Thursday, June 30, 2011

Authorized Theft and Greed in Corporate America

Of course, powerful, wealthy businessmen are behind the outrageous and erroneous messages of Illinois Is Broke, the obverse group of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.  We can assume that some of their power is maintained by the vast majority of ignorance or indifference of the public at large and by a manipulation of legislators, via corporate legislation to redistribute exorbitant amounts of money to their businesses and to themselves.

The current message of the Civic Committee is diversionary in its attempt to shift blame for the financial woes of this State to the public employees' pensions.  It is the way of thieves “to deflect attention from the theft of some $17 billion in wages, savings and earnings among American workers… from speculators on Wall Street who looted the U.S. Treasury…, [who] stymied any kind of regulation… and [who] avoided criminal charges” (Chris Hedges, from The Promotion of Liberty).

What the executives of wealthy corporate organizations, such as the Civic Committee, do not publicize to the populace is that they often pass on the burden of most of their taxes onto the average citizen, via an exploitation of governmental policies that ironically create a “corporate welfare.”

What they also do not publicize is their vast amounts of corporate money in offshore bank accounts to avoid taxation and increase their excessive profiteering – paid for by the rest of us.  Another secret of the wealthy elite is to reduce commercial accountability while increasing the average taxpayer’s responsibility to fund their multi-million-dollar businesses that are already subsidized by state and federal governments.

Is it possible to measure just how much money some corporations are pocketing or to calculate how much of their profits are the result of such “subsidy economics?”  Could it be more than the fabricated, absurd, and unproven assertion of “$30,000 per household” that Illinois Is Broke claims the public pension systems in Illinois cost taxpayers?   What is ironic about this allegation is that Illinois politicians and the wealthy elite created the State's financial debacle.

Though it is impossible to provide any meaningful and reliable figure, it is well-substantiated that the corporate shift of burden of payment to the public and the State’s lost revenue are based upon promises that conglomerates will create more jobs, even though their outsourcing of American jobs disguised as “free trade” has eliminated hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country and has eroded the tax base of the State of Illinois. 

Should state governments continue to allow certain businesses to become ridiculously rich while the rest of us become poorer and are forced to go without needed services?   The answer is an emphatic No!  Should we passively watch while services are cut and deferred earned-income in our pension plans is threatened and diminished? The answer is another emphatic No!

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, David Clay Johnston proclaims “that any American who forgoes wages today for the promise of a pension tomorrow is not paid in full is a scandal.  He has been robbed as surely as if a burglar broke into his or her home…  

“All [the State of Illinois] needs to do to correct this problem is require sound financing of [the pension plans].   That means setting aside enough money each year for the benefit each worker earned and then [guaranteeing the funding for the pension system through legislation. Moreover, contributions and liabilities must be analyzed using correct actuarial principles]. The problem for Illinois representatives and senators is that the simplicity of sound financing would mean a loss of fees for investment advisers and others who get rich off the current system.  In turn, that would mean a reduction in the flow of campaign contributions…

“To business owners and executives, the cost of campaign contributions is chump change to the benefits of shortchanging pension plans.  Government rules permit and encourage a vicious cycle.  To the extent that pensions are not fully funded, that their true costs are not paid each year, it means that corporate profits are inflated.  Inflated profits mean that share prices for company stock are inflated because they should represent the profitability of companies.  And inflated stock prices mean, in turn, that executives cash in their options for more than they should get. [To not fully fund the pensions  also means that legislators are stealing money from public employees and retirees so they do not have to raise taxes and cut needed services].

“Many hundreds of billions of tax dollars [across the country] have been diverted to the rich, leaving our schools, parks, and local government services starved for funds.  Jobs and assets are going offshore, sometimes to the detriment of not just the economy but to national security… 

“It is the rich who are gorging themselves on the government with giveaways, favors, contracts, rules that rig the economy, tax breaks, and secret deals [and not the majority of citizens in Illinois, many of whom are public employees with hard-earned pension plans]” (Free Lunch, How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You with the Bill).

-Glen Brown


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