Daily Archives: January 14, 2004

Corporate Embezzlement

I’ve written a lot on this site about corporate use of govt as its own private tool whose only job is to further its own private interests. Now there’s at least one group that’s attacking the issue directly, explaining in clear, simple terms how corporations use tax law to shift the burden of taxation away from themselves and onto us.

Two Massachusetts activists, Chuck Palson and Richard Sherman (of Sherman’s Blog), along with a number of others, have formed an organization called FITE–Fairness in Taxes for Everyone. Their website, recently activated, is chock full of information and examples. Here’s a sample from the section titled, “How the Rich Embezzled America”, and it’s an eye-opener:

The 1990s looked like prosperity would never end. But it did, and here’s where the money ended up after the collapseThe mega rich increased their wealth, most of it in stocks and bonds, by as much as 300%.

Most of the rest of us lost, sometimes as much as 90% of the savings we parked in the stock market. The small raises we got came from working a lot more hours than we used to were eaten up by higher costs such as housing, college tuition, and taxes.

In other words the mega rich got much richer and the rest of us barely made ends meet. To put it politely, it was a massive “transfer” of wealth. The Enron collapse illustrates the basic principle. The CEOs cashed out their stocks before they tanked, leaving their employees with stock worth next to nothing. CEOs at America’s 4,500 largest corporations used the same principle to “transfer” the savings of their employees into their own pockets.

It’s no secret how they did it. While the story hardly made the media that average Americans rely on for their news, it did make The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Forbes Magazine. It amounted to the biggest embezzlement in history. Average Americans lost the hard earned savings they were counting on for retirement, college tuition, and personal financial crises.

When we started looking into this issue, we knew that embezzlement was part of the story because the corporate fraud that came out after the Enron collapse provided the evidence that at least some corporations did it. But we kept hearing that these were just the few bad apples. We could not have even imagined that thousands of other large corporations had also resorted to embezzlement.

When we discovered that at least 4,500 of our largest corporations did it, we were shocked. We couldn’t quite believe the size of the fraud. So we kept checking the many sources we used. It all checked out again and again.

Now, as we tell the facts to others, people have the same questions we did. So we decided we better put those questions and our answers in black and white so everyone will know.

Before you read more, we have one caution: don’t let the simplicity of the answers fool you. We want everyone reading this to understand how so much of the money of We the People ended up in the pockets of the mega rich in the 1990s, so we have developed novel ways to explain how it happened. That’s how come we can use few numbers and almost no technical terms. In spite of being simple, our explanations are accurate. To those who want more technical information, we recommend a close reading of the last section. (emphasis added)

And it’s worth it. When you finish reading this material, not only will you know what was done, you’ll understand how it was done, and you won’t be happy about it. We’ve been royally ripped off, people, and we continue to be.

I urge you to read this stuff over the next few days–those with high blood pressure and/or low boiling points may want to take a bit longer–and then come back and let me know what you think. If it makes you as angry as it made me, then I implore you to take the next step–join FITE. As you will discover, there is something we can do.

President Junior "Honors" Martin Luther King–And Raises Some Money

Junior, on his way to yet another fundraiser, this time in Atlanta, decided to invite himself to MLK’s 75th birthday party, an event that has been planned for months and in which he showed no prior interest whatsoever until yesterday. According to the AJC’s Charles Yoo, the organizers–and King’s family–ain’t all that thrilled.

President Bush’s visit on Thursday to observe what would have been the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 75th birthday isn’t sitting well with area tribute organizers.They say Bush invited himself to their party and will potentially force the cancellation of some events due to security concerns. What’s more, they say, Bush will profit from a fund-raiser he will piggyback with his visit to Atlanta.

About 3:45 p.m., the president will lay a wreath at the late civil rights leader’s crypt at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. The president announced his visit on Friday.

But the MLK March Committee, a group of area civil rights activists who worked with King, say they have worked for months on a program to honor the civil rights leader at Ebenezer Baptist Church, across the street.

“They told us that the Secret Service wanted us out of there by 2 p.m.,” said the Rev. James Orange. “We are not leaving the church.” The Ebenezer program from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. focuses on human rights. (emphasis added)

That’s the part I love–not only did he invite himself, busting in on an event that means no more to him than another photo-op, he’s throwing out the group that is sponsoring the event and cutting short a program on human rights–a field which, he has boasted, he has done more for than any other President in history. (Modesty does not appear to be one of his virtues, which some of us are still trying to figure out what they are.) The response to his gate-crashing was predictable but surprisingly civil considering:

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) said Bush’s planners should have given the visit more thought.”He has the right to come, but there should have been some consideration on what’s going on locally,” said Brooks. “That’s quite insulting. This is not the appropriate way to honor Dr. King.”

No, but Tyrone should know that Junior’s sudden interest in wreath-laying has nothing whatever to do with honoring anybody or anything, not King or the civil rights movement or even black votes in an election year. It’s about giving him cover for when the Publicans are once again accused of racist policies and coddling racists. “But,” they will say, “he laid a wreath on King’s tomb. That proves he’s not a racist.” Meanwhile his party will go right on appealing to white separatists with the standard coded messages and anti-diversity policies.

You know, this gambit is getting so repetitious that it’s boring. Are they still kidding anyone with these insincere games? Is there anyone left who still believes these last-minute, intrusive and insulting photo-ops are in any way genuine?