Accountability

Betrayal

WWPReading time – 88 seconds; Viewing time – 3:36

One of the most difficult things to deal with is betrayal. It is the very thing that is driving the popular success of the Donald Trump f#&k you campaign. People feel sold out – betrayed – by our government and they are livid and they gravitate to a candidate spewing outrage. That sense of betrayal – the stab in the back by those we trusted – is part of the reason why treason is a capital crime.

And it is exactly why I have a problem with the Wounded Warrior Project. I’ve always had an unease about the slick commercials that show wounded vets in rehab, families with a disabled parent and they’re all smiling, a popular country singer tugging at hearts in a practiced baritone voice and a sound track that begs that we say a prayer for peace. The commercials are slick, because nowhere in the ads is there a statement about services actually delivered to vets and the benefits vets get and the recoveries they experience due to Wounded Warrior Project services, so the ads don’t quite pass the sniff test. What is really going on?

In a stunning January 27, 2016 article in the New York Times online, Dave Phillips detailed the lavish spending – hundreds of millions of dollars per year – that Wounded Warrior Project spends on its executives, not vets, for travel, dinners and hotels, its draconian employee practices and other questionable activities of the organization.

Wounded Warrior Project urges us to donate $19 per month and they give a WWP blanket as a token of thanks. That would be nice, were the monthly ding on your credit card account actually going to helping our vets. Phillips reports that, “About 40% of the organization’s donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead  .  .  . which includes administrative expenses and marketing costs  .  .  .” That means that $7.60 of every $19 monthly donation goes to executive pay and fancy hotels at $500 per night, instead of helping wounded veterans. To put that into perspective, ”  .  .  .  the Semper Fi Fund, a wounded-veterans group .  .  .  spent about 8 percent of donations on overhead.”

Ugly fact: Phillips reports that Mr. Nardizzi, CEO of Wounded Warrior Project, ”  .  .  .  was given $473,000 in compensation in 2014.” Is it okay with you that all that money went to a very healthy, never-been-in-the-military CEO instead of going to vets suffering PTSD or amputations? If you have donated to Wounded Warrior Project, are you now feeling duped?

We hold our veterans in highest esteem, as they do for us what we don’t want to do ourselves. They intentionally put themselves in harms way to protect us and they too often need our help when they come home. I’m all for supporting our veterans and I’m definitely not for supporting Mr. Nardizzi, who probably won’t be sending me a Wounded Warrior Project blanket any time soon. And that’s okay, because I think he is betraying our veterans.

CBS reported on this issue, too, and if you’d like to read the weasel words Wounded Warrior Project had to say in response, click here. Perhaps the reporting is wrong. Maybe they spend 20% on overhead, as Nardizzi claims in his rebuttal. But 8% is even better – and there’s still that sniff thing.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The 2,700 Club

Reading time – 69 seconds; Viewing time – 3:04  .  .  .

Point #1

There’s plenty of data showing that moments of anger can escalate to crimes of passion and somebody’s death occurs far more easily when there is a gun present. That’s exactly what happened in the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, NC last month, when two people got into an argument and at least one of them had a gun.

The same principle is true of suicide, which is a specialized form of homicide. It’s a lot easier to pull a trigger than to jab a knife into one’s chest or slit one’s wrist. Just the daunting task of slicing into your body or imagining a wrenching death from poisoning is enough to prevent many people from ending their lives and they are later grateful there wasn’t a gun within reach.

Point #2

The TSA recently announced that almost 2,700 handguns were confiscated from carry-on luggage at U.S. airports last year. That number is up 20% from 2014, perhaps suggesting that we were 20% more stupid in 2015 than in 2014. That may be an incorrect analysis, but let’s consider who would try to get a gun past security at an airport.

Idiot #1 – An ISIL operative bent on taking down an airliner and killing people on the ground in a seventh century leap for martyrdom.

