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  1. Atypical is offline
    09-13-2014, 06:53 AM #181
    Want To Be Really Informed About Business Practices That Hurt You? Read David Cay Johnston.


    By Alexander Reed Kelly and Peter Scheer

    Since Ronald Reagan and his successors in government began restructuring the tax code, American society has become increasingly unfair. Because of wide-ranging investigative reporters like David Cay Johnston, those of us with time and concern have the opportunity to learn a little about it.

    A Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has covered economic and tax matters for major newspapers and other media over the last four decades, Johnston had the cover story in Newsweek magazine in late August and early September for two weeks running. The first account detailed the serial fabulism of widely respected late celebrity biographer C. David Heymann (as well as the complicity of his publisher Simon & Schuster and its parent company CBS). The second, which makes up the substance of this article, examines some of the ways in which Congress helps major corporations and investors reap huge profits by turning tax bills into zero-interest loans subsidized multiple times over by the American taxpayer, and includes a description of how such loopholes were used to help finance the recent tax-avoidance merger of fast food chains Tim Hortons of Canada and Burger King.

    The profit-enlarging tax program utilized by more than 360 companies with upward of 7,800 international tax haven subsidiaries is convoluted and seemingly paradoxical. Between 2008 and 2012, 25 of those companies paid no taxes and instead received money from the government.

    Contrary to the privileges allowed to the average taxpayer, Johnston explains, the rules written by Congress encourage some multinational corporations to defer the payment of taxes for years or decades, and in some cases forever. Apple and GE are reported to have at least $36 billion in such deferments, Microsoft nearly $27 billion and Pfizer $24 billion. One way companies qualify for these delays is by using their profits to pay offshore offices various fees involved in the course of business, for example, “royalties for the use of patents, logos and manufacturing techniques.”

    “This converts profits earned in the U.S. into tax-deductible expenses,” Johnston writes. “You could do the same thing by moving a dollar from your left pocket to your right.” But unlike the corporations, you would not get to deduct it at tax time.

    Even investor Warren Buffett, who has publicly campaigned for higher taxes on affluent individuals like himself, has used such tax rules. Buffett, who came out publicly in favor of a minimum tax on the wealthy and an increase in the estate tax, famously noted that his secretary pays a higher percentage of her income to the government than he does of his. He is an affable figure from the American heartland who has given billions to charity and supported progressive causes, distinguishing himself from the stereotypical financier. But as an investor, Johnston contends, Buffett has taken advantage of legal tax rules for decades. Through his Berkshire Hathaway stock holding company, Buffett enjoyed $57 billion worth of the U.S. Congress’ generous “interest-free loans” last year; investing them brought the company an extra $5 billion. Part of this stockpile was used to help fund the Burger King-Tim Hortons deal.

    The tax deferments may seem harmless, but the value-diminishing effect of currency inflation wrought between the time of deferment and the year it comes due means the amount a corporation finally pays the government will be far less in actual dollar value than it would have been during the year it was initially due. The effect is less income for the government. “No bank will give you this deal because it would almost instantly go bust, paying out many times in interest what it would collect to close out the loan,” Johnston writes.

    This is where taxpayers get screwed. The government does not reduce its spending because corporations defer their taxes. To help make up for the difference between revenue and spending, “Congress lets companies use the tax money they did not pay to buy Treasury bonds, which pay interest,” Johnston points out. In other words, the government “pays companies to delay turning over their taxes, and it makes [taxpayers] pay the interest.” In some cases, Johnston reports, the government—meaning the taxpayers—will pay $4 of interest for each corporate tax dollar it collects down the road. “The government loans money to big companies interest-free, then borrows it back with interest,” he notes.

    Johnston describes how a company, as in the Burger King-Tim Hortons deal, can use the resultant bigger profit margin to “build financial muscle ... to smack competitors” in the same industry.

    “Anyone who can earn profits in a high-tax country and then move them to a haven where no tax is owed should ravage the competition,” Johnston writes. By giving Burger King an advantage over McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other fast food businesses, the workaround helps consolidate the hold that Burger King’s owner, Brazil-based 3G, has globally on the beverages, fast food and condiments industries.

    The total worth of 3G is in the range of hundreds of billions of dollars and growing. And, as Johnston illustrates, 3G and other such businesses that take advantage of these tax gimmicks move closer to an order of business in which they contribute no taxes to any public, but simply keep all of the profits they make to themselves. Never mind that the profitability of their operations is premised on the existence of taxpayer-funded and-maintained public utilities such as roads. “Fear that day,” Johnston writes. “As multinationals duck their U.S. taxes, you get stuck with the bill.”

