It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way! by Philip A. Farruggio

by Philip A. Farruggio
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
January 3, 2012

The Friday, December 23rd Money Section of USA Today ran a full page article ‘As crisis drags on, Greeks see bleak future ‘. We learn that around 100,000 businesses will shut down in the coming months as 1 in 4 small and medium size business owners say that they will declare bankruptcy in the New Year. This will translate into a further loss of perhaps 320,000 jobs in a country with a population (11 million) less than that of New York City and its suburbs. The unemployment rate for Greeks, ages 18 to 35, is up to nearly 40%! Was it the 99% of Greeks who caused this economic depression? Or was it, as in the US, the work of greedy investment sharks and corrupt or incompetent public officials? Either way, what has happened in Greece can happen here as well. Remember the words of Gordon Gecko in the first Wall Street film: Greed is good‘… .

The CEOs of some of the businesses you shop at or do business with:

Home Depot- Francis Blake earned 308 times the median pay of his workers ($ 10, 452, 000)

Wal – Mart Stores – Michael Duke earned 552 times the median pay of his workers ($ 18, 700, 000)

CVS Pharmacy Stores – Thomas Ryan earned 863 times his median worker’s pay ($ 29, 200,000)

United Health Care – Stephen Hemsley received $ 102 million in compensation in 2009

Exxon Mobil – R W Tillman earned $ 28,900,000 or 855 times his median worker’s pay

Here is only a mere sampling of the corporations that our tax dollars subsidize from the bloated military spending our 800+ overseas bases and phony wars warrant:

General Electric – Jeffery Immelt earned $ 21, 400,000 or 633 times his median worker’s pay

Lockheed Martin- Their recent quarterly earnings were 700 million this year as compared to 56 million last year… so they can afford to pay CEO Robert Stevens 19.1 million

DHB Industries  ( mfg of bulletproof vests ) – In 2004, at the height of our illegal occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan, CEO David Brooks saw his compensation go from $ 525,000 in 2001 to over $ 70 million in 2004 … “War is hell, but it sure does pay “

The interesting thing is that the aforementioned people are NOT just part of the 1% of our population… they make up less than ½ of the 1%… more like 1/10th of the 1%!  How much longer will the 99+ % of us see our personal lives be strangled by these terrible economic times while phony wars and corporate greed suck us dry? It is time for bold ideas and a call to extend the Occupy movement into much deeper waters:

End this empire: We need to do what true conservatives and true progressives agree needs to be done, NOW. That being to end all our foreign occupations and close all our overseas bases, and bring all our troops home! Those actions will thus give fuel and justify the move to:

Cut the military spending by minimum 25% and save around $ 160 billion. Some of that savings could go back to the states in federal tax refunds or block grants. Some, if not all, of this added revenue would be designated to help with the budget shortfalls of our states and their cities.  In my area alone, if even 50% of the savings were sent back to the cities, Daytona Beach would see a check for $ 35 million each year. That would not only end any cuts in services, but there would be enough left to spur real economic stimulus (and perhaps even lower our property taxes).

Surtax the Super Rich: Leave the current tax rates as they are. Simply issue a 50% Flat Surtax on all income exceeding $ 1,000,000 a year. Is that so much to ask of Stephen Hemsley that he only keep around $ 51 million (tax free) of the $ 102 million he earned?  These revenues would then go to:

A)     Jumpstart a Medicare for All Option – Any American who wishes to could pay in to the same Medicare coverage that our seniors currently have. This would be at rates that are much less than what the current private insurance companies offer.  To keep the contributions low, some of the revenue added to our treasury by the Surtax would be helpful.

B)      Permanent Payroll Tax Forgiveness of up to $ 20,000 a year in earnings- Imagine if we allow a forgiveness for all employees and employers on the contributions made to FICA, which comes out to around 7.5 %.{ We could cap the employer contribution forgiveness at 50 employees per firm} Each employee would have up to $ 1500 a year in tax free income to do with as one chooses. This would accomplish a few things of major importance. First off, it would kill any incentive for a business to hire the undocumented. Undocumented workers, in many cases, earn less than $ 20k a year as part time employees. Why would a business wish to lose that 7.5% forgiveness by paying someone off the books? Secondly, by giving small business owners extra funds, they could use that money for themselves or use it towards more advertising, better pay to attract better workers, or to improve their facility. Since this is supposed to be a ‘ free market  ‘ economy, if a competitor uses the savings for the good of the business, being self centered would in the short and long run hurt  those small business people who do not. Please note: the FICA contribution for each employee would not be lost. It would merely be contributed for the employee out of the money from the Surtax on the super rich.

There are many more ideas that any progressive movement may wish to trumpet. Obviously, we need to get all private money out of electoral politics. We need to take better care of our environment. We need to have a ‘living wage ‘. I could go on and on to infinity with ideas etc. For now, perhaps ending this empire and taxing the super rich are two great doorways in which we may enter a better society.

Philip A. Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (usually found on the fine Dandelion Salad site), an environmental products sales rep and an activist. Since 2010, Philip is a spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at

3 thoughts on “It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way! by Philip A. Farruggio

  1. A tax on all stock transactions, now promoted by the National Nurses Union, would also provide needed revenue for social as well as environmental programs.

    But, since the lawmakers in D.C., every state capital, and every mayor’s office are beholden to corporations, Wall Street banksters, and war profiteers, so they ignore what we want, HOW do we get these changes? The entire system is corrupt and not worth salvaging, let alone reforming or even “voting” in. HOW do we replace it with a truly humane and ecological system since the Ruling Class has the police and military behind them?

    • all i can suggest ed is that the ONLY thing the ‘ conrollers ‘ fear is ‘ feet on the street ‘ .
      if enough americans come out , on a REGULAR basis, PEACEFULLY, to not only protest corporate greed, but to offer solutions such as mine and yours…. **** happens.

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