Idiot #2 – A true-blue American with absolute faith and belief in the Second Amendment and who is standing up for his right to do stupid things. His back is straight, eyes alert and ahead, proud to be a pistol packing cowboy believing himself to be a direct inheritor of the intent of the Founders, as he passes through the body scanner without his boots.

Idiot #3 – “Oh, yeah. I forgot it was in there.” I had a discussion recently with a TSA agent at O’Hare, who told me that’s what they commonly hear when they find some fool’s gun in his luggage. They forgot they had a loaded Smith & Wesson in their suitcase? Forgot?!!! Actually, it doesn’t matter if they forgot. Trying to get a gun past security is a crime and each of the 2,700 were quickly given an opportunity to meet new and – let’s say, interesting – people at the local slammer.

Therefore,

Every one of these idiots is a form of terrorist, regardless of his hijacking intent. That includes the one who is the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” and who thinks he’s going to gun down bad guys on an airplane. In reality, that scenario is the Northlake Mall shooting all over again. It’s the crime of passion or the depression-driven attempt at suicide that turns into someone being murdered solely because there was a gun handy.

2,700 fools with guns is a terrible statistic, because one of those guys who didn’t get caught could have been on your flight with his  loaded 9mm. Next time you go through screening at the airport, instead of being annoyed by the delay, thank the TSA folks for doing a great job to protect you.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Safe, Proven . . .

First watch this feel-good 30-second ad from The People of America’s Oil and Natural Gas Industry (click on the video to start it):

 

What was it the pretty blonde in the black suit said in such soothing tones, as pleasant images caressed your eyeballs? ”  .  .  .  safe, proven hydraulic fracturing technology.” Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.

Now watch this infrared video (no audio supplied) from the Environmental Defense Fund:

This video was taken just last month. It is an aerial view of the Aliso Canyon oil field at Porter Ranch, CA. The black plume is one way infrared videography displays the methane leaking from the SoCal Gas Company well. It’s the same natural gas you cook with or use to heat your house and it’s as colorless as air, which is why the infrared technology is needed to see it leaking into the atmosphere.

The well has been spewing methane and other hydrocarbons for months – some say for two years – and somewhere between 1,700 and 2,600 local residents have now had to be evacuated because of headaches, nausea, nose bleeds, asthma and other medical traumas caused by the methane.

Spokesmen for SoCal Gas Company say that it will take months to stop the leak because the well is 8,000 feet deep and there is no valve they can turn off. They’re drilling another well designed to intersect the existing well shaft and they plan to pour concrete and other well plugging stuff into the 7″ pipe, assuming they hit it.

Infrared view of Porter Ranch, CA gas leak.

Infrared view of Porter Ranch, CA gas leak.

Meanwhile, the well is pouring 62 million cubic feet of methane per day into the air. That’s 110,000 pounds per hour, the global warming equivalent of 7,000,000 additional cars on the road day and night. To the right you can see what the leak looks like in another infrared video.

The natural gas industry maintains statistics on well leaks and they themselves tell us that 50% of natural gas wells leak. That’s significant, because methane is 84 times more powerful at global warming over a 20 year period than carbon dioxide.

And it’s The People of America’s Oil and Natural Gas Industry bring us all that that from their, ”  .  .  .  safe, proven hydraulic fracturing technology.”

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

 

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Crimes of Passion and Packing Heat

Northlake Mall Shooting

Northlake Mall, Charlotte, NC

Reading time – 53 seconds; viewing time – 2:56   .  .  .

Crimes of passion are exactly that: crimes of passion. When the fight-or-flight instinct kicks in, the amygdala is screaming out imperatives at about 10 times the rate of our analytical, logical pre-frontal cortex. In other words, we act solely in response to the passion of the moment and we slay that dragon and obliterate the danger before us. And we believe that imperative is justified if we see ourselves as having been victimized. Have a look at Arthur C. Brooks’ brilliant piece in the December 20 New York Times for more on that.

On December 24, 2015, some pistol packing fool got his impassioned conflict with another person violently solved in the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, NC. What might have prevented that from happening?

