Barry Lynn: The Monopoly Menace (must-see)

https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/

C-SPAN
April 17, 2010

Barry Lynn talked about his book Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction Wiley; January 7, 2010. In his book he explores the industrial interdependence among nations and the growing fragility of complex industrial systems. He talked about the nation’s founding as a fight against monopolies, such as evidenced by the Boston Tea Party. Mr. Lynn responded to questions from members of the audience. Mr. Lynn is also the author of End of the Line: The Rise and Coming Fall of the Global Corporation Doubleday; August 16, 2005. “The Monopoly Menace” was the 2:45 p.m. program in Katharine Hall of the eighth annual Annapolis Book Festival held on the campus of The Key School. Continue reading

Punk Patriot: Is the GOP racist? + Wall St + Exxon sabotages their own wells

Dandelion Salad

trichenosis
July 23, 2009

Read this dumb blog I wrote:
http://punkpatriot.blogspot.com

Buy this dumb shit I made:
http://punkpatriot.etsy.com

Is the GOP racist?: VP of the Young Republicans, Audra Shay, fucks up real bad on Facebook

Wall Street: Goldman Sachs exceeds earnings expectations

More Wall Street: Morgan Stanley’s “new” financial product

Greenwashing Beer: German Beer Brewers claim to have made Beer “good for the environment”

Corporate Douche-Baggery: Exxon sabotages their own wells and pollutes like a mother fucker

Nominal Things Obama is doing to make things suck slightly less: Obama wants to get rid of the Terror Alert Color Coded System

Wal*Mart: Wal*Mart supports employer mandate because they would gain an edge on the competition

see

Wall Street’s Love Affair with Ben Bernanke by Mike Whitney

Max Keiser: Paulson, Super Schnook and Crook

Max Keiser: Goldman Sachs should be taken up on financial terrorism charges!

Kucinich keeps Single-Payer healthcare alive by Michael Carmichael

Tax the rich to pay for health care? + Weiner Blasts the Critics of Health Reform

Bait and switch: How the “public option” was sold + Take Action

Bill Moyers Journal: Labor + William Greider

Dandelion Salad

Bill Moyers Journal
3.27.09

James Thindwa

James Thindwa, whose campaign for economic fairness for working people in Chicago has brought him up against the city’s powerful political establishment and corporate giant Wal-Mart. Continue reading

What Would Jesus Buy?

Commercial Capitalism for Christmas

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

video no longer available

Jun 27, 2012 by

An examination of the commercial-ization of Christmas in America while following Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse (the end of humankind from consumerism, over-consumption and the fires of eternal debt.)

The film also delves into issues such as the role sweatshops play in America’s mass consumerism and Big-Box Culture. From the humble beginnings of preaching at his portable pulpit on New York City subways, to having a congregation of thousands – Bill Talen (aka Rev. Billy) has become the leader of not just a church, but a national movement.

Continue reading

When Corporations Spy by Tom Burghardt

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, September 30, 2008
Antifascist Calling – 2008-09-24

As if illegal spying and dirty tricks by state agencies weren’t threat enough to democratic institutions and grassroots activist organizations, hundreds of corporate spy outfits are doing their part–to defend the “homeland” and the bottom line–for the multinational grifters who plunder the world’s wealth.

Continue reading

Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job? + The Long Road + Wal-Mart

Dandelion Salad

Aug 1, 2008

videocafeblog

Anthrax Attacks Inside Job?

Keith talks to David Willman of the LA Times about the recent news on the anthrax investigation.

Anthrax, The Long Road

Keith talks to Gerald Posner about the anthrax case and whether we’ll ever get an answer about what happened.

Wal-Mart, The Republican Brand

Keith reports on the intimidation of employees that was going on at Wal-Mart and their opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. Chris Hayes from the Nation talks to Keith about why the company’s actions prove exactly why the Employee Free Choice Act is needed since it keeps employers from being allowed to intimidate employees and force them to watch anti-union propaganda if they want to join a union and how the DOL has turned into an establishment bent on busting unions rather than protecting workers.

see

Apparent suicide in anthrax case h/t: CLG

Anthrax scientist Bruce Ivins stood to benefit from a panic h/t: CLG

The results are in! Corporate Hall of Shame 2008

Dandelion Salad

I voted this year and wrote in Monsanto as did a few others.  ~ Lo

www.StopCorporateAbuse.org

July 9, 2008

And the most shameful corporation of the year is…

…Blackwater Worldwide.

More than 10,000 voters cast their ballots online and through the mail in Corporate Accountability International’s 2008 Hall of Shame. Here are the results:

* Due to KBR’s long-standing status as a key part of Halliburton’s war-profiteering empire, and the late date of its spin-off, write in votes for KBR and Halliburton have been combined.

…continued (link unavailable)

Continue reading

Corporate UNPATRIOTIC BEHAVIOR by Ralph Nader (’02)

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Friday, July 4, 2008
originally posted July 2, 2004

During this 4th of July weekend, why not assess the behavior of giant U.S. chartered multinational corporations by the yardsticks of patriotism to the supportive country of their birth? These standards for the corporate entities themselves are important for the moral, legal and political persuasion necessary to improve their patriotic performance?

