MHP: Corporate Welfare Queens, And The America They Hold Hostage

I was glad to see today’s Melissa Harris-Perry (MHP) show focus on the real takers in society, big corporations and their obscenely rich executives. As Americans gather with family today with plates overflowing (as Americans do on just about any holiday), we should remember that tens of millions of Americans rely on food stamps for their next meal.

Easter Dinner - photo by Alex Valentine

Yet these poor and starving Americans are part of the “takers” or the “47 percent” that Republicans and conservatives believe are the problem in this country. Yes, victim blaming, it’s a time-honored tradition in America.

But as I said, the real takers in this country are corporations. According the The Washington Post, 40% of Procter & Gamble’s profits in 1969 went to taxes, in 2010 it was only 15%. That is corporate welfare.

Or how about the hostage taking situation that develops in local communities all around the country when a big company promises new jobs if they get a tax break. Are they being good corporate citizens? Well, no. Because if they don’t receive that tax break, they are picking up their business and moving it somewhere else. This is how tax rates go from 40% to 15%. Corporations hold the entirely country hostage, one town at a time.

I facetiously agree with The Nation’s Greg Kaufmann on MHP when he said, “Nobody is talking about drug testing them [corporate executives],” in response to legislation in multiple states requiring drug tests for welfare recipients.

“We would like to think that for all these tax breaks we’d be seeing some good jobs created,” said Kaufmann. “But however, as you know, fifty percent of the new jobs in this country pay less than $34,000 a year. Twenty-five percent pay less than the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000 a year.”

Who holds the corporations accountable? If they promise new jobs if we give them tax breaks, what happens when those jobs don’t materialize, or if those jobs don’t pay enough?

“The way to think of this is a giant extortion racket. Which is, the richest and most powerful companies have this thing they hold over our heads, which is jobs.” said Stephen Lerner on MHP. “And they say to some poor mayor, ‘we’re going to give you jobs if you just give us a break’.” Extortion or hostage crisis, either way, we are slaves to our corporate masters, yet many Americans seem fine with this arrangement  Maybe they are simply blissfully unaware of what is going on around them. “So I think we have to think about it as part of a massive wealth redistribution machine,” said Lerner. “Redistributing from us to the folks who already have too much money and too much power.”

But the most egregious proof that corporations are the real takers is Walmart. They are the biggest retail employer in the country and they pay some of the worst wages. According to MHP, Walmart pays the average sales “associate” an estimated $15,576 a year. I don’t need to tell you that surviving on a salary like that is near impossible. And remember, six heirs on the Walmart fortune own more combined wealth than over 40% of the entire country. Do you think they can afford to pay a better wage? A Sarah Palin phrase comes to mind (although I wish it didn’t).

But wait, it gets worse. So Walmart makes huge profits on the backs of cheap American labor, with little regard for how it’s workers survive, or how they pay medical bills, since many do not receive health care benefits, and what does the country get in return? I guess it’s summed up with their slogan: “Save money. Live better.” So yes, Americans are slaves to their corporate masters. But remember, I did say it gets worse. — Since Walmart pays it’s workers such a low wage, many of those workers qualify for food stamps. Guess where people use those food stamps? — Walmart.

Corporate welfare indeed.

photo by Alex Valentine

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EconomyGovernmentHuman InterestTax Fairness

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