    Johnston’s beat as a reporter isn’t glamorous, but through the decades his investigations have made headlines time and again. He is a talented writer, but he attributes his own success to the fundamentals. In an April interview on Truthdig Radio, Johnston lamented that not enough financial reporters today really understand basic math and accounting.


    There is an interview with Johnston after this article which is interesting and informative. Use the link above.

    Johnston's articles and books expose the true nature of common business practices that few know. He is a real "myth buster".

  2. Atypical is offline
    09-30-2014, 04:45 PM #182
    8 Shocking Things the Kochs Have Done to Amass Their Fortune

    If you think oligarchs only exist in developing nations, you don't know America.

    Alternet by Terrell Jermaine Starr

    September 29, 2014

    According to a recent Rolling Stone report, the Koch brothers control one of the world's largest fortunes. Unsurprisingly, they are not eager to share how they acquired their billions of dollars. The report outlines not only the brothers' business trajectory over the years, it also delves into their family lineage, revealing how their father was something of a pioneer in shady business practices. It's a comprehensive outline of their most vile business and political doings. Here are eight details.

    1. Stealing oil from Native Americans. In 1989, investigators told a congressional panel that Koch Industries regularly ended its year with far more barrels of oil than it had paid for. The oil was stolen from Indian lands. All in all, the Kochs made out with a total of $31 million worth of oil that wasn't paid for over three years, according to the Associated Press. The Kochs would eventually pay the U.S. government $25 million to settle the case in 2001.

    2. Covering up faulty pipelines. In 1994, a pipeline in South Texas built in the 1940s exploded, spewing more than 90,000 gallons of crude oil into Gum Hollow Creek. Employees had warned Koch Industries that the pipeline had serious issues but to no avail. The spill would eventually reach six states. Koch Industries was sued for violating the Clean Water Act and forced to pay a $30 million civil penalty, at the time the biggest in the history of U.S. environmental law. Carol Browner, the former EPA administrator, said of Koch Industries, "They simply did not believe the law applied to them."

    3. Treating the Mississippi River like a toilet. Koch's Pine Bend refinery in Minnesota spilled some 600,000 gallons of jet fuel into wetlands near the Mississippi River through much of the 1990s. It even increased its discharges over the weekends, as it knew it wasn't being monitored. Koch Petroleum Group pleaded guilty to "negligent discharge of a harmful quantity of oil." It also admitted to violating the Clean Water Act and was ordered to pay a $6 million fine and $2 million in remediation costs.

    4. Treating the air we breath like an ashtray. Koch was accused of violating the Clean Air Act in 2000, when the feds hit the company with a 97-count indictment for "venting massive quantities of benzene at a refinery in Corpus Christi" and then attempting to cover it up. At first, Koch claimed it released 0.61 metric tons of benzene for 1995, just one 10th of what was allowed under the law. But the feds argued that Koch was told of its true emissions that year: 91 metric tons, or 15 times the legal limit. The Koch brothers worked their magic, pleaded guilty to a single felony count and avoided criminal prosecution. Koch also paid $20 million in fines and reparations.

    5. Profits over public safety. On Aug. 24, 1996, near Lively, Texas, Danielle Smalley and her friend Jason Stone were burned to death after a decrepit Koch pipeline exploded after the teens started the ignition of their truck. The feds documented "severe corrosion" and "mechanical damage" in the pipeline. Koch Pipeline Company LP failed to "adequately protect its pipeline from corrosion," a National Transportation Safety Board report would state. After a lengthy trial, Koch Industries was ordered to pay the Smalley family $296 million, then the largest wrongful-death judgment in American legal history. The family would later settle with Koch for an undisclosed sum.

    6. Pulling strings in the White House. George W. Bush's campaign benefitted handsomely from Koch money and he repaid the brothers by appointing Susan Dudley, an anti-regulatory academic who hailed from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University, as its head regulatory official. Of course, Koch became the second coming of Sierra Club--according to them. Koch points to awards it has received for "safety and environmental excellence." "Koch companies have a strong record of compliance," Koch's top lawyer told Rolling Stone. "In the distant past, when we failed to meet these standards, we took steps to ensure that we were building a culture of 10,000 percent compliance, with 100 percent of our employees complying 100 percent."

    7. Doing business with Iran when U.S. companies weren't supposed to. American companies aren't supposed to do business with the Ayatollahs, but Koch Industries took advantage of a loophole in the 1996 sanctions. Basically, the loophole made it possible for foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to do a certain amount of business with Iran.