Let a few examples do for many. Continue reading

Advanced Imperialism: A Phase of Capitalism – A Marxist perspective

Dandelion Salad

by Carl Pinkston
Global Research
June 25, 2008

On April 26, 1917, V.I. Lenin published a major piece on imperialism titled “Imperialism – Highest Stage of Capitalism“. Lenin was able to draw from J.A. Hobson, Imperialism, and Rudolf Hilferding, Finance Capital. Lenin conducted extensive research on imperialism from wide array of writers, but he was very critical of many writers including Hobson and Hilferding. Lenin’s work on imperialism remained a premier until Harry Magdoff published The Age of Imperialism in 1969 and Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism-The Last Stage of Imperialism, in 1965.

Since 1990, the world has changed and considerably more so since the inter-imperialists rivalry of the classical imperialism period of 1870-1945. There have been changes in the development of capitalism, finance, resource control and international investments. Along with the changes in capitalism there have been a series of world wide financial and economic crises. In other words, we are in the period of advanced imperialism. It is not fundamentally ideological, military, or social but principally socio-economic – a new phase of capitalism.

In what follows is the examination of the development of capitalism from competitive capitalism to international oligopoly- advanced capitalism. Also, capitalist development is not limited to the concentration of international production but also to the development of finance domination – finanancialization of capital. The international oligopoly and finance domination are forging new imperialist centers that are slowing re-dividing the world by a new map making machine – Foreign Direct Investment. Proxy wars and American form of colonialism will attempt to conceal international struggle of advanced imperialism today. However, advanced imperialism will expose its naked actions in one form or another and no neo-imperialism apologist can hide its cloths.

Advanced Capitalism

Modern capitalism or super-capitalism (as coined by a liberal economist Robert Reich) is a phase of capitalism. The history of modern capitalism can be described as follows: 1) 1860-70, the apex of development of free competition; 1870-1945, the period of monopoly capitalism, cartels, trusts, syndicates and finance capital; 2) 1945-1973, the US dominated oligopoly capitalism, multi-divisional corporations; and 3) the 1973-75 crisis and the boom of the 1990’s cultivated the massive growth of giant multi-national corporations. By 1870, it was clear that capitalism had developed from a competitive capitalism to monopoly capitalism. Capitalism development is not only internal but is express internationally in the form of imperialism. Lenin said, “that capitalism has been transformed into imperialism;” [1]

Prior to 1920, the management of large enterprises was centralized in a few hands (called Tycoons) that managed production, secure raw resources for the industry, and marketed a few products. Giant enterprises were managed by Tycoons with small staffs. Andrew Carnegie ran the Pennsylvania Railroad and Carnegie Steel; John D. Rockefeller ran Standard Oil Company (whose descendant is ExxonMobil) and Henry Ford ran Ford Motors. Very few giant enterprises were corporate in structure; that gave the ability to have internal financing; and multi-divisional in operation As Michael Reich noted, “Of the Fortune 500 largest corporation in 1994, more than half were founded between 1880 and 1930.” [2]

The events of the two world wars and the success of the Bolsheviks revolution ended the phase of monopoly capitalism and transformed capitalism into US dominated oligopoly capitalism-the rise of giant corporations. Marxist’s economists Baran and Sweezy noted, “Under capitalism the highest form of success is business success, and under monopoly capitalism the highest form of business is big corporation.”[3]

The characteristic features of a giant corporation as defined by Baran and Sweezy is: 1) control rest in the hands of management (ie Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officers), 2) management is self-perpetuating, and 3) each corporation normally achieves financial independence through the internal generation of funds which remain at the disposal of management.

“The replacement of the individual capitalist by the corporate capitalist constitutes an institutionalization of the capitalist function. The heart and core of the capitalist function is accumulation: accumulation has always been the prime mover of the system, the locus of its conflicts, the source of both its triumphs and disasters.”[4] Baran and Sweezy made clear.

Along with the rise of giant corporations was the change in administrating giant corporations and the development of a multi-divisional structure. During the monopoly period, centralization of management was the norm and a few men were entrusted with very complex decision making. Stephan Hymer, a Marxist economist, said,

“Thus, product development and marketing replaced production as a dominant problem of business enterprise. To meet the challenges of a constantly changing market, business enterprise evolved the multidivisional structure. The new form was originated by General Motors and DuPont shortly after World War I, followed by few others during the 1920s and 1930s, and was widely adopted by most of the giant U.S. corporations in the great boom following World War II. As with the previous stages, evolution involved a process of both differentiation and integration. Corporations were decentralized into several divisions, each concerned with one product line and organized with its own head office. At a higher level, a general office was created to coordinate the divisions and to plan for the enterprise as a whole.”[5]

The diversification movement in the 1960, multi-product lines, complex internal financing and the need to plan the market are basic features of multi-divisional corporations. As Stephan Hymer indicated,

“The new corporation formed has great flexibility. Because of its decentralized structure, a multidivisional corporation can enter a new market by adding a new division while leaving the old divisions undisturbed. (And to a lesser extent it can leave the market by dropping a division without disturbing the rest of its structure.) It can also create competing product-lines in the same industry, thus increasing its market share while maintaining the illusion of competition. Most important of all, because it has a cortex specializing in strategy, it can plan on a much wider scale than before and allocate capital with more precision.” [6]

From 1945-1961, the increase in mergers and internal growth forged a greater concentration of production – US dominated corporations.

