Thursday, January 07, 2016

The Uber Wealthy Parasites

 Carl Icahn, who has made billions of dollars in corporate deals, is busy pushing a charitable cause involving a group of people who, through no fault of their own, are being forced out of America. Syrian migrants who've lost everything, you ask? Or maybe Central American children fleeing the horrors of drug wars? Nope, rather, he is drawing attention to the suffering of the CEOs of several U.S.-based multinational corporations.

A small group of multinational conglomerates are demanding that Congress drastically cut the taxes they owe on foreign sales of their products. This "reform" would let them escape paying most of the $600 billion in taxes that U.S. law assesses on some $2.6 trillion in profits they've been hiding in foreign bank accounts and offshore tax havens. Three-fourths of these hidden profits belong to only 50 enormously profitable corporations.

Icahn pleads that superrich profiteering giants such as Pfizer pharmaceuticals are having to move their corporate domains abroad, having been driven out of the USA by "an uncompetitive tax code." These American corporations have been raking in enormous profits on foreign sales, but their CEOs seek that those profits should be exempt from U.S. taxation, since they're taxed by the countries where their products are sold. In fact, their "double taxation" claim is a fraud, for most of that $2.6 trillion in profits is subject to zero in taxes. These rank corporate tax dodgers are starving America's essential public services of $600 billion they owe us taxpayers, yet Icahn claims they are the victims. If these trillions are brought back home, he explains, they'll be taxed — so, don't you see, this "forces" CEOs to desert the U.S., moving their corporate citizenship to a place that doesn't make them pay for public services. America must let the CEOs "repatriate" their foreign bounty by essentially forgiving the taxes they owe on it. That way, the corporations get to keep the money, and America gets to keep the corporations. Icahn asserts that the corporate elites are "completely justified" in leaving America if they aren't given this tax boondoggle. After all, he says, CEOs "have a fiduciary duty to enhance value for their shareholders." You always hear that line - Corporations have a duty to maximize profit for their shareholders. It is repeated ad nauseum whenever the behavior of a corporation is worthy of reproach. You'll hear that line intoned with somber unquestioning gravitas as if it were the most sacred of religious dogma and in fact where corporate profits are in conflict with religious doctrine, they supersede it as a matter of course. We are continually told that this is the foundation stone upon which the corporate religious faith is built. Thou shalt not screw with profits. Not morality or patriotism, nor any sense of decency or of justice may interfere with this precept.

Recall the 2008 multitrillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street banks and big corporations. They said that if Washington rescued them, they would then invest in Main Street and in jobs. The government did; and they didn't. They lied then, and they are lying to us now.


You always hear that line - Corporations have a duty to maximize profit for their shareholders. It is repeated ad nauseum whenever the behavior of a corporation is worthy of reproach. You'll hear that line intoned with somber unquestioning gravitas as if it were the most sacred of religious dogma and in fact where corporate profits are in conflict with religious doctrine, they supersede it as a matter of course. We are continually told that this is the foundation stone upon which the corporate religious faith is built. Thou shalt not screw with profits. Not morality or any sense of decency or of justice may interfere with this precept.

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