    And the rest is history:

    In the ensuing years, according to Bloomberg Markets, the German and Italian arms of Koch-Glitsch, a Koch subsidiary that makes equipment for oil fields and refineries, won lucrative contracts to supply Iran's Zagros plant, the largest methanol plant in the world. And thanks in part to Koch, methanol is now one of Iran's leading non-oil exports. "Every single chance they had to do business with Iran, or anyone else, they did," said Koch whistle-blower George Bentu. Having signed on to work for a company that lists "integrity" as its top value, Bentu added, "You feel totally betrayed. Everything Koch stood for was a lie."

    Koch reportedly kept trading with Tehran until 2007 – after the regime was exposed for supplying IEDs to Iraqi insurgents killing U.S. troops. According to lawyer Holden, Koch has since "decided that none of its subsidiaries would engage in trade involving Iran, even where such trade is permissible under U.S. law."

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 10-01-2014 at 12:17 AM.

  3. Atypical is offline
    09-30-2014, 04:46 PM #183
    Cont'd From Above

    8. Their father did business with Stalin. Fred Koch, father of David and Charles, partnered with engineer Lewis Winkler to form Winkler-Koch Engineering Co. One of its major contracts was with the USSR, where Joseph Stalin was starving a large portion of his population. Their competitors were reluctant to do business with the tyrant, but Winkler-Koch Engineering Co. lacked any such qualms.
    Between 1929 and 1931, Winkler-Koch built 15 cracking units for the Soviets. Although Stalin's evil was no secret, it wasn't until Fred visited the Soviet Union, that these dealings seemed to affect his conscience. "I went to the USSR in 1930 and found it a land of hunger, misery and terror," he would later write. Even so, he agreed to give the Soviets the engineering know-how they would need to keep building more.

    There is more to the Koch brothers' shady, destructive business practices. Check out the Rolling Stone feature.


    Job creators; free markets; deregulation is good; business knows best; capitalism always works; the rich are better/smarter than everyone else. All are essentially myths.

    The Kochs are actively trying, and succeeding, in buying the government for their own needs. The Kochs, and others, have goals that are detrimental to the country. Their interest is profit, only profit, without regard for anything that gets in their way.

    Recent changes in campaign financing laws are not an appropriate extension of "free speech". These changes, and the opportunities they create for the few, drown out the needs of the people who do not have the same resources - which is almost everyone else.

    Is this, and what this article (and thread) demonstrates corporations do, what should be allowed?

    I hope not. Thank conservatives and Democrats who have abandoned their principles for the country's inexorable descent into plutocracy.

    You won't like it.
    Last edited by Atypical; 10-01-2014 at 02:33 AM.

  4. Atypical is offline
    10-07-2014, 09:39 AM #184
    Welcome to Coca-Cola Town, U.S.A.: America’s Scary Corporate Naming Problem

    By selling public spaces to private interests, we teach our children — and ourselves — that nothing is truly shared.

    Salon by Jonathan Zimmerman

    October 6, 2014 |

    For the past 20 years, I’ve been taking the train to the Market East Station in my hometown of Philadelphia. But I’m not going to be doing that again anytime soon.

    That’s because Market East no longer exists, at least not officially. It became Jefferson Station earlier this month, after Thomas Jefferson University Hospital paid Philadelphia’s regional transportation authority $4 million to put Jefferson’s name on the station for the next five years.

    And this isn’t just a Philly thing, either. Around the country, the names of our public spaces are being sold off to private donors. Brooklyn’s busy Atlantic Avenue subway station is now the Barclays Bank station; Chicago is selling naming rights to its “L” stops; and Cleveland recently named an entire bus route “The Health Line,” after receiving $6.25 million from the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals.

    In several other cities, meanwhile, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s logo festoons manhole covers and fire hydrants. A few municipalities have sold ads on their police cars. And seven states now allow pizza chains and other companies to advertise on school buses.

    That’s good news for business, which can engage old customers and target new ones. And it’s good for our cash-strapped local and state governments, which can make long-needed improvements to crumbling infrastructures. Everyone walks away happy. Right?

    Wrong. Our public spaces communicate important lessons about who we are. By selling these spaces to private interests, we teach our children — and ourselves — that nothing is truly shared; that everything is for sale, typically to the highest bidder; and that the clutter of commercial messages is the price we have to pay to sustain our common lives.

    Of course, America’s urban landscape has long been littered with garish advertising. Writing in 1914, journalist Walter Lippmann bemoaned “the deceptive clamor that disfigures the scenery, covers fences, plasters the city, and blinks and winks at you through the night.” Parts of the sky were “ablaze with chewing gum,” Lippmann quipped, while the rest was “brilliant with monstrously flirtatious women.”