“It is fair to assume that the greatest increases in manufacturing concentration have come in the three periods of greatest mergering. But increased concentration can also come from internal growth either through the reinvestment of earnings or from the sale of new securities, provided, of course, that growth from these sources is more rapid for larger companies than for smaller companies.”[7], as noted liberal economist Gadiner Means.

Means also reported that by 1969,

“The top 10 firms account for fully one-seventh of total industrial sales and almost one-quarter of total industrial after-tax profits. The top 100 firms account for more than 40 percent of total sales and almost 60 percent of total.”[8]

During the period US dominant oligopoly capitalism, giant multi-divisional corporation practiced priced leadership, sabotage of production, and all without entering into trusts, syndicates, or associations. Michael Reich, another liberal economist, says it well that,

“Besides, the largest companies had grown so vast that prices could be maintained and output controlled by the simple expedient of collusion among the two or three biggest ones in each industry (or, to use the more technical and less alarming language of economics, ‘oligopolistic coordination’). Steel was controlled by three giants – United States Steel, Republic, and Bethlehem; the electrical equipment and appliance industry by two – General Electric and Westinghouse. In basic chemicals, there were three – DuPont, Union Carbide, and Allied Chemical. In food processing, three dominated – General Goods, Quaker Oaks, and General Mills. In tobacco, three – R.J. Reynolds, Ligget & Myers, and American Tobacco; in jet engines, two – General Electric and Pratt & Whitney; in automobiles, three – General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. In the new industry of television broadcasting, there were three networks – NBC,CBS, and ABC. This consolidation took place all across the vast expanse of American industry.”[9]

The economic crisis of 1973-75 transformed US dominated oligopoly capitalism to internationalization of oligopoly. Manuel Castells argued that the cause of the 1973-75 crisis or rupture is as follows:

“The capitalist mode of production is an expanding contradictory system. Capitalist societies are shaped by the particular way these contradictions develop through the conflicts and interactions defined on the social classes and by their political expression. The major structural problems created by the process of capitalist accumulation in the United States were determined by the upheavals caused by new economic policies and the transformation of the system on the basis of a new relationship between the sate and the large corporations. The internationalization of capital, the creation of debt economy, and the decisive role of the state in the process of accumulation and realization of profit were major structural trends that allowed for sustained capitalist growth during almost three decades. But the introduction of these countertendencies to fight stagnation triggered new contradictions that were increasingly expressed through monetary crisis and the sprawl of structural inflation. In this particular situation, dominated by the defeat of imperialism in Indochina, increasing intercapitalist competition, and the development of social unrest within advanced capitalist societies, the new structural contradictions came together in certain conjunctural factors that, in return, made them more acute and precipitated the latest crisis.”[10]

The transformation to the internationalization of oligopoly was driven principally by the development of multinational corporations. Stephen Hymer said,

“Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, there has been a tendency for the representative firm to increase in size from the workshop to the factory to the national corporation to the multidivisional corporation and now to the multinational corporation.”[11]

Multinational corporation was pioneered by Standard Oil at the beginning of 1900 and today the top 50 US giant corporations operate internationally. Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy best described a multinational corporation as follow:

“It is not enough that a multinational corporation should have a base of operations abroad that; its true differentia specifica is that ‘its management makes fundamental decision on marketing, production, and research in terms of the alternatives that are available to it anywhere in the world.”[12]

Multinational corporations concentrated production on an international level. Capitalist apologist economists Fatemi, Williams and Saint-Phalle pointed this out:

“The significant impact of the multinational corporation is the internationalization of production and in the incipient development of a world economy. In this process the investment decisions and operations of companies are increasingly viewed in terms of world allocations of resources and of maximizing world welfare.”[13]

Translation for maximizing world welfare is maximizing profit.

