

That having been noted, it might be interesting to look at the world as seen by a normal cop from before the budding of the dictatorship.

To that end, let us suppose that you, the reader, are an average white cop in, say, Washington, DC. Let us further agree that you are not swatted-out, do not have ninja fantasies. You are not evil and do not want to hurt anyone. Evil cops exist, but you are not one of them. You are just a real cop in the real city—not the city as imagined by the humid orchids who write editorials at the New York Times.

How will the world seem to you, a new cop just out of the Academy?

First, you will quickly find that the public doesn’t like you. People do not like being told what to do. They particularly do not like being punished—e.g., given a ticker—for misbehavior. Successful people of middle age do not take well to orders from a kid of twenty. They have no choice.

Next, you discover that being a cop affects your social life. People are nervous around you even when you are not in uniform. When and where does your authority stop? They aren’t sure. You probably are not either. What if someone at a party lights up a joint? Your neighbor parks in front of a fire plug? Your off-duty life comes to consist mostly of other cops. It is more comfortable that way.

Just as the public doesn’t like you, you will not much like the public. Cops do not see humanity at its best. The young woman hiking her skirt up at traffic stops.
Couples screaming obscenities at each other on domestic-violence calls. “Why don’t you catch real criminals?” The lies. The excuses. The lame attempts at manipulation. The threats (“I know the mayor.”)

As a real cop on real streets, you learn never to smile, to maintain an implied aggressiveness. When riding with a reporter, you will joke and tell stories. With the public, you will learn to be wooden-faced and authoritarian. You can’t lose your dominance or you are useless.

A few months on the streets will take the bloom off your dewy rose of morn. You will see the baby’s brains on the windshield. You will see the paramedics at the crash scene working hard on the guy who went through the windshield, pumping his chest, trying to intubate him with red gunch pouring from his mouth and no hope at all. You will find a guy lying on the sidewalk with his brains swelling like pink lips from the groove made by a nine-millimeter round, still breathing but with nowhere to go.

After a few scenes like this, you will learn to turn off. It will cease to bother you because if it didn’t, you would go crazy. And then you will wonder whether there is something wrong with you.

You will  learn things that you don’t want to learn. You learn that “immersion cuffs” are the sharp pink demarcations that occur when a ghetto mother, tired of her three-year-old’s crying, shoves her wrists into a pan of boiling water. Your colleagues will tell you of the young child found dead in a dumpster, thirty pounds underweight for her age, after her parents kept her bound and gagged in a closet, barely feeding her until she starved.

As a fresh new cop, you will see learn much. You may not know that a kid, burned to death in a fire caused because a slum lord ignored the fire code, looks pink like a baked ham and his guts explode with the expansion of intestinal gases.

As a reporter, I saw all of these things. Not similar things, but exactly these. They are not imaginary. They will change your attitude toward humanity. It won’t make you better company.

And nobody but another cop, or someone in the street trades—police, fire, ambulance–will understand. Your wife won’t, and this won’t improve the marriage. Divorce rates are high among cops.

Much more to read found HERE.





On Monday evening, California Governor Jerry Brown said all Mexicans, including illegal immigrants, are welcome in California.

According to the Los Angeles Times, while introducing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who said America is “the other Mexico,” Brown “spoke about the interwoven histories of Mexico and California.” He “nodded to the immigrants in the room, saying it didn’t matter if they had permission to be in the United States.”

“You’re all welcome in California,” Brown reportedly said.

Brown has made California a sanctuary state by signing the Trust Act, giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. He has also expanded financial aid to illegal immigrants by signing the California DREAM Act. Peña Nieto reportedly “thanked state officials for embracing foreigners, citing measures that extend state benefits to immigrants.”

Even during the border crisis, Brown reportedly vowed “to find ways to shorten long waits at the Tijuana-San Diego international border crossing,” saying, “If we can put a man on the moon, we can put a man from Mexico to California in 20 minutes.”

In 2012, 28% of Californians were born outside the United States, according to The New York Times. Hispanic voters reportedly “made up 19.2% of California voters” in 2010. Andaccording to Pew Research, Latinos make up nearly 40% of the state’s population and have made California “only the second state, behind New Mexico, where whites are not the majority and Latinos are the plurality.”

Even though the University of California has admitted a record number of Hispanics, the Latino Caucus has vowed to make affirmative action and bilingual education top legislative priorities.

Peña Nieto is scheduled to address the California State Legislature in Sacramento on Tuesday.

Found HERE.