Monday, March 24, 2008

Obama Making Corporate Hacks Nervous

John Torinus, of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote a Sunday March 23, 2008 article, Obama speech full of anti-business rhetoric, lambasting Barack's willingness to confront the business community. Everyone should know by now that in our fascist state, where corporate and government interests are one in the same, no such debate should be proposed.

Torinus asserts, "No Wisconsin corporate executive has been charged with corruption...that can't be said for political or religious leaders." He then goes on to say that these executives are actually trying to solve social problems. Hmmm, how are they doing this? By avoiding $1.3 billion in taxes yearly?

But Obama's premise wasn't merely a jab at Wisconsin's business sector, but at the entire corporate ethos, making Torinus' argument misplaced and illusory. Barack is referencing the likes of the Savings & Loan scandal, Long Term Capital Management, Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson, CountryWide, et al. This isn't simply bad judgment by a few; this is the corrupt paradigm under which big business seems to operate these days.

Torinus then states that except for a few bad apples, corporate accounting is practically infallible, while it is government accounting that is full of fuzzy math. I'd have to agree this is true for the Bush administration, but not for most of government. Especially since the mid-1980s, more and more accounting gimmicks, which originated in the private sector, have come to light and have cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

One of his best lines, also a complete distortion, is that none of this is really the corporate sector's fault, but the fault of Congress because they make the rules. The corporations are merely taking advantage of them. Remind me, though, who again is paying for these politicians to get elected? Oh, that's right, the same corporations dodging taxes, increasing the burden on average Americans, and then having their bought-and-paid-for politicians write legislation in their favor. Ethics no longer apply. Scapegoats are aplenty when accountability begins reaching up the hierarchy.

Another absurdity Torinus spews forth, "When a government runs red ink, it either prints more money or raises taxes and then stumbles on. Businesses go under." Actually this is not the case for the big ones, who have their political apparatchiks lobbying and legislating in their favor. They, as we've seen recently, have the Federal Reserve step in and bail them out, passing the bill of their speculation and mismanagement on to the taxpayers.

Also, sorry Mr. Torinus, the rich don't "carry a hugely disproportionate share of the tax burden." As a percentage of income earned, most states tax their low- and middle-income earners more than the rich. (Though, obviously, if his point was that a millionaire pays, in total dollars, more than a poor person...duh! But when we're talking proportions, a better measure to use is percentage of income paid. But as such an astute businessman, I'm sure he knew that.) And while we're at it, Wisconsin has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the U.S. The low, almost non-existent, corporate tax rate given to Wisconsin business is well known to Torinus. He is the chairman of Serigraph Inc., which paid nothing in Wisconsin corporate taxes in 2003 and 2004. He is also a board member of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (the lobby for Wisconsin big business), an organization where even when it's members pay no taxes at all still feel taxation is too high.

Please, Mr. Torinus, you and your ilk in the corporate community whom have benefited most from the largess of government over the past three decades, stop baldly lying and presenting a false reality about what a harsh environment you operate in. Stop repeating your same phony lines and baseless claims. The middle-class is disappearing, inequality is rising, unemployment and poverty are rising, CEO compensation is climbing, and the corporate tax rate is continually falling (along with any and all taxation on capital). Spare us your woe-is-me diatribes for the corporate sector.

For Further Reading:
Free Lunch and Perfectly Legal by David Cay Johnston
Big Box Swindle by Stacey Mitchell
The Great American Jobs Scam by Greg LeRoy
Tax Fairness Institute for Wisconsin's Future
White House For Sale

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