Once the internationalization of production was the exception, today, multinational corporations have made it the rule. The United Nations report titled “World Investment Report 2007”, stated;

“The world’s 100 largest TNCs[14] play a major role in international production. In 2005, they accounted for 10%, 17% and 13% repectively of the estimated foreign assets, sales and employment of all TNCs worldwide…..The top 10, with about $1.7 trillion in foreign assets (i.e almost 36% of the total foreign assets of the top 100), include four TNCs in petroleum and three in automobile production.”[15]

Also, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) stated,

“Of the top 100 TNCs, 58 belonged to six industries; motor vehicles (11), petroleum (10), electrical and electronic equipment (10), pharmaceuticals (9), Telecommunications (9), and electricity, gas and water services (9)…If ranking were to be based on foreign sales or foreign employment they would yield different result. Ranking by sales would move the petroleum TNCs into the top four positions on the list and another four motor vehicles TNCs into the top 10 .The largest TNC in terms of foreign sales (ExxonMobil) is 10 times larger than the firm ranked 55 in the list. Ranking the companies by foreign employment would present yet another picture, placing three retail TNCs in the top position. On average, the largest TNCs had affilates in 39 foreign countries. Deutsche Post (Germany) was the leader in this regard, with value-added activities in 103 host economies, followed by Royal Dutch/Shell (United Kingdom/Netherlands) with 96.”[16]

In 2006, America’s Fortune 500 largest corporations generated over $10.6 trillion in revenues and over $645 billion in profits. The world’s 100 largest corporations in 2005 generated over $10.2 trillion revenues and $696.8 billion in profits. The world’s profits represent about 100 underdeveloped countries Gross Domestic Product. In other words, 100 underdeveloped countries Gross Domestic Product would double if the profits were shared.

As reported in the Fortune 500 May 5, 2008 edition, the largest corporation in the United States in sales for 2007 was Wal-Mart Stores, Inc (a consumer product company) with a total revenue of $379 billion and generated a profit of $13 billion. Wal-Mart Stores Inc employs over 1.9 million workers worldwide and operates 4,750 stores (3,600 in the US). It is the largest private employer in the world and operates in Mexico as Walmex, in United Kingdom as ASDA, and in Japan as Seiyu.[17] The Wal-Mart monopoly is both horizontal and vertical. From the vertical side 20-30 percent of the manufacturers sell their product to one big box – Wal-Mart. Ray Bracy, Wal-Mart Vice President for Federal & International Public Affairs said.

“Wal-Mart prefers to deal directly with Chinese and other suppliers and ‘If there’s a middleman in our process, even if it’s a Wal-Mart middleman, we try and eliminate those. Wal-Mart inherited a massive list of global suppliers, from PREL which is Pacific Rim Export Limited that now is winnowed down to 6,000 global suppliers which is 80 percent in China.”[18]

In addition, Wal-Mart has used computerized supply chains to master the science of global sourcing.

Wal-Mart horizontal monopoly is shown by the various subsidiaries – Wal-Mart Stores Divisions in the US (Discount stores, Super-centers and Neighborhood markets); Sam’s Club, and Wal-Mart International. On the international side Wal-Mart operates in 13 countries with 2,757 locations, employs about 550,000 and generated sales of about $77 billion.

“Wal-Mart’s marketplace clout is hard to overstate. In household staples such as toothpaste, shampoo, and paper towels, the company commands about 30% of the U.S. market, and analysts predict that its share of many such goods could hit 50% before decade’s end.”, as reported by Business Week.[19]

Wal-Mart is three times the size of the No. 2 retailer, France’s Carrefour. Once again as Business Week noted, “Every week, 138 million Wal-Mart.” shoppers visit Wal-Mart’s 4,750 stores; last year, 82% of American household made at least one purchase at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is an example of the modern corporation – modern capitalism.

Not only the massive growth of multinational corporations has had profound impact but also one of the characteristic features of modern capitalism is the continuing process of the concentration of production. The international concentration of production is driven by the global merger and acquisition activities.

“A new surge of corporate concentration is in the process in the United States and abroad, driven in large measure by a restructuring of global markets through mergers and acquisitions (M&As)”[20] as reported, by Richard B. Du Boff and Edward S Herman.

In 1999, the worldwide merger deal (also know as megamergers) were $3.4 trillion, but by 2007 worldwide merger deal reach $4.7 trillion. Global consolidation was in the area of Materials, Financials and Energy/Power sectors. A record-breaking 47% of all mergers were cross-border mergers and acquisitions. Even capitalist advisors, Merger and Acquisition Review described the massive concentration of multinational corporations, as follows

“Consolidation in the Materials and Energy and Power sectors combined for nearly 29% of worldwide activity largely due to BHP Billiton’s US$193 billion bid for Rio Tinto. The deal, which ranks as the second biggest deal of all time, bolstered the all time, bolstered the already high level of activity in the Materials sector. Financials accounted for 16% of activity during 2007 driven by the takeover of ABN Amro by a consortium led by the Royal Bank of Scotland, which ranks as the biggest financial merger on record. Activity in the Industrials sector topped all industry groups, by number, with over 5,600 deals announced during 2007.”[21]

Du Boff and Herman give us a very clear picture of the merger and acquisition of multinational corporations.

“Unlike those of the 1980s, the current mergers are financed primarily with corporate stock, not borrowed money, and companies are not being broken into pieces for sale but are merging to enlarge their size. Today’s M&As are based on long-term strategic and economic motives. This involves acquiring the scale and resources to compete at home and abroad, protecting and enlarging market share, reducing competition and attaining greater pricing power, in what large corporations see increasingly, often primarily, as a global market …eiither way, excess capacity squeezes profitability, and mergers and takeovers are effective ways to reduce it, if temporarily, by shedding labor and closing down less profitable facilities.”,[22] said Du Boff and Herman.

