Thursday, April 07, 2016

Madam Secretary: Who's Bought Off?

GE's CEO weighed in on the 'who's qualified' debate erupted in the Democratic primaries. No surprise he sides with "Madam Secretary". What that dubious endorsement means in plain English is that Clinton is the only Democratic candidate 'we [the plutocrats] are willing to allow'. So it is actually crunch time: is this a government by the people, for the people, or a corporatocracy of the CEOs for the 1%? You decide.

One of the criticisms leveled at Senator Bernie Sanders is that his programs are nothing more than 'pie in the sky' since as President he will not be able to fund his socialist agenda. Here are a few statistics to dispute that allegation. According to Good Jobs First, a national policy center that reviews grants, loans and other subsidies distributed by the federal government since 2000, $68 billion in subsides was given to corporate America. Two thirds of that went to large, multi-national corporations like GE, Ford, and General Motors. Two hundred ninety-eight of these corporations received subsidies of $60 million or more!¹ If corporate America, which Hillary Clinton so ably represents, just paid their fair share of taxes again, this nation could afford to pay for single-payer health care just like other developed nations do, and have money left over to subsidize higher education.

The deal corporations have cut for themselves is sweet indeed. In return for a few jobs, they demand exorbitant tax incentives from localities and states to locate their businesses. If there demands are not met, they go elsewhere, often to low-wage countries. The state of Washington paid Boeing tax incentives worth $8.7 billion to keep the company's production facilities at home. The deal makes Boeing the number one recipient for state and local subsides². All this labor extortion contributes mightily to their bottom lines, which is their only real concern. Walmart, the epitome of exploiting a low-wage labor force, has no fewer than 22 shell companies in Luxembourg, an infamous tax heaven. Since 2011 it has transferred $45 billion in assets to those companies while paying Luxembourg less than one percent on profits of $1.3 billion from 2010 to 2013³. Meanwhile low-wage Walmart workers are subsidized by US taxpayers to the tune of $6 billion a year in public nutrition, health care, and housing assistance⁴. Why pay benefits and a living wage when you can influence politicians to pay for workers' needs?

A final statistic that explains why economics has become so skewed in favor of the corporate owners, the 1%. Each of the largest corporations doing business here retains upwards of a hundred lobbyists in Washington. This profit-dedicated pressure group spends more than thirty dollars for every dollar unions and public interest groups spend on social goods like environmental protection, workers' rights, health care and education⁵. The deplorable situation is why America boasts the world's most expensive fighter plane (F-35) that does not work⁶, and gives four times the amount of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry than to renewable energy⁷. Therefore Ms. Secretary, the relevant question is: who's bought off?⁸

1. P. Mattera & K.Tarczynska, Good Jobs First, June 2013
2. M. Baker, St. Louis Post Dispatch, 02.04.14; J. Brunner, Seattle Times, 07.20.15; N. Chokshi, Washington Post, 03.03.15
3. D. Fulton, Common Dreams, 06.17.15
4. C. O'Connor, Forbes, 04.15.14
5. L. Drutman, Atlantic, 04.20.15
6. EU Times, 07.10.15. In a mock battle over the Pacific in January 2015, the F-35 lost to the older, more maneuverable F-16 despite it carrying two drop tanks and the F-35 carrying no weapons. The F-35 was intended to defeat fourth generation jets with its superior technology. Yet its automatic 25mm cannon jams, and its diagnostic software totaling 5 million lines of code gives false positives 80% of the time.
7. D. Carrington & H. Davies, The Guardian, 05.12.15
8. President Zelaya's ouster has connections to the Clintons, Inc. understandably ignored by the corporate mass media. The UK's Guardian did however, cover the story in English. Two of the coup's top advisors have close ties to Madam Secretary. Lanny Davis, a lobbyist and personal lawyer to Bill Clinton campaigned for Hillary.  The other, Robert Ratcliff, has deep roots in the Clinton camp. The Honduran coup leader, General Romeo Vasquez, was trained at CIA's infamous School of the Americas, disparagingly referred to as 'School of the Assassins'. M. Weisbrot, The Guardian, 07.16.09. After being kicked out of Panama by Omar Torrijos (who died in a plane crash), the school relocated to Ft. Benning, Georgia and renamed. President Torrijos had negotiated the return of the Panama Canal with President Jimmy Carter.