Stop Paying the Rich
Explosion of Pay-the-Rich Schemes in the U.S.
The vast expansion of schemes to channel public funds to corporations is the theme of a three-part series in the New York Times under the general heading "United States of Subsidies." The report is apparently the result of a team of journalists pouring over 150,000 city, county and state documents itemizing public funds handed over to private corporate interests in various ways. Over $80 billion per year of local public money was channeled to private corporate interests during the period studied from 2007 to 2012. These payments amount to a large percentage of local revenues. According to the data, Texas doles out at least $19.1 billion per year to private corporate interests amounting to 51 per cent of the state budget or $759 per capita.
Forty-eight monopolies are listed as receiving more than $100 million dollars each from city, county and state public authorities since 2007, while 5,000 more companies listed have been the recipients of between $1 million to $100 million each. The material does not put subsidiaries together with parent companies as single recipients of public money. Nor was it within the scope of the report to detail the individual owners of capital who benefit from the public money. The report does contain the occasional listing of CEO claims on company revenue and compares the claim with the public money given to the company.
The 1,874 different programs created to hand over public funds or otherwise enrich corporations and their owners of capital, such as free or discounted services, are detailed in an interactive database available at the New York Times website.
The database lists the city, county and state programs for each state and the total amounts per year using an interactive map of the United States. It also provides the names of the 48 largest recipients and the states and other local authorities from which they received public monies and the names of the programs and amounts. Five thousand other companies are also included in the database and the local authority, amounts and programs. The authors say that at the local level full information was difficult to find given the reluctance of authorities and shoddy bookkeeping. In many cases, the officials could or would not say why the public money was handed over or what free services were provided, and what if anything was returned such as the number of jobs created. Job creation was said to be the single biggest rationale for handing over public money and services.
The database assigns the programs to eight broad categories, although it appears that many of the programs are simply inventions or concoctions to satisfy the aim to hand over public money to private interests. The programs are either specific to a company or blanket programs applying to all qualifying companies within the sector or region. The category dealing with corporate taxation takes the legal level of taxation for all companies and details how programs would reduce the legally required amount for individual companies or provide a rebate. This area is murky as many monopolies pay little or no corporate tax even before special rebates, credits or reductions are factored in. No comment or data is given whether the legal federal, state, county and city taxation levels are appropriate or not, or how they compare with past levels. Nor does it allude to any controversy over how much governments at all levels should claim directly from gross income of all enterprises active in the socialized economy.
The Eight Categories
1) Cash grant, loan or loan guarantee
Example — $230 million from South Carolina as a General Obligation Bond for the Boeing Company, 2011
2) Property tax abatement
Example — School Property Tax: Special Appraisal for Texas Agricultural and Timber Land worth $3.27 billion for qualifying companies in fiscal year 2013
3) Corporate income tax credit, rebate or reduction
Example — California Research and Development Tax Credit worth $2.29 billion to qualifying companies in fiscal year 2012
4) Free services (all aspects of infrastructure)
Example — Alabama Industrial Development Training, $33.2 million, fiscal year 2011
5) Sales tax refund, exemptions or other sales tax discounts
Example — Massachusetts exemption for materials, tools, fuels and machinery used in manufacturing, $1.29 billion in fiscal year 2013
6) Equity investment
Example — Maryland Sunny Day Fund, $1.6 million, fiscal year 2011
7) Personal income tax credit
Example — New York, Empire Zone and QEZE Credits, $265 million, 2012
8) Corporate income
Example — West Virginia, Net Operating Loss, $178 million, no year given or details of how the program works
Top 12 Monopoly Recipients of City, County and State Public Funds
(Not Including Federal Funds)
General Motors: Awarded at least $1.77 billion from 208 grants in 16 states.
Royal Dutch Shell: Awarded at least $1.68 billion from 35 grants in three states.
Ford: Awarded at least $1.58 billion from 119 grants in eight states.
Chrysler: Awarded at least $1.4 billion from 14 grants in three states.