Since the 1970s technological revolution, the multinational corporation has developed advanced cargo ships, cargo planes, overseas cables, steel containers, satellites communication and micro-computers to increase production and transportation. Even a liberal writer such as William Greider pointed out that

“Fast, lean, flexible – these familiar buzzwords are modern corporate management’s response to the revolutionary conditions. Rigorous contests for design efficiency. Continuous suppression of costs including labor costs. Redeploying elements of production overseas to capture local advantages, from low wages and taxes to other political favors. Securing access to the hot new markets in the world where rising demand exceeds supply and per unit profit margins can be widened. Reducing the fixed costs by dismantling corporate assets – selling plants and properties, shrinking middle-level bureaucracies, converting jobs to temporary status. Sharing cost burdens by forming alliances with putative rivals who will jointly finance the overhead of research and development, even share production.”[23]

During the hey day of monopoly capitalism trusts, syndicates and agreements were the norm of giant enterprises but modern giant multinational corporation practice joint ventures, cutting subsidiaries and price leadership. Joint venture is a corporate practice of sharing the cost of research, development and production. William Greider indicated that

“Corporations hedge against the risk of future rivals by globalizing – forming partnerships with their potential competitors, the new producers in emerging markets. The major multinationals hope to guide their evolution and, if it comes to that, to share the future markets with them in transnational corsortia of producers. Even if this corporate strategy should succeed, it still leaves out one group: the industrial workers back home whose jobs were traded away.”[24]

Also, multinational corporations engage in market leverage.

“Market leverage, in its usual application, provides domestic enterprises with greater economies of scale, allowing them to produce for their shelter home market, then sell surplus production into the other guy’s market, often at competitive discounts. Japan had used market leverage to brilliant advantage, relentlessly capturing market share and sometimes entire sectors, from automobiles to consumer electronics.”[25], as presented by William Grieder.

Today, advanced capitalism – multi-national corporation – is international oligopoly. Advanced capitalism was developed during the period of giant multi-division corporations. Capitalism has been transformed into imperialism and advanced capitalism has been transformed into advanced imperialism. Samir Amin also noted the change in capitalism – advanced capitalism, he said:

“Capitalism today is totally different. A handful of oligopolies alone occupy all the dominant heights in the conduct of national and global business. These are not strictly financial oligopolies but ‘groups’ within which the production activities of industry, agribusiness, commerce, services, and of course financial activities coalesce.”[26]

International oligopoly cannot abolish crisis or international crisis in particular. However, economic and financial crisis in turn increased the tendency for concentration of international oligopoly. Lenin pointed this out over 100 years ago when he said,

“The statement that cartels can abolish crises is a fable spread by bourgeois economists who at all costs desire to place capitalism in a favourable light. On the contrary, monopoly which is created in certain branches of industry, increases and intensifies the anarchy inherent in capitalist production as a whole.”[27]

Reinhart and Rogoff identified the following post 1973-75 crises during the international oligopoly period: Spain (1977), Norway (1987), Finland (1991), Sweden (1991) and Japan (1992), Australia (1989), Canada (1983), Denmark (1987), France (1994), Germany (1997), Greece (1991), Iceland (1985), Italy (1990), New Zealand (1987), Mexico (1982), United Kingdom, (1974, 1991, 1995) and United States (1984).[28] The Economist reported the 2007-08 financial crises wiped out $5 trillion value from worldwide public companies balance sheet.[29]

International oligopoly is the latest phase in the development of capitalism. But to understand the significance of international oligopoly is to take into consideration the financialization of capital.

…continued

© Copyright Carl Pinkston, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9453

see

Revolutionary Organization Today: Part One

Revolutionary Organization Today: Part Two

Buying friends and influencing politicians (Wal-Mart scandal)

Dandelion Salad

by Elizabeth Schulte
socialistworker.org
May 30, 2008

Elizabeth Schulte reports on the latest scandal at Wal-Mart–and shows that the retail giant is far from the only corporate offender when it comes to buying political influence.

THE HEADS of retail behemoth Wal-Mart knew they’d found a great way to buy influence in Washington–by using a company employee charity trust to increase donations to their political action committee (PAC).

But when they described the process at company management meetings, they never thought the video would end up on the Internet. Continue reading

Bush rejected as Wal-Mart greeter by R J Shulman (satire)

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
May 7, 2008

BENTONVILLE, Arkansas – Wal-Mart announced today that it will reject George W. Bush’s application to become a store greeter after his term as President has expired. “We can’t afford to besmirch our good name,” said Clyde Biggins, a Wal-Mart executive, “by hiring a greeter with such a low approval rating.”

