Yesterday, I shared the story of a woman who cleans houses for a living, a hardworking woman whose financial situation is so precarious (and options so limited) that she felt she had no choice but to return to work just days after she’d had a heart attack.
Today, I want to share some data from an article from In These Times by Michael Winship. The contrast is quite illuminating:
Open the Books, a new nonprofit working for greater transparency in government spending, reports that between 2000 and 2012, Fortune magazine’s top 100 companies received $1.2 trillion from the feds. And, Aaron Cantú writes at AlterNet, “That doesn’t include all the billions of dollars doled out to housing, auto and banking enterprises in 2008-2009, nor does it include ethanol subsidies to agribusiness or tax breaks for wind turbine makers.”
Richard Rubin at Bloomberg News recently found that, “The largest US-based companies added $206 billion to their stockpiles of offshore profits last year, parking earnings in low-tax countries until Congress gives them a reason not to. The multinational companies have accumulated $1.95 trillion outside the US, up 11.8 percent from a year earlier.”
Alan Pyke at the website ThinkProgress adds:
While precise estimates of lost revenue are difficult to make, previous inquiries into profit offshoring found that it cost the US between $30 billion and $90 billion each year during the early and middle 2000s, when the pile of untaxed corporate profits was much smaller.
States and localities also lose out on tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue each year to similar offshoring strategies. A recent study found that by closing just one small loophole in state business tax laws, states could bring in a billion dollars in new revenue almost overnight.
Think of the highways, bridges and housing that money could build or repair, and the jobs that could be created, the teachers and tuitions it could provide, the mouths it could feed. Then throw in corporate malfeasance without punishment, gross mismanagement and exorbitant executive salaries—for example, Henrique de Castro, the failed #2 at Yahoo, who’s getting $109 million for his 15 disastrous months there, or about $244,000 per day (h/t to R.J. Eskow).
So let me see if I understand this. A social safety net that would allow my housekeeper a couple of weeks to recuperate from her heart attack is “charity” that would promote “an unhealthy dependency.” But the transfer of trillions of taxpayer dollars to businesses that hoard their profits, don’t hire new workers, and use every trick in the book to evade paying their fair share of taxes is common-sense encouragement of entrepreneurship.
Excuse me while I throw up.