Like the two other auto monopolies, Chrysler closed numerous facilities in recent years. The mayor of Kenosha, Wisconsin said Chrysler left a site in the city without cleaning up toxic waste.
General Electric: Awarded at least $381 million from 132 grants in 21 states.
GE regularly pays no corporate tax in the U.S., employing more than 1,000 workers in its tax department to avoid tax. The CEO of GE Jeffrey Immelt led President Obama's jobs council. Some joke that Immelt's biggest or only job creation program is corporate tax avoidance.
Boeing: Awarded at least $338 million from 81 grants in 11 states.
The military/commercial monopoly's recent grant in Florida came from a program known as Space Florida and is tied to a Boeing facility in Cape Canaveral near NASA's facilities.
Amazon: Awarded at least $348 million from 22 grants in nine states.
Ryman Hospitality Properties (formerly Gaylord Entertainment): Awarded at least $300 million from two grants in two states.
This real estate investment trust began with the billionaire Gaylord family, which owned or owns media outlets (Oklahoman) that consistently rail against social programs and the "evils of public money used as individual entitlements."
Revel Entertainment: Awarded at least $261 million from one grant in one state.
The casino company is receiving tax refunds from New Jersey.
Microsoft: Awarded at least $312 million from 20 grants in four states.
Prudential Financial: Awarded at least $226 million from 18 grants in seven states.
The insurer has long been based in New Jersey, yet the state paid it $211 million in 2011 when the company threatened to leave.
Dow Chemical: Awarded at least $217 million from 187 grants in seven states.
When the long-time Michigan-based company decided to build a solar factory, the state kicked in $140 million and the federal government $20 million. The public funds total around the same amount Dow is spending on the project.
Other Notable Monopolies in Top 48
Weyerhaeuser: Awarded at least $406 million from 85 grants in 14 states.
Much of the incentives given to this paper company have come in the form of worker training or property tax abatements. The company, which also received large tax credits from Oklahoma, announced a 13 per cent increased dividend for its equity shareholders in October 2012.
Electrolux: Awarded at least $181 million from 14 grants in three states.
Tennessee and the city of Memphis paid $132 million to Electrolux to close its operation in Quebec and move it to Tennessee.
Norampac Unit (Cascades): Awarded at least $143 million from 12 grants in New York State. In recent years, the forestry monopoly has closed mills in Canada in Thunder Bay, Montreal, Red Rock, Pickering and Trenton.
Selected Economic Sectors Involved in Pay-the-Rich Schemes Handing over Public Money to Private Interests
• At least 106 manufacturing programs in 35 states, for a total of $25.6 billion.
• At least 213 agricultural programs in 41 states, for a total of $8.22 billion.
• At least 63 oil, gas, mining programs in 22 states, for a total of $2.5 billion.
• At least 86 film industry programs in 40 states, for a total of $1.51 billion.
• At least 85 technology programs in 34 states, for a total of $851 million.
• At least eight electricity programs in seven states, for a total of $628 million.
• At least 46 aircraft programs in 22 states, for a total of $471 million.
• At least 11 print media programs in 10 states, for a total of $276 million. (Note: The New York Times itself received $24.4 million in five cash grants from New York City and College Point in Queens.)
• At least six defense programs in five states, for a total of $258 million.
• At least 50 alternative energy programs in 23 states, for a total of $235 million.
Denounce the Michigan and Ontario State-Organized Attacks on Workers' Rights!
Workers' Wages and Social Claims Are Not a Cost to Society.
Government schemes handing over billions of public dollars to the rich expose the lie that social programs such as education, health care and the claims of workers must be attacked to avoid a so-called fiscal cliff. A socially responsible Workers' Opposition is resisting the big lie that social programs and workers' claims are a cost to society and a cause of company and government problems and deficits. Social programs add enormous value to society without which it withers and dies. Workers through their work-time are the producers of all value and providers of all services without which no value is produced and the modern economy and its enterprises would cease to function.