“We don’t want to have a situation where a customer comes in with a defective toaster they got at our small kitchen appliances section,” said Margie Hinckley, a Wal-Mart Manager, “only to have the greeter decide to tell this customer to make a preemptive strike on women’s lingerie. Besides, we need someone to be there at the door and not have them wander off at the drop of a hat to clear brush around the store parking lot.” “I don’t think we could accommodate his vacation schedule,” said another Wal-Mart official, “anyone else taking that much time off would be fired.”

In a related story, Dick Cheney’s bid to become a ticket taker at the Frontier Six Movie Theatre in Cheyenne, Wyoming was also rejected. “Not all of our patrons come to this theater to see a horror show,” said manager Jerry Rowland, “and they don’t need no ticket taker to give them a coronary.”

Black Ops on Green Groups (video link)

Democracy Now!
April 14, 2008

Black Ops on Green Groups: Private Security Firm Run by Fmr. Secret Service Officers Spied on Environmental Orgs for Corporate Clients

A private security firm spied on Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and several other environmental organizations from the late 1990s until at least the year 2000, according a new investigation by Mother Jones magazine. The security firm was run by former Secret Service officers who infiltrated environmental groups, collected their phone records and confidential internal documents, and even went through their trash. The information was then passed on to public relations firms and corporations involved in environmental controversies. We speak with the reporter who broke the story, James Ridgeway. [includes rush transcript–partial]
Real Video Stream

Real Audio Stream

Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

see

Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups

Olbermann: Just Words + McCain Plagiarizes Himself + Worst

Dandelion Salad

Ryokibin

Mar. 26, 2008

Just Words

Keith speaks with Jonathan Alter.

Clinton, Pledged Delegates and Donors… Oh my!

World’s Worst

Worse: Bill’O

Worser: James Dobson

Worst: Walmart

duckofprey

McCain Plagiarizes Himself

More at http://www.MaddowFans.com

Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann discuss Sen. John McCain’s repetition of some of the same exact sentences he used back in 2001 — referring to the war in Afghanistan — in his recent Iraq speech.

VOTERSTHINKdotORG

Misremembering

Small Retailers pushed into Bankruptcy. US Government Subsidies to Chain Companies

Dandelion Salad

by Dr. Sherwood Ross
Global Research, March 24, 2008
Massachusetts School of Law

Small retailers the nation over are being pushed out of business by government subsidies to chain competitors such as Wal-Mart and Target through a variety of “corporate socialism” schemes, taxation authority David Cay Johnston says.

Municipalities are permitting “tax increment financing” that allow the big chains “to keep the sales taxes that you are forced to pay at the tax register,” Johnston said on the television interview program “Books of Our Time,” sponsored by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover and broadcast by Comcast.

“Instead of that money going to the schools and the fire department and the police department and the library, it is funneled through a mechanism of local government, usually a special authority, to finance the purchase of municipal bonds so that means that the wealthy underwriters and the lawyers and auditors all get a piece of this money to buy the land and build the store,” Johnson told TV host Lawrence Velvel, dean of the law school.

The store is then leased to the big chain developer “at terms that amount to giving it to them for free or nearly free over a period of time,” Johnston said, “and it’s destroying local business.” An amazing aspect of this “corporate socialism” policy, Johnston says, “is that local business owners have not risen up and stopped this.”

“A system in which government, whether Federal or local, picks the winners in the economy, is not capitalism, it’s not competition, it’s not free market, it is corporate socialism, it is statism, it’s the state making these choices,” Johnston said.

In his new book, “Free Lunch” (Portfolio) Johnston amplifies this point by noting “Sam Walton practiced corporate socialism. As much as he could, he put the public’s money to work for his benefit. Free land, long-term leases at below-market rates, pocketing sales taxes, even getting workers trained at government expense were among the ways Wal-Mart took every dollar of welfare it could get.”

“Walton had a particular fondness for government-sponsored industrial revenue bonds,” Johnston continued, “which cost him less in interest charges than the corporate bonds the market economy uses to raise money.”

Johnston said in the television interview that if the public really understood what was happening they would not permit government subsidies to corporations to go forward.

Johnston pointed out: “Subsidies to retail cannot make us wealthier. Retail is at the end of the economic line. If you want to subsidize things, first subsidize education, then subsidize basic research, then subsidize applied research and development and subsidize infrastructure—rails and canals and highways—and maybe in some cases manufacturing and mining to get something going.  But the least bang for the buck, and often the negative bang for the buck, would be subsidizing retail. What’s happening is wealthy families, the richest families in America, are getting welfare and they apparently have no shame about this.”

Johnston points out government handouts for Wal-Mart “reduce the costs of competing in the market” and by soliciting the subsidies “Wal-Mart shifted some of the risks of its expansion onto the majority of Americans who are not regular Wal-Mart shoppers.”

