Brain Dropping #84
Groucho’s Club. Groucho Marx famously said: “I wouldn’t join a club that would have me as a member!” He would have been reassured by George Carlin’s assertion, in talking about the power of the “owners” of this country and the world: “It’s an elite club and you and me ain’t in it!” The rare status of the financial club, the group of ultra-billionaires, 67 of whom it was estimated by Forbes Magazine, have more wealth than 3.5 billion of the world’s population, puts them beyond the control of any governmental agency. The members of the club have scores of well paid lackeys with degrees in law and finance to manipulate tax codes around the world to avoid paying their dues to the rest of humanity. And many sovereign nations are complicit in the game of “hide the bacon” providing corporations and their super-wealthy oligarchs discrete tax shelters” – Luxembourg (Population 550,000) is prominent among them.
Jean-Claude Juncker, former Prime Minister of that miniscule country, engineered tax avoidance schemes for corporate tax delinquents. American four-flushers PepsiCo and FedEx are among hundreds of big American companies paying a tiny percentage of their tax liability to the U.S., shielded from the law by the Luxembourg arrangement. Adding good old insult to injury, Mr. Juncker has just taken over the job of head of the European Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, whose function is to prevent such tax avoidance shenanigans. Conflict of interest anyone?
Why should you and I, tax paying Americans, be concerned with European skullduggery? One of the contributing factors to the faltering U.S. economy is the drastic decline in corporate tax revenue which impacts funding for state social programs. To quote Bernie Sanders: “Want to understand why we have a Federal deficit? In 1952 the corporate income tax accounted for 33% of all Federal tax revenue. Today, despite record breaking profits corporate taxes bring in less than 9%.” The connivance of Luxembourg in America’s tax avoidance scam directly affects programs in Vermont and all other states.
Detroit, Michigan stands out as a tragic casualty of that tax avoidance strategy. The corporate “bottom line” psychosis displays a total disregard for the lives of workers and their community. And now, wonder of wonders,
Detroit leaders have gone, hat in hand, to private foundations to keep that beleaguered city from bankruptcy. In an episode of “noblesse oblige” or the “theater of the absurd” these private charitable foundations, largely tax avoiding creatures of the very corporations who are hiding money abroad, will squeeze every bit of philanthropic publicity out of their largess to save Detroit, which in all likelihood would not have come to such a sorry pass if America’s “elite club” members had paid their taxes in the first place.