The Michigan negative example of monopoly plunder of the public purse, cutbacks of social programs and draconian laws to attack the organized working class is yet another exposure of schemes of the rich to turn their private will into a legal will of the state. When private interests dominate the political institutions, those private interests channel public funds to their companies and other private interests, and use the state authority to attack the working class.
A recent New York Times series entitled "The United States of Subsidies" reveals how governments at all levels across the United States are paying the rich. For the Ontario working class, Michigan in particular is an important case to consider given its proximity and the back and forth schemes by the monopolies to have governments on both sides of the border channel public money into their coffers. For years, the auto monopolies and their government representatives have pitted autoworkers and their communities in Ontario and Michigan against one another to drive down their wages and working conditions, and siphon billions of public dollars into the private pockets of the rich.
During the recent round of Big Three negotiations, the Canadian divisions of the global auto monopolies extorted a multiple-tiered wage system to match a similar program in the United States. The extortion of autoworkers goes hand in hand with plunder of the public treasury. According to the New York Times' interactive website, which accompanies the series, the State of Michigan allocates at least $6.65 billion per year to "incentive programs" to pay the rich. The top three recipients of public money by far are the auto monopolies Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. This $6.6 billion amounts to 30 per cent of the state's annual budget.
In 2010 alone, Chrysler received $1.3 billion from Michigan corporate income tax credits, rebates, reductions and other "incentives." Ford has taken $1.21 billion from the state's public treasury in recent years and General Motors $1.21 billion using similar schemes. These amounts are only those from the State of Michigan and do not include municipal handouts and service concessions or the huge federal handouts that are more well known.
While these auto monopolies walk away from what they are required to pay in taxes or are given straight handouts that drain the public purse of necessary funds, the city of Detroit, the historic heart of the auto industry and the working class of Michigan is said to be on the verge of bankruptcy. The lack of public funds for education is used as a pretext to lay off teachers, seize control of school boards, sell off public assets to private interests, privatize public education and try to break the teachers and education workers' unions. Pushing the anti-social offensive further, on December 11, the state Governor signed a "right-to-work" law to enshrine the will of the monopolies, including the auto monopolies, as the legal will of the state. This overtly anti-union law attacks even further the collective rights of workers in the name of making the jurisdiction more competitive, and can be seen as a companion piece to the state's multiple pay-the-rich schemes.
For workers in Ontario, who are resisting the onslaught of the Liberal government against public education and the rights of teachers, education workers and others, the Michigan example shows how workers are one class even though residing in different jurisdictions. The working class of both Michigan and Ontario faces similar anti-worker schemes of the global monopolies and their representatives to plunder the public purse, destroy social programs and attack workers' collective and individual rights.
Ontario workers are one with workers in Michigan who face a common enemy. The Ontario working class denounces the Michigan state anti-worker "right to work" law and the monopoly plunder of the Michigan treasury. Workers in Michigan and Ontario stand as one class and declare that no equilibrium at the place of work can exist without the recognition of their rights. No state is fit for human beings that does not recognize that people have rights by virtue of being human and that governments must guarantee those rights in practice through social programs and other means.
Pay-the-rich schemes, the big lie of government deficits caused by social programs, and state-organized attacks on workers' rights have a common source in a monopoly will given legal will within the public authority. The organized Workers' Opposition is determined to turn the situation around and intensify the resistance against both the Ontario provincial and Michigan state governments and the private monopoly interests they represent. (cpcml.ca)
DPRK Upholds Sovereignty with Successful Satellite Launch
The government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced the successful launch of a satellite into orbit on December 12. This is an important achievement, reflecting the high scientific levels the DPRK has accomplished despite the brutal U.S. political, economic and scientific blockade of more than sixty years. The U.S. and monopoly media jeered at the initial failed launch last April, using anti-communism to ridicule the efforts of the DPRK. The Obama administration also unleashed its disinformation that a satellite launch, something done regularly by the U.S. and other imperialist countries, is somehow an act of aggression. It is much like U.S. disinformation that bombings and drones are weapons of “peace.” All are designed to cover U.S. aggression and double standards while demonizing others, in this case the DPRK.