He said the fortune Wal-Mart is reaping is no different from what other corporate players are getting. “We are transferring enormous amounts of money to corporations and wealthy individuals,” Johnston pointed out. For example, he said, “We gave Warren Buffett’s companies a hundred million dollar gift last year.”  (Buffett’s firm has a two-thirds-billion-dollar, interest-free loan from our government for more than 28 years, Johnston notes. Similarly, Donald Trump benefits from a tax enacted to help the elderly and the poor but part of which is now diverted to his casinos, Johnston says.)

“The incomes of the top one percent are exploding, are pulling away from everybody else,” Johnston said, “while the middle-class is stifling and the bottom is dropping out (of the economy).”

Author Johnston, for many years the tax reporter for The New York Times, has won a Pulitzer Prize and many other awards and uncovered so many tax dodges that he has been called the “de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States.”

The Massachusetts School of Law (MSL), sponsors of “Books Of Our Time,” is a non-profit institution dedicated to providing a quality, affordable legal education to  minorities’, immigrants, and students from economically disadvantaged families who would otherwise not be able to attend law school and enter the legal profession.

(Further Information:  Sherwood Ross, media consultant to MSL at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com)

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Sherwood Ross, Massachusetts School of Law, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8431

see

“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Govt Expense (& Stick You with the Bill)” (must see video)

Bill Moyers Journal: Clinton, Obama, King & Johnston + more (video)

Obama’s Populism versus McCain’s Free Trade by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
Posted 20 February 2008

In the wake of their recent presidential primary victories in Wisconsin, Barack Obama and John McCain appear destined to wage a fight for the office of President that not only will pit an advocate for “change” against a defender of many of George W. Bush’s discredited policies (especially his war in Iraq and his tax cuts for the rich), but also pit a young, vibrant (perhaps cocky) 46 year old black upstart against a hot-headed, expletive-spewing war hero and old white man (previously disgraced as one of the Keating Five and now, perhaps, once again by revelations of past romantic ties with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, for whom he wrote letters to government regulators) who will be 72 years old by the time he’s sworn into office. The election seems destined to become a choice between America’s future and America’s past.

With this contest in mind, it seems appropriate to contrast Senator Obama’s economic populism and Senator McCain’s steadfast defense of free trade in the context of a new book by David Cay Johnston, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill).

America’s highly productive work force has contributed greatly to the country’s immense national wealth. According to David Cay Johnston, “For each dollar per person in 1980, the economy in 2006 generated $1.68.” [p. 10] Yet, notwithstanding the wealth they’ve created, the average income of the bottom 90% of Americans actually has withered — from a peak amount of $33,001 in 1973 to a modest $29,143 in 2005 (after adjustments for inflation).

If you look at the bottom 50% of the population, the picture is even worse. In 1980 their average income was a pathetically low $15,464. Yet, by 2004 it had fallen to $14,149. Sure, their taxes were lower in 2004. But all that did was reduce the amount of income they were losing each week from $25 to $15. The question is: “Why should they be losing income when the country’s wealth has been growing by leaps and bounds?”

Mr. Johnston provides part of the answer: “Autoworkers have begun working under new contracts in 2007 that cut the wages by as much as $13 per hour. That is a pay cut of more than $26,000 annually. Compounding the pain are cuts in retirement benefits and health care. Together these throw workers who had reached the middle rungs of the income ladder back down into the lower half.” [p. 44]

Such givebacks are not an accident. They come in the wake of “tens of thousands” of jobs lost to “the rigged game the politicians, and their donors, call ‘free trade.'” [pp. 43-44]

Rigged game? Yes, in addition to the obvious inducement to relocate factories overseas — the immense difference in wages and benefits that might cost a factory in Indiana $40 per hour for labor, but only 25 cents in China [p. 46] — the U.S. Congress and U.S. Presidents, at the behest of corporate socialists and their lobbyists, have rigged the tax laws to subsidize the already lucrative business of shipping U.S. jobs abroad.

Mr. Johnston explains how it works in China. “After President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, American oil companies sought to explore there. Right off, they asked the Chinese to enact a corporate income tax.”

“With a Chinese corporate income tax,” argues Johnston, “the taxes they [U.S. corporations] owed to the United States would go down for two reasons.” First, “American business profits earned overseas are not taxed so long as the money stays offshore.” Second, “the United States allows American companies to reduce taxes on their profits by the amount they pay to foreign governments. This is not the usual deduction worth 35 cents on the dollar, but a dollar-for-dollar credit.” [p. 40]

(Note: It was Andrew Mellon, in his capacity as Treasury Secretary during the 1920’s, who “persuaded Congress to adjust the corporate income tax to give oil companies – and any other companies earning profits overseas – the dollar-for-dollar credit against taxes due to Washington.” [p. 41])

Moreover, “the corporate income taxes paid in China are not like those in the United States. Instead of going for the general support of the government, money paid to Beijing is often used to benefit the company that pays. Taxes may finance a new road or a railroad spur or police presence and other services the company requires.”

“But wait, there’s more.”