    On the countryside, meanwhile, tobacco companies paid farmers to place ads on their barns. As automobile sales and traffic increased, America’s highways became jammed with signs and billboards for every product under the sun.

    But it’s one thing to sell advertisements on a road; it’s another to sell the the road itself. Two years ago, Virginia became the first state to offer naming rights for its bridges, highways and roads.

    “You’re stuck on a highway, you’re sitting, and all you can do is look at the sign that says ‘Tostitos Bridge’ or ‘The Coca-Cola Overpass,’” one brand-building consultant enthused about the Virginia experiment. “Repeated exposure is so important for brands these days because there is so much clutter.”

    She’s right about that. For consumers, however, the new naming-rights trend will accelerate the clutter instead of reducing it. In the past, public spaces provided a brief respite from the pandemonium of private promotions. But not now.

    Even state parks and beaches sport ads on nature trails and other facilities. A park is “a very quiet marketing environment,” explained the CEO of Government Solutions Group, which brokers deals between parks and sponsors. “It’s a great place to reach people; they’re in the right state of mind.”

    Or marketers can go straight to the institution charged with shaping young minds: our public schools. Thus far, no school has named its entire operation after a private sponsor. But dozens of high schools have sold naming rights to their football fields, for fees ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. One Massachusetts school even offered naming rights to its principal’s office, for a mere $10,000.

    Other schools adorn their walls, floors, locker rooms, and cafeteria tables with ads for candy, soda, and fast food. One Florida school district issued its report cards in jackets issued by McDonald’s, provoking a public outcry that ended the practice.

    Indeed, naming-rights arrangements seem to generate dissent only when the public doesn’t like the product being promoted. So New York Mets fans condemned the team for selling its new stadium’s name to Citigroup, which received billions of dollars in the 2008 bank bailout even as it was cutting over 100,000 jobs. And Florida Atlantic University was forced to cancel a naming deal with a private prison operator — yes, you read that right — after students protested the idea.

    But the real problem is selling names in the first place. If we want to improve a road or a school, we should tax ourselves to do it. By delegating the task to a private donor, we erode our shared spaces and the civic sentiments they inspire. A truly public enterprise demonstrates our faith in one another. And a facility papered with advertisements suggests the opposite: that we lack real community, so we need to put ourselves in private hands.

    I’ve got nothing against Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. My best friend in Philadelphia works there, and it seems like a terrific institution. But we shouldn’t rechristen an entire train station after it, simply because Jefferson can pay for the privilege. Why must the market rule everything, including the name of Market East?



  5. Atypical is offline
    10-16-2014, 11:31 PM #185
    Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of US Public Services

    By Staff, PR Watch

    Maggots, drug smuggling, sex with inmates. As if the news were not already bad enough, shocking new allegations of a murder-for-hire plot are emerging from Michigan as the media digs deeper into that state's failed outsourcing of prison services.

    In 2013, Governor Rick Snyder invited the Philadelphia- based for-profit company Aramark to take over food services in the state's prisons. The action was a 180-degree change in course, as the administration previously rejected all such bids on the grounds that none of the proposals would save the state money. The $570,000 Aramark spent on lobbying surely helped the company persuade the administration to change its mind.

    Since Aramark took over Michigan's $145 million food service contract – eviscerating the stable middle class jobs of some 370 public workers – one stomach churning scandal followed another. The state fined Aramark $98,000 in March for food shortages, "unauthorized menu substitutions" and sexual relations between kitchen workers and inmates, and another $200,000 in August after problems persisted.

    All the while, the Snyder administration has stood behind the company and the state prison director secretly waived the $98,000 fine soon after it was imposed. Perhaps Snyder will reconsider this position given new allegations that an Aramark worker has asked a prisoner to assist him with the murder of another inmate.

    While Aramark's failed outsourcing of prison food services is a dramatic example of the harms that can arise from the America's public services and assets, this report, Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of America's Public Services, contains many other cases of outsourcing run amok generating worse outcomes for the public, often higher costs, lawsuits and scorching headlines.

    While large corporations are the winners in this scenario, all too often taxpayers are the losers when transparency, accountability and the public interest are sold out to for-profit firms.

    Outsourcing of public services is a big business. Some experts estimate that $1 trillion out of the $6 trillion the federal government, together with state and local governments, spend annually are handed over to private contractors.

    In 2010, an electoral landslide ushered in a new breed of governors. Aided and abetted by corporate-funded legislative and lobbying groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC), these governors pushed the envelope of outsourcing and privatization, selling public services to for-profit firms with their powerful political lobbies and related campaign contributions.

    In this process, transparency and accountability are lost and the public loses its ability to influence decision makers through normal democratic channels. Shared prosperity also suffers when good middle class jobs are lost to low-road, low-wage employers.