The NRA says that we need more “good guys” to be packing heat in order to alleviate the slaughter that continues unabated in America. They push back against any attempt to promote gun safety, ideas like universal background checks and prohibiting violent felons from owning guns. Their push-back is most commonly anchored in the claim that such laws would not have deterred shootings like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA. It’s a stupid argument, but let’s apply its logic to the North Carolina mall shootings and another from not long ago.

More people packing heat in that mall would not have stopped that slaughter because it happened way too fast. In fact, more people packing heat likely would have made it unclear who the bad guys were and even more innocent people would likely have been injured or killed by ignorant shooters.

Think next about the movie theater in Aurora, CO where in 2012 that idiot opened fire during the Batman movie. What do you suppose would have happened if a few dozen other movie goers were carrying guns? The additional carnage that would have been created by the NRA’s so-called “good guys carrying guns” and doing their version of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but this time in a dark movie theater, would have been horrific. And they wouldn’t have even have stopped the shooter from killing and wounding people.

Now let’s apply the NRA’s “it wouldn’t have stopped certain killings” logic to these shootings and their push-back against gun safety measures.

More people packing heat would not have been useful in stopping either the killing at the North Carolina mall or in the movie theater in Aurora, CO. In fact, they would have made things much worse in both cases. Therefore, according to the NRA’s own logic, we should not have more “good guys” carrying guns.

Quod Erat Deonstrandum.

Dear NRA: Stick that up your Glock.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Trump and Us

Reading time – 39 seconds  .  .  .

There is only one reason I would give any e-ink to Donald Trump. It isn’t to examine and refute the flamboyant, xenophobic, homophobic, baseless, factless, insulting, unconstitutional (see cartoon tweet below) things he’s saying. That’s being handled to excess by our broadcast people. In fact, yesterday I wanted to find out what was going on other than in the despicable world of Trump and had to go to non-U.S. media to find out. What can we learn from that?

New York Daily News Tweet, December 9, 2015

New York Daily News Tweet,
December 9, 2015

No, the real reason to comment about Trump is because of what it says about us that 28% of Republicans like what he’s saying and will vote for him. And it is because there are a bunch of Democrats who like his unconstitutional discrimination of Muslims and they, too, intend to vote for him.

Donald Trump is showing us who we really are and what I see is terrifying.

No, I don’t think he can win a general election. That isn’t the point. The point is that it has become reasonable to ask whether in this blizzard of sensationalism he could. And that’s so because, through their support of Trump, so many Americans are displaying their fear and hate and anger and are eager to support a candidate who plays to their basest instincts.

We better get to the bottom of our self-destruction or we will become something that is very un-American and very dangerous to every one of us.

To understand more of Trump’s “sell,” look at what master marketer Bruce Terkel has to say.

Recorded live in a hotel room in New Jersey.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Occam’s Razor Flipped

Paul Ryan - Hayfield

Paul Ryan, Managing Partner Hayfield Financial – New York

Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  .  NOW IN VIDEO!

Ed. note: Be sure to read the P.S. at the end – it’s not in the video.

What you don’t know about Paul Ryan – no, not that one – the other one – the main guy at Hayfield Financial in New York – is that he is a Wall Street guy who supports Bernie Sanders. And Sanders is the guy who wants to bust up the Wall Street Banks and tax hedge fund managers at the same rates you’re taxed. Seems like a strange pairing. Oddly, Ryan is not the only financial guy backing Bernie.

Ryan was interviewed on NPR’s Here and Now on November 30 and he talked about the complex products and transactions that go on every day in the black box that is Wall Street. Ryan is a smart guy, with a degree in economics from Harvard and a law degree from Fordham University, but he says he can’t make any sense of the crazy stuff that Goldman Sachs and others are doing. In describing his view, he invoked a paraphrasing of Occam’s Razor:

That which is the simplest is the most likely explanation.

He followed that with his criticism of Wall Street:

That which is most complex is probably fraudulent.

