George Carlin tells us to wake up!
See George Carlin on You Tube (click here)
George Carlin Knew Why They Call it 'The American Dream'
Ah, the week of St. Patty's Day, and maybe the luck of the Irish will lead us to the pot o' gold coins.
But don't count on it. Not in Wisconsin, not in these times. Nonetheless, in honor of this hopeful holiday, when a saint evicted the snakes from the green island, we can go to that great American philosopher of Irish descent. Surely he can put the events of recent weeks in context.
We speak here of George Carlin, who left the earth too soon in 2008, but saw the future quite clearly, which may have hastened his departure. Thanks to the Internet, he will be forever with us, or at least until Big Brother yanks him away for being too subversive.
For now, you can find Carlin's 2005 skit, "The American Dream," quite easily. I can't, however, recommend it in this column, because it is indelicately laced with some of the "seven dirty words" that got him arrested at, appropriately, Milwaukee's Summerfest in 1972. So promise you won't go and find it, and if you do, I didn't send you there. My parish priest would frown upon that.
(CommonDreams, however, is happy to save you the hassle):
I'll clean things up here a bit, so you get the gist of the genius. It must be said that Carlin actually agreed with Gov. Scott Walker on education. As Carlin said, "Education sucks." But their views diverge from that point. To wit:
"The reason education sucks and will never, ever, ever be fixed is because the owners of this country don't want that. … I'm talking about the real owners, the big, wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. They got the politicians. The politicians are there to make you believe you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have owners. They own you."
In fact, said Carlin, they own everything — the best land, corporations, you name it. Well before the Citizens United decision of last year, Carlin was proclaiming the owners have "long since bought and paid for the Senate and Congress, the statehouse, the city halls. They have the judges in their back pockets." Media? "They own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear."
The owners spend billions every year lobbying to get what they want, said the Irishman who wore black, not green, adding: "You know what they want? They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking — well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. That doesn't help them. That's against their interest. They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly (bleep) jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears as soon as you come to collect it."
And now, said the comedian who didn't crack a smile throughout the whole routine, "They're coming for your Social Security money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know what, they'll get it. You know why? It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I ain't in the big club.
"They don't care about you at all, at all, at all, you know, and nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. That's what the owners want. Call it the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it."
That last part, the line about people being asleep, would have to be altered after the past few weeks in Wisconsin. The governor deserves credit for that. Of course, the owners want us to go back to sleep. Sit back, watch basketball, or go to the store and buy some stuff. It'll all get better. That's what we're told to believe.
March Madness for Corporate Tax Dodgers
Top seeds in the Tax Haven Tourney: banks and power companies
The small companies and public didn't have a chance in the early rounds. Now it's down to a few formidable corporate teams, the Cheat 16:
- General Electric made $10.3 billion in 2009, but received a $1.1 billion tax rebate.
- Forbes said about Bank of America in 2010: "How did they not pay any taxes on $4.4 billion in income?"
- Oil giant Exxon made a $45 billion profit in 2009, but paid no taxes in the United States.
- Citigroup had 4 quarters of billion-dollar profits in 2010, but paid no taxes.
- Wells Fargo made $12 billion but purchased Wachovia Bank to claim a $19 billion tax credit.
- Hewlett Packard's U.S. income tax rate was 4.3% in 2008 and 2.3% in 2009.
- Verizon's 10.5% tax rate, according to Forbes, is due to its partnership with Vodafone, the primary target in UK Uncut's protests against tax evaders.
- Chevron's tax rate was 1% in 2008.
- Boeing, which just won a $30 billion contract to build 179 airborne tankers, got $124 million back from the taxpayers in 2010.
- Over the past 5 years Amazon made $3.5 billion and paid taxes at the rate of 4.3%.
- Carnival Cruise Lines paid 1% in taxes on its $11.5 billion profit over the past 5 years.
- Koch Industries is not publicly traded, so their antics are kept private. But they benefit from taxpayer subsidies in ranching and logging.
- In 2008 CorporateWatch said Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp paid "astoundingly low taxes" because of tax havens.
- Google "cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years by shifting its money around foreign countries.
- Merck, the second-largest drugmaker in the U.S., last year brought more than $9 billion from abroad without paying any U.S. tax.
- Pfizer, the largest drugmaker in the U.S., erased $10 billion in taxes with an "accounting treatment."
All the above has been documented by US Uncut Chicago members on PayUpNow.org .
Who's projected for the Final Frauding Four?
Best Defense: Google uses a game plan called a "Double Irish Defense," which moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.
Best Offense: GE's 2010 SEC 10-K tax filing boldly states: "At December 31, 2010, $94 billion of earnings have been indefinitely reinvested outside the United States...we do not intend to repatriate these earnings.."
Most Steals: Citigroup: 427 tax haven subsidiaries
Best Trash talk: A General Electric spokeswoman: “G.E. pays many other taxes including payroll taxes on the wages of our employees, property taxes, sales and use and value added taxes."
Most game-ending bailouts: Bank of America received $45 Billion in tax payer bailout funds in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 the company earned a pretax income of $4.4 billion, but claimed a $1.9 Billion tax benefit from the government.
Teams with the most reserves:
General Electric: $77 billion
Google: $24 billion
That's 2 companies holding $101 billion that could be invested in jobs.
Tax Haven Tourney Champion? GE is the Duke of Tax Avoidance.