    In states across the country, schools, health care, prisons, prison food, water services, road services, state liquor sales, state economic development authorities, legal services, and even child support services were outsourced to private, for-profit companies. While the governors spoke of tight budgets and cost savings, a pattern emerged of influential corporate lobbyists and deep-pocketed campaign contributors.

    In this effort to shrink government and sell off the prosperous parts to private interests, the winners are large corporations with a phalanx of lobbyists and campaign coffers big enough to buy political influence. All too often, taxpayers find themselves on the losing side.

    While there are countless examples of privatizations gone awry costing taxpayers more money, few independent studies have been conducted on the true costs of outsourcing. Do reduced labor costs save taxpayers money or do any savings line the pockets of CEOs and shareholders? One survey by the International City/County Management Association showed that 52 percent of governments that brought services back in-house reported that the primary reason was insufficient cost savings.

    As this report goes to print, Indiana's groundbreaking sale of the Indiana Toll Road to a foreign conglomerate is ending in outright bankruptcy and uncertainty for drivers; Governor Bobby Jindal's former health secretary is indicted for lying about his role in the awarding of a $200-million Medicaid contract, while his controversial privatization of public hospitals is being rolled back by the federal government; and a Florida newspaper reports that just months after the health care services in state prison were outsourced, inmate deaths spiked to a ten-year high.

    This report – Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of America's Public Services – highlights examples from Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, and Wisconsin where governors have sold the public interest to private firms.

    • FLORIDA: When Florida Governor Rick Scott took office in 2011, he promised sweeping changes in prisons, health care and education. During his tenure, he went on to privatize state health care services for prisoners resulting in a significant increase in inmate death. His privatization of Medicaid services benefited the bottom line of private HMOs, who spent $2.54 million lobbying, while shortchanging the most needy. He also signed bills into law requiring every high school student to take online classes, aiding private firms Pearson, K12 Inc., Connections Academy, and Kaplan, which have spent $2.357 million on lobbying in the state.

    • KANSAS: After his inauguration in 2011, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback immediately began to slash core government services and privatize the rest. In the words of one critic, he used citizens as "crash test dummies." Among other things, he outsourced child support services to YoungWilliams, whose CEO is a campaign donor. Brownback's austerity politics resulted in the state being downgraded by S&P in August 2014, and have caused a mutiny among fellow party-members.

    • MICHIGAN: With Republicans in firm control of both houses of the legislature, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has advanced an extreme privatization agenda. When private contractor Aramark took over prison food services in the state, one scandal followed another: from maggots and food poisoning to sexual encounters and murder for hire. Bills introduced by ALEC legislators have resulted in the number of online K12 Inc. schools skyrocketing, despite the fact that these schools fail to educate children as well as public brick-and-mortar schools. But Snyder remains firm in his support.

    • OHIO: Governor John Kasich has also pursued an extreme privatization agenda, using state liquor revenue to bankroll a privatized economic development agency. Taxpayers are losing out on millions in revenue each year, but the private agency is producing few jobs. He has also pushed prison privatization, creating Ohio's first private prison and serving up more maggots with prison food contractor Aramark. Further privatization of public schools is also on the menu in Ohio, where Kasich campaign contributor White Hat is busy evading open records and accountability and transforming public money into private assets in a controversial case before the state's Supreme Court.

    Cont'd below.
    Last edited by Atypical; 10-16-2014 at 11:33 PM.

  6. Atypical is offline
    10-16-2014, 11:33 PM #186
    Cont'd From Above

    • PENNSYLVANIA: Despite a promise to make school funding a top priority, Governor Tom Corbett cut education funding by close to $1 billion during his tenure and expanded charter schools run by private companies. In his attempts to uphold a repressive voter ID law – later declared unconstitutional – he paid millions to outside law firms last year that were also some of his biggest campaign donors. Other big spenders in his 2010 campaign were Wal-Mart and local gas station chain Sheetz, two companies that stand to benefit from the governor's planned privatization of liquor stores.

    • MAINE: Maine Governor Paul LePage has repeatedly vetoed bills that would expand Medicaid coverage for low-income Mainers, referring to the expansion as "ruinous." However, his efforts to prop up his agenda with research showing the cost-efficiency of privatization backfired. LePage awarded consultancy firm Alexander Group a $1 million no-bid contract for reports on Medicaid outsourcing. When one report turned out to be full of erroneous data and plagiarized passages, there was no getting the $474,760 already spent back. LePage also continues to facilitate efforts by Nestlé/Poland Spring water, which has spent more than $100,000 lobbying the legislature in this small state, to pump precious public water for private gain.