I had to check myself before celebrating Ryan’s validation. But after all, credit default swaps are so convoluted and cynical that not even really smart people fully understand them, perhaps not even the sociopath who invented them.

Just before the 2008 meltdown Goldman Sachs was enthusiastically promoting collateralized debt obligations to its clients, selling them at a blistering pace as though they were magic beans going to a gullible Jack (not me). At the same time, Goldman was dumping its own holdings of those worthless things. What was it that Ryan said?

That which is most complex is probably fraudulent.

I’m still looking for the perp walk of the criminals who brought down our economy and cost you and me trillions of dollars. I still want exposed the creeps who twisted political arms to make legal what was illegal, who got permission to imply morality for what is clearly immoral and who believe with supreme, egotistical confidence that their pursuit of greed is all that matters.

Perhaps this Paul Ryan reassures us that there are some in the world of big financial dealings who possess some integrity and good sense. That’s hopeful.

And maybe, just maybe, Bernie Sanders has some good ideas.

Maybe, just maybe, we can get past the stupid, bully-on-a-playground mentality of politics to look at substance and elect someone who will lead the way to restore sanity to American politics and the American economy.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s your job to see that that happens. It’s time to get to work.

P.S. While our politics are surely crazy and not what our founders intended them to be, there are some who offer us reminders to keep us focused. Please have a look at this video of 500 high school kids in Kentucky (be patient, as it may load slowly). Turn up your computer speakers and take it in. Feel the timeless message that Francis Scott Key intended for those boys on the battlements of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor in 1814, as they were withstanding the brutal British naval bombardment.

Those soldiers did that for us. What is our obligation to those who will come after us?

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Trust

Reading time – 47 seconds; viewing time – 2:23  .  .  .

Thirty-five years ago we learned that the nine most frightening words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Ronald Reagan told us that over and over as he campaigned to become president of the United States, effectively appealing to people’s fears and accelerating our loss of trust.

Here’s a chart from the Gallup Organization on trust in our own government. (Click on the graph for an expanded view.) Gallup Trust in GovernentThe downward trend is unmistakable and is due in part to the continuing message from Republicans that government cannot be trusted. Obviously, trust is undermined by hard facts, too, like Johnson’s “credibility gap,” Nixon’s criminal activities, Clinton’s philandering and Bush II lying us into two wars, but do not underestimate the power of the Big Lie.

Predating Reagan’s attack on government  was a Republican attack on our news media. You may recall that Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew was President Nixon’s public hatchet man and he rejoiced in calling the members of our news media, “effete intellectual snobs,” and “nattering nabobs of negativity.” He saved his choicest words for what he called the “eastern liberal press,” a sneaky way to divide and conquer. Then he resigned in the face of charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy. He is considered by many to have been the worst vice-president in U.S. history. Still, he was successful in starting the smear campaign on our news media.

That campaign continues unabated today, with more than Gallup Trust in Media Graphscreechy Sarah Palin invoking the label “lame stream media,” to the point that now less than half of Americans trust our news media.

Surely, there are many reasons for our distrust, but there is no doubt that the constant repetition from Republicans that you can’t trust our news media has hastened the decline of our trust.

The Republican drum beat of distrust of government and the press has continued unabated for decades. Why is it, then, that Republicans don’t understand it when fringe, hateful pretenders to the throne are preferred by “the base” – the pissy people who show up and vote – and they throw establishment Republican politicians into the political gutter? Gotta be painful when the crap they threw to manipulate us gets tossed back in their faces. They won’t get any sympathy from me any time soon.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Keep Heart

Oh no ThinkerReading time – 46 seconds  .  .  .

We Americans have a short little attention span.

Does anyone remember the terrible floods in the desert country of Oman in June or the floods in Los Angeles 3 weeks ago or the students who were killed at Umpqua Community College in Oregon just last month?