“A company with operations in the United States and another country can borrow money at home, deducting the interest and thus lowering its American taxes. At the same time it can earn interest on untaxed cash it keeps overseas. So when an American company closes a factory here and moves it to China, provided it meets some technical rules, it can deduct the interest charges on its United States tax return while building up profits offshore that may never be taxed.” [pp. 41-42]

Thus, Mr. Johnston’s sobering conclusion: “Under current government rules, destroying American jobs and creating jobs overseas is the single most effective way for manufacturing companies to increase profits. From the point of view of shareholders and executives, any policy other than moving equipment and jobs offshore as fast as possible is a waste of corporate assets.” [p. 47]

As to the common assertion by free trade advocates that it brings new investment to the United States, Mr. Johnston notes that such investment is not helping to create jobs here. “The net effect of insourcing by foreign-owned companies [between 1990 and 2003] was the elimination of 3.4 million American jobs. While insourcing creates some jobs, the constant pressure to move even those jobs offshore is the inevitable result of how our current government rules encourage this labor arbitrage.” [p. 47]

Speaking in Houston on February 19, 2008, Senator Obama declared: — “I want to take away those tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. We’re going to give them to companies that invest right here in America.” Senator McCain did not address the issue during his February 19 victory speech, but he’s on record for asserting: “It sounds like a lot of fun to bash China and others, but free trade has been the engine of our economy. Free trade should be the continuing principle that guides this nation’s economy.” [2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan Oct 9, 2007]

Free trade might very well be “the engine of our economy,” but that engine hasn’t done much to drive the average annual income of the bottom 90% of American workers. On the other hand, it has proven to be enormously lucrative for the financiers and factory owners who arrange the overseas deals.

As David Cay Johnston sees it, the tax laws subsidizing the free trade that impoverishes American workers or causes them to lose their jobs is just one aspect of the corporate socialism that has taken hold of America since the election of Ronald Reagan. Under the guise of fostering the so-called invisible hand of the market economy through deregulation and privatization, taxes paid by the bottom 90% on the income ladder have been lavished upon the corporate elite as subsidies.

According to Johnston, “Sam Walton practiced corporate socialism. As much as he could, he put the public’s money to work for his benefit. Free land, long-term leases at below-market rates, pocketing sales taxes, even getting workers trained at government expense were among the ways Wal-Mart took every dollar of welfare it could get. Walton had a particular fondness for government-sponsored industrial revenue bonds, which cost him less in interest charges than the corporate bonds the market economy uses to raise money.” [pp. 99-100]

Mayor Rudy Giuliani gave “an unannounced gift of $25 million in public funds” to both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets during his last days in office. That is, he “let each team hold back $5 million a year on their rent for Yankee and Shea stadiums, which the city [taxpayers] owns, and use the money to plan new stadiums.”

“The Yankees used some of this money to hire lobbyists to arrange a further taxpayer subsidy for their new stadium.” According to the Independent Budget Office for the city, the taxpayers’ subsidy to the Yankees amounted to $275.8 million. When Johnston confronted Yankees President (and former Giuliani aide) Randy Levine about the morality of taking money from taxpayers who have far less money than George Steinbrenner, Levine not only conceded “that taxes are taken by threat of force,” but also that “gifts from taxpayers to those who invest in big projects ‘are the way government works today.'” [p. 72]

According to Johnston, when the Supreme Court refused to even hear the case of citizens from Toledo, Ohio — who had their businesses and homes seized by the city, in order to give Chrysler the land it needed to rebuild its Jeep plant — it “sent a clear signal that the policy of the United States is that the government can take from the many to give to the few – and those who object will not have their grievances heard by the courts” [p. 93] In the face of such legally sanctioned corporate socialism, the most effective response would be a widespread taxpayer revolt.

Finally, as if to guarantee that it’s the taxes of the bottom 90% that are used to subsidize their wealth-creating enterprises of the corporate socialists, the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress pushed through tax cuts that not only gave 53% of the savings to the top ten percent of income earners in the United States, but also 15% of the tax savings to the 300,000 people who constitute the top tenth of one percent on the income ladder. In 2005, their average annual income was $25,726,965.

On February 19th, Barack Obama asserted that “we’re going to rollback those Bush tax cuts that went to all the wealthy people, and we’re going to give tax cuts to ordinary families, people who are making less than $75,000. We will offset your payroll tax.” Like Obama, Senator McCain once opposed Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. But, he’s flip-flopped during his run for President and now will uphold them if elected.

Consequently, if David Cay Johnston is correct when he answers the question, “Why are the rich getting so much while the middle class struggles and the poor fall behind?” by concluding that “the elites have captured the government and are milking it for their own benefit” [pp. 22-23], then free trading, tax cut flip-flopper John McCain hardly seems to be the candidate to roll back corporate socialism’s assault on the bottom 90% of the income ladder.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Bill Moyers Journal: Clinton, Obama, King & Johnston + more (video)

“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Govt Expense (& Stick You with the Bill)” (must see video)

Can He Deliver? Obama and Global Trade By Paul Craig Roberts

Delusional Hope: The Obama Rapture By Joel Hirschhorn