    • WISCONSIN: Since being elected to office in 2011, Scott Walker has waged a campaign against most things public. He has done so by privatizing the state's economic development functions, generating grants for donors but few jobs. According to one report, Walker donors ended up getting 60 percent of the funding even though they only made up 30 percent of the recipients.


    It's a myth that privatization is always better than government operation. This is just one example of the evidence. There is more information that supports this article's point elsewhere.

    Whenever you introduce the profit motive in anything watch out. The results will be what this article details. Yes, this kind of crap can occur in government systems as well. Obviously, I am against that too. Just don't exchange one for another thinking it is automatically better - or cheaper. Privatization is frequently worse. (Iraq is a giant example)

    Here is another article on how companies play states to get profit and then default leaving taxpayers with the bill.

    A Blueprint For Bankruptcy
    Last edited by Atypical; 10-17-2014 at 01:15 PM.

  7. Atypical is offline
    11-07-2014, 05:02 PM #187
    ALEC Corporate Board Chair Quits Over Climate Change, Renewables and Voting Rights

    The corporate board chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the software company SAP America, has quit the group, telling CMD that it has made the decision to "immediately disassociate itself from ALEC" because of the group's position on climate change, opposition to renewable energy, its position on gun safety and its attacks on voter rights.

    Facing increased criticism of its role opposing action to tackle climate change and for teaching climate change denial, ALEC has lost numerous major corporate funders in recent months, with tech firms Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Yelp all leaving. Most high profile was Google, with Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt telling the Diane Rehm show on NPR that it made a mistake in funding ALEC. "We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying," Schmidt said in reference to ALEC's teaching climate change denial. "The company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on fact," said Schmidt.

    The news on SAP leaving ALEC was first reported on Wednesday in the German magazine Manager Magazin, which quoted as spokesperson in Germany that the decision was based on ALEC's "strange policies" on climate change and renewable energy. A SAP America spokesperson confirmed this to CMD, and said that other ALEC policies were also a reason including its position on gun safety and voting rights.

    SAP is a particularly big loss for ALEC, because its representative at ALEC, lobbyist Steve Searle, is the Chair of ALEC's corporate board, and the former corporate chair of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force. As a leader within ALEC, Searle would have helped drive the ALEC agenda, and would have had inside knowledge of what ALEC has planned for 2015 to continue to stonewall action to tackle climate change.

    __________________________________________________ _

    ALEC is the Koch Bros run and controlled organization that was set up to write and implement laws that are exclusively favorable to big business - with the emphasis on Koch-owned businesses.

    Due to the exposure of some of their goals recently a number of corporations have left the group. ALEC is a climate-change denier, indifferent to environmental concerns of any kind, and interested in canceling all regulations on business. They have also written legislation for states to implement, supporting those goals. Many states have passed their created legislation almost word-for-word. They host "seminars" for companies and state legislators; guess which political party enthusiastically supports them.

    This article describes another defection.

    Profit, greed and power are all they care about. We are all in danger because of their efforts.

  8. Atypical is offline
    11-18-2014, 04:31 PM #188
    Walmart Heirs Giving Millions to Attack Rooftop Solar Panels

    The Walton Family is funding organizations that call rooftop panel owners "freeriders."

    DeSmogBlog by Mike Gaworecki

    November 17, 2014 |

    A recent trend has seen utilities deciding that since they haven't been able to beat back the rise of rooftop solar companies, they might as well join them (or at least steal their business model). But the Walton Family, owners of Walmart as well as a stake in a manufacturer of solar arrays for utilties, aren't ready to give up the fight.

    A new report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has found that, through their Walton Family Foundation, the Waltons have given $4.5 million dollars to groups like the American Enterprise Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Americans for Prosperity—groups that are attacking renewable energy policies at the state level and, specifically, pushing for fees on rooftop solar installations. The head of ALEC has even gone so far as to denigrate owners of rooftop solar installations as “free riders.”

    But support for groups seeking to halt the rise of clean energy is only half the story. According to Vice News, the Waltons own a 30% stake in First Solar, a company that makes solar arrays for power plants as “an economically attractive alternative or complement to fossil fuel electricity generation,” per its 2013 annual report, which also identifies “competitors who may gain in profitability and financial strength over time by successfully participating in the global rooftop PV solar market” as a threat to First Solar's future profitability.

    Perhaps it was that threat to its long-term strategic plan that led First Solar CEOJames Hughes to publish an op-ed in the Arizona Republic voicing his support for a proposal by Arizona Public Service, the state's biggest energy utility, to charge owners of rooftop solar installations a fee of $50 - $100 a month, which would effectively wipe out any economic benefits of generating one's own power. A compromise was eventually reached to adopt a lower fee of roughly $5 per household, but even that has had a chilling effect on the growth of rooftop solar in Arizona, as residential solar installations subsequently dropped 40% in APSterritory.