Our news is currently obsessed with terrorism in Europe and Africa and with Syrian women and children refugees (have a look at this for a fresh perspective) who might come to America and kill you. We see talking heads speculating endlessly over things about which they have no facts. Experts rattle on as though oracles of the gods, while relatives of victims and witnesses to terrorism are interviewed in bouts of heart-tugging pandering for the cameras.

The good news is that this will pass. It will happen just as soon as the next sensational awful thing happens. The even better news is that the political stupid stuff that’s being sprayed in toxic levels over the current events will also start to abate, but the political pandering will have made its mark.

Ben Carson’s support has dropped 40% because people are at last realizing that he is clueless. Support for the circus barker with the strange hair has gone up because he is sucking up to people’s need for security with his inane pronouncements. And Ted Cruz sounds ever more like the idiot that he is not and ever more like the manipulator that he most surely is.

So much certainty and so little wisdom is vying for our attention. What’s a thinking person to do?

Keep your eye on the ball: The mother lode of our political and governmental dysfunction is the big money influence on our elections and lobbying practices. Fix that and the rest of our challenges will be handled promptly and well.

So, keep heart and work hard to elect a Congress – your senators and congressman/woman – that will reform our criminal campaign finance system. And work extra hard to elect a president who will appoint Supreme Court justices who aren’t wacko righties bent on creating an oligarchy and subverting your rights.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder

Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder - a Republican affliction

Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder – a Republican affliction

Reading time – 77 seconds  .  .  .

I heard a comedian explaining that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who laugh and those who make people laugh. Hard to argue with that.

And it turns out that there are always two kinds of people in the world. For cabbies it’s people who drive and people who need a ride. For children it’s kids who are fun to play with and kids who aren’t.

My view, too, is that there are two kinds of people in the world: people who divide people into two groups and those who don’t. And that is the most important difference we’re being shown by the presidential candidates.

The Republicans – every one of them – are dividing us into two kinds of people:

  • – We good Americans and immigrants who are taking our jobs.
  • – The makers and the takers.
  • – The straights and the gays.
  • – Those who know that military solutions are best and the weak-knee wimps.
  • – We good Americans and the terrible government.
  • – The gun-toters and those who would take their guns from them.
  • – The Christians and all those who are wrong.
  • – Good Americans and the “lame stream media.”
  • – The cops and the Black Lives Matter people who incite the murdering of cops.

In all these cases Republicans tell us that the cause of the problems of the first group is all those in the second group. No need here for personal responsibility or even good sense. As Church Lady would say, “How convenient.”

At the last Republican debate, divisions like these and attacks on those in the “other” group are all we heard. Okay, that’s not entirely true. We also heard about taxation plans based on math with rounding errors in the negative trillions of dollars, but which would put trickle-down economics on steroids, thus accelerating the transfer of all money in this country to 158 families.

In contrast, at the Democratic debates we heard about bringing us together:

  • – Healthcare for all Americans as a right.
  • – Economy-stimulating infrastructure rebuilding that will create millions of good paying jobs.
  • – Ending income inequality so that everyone benefits from a growing economy.
  • – Ending our corrupt election finance system and driving special interests out of control of government.
  • – Common sense gun safety laws so that we begin to end our self-inflicted, ongoing massacre of innocents.
  • – A shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy so that we don’t all die on an uninhabitable planet.

This list could be much longer, but you get the idea. It’s about all of us, not a dividing of us.

Again, and with a few extra words this time, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who try to manipulate us with fear and hate in order to divide us from one another; and those who don’t.

The key is this: Fearful, angry people are motivated, so they vote. They may vote in self-destructive ways, but they show up on election day and vote. People who aren’t fearful and angry aren’t as motivated, so they don’t bother to vote. That distinction is exactly what led to a Tea Party wacko getting elected governor of Kentucky last week.

The Republicans are affected with Issues Separation Anxiety Disorder (dividing us over mostly bogus issues) which they spread to unaware Americans via media contact. The acronym is ISAD, and I assure you that I am sad over this debasement of America.