The DPRK, pursuing its Juche principle of relying on her own efforts and thought material, achieved this victory. It is a victory of the Korean people, who as one recognize the great strides in science and technology the launch represents. It also serves to safeguard the DPRK’s independence and the development of their economic capability to meet the people's needs and become a strong, independent and self-reliant socialist state. This defense of sovereignty is a contribution to peace and stability in the region.
According to information provided by the DPRK media, the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite was carried into orbit by a carrier rocket, Unha-3. It is equipped with survey and communication devices to observe the earth. The satellite enables the DPRK to monitor weather patterns and map geological information useful in the development of agriculture, mining and other industries. Satellite weather information will also enable the DPRK to manage flooding and minimize flood damage to crops and destruction of homes and infrastructure while enhancing the safety of the people. The satellite provides information useful to strengthening the DPRK's capabilities in defending itself against U.S. aggression, including the large war games the U.S. regularly carries out in the region.
The successful launch also confirms the commercial potential of the DPRK satellite program. Currently, a handful of private state-supported war monopolies, mostly in the U.S., control the production and launch of satellites. The U.S. satellites are used for their drone attacks, for identification of bombing targets, for their “black ops” and assassinations by Special Forces, as well as to spy on countries that oppose U.S. dictate, such as Iran, the DPRK and China. They greatly contribute to the use and weaponization of space for war purposes, not peaceful purposes.
It is noteworthy that at the same time the DPRK launched its satellite into space, a private consortium of Boeing and Lockheed Martin through a very lucrative contract with the U.S. military launched a military shuttle into space. It is on a top secret military mission lasting several months. The new shuttle is a drone satellite-type weapon, a smaller version of the original shuttle that can return to earth and be re-used.
The U.S. cannot accept the idea that the DPRK could launch space satellites for countries big or small and their companies as a commercial business, probably at a fraction of the price those countries and companies now pay the U.S. companies or state agencies (as well as those by French, Russian, Chinese and Japanese companies). The big monopolies and countries do not want commercial competition for such a lucrative business nor the loss of control over who can have a satellite in orbit. The launch of the DPRK satellite opens up new prospects for her and for others who wish to trade using the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs and on the basis of mutual benefit and respect.
President Obama needs to act in the interests of peace and end the blockade of the DPRK and sign the peace treaty. Normalizing relations, including withdrawing U.S. troops from the south so that the Korean peoples could unite on the basis of their own efforts, would greatly contribute to peace.
On December 12, President Obama issued threats against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) following its successful launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite. In response, the DPRK Foreign Ministry stated that the satellite launch realized the ardent wish of the late leader Kim Jong Il to launch such a satellite in the centenary year of the birth of the founder and leader of the DPRK and modern Korea, Kim Il Sung. The Ministry emphasized that the purpose of the satellite is to facilitate the economic development of the DPRK in order to raise the standard of living. The Ministry noted that Koreans worldwide were celebrating this momentous achievement and that the DPRK has received congratulations from various nations and progressive humanity.
The Foreign Ministry spokesperson condemned "hostile forces" (meaning the United States and its allies including Japan and south Korea) for politicizing this achievement with their call for more sanctions against the DPRK and for the UN Security Council to intervene and condemn the DPRK for this achievement.
The Foreign Ministry statement upholds the right of all nations, including the DPRK, to use space for peaceful purposes as enshrined in international law. It noted that such a right expresses the will of the international community and is outside the purview of the Security Council. The DPRK also condemned the double standards and hypocrisy of the U.S. and other forces that use disinformation to try to isolate the DPRK as a nuclear aggressor and to justify war and aggression against it.
The DPRK also stated that such hostility against it will not be helpful and calls for "all countries concerned" to remain "cool" and not escalate the situation. The Foreign Ministry affirmed the right to be of the DPRK and concluded by pointing out that no amount of opposition will deter it from exercising its right to launch satellites for peaceful purposes and to "actively contribute to the economic construction and improvement of the standard of people's living while conquering space."