    Bryan Miller, president of the Alliance for Solar Choice, said at the time that First Solar's move was unprecedented: “no solar company has publicly advocated against solar until First Solar did it.”

    Having collected its scalp in Arizona, First Solar is now attacking policies that foster rooftop solar in California and Nevada, according to the ILSR report.

    “First Solar builds solar arrays for utilities and, as such, stands to benefit if households are blocked from generating their own electricity, even if it means slowing the overall growth of solar,” the ILSR report states.

    While this gives the Waltons—a family worth an estimated $149 billion (three Waltons rank among the top 10 richest Americans)—a clear financial incentive to oppose rooftop solar, it doesn't make much sense in light of Walmart's very public commitment to solar energy. But, according to the report, it's not as much about shrewd business tactics or the future of energy as it is about consolidating power in corporate hands:

    For nearly a decade, the Waltons have presented themselves as environmentalists. But as this report, and our previous reports on Walmart’s environmental impact, demonstrate, beneath the family’s public environmentalism lies a deeper agenda: furthering a highly concentrated, and deeply destructive, corporate economic model. The Waltons’ environmentalism is best understood not as a counterpoint to this imperative, but rather as a tool in service to it.

    Rooftop solar is a threat to corporatists like the Waltons precisely because it decentralizes power, literally and figuratively. “It’s moving the U.S. from a system in which electricity generation is controlled by a small number of investor-owned utilities and toward a future in which households produce energy and reap the financial benefits,” the report states, adding that the solar industry now employs about 143,000 Americans, half of which are rooftop solar installation techs who make, on average, $24 per hour, “more than twice what the average Walmart associate makes.”


    W - T - F???

    Corporate totalitarianism at its best.
    Last edited by Atypical; 11-30-2014 at 07:04 AM.

  9. Atypical is offline
    02-01-2015, 07:49 AM #189
    This is how your tax dollars paid for the Super Bowl

    You might as well watch the Super Bowl, America: You’re paying for it.

    Forget about the league’s federal antitrust exemption dating back to the ’60s that allows it to yank any game off broadcast television it likes if it feels there aren’t enough backsides in the seats. Let’s forget about the same antitrust exemption that declared the NFL a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization on par with a Chamber of Commerce or real estate board. Hey, let’s even forget a Federal Communications Commission ruling that, for almost 40 years, forbids cable and satellite providers to switch to a live feed of a game that was blacked out in a local market.

    That’s the burden we’re all bearing equally: The welfare of a supposedly “private,” “free-market” league that needs its hand held by Uncle Sam just to conduct simple business. The average of nearly $250 million per stadium in public funding that state and local taxpayers have allocated to building 21 NFL stadiums since 1997 — not counting multi-hundred-million-dollar renovations to facilities including the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo? That’s just garnish.

    Seattle is on the hook for the $300 million it paid for $460 million CenturyLink Stadium until the last bonds are settled in 2021. However, that city is still paying for the costs of its long-dead Kingdome through 2016. New England — and Massachusetts, specifically — got off light by comparison and only kicked in $72 million of Gillette Stadium’s $412 million cost. Much of that went straight to road, ramp and rail improvements around the stadium.

    That leaves 30 NFL teams that didn’t make the cut, and 28 of them that took public money for their stadiums. (Only the New York Jets and Giants home at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., was built without public money.) Before Super Bowl XLIX kicks off in Glendale, Ariz. (which got hosed on a stadium deal in its own right), let’s take a look at the NFL cities across the country that pay the most for their Super Bowl experience.

    University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

    Cost: $455 million

    Cost to taxpayers: $308 million

    Know who’s really looking forward to hosting Super Bowl XLIX? If you do, let the mayor of Glendale know so he can offload hosting duties at the last minute. Not only did local government pick up 68% of the tab for this suburban monstrosity, but Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers told ESPN Magazine this month that “I totally believe we will lose money” on the Super Bowl this year. Not only that, but earlier this year he estimated that his city lost $1 million the last time it hosted a Super Bowl in 2008. In the past 10 years, the city has built this stadium, an arena for the NHL’s Coyotes and a spring-training facility for baseball’s Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. Building much of that before the recession left the city in hefty debt, and its experience with the 2008 Super Bowl made it realize that very little big-game windfall stays in Glendale. This year, most of the NFL’s Super Bowl festivities take place in Phoenix. As far as Glendale is concerned, they can keep it.

    Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Cost: $449.8 million

    Cost to taxpayers: $424.8 million

    Even beyond Cincinnati, this is widely considered the worst stadium deal in NFL history.

    The last time the Bengals threatened to move in 1995, they told the folks in Hamilton County that a new stadium would create jobs and bring boatloads of money into the area. The county ponied up 96% of the funding for Paul Brown Stadium without help from the state or any other willing donor and waited for the returns to roll in. They never materialized and the recent recession turned all the stadium’s modest benefits into huge losses. Stadium debt has contributed to an annual budget deficit that hovers around $30 million. Sales taxes have sputtered over the past decade, enhancing that debt and eliminating funding for programs such as a juvenile court and a property-tax cut promised as part of the stadium deal. In 2012, the team sought $43 million from the county for stadium renovations despite blacking out 10 home games in the two years prior. Last year, the Bengals squeezed another $7.5 million out of Hamilton County for a new scoreboard to fulfill the “state-of-the-art” clause of its terrible lease. The worst part? Because Paul Brown Stadium is a 20-year-old open-air facility that endures Cincinnati winters, Hamilton Country’s tax dollars are likely paying for a Super Bowl that will never be played in their stadium.

    AT&T Stadium, Dallas, Texas

    Cost: $1.2 billion

    Cost to taxpayers: $444 million

    In this corner of Texas, getting the Cowboys a new home by kicking in only 37% of the cost is considered a bargain. No, Arlington doesn’t get much credit when “Dallas” is still in the franchise name, but Arlington voters approved a 0.5% increase of the city’s sales tax, a 2% hike in the hotel-occupancy tax and a 5% uptick in car-rental tax to cover its bonds. After all, it wasn’t as if Irving objected all that much when the Cowboys called Texas Stadium home. However, when it finally landed Super Bowl XLV in 2010, a mishap prevented the installation of 1,200 seats and led to hefty triple refunds for disgruntled ticketholders and, eventually, a $5 million class-action suit against the NFL, the Cowboys and Jerry Jones. When even season ticketholders are suing you because they were forced to sit in folding chairs during the Super Bowl, maybe you’ve misallocated some of your stadium funding.

    Vikings Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.

    Cost: $1.024 billion

    Cost to taxpayers: $498 million

    Ah, yes: The old “give me money or I’ll move to Los Angeles” gambit. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf played that one well and got the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis to go along for the ride. Forget the Vikings’ 54-year history in Minnesota and the NFC North: With the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome’s roof collapse moving games in 2010 and competing L.A. stadium plans just waiting for a team, Minnesota collectively freaked out and came up with a plan for a new stadium on the Metrodome site that the state would pay for through “charitable gambling.” Though the plan was approved in 2012, the funding portion seemed doomed from the start and led to a tax on cigarette inventory instead. Minneapolis, meanwhile, will end up paying $678 million over its 30-year payment plan once interest, operations and construction costs are factored in. It earned Minneapolis a Super Bowl hosting gig in 2018, but also got it a 150-page list of Super Bowl demands from the NFL that will only cost the host city and state more money. Nicely done, Minnesota.

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 02-01-2015 at 07:54 AM.

  10. Atypical is offline
    02-01-2015, 07:50 AM #190
    Cont'd From Above

    Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.

    Cost: $719.6 million

    Cost to taxpayers: $619.5 million

    Let’s see if we’re understanding you correctly, Indianapolis: You’re willing to wail over Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s deflated balls for weeks on end after they played almost no role in a game your Colts lost 45-7, but you won’t make so much as a peep about Jim Irsay and company sticking you with 86% of your stadium’s cost? That $619.5 million is more than the total cost of all but four stadiums in the league: the New York area’s MetLife ($1.6 billion), AT&T Stadium in Dallas ($1.2 billion), Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara ($1.3 billion) and the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium ($1.024 billion). That doesn’t count the $75 million in debt Indianapolis still owes on the long-since-imploded RCA Dome, which the city will be paying off until 2021. And how is Irsay — a man who was fined $500,000 by the NFL and suspended for six weeks last year for driving while intoxicated — repaid for this fleecing, which will have surrounding counties paying higher food and beverage taxes in perpetuity? By being awarded the 2012 Super Bowl and the 2010, 2015 and 2021 NCAA Men’s Final Four. None of which will reduce the local stadium-related tax burden or pay off the public portion of stadium debt any quicker.


    Just the usual corporate BS that most love to ignore because, well...the "free market" and...sports and stuff, ya know.

    Read David Cay Johnston's writings for more evidence of corporate extortion like this and more.
    Last edited by Atypical; 02-01-2015 at 08:19 AM.

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