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who vote and get what they think they want; and those who don’t vote and are willing victims of the manipulators who divide us.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Those Feel-Good Commercials

Reading time – 88 seconds  .  .  . 

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the General Electric (GE) television ads with a lovely feel-good messages .  .  .

My mom makes trains that are friends with trees."

“My mom makes trains that are friends with trees.”

 

.  .  .  like the cute little girl who tells us that her mom makes trains that are friends with trees.

 

 

 

 

"I'll be writing software for planes, trains and hospitals"

“I’ll be writing software for planes, trains and hospitals”

 

.  .  .  and the software engineer who won’t work on trains, but who will write software so that planes, trains and even hospitals can work better.

 

 

 

Pick up the hammer

“Go ahead – pick it up”

 

.  .  .  and that same software engineer whose dad challenges him to pick up his grandfather’s sledge hammer and he doesn’t and maybe he can’t, but his mom says it’s okay because he’s going to change the world.

 

GE is spending a lot of money to air those commercials, yet they aren’t trying to sell you anything. Not a microwave oven, nor a ballistic submarine nor a nuclear power plant or any of the many things that GE makes. Why would they spend that money?

Perhaps the target market is young, talented people they want to hire. That makes sense in light of the fierce competition for smart, creative people, especially in the high tech sector.

Or perhaps it’s to burnish GE’s public image, as it has taken a bit of a beating over the past few years due to its avoidance of paying income GE's 10 Years of Negligible Total FITtaxes and its pitifully small share of tax paid as an American company. Just take a look at this chart (right – full article here) from the Citizens for Tax Justice.

From 2002 – 2011 GE made a cumulative profit of over $80 billion and paid just $1.467 billion in Federal income tax. Business lobbying groups like to say that America can’t compete in the global market place with our 35% top corporate rate, but GE has paid an effective rate of just 1.8% on its $80 billion in profit. Note, too, that the figures in red on the chart indicate years when GE got tax rebates from prior years’ taxes, even though they made billions in profit in those years. Got a problem with that?

Here’s the thing: GE is playing by the rules. No one appears to be suggesting that the people running GE have broken any law with their tax avoidance schemes; they’ve just gamed the system. That system was created by our legislators – it’s only administered by the IRS – which is to say that our legislators made a system that GE could game to its very lucrative benefit and to the detriment of our country.

In a well-referenced 2013 article, the Huffington Post reported that GE had $108 billion in profit squirreled away offshore specifically for the purpose of avoiding paying Federal income tax on that money. Of course, they aren’t alone, as HuffPost reports,

Sixty big U.S. companies analyzed by the Wall Street Journal kept on average more than 40 percent of their annual profits overseas last year.”

That kind of thing is made possible by corporate lobbying. Again singling out GE about their lobbying activity:

According to the report, GE lobbyists made contact with lawmakers or their staffs at least 863 times over a two-year period between 2011 and 2013 to argue for the loophole, known as the “active financing exemption.” [emphasis added}

Estimates are that there is a cumulative $2 trillion of un-taxed American companies’ profit hidden offshore and that’s pretty ugly stuff to those of us who pay all of our taxes (meaning just about all of we non-corporate entities – i.e. small businesses and individuals).

Note, too, that GE gave over $1.8 million to politicians in campaign contributions in the 2014 election cycle. Do you suppose that might help GE get additional legislation that allows them to game the system more and pay even less tax?

As this kind of information arrives in public view it’s a black eye for corporations like GE, so those companies have to launch PR campaigns so that we won’t think they’re the creeps they really are.

Clearly, the message is that you will need hundreds of lobbyists to twist the arms of legislators and the cash for very large campaign contributions so that you, too, can pay almost no Federal income tax. You say you don’t have the millions of dollars that would cost, the almost limitless wells of cash that the big corporations have? Too bad for you.

On the other hand, as you watch those television commercials, don’t you just feel all warm and fuzzy about GE? Maybe not anymore.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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