Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Corporate Welfare On The Rise -- Onward, Kleptocracy


The tax reform bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives this month is full of corporate welfare measures like deductions for private jets. As reported on Democracy Now! 
An analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows President Trump’s family and Trump’s Cabinet members would, combined, reap a $3.5 billion windfall from the proposed repeal of the estate tax alone.

The bill aims to fund tax breaks for those already wealthy enough to own a jet by removing the deductions for state and local taxes paid by the middle class, and treating the financial aid that college students receive as taxable income. This is far from a complete list of the horrors contained in the bill. You can contact your senators to object if you have not already done so.


On top of that came news that the Maine legislature is being pressured take up a bill to provide tax relief to weapons manufacturer General Dynamics.

It will have to be introduced as a bill in the session that begins in January, and whether or not it proceeds to a vote depends largely on the Legislative Council at this point.

In our descent into kleptocracy, I will not go quietly.

I was arrested at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works protesting the "christening" of a warship with eight other people on April 1, 2017. The Aegis 9 trail begins January 4, 2018 in West Bath District Court. I'm the one dressed as Sentor Susan Collins, her red power suit covered with the logos of her corporate sponsors.

Below is my letter to the Legislative Council objecting to any such bill and explaining my reasons. Feel free to send one of your own. I've pasted in the email addresses of the council members at the end of this post, or find them here.


Dear Legislative Council members,
Bath Iron Works owner General Dynamics is applying to the State of Maine for a big tax break. It claims it cannot remain competitive in the warship building industry without Maine taxpayers excusing BIW from paying its share of taxes.
 
But for the last three years, General Dynamics spent $9.4 billion buying its own stocks back.* This enables it to give enormous salaries and bonuses to its top executives. CEO Phebe Novakovic made $21 million last year. But, she claims General Dynamics can't afford to contribute its fair share of state taxes. 
Our roads and bridges in Maine are crumbling while our elders and children are worried about where their next meal is coming from. But we are asked to give even more to General Dynamics executives because of the jobs needed at BIW. 
Jobs are needed in Maine, it's true. Conversion to building something besides warships would generate thousands more jobs.** But giving General Dynamics/BIW a break on state taxes will go right into the pockets of their already wealthy executives and shareholders. General Dynamics does not need another tax break. 
Sincerely,Lisa SavageSolon
References:*Stock buybacks by General Dynamicshttp://www.providencejournal.com/news/20171103/defense-firms-spend-big-on-lucrative-stock-buybacks

**Jobs generated by investment in building weapons vs. building other things
https://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/.../PERI_military_spending_2011.pdf

Sent November 21, 2017 to:Sara.Gideon@legislature.maine.gov,
mike@mainesenatepresident.com,
Garrett.Mason@legislature.maine.gov,
amy.volk@legislature.maine.gov,
Troy.Jackson@legislature.maine.gov,
Nathan.Libby@legislature.maine.gov,
Erin.Herbig@legislature.maine.gov,
Jared.Golden@legislature.maine.gov,
Kenneth.Fredette@legislature.maine.gov,
Ellie.Espling@legislature.maine.gov

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Skywriting Dicks: Pentagon Climate Crimes Are No Joke

U.S. warplanes have been menacing the people of Afghanistan for more than 16 years now.

As a thought experiment, I decided to imagine that I lived under the threat of bombs raining down on my family from U.S. airplanes. Say, in Somalia.

I could live in any one of dozens of countries for this to be my reality. Not Canada, though, which borders Washington State and was treated to this expensive, polluting display of sophomoric scrawl by a U.S. Navy warplane earlier this week:



In my thought experiment I tried to imagine how a grandmother in Somalia or Afghanistan might view this picture of boys just having fun.

In the era of #metoo and the sexual predator in chief, what is my own context for viewing this costly image?

Corporate media works hard to avoid meaningful context, simply reprinting the bland lies of the Pentagon's pr department. Most ran the news with a headline referencing "obscene" images. But what is the real obscenity hiding in plain sight here?

Media outlet SF Gate's coverage of the prank included footage of the Blue Angels stunt team practicing over San Francisco in advance of their upcoming show there.

The Blue Angels are a carbon belching nightmare

(At our expense. As we learned from the Panama and now the Paradise Papers, rich people don't pay taxes. As a public school teacher, my tax rate is around 30%.)




Here in Maine, they literally burn napalm as part of the "entertainment". Those watching do so no doubt in the context of having watched thousands of fires kindled in cinema for their viewing enjoying. (Hollywood has a pretty gruesome carbon footprint, too.)

The thing is, you may be able to evade taxation, but the cost of climate chaos falls upon rich and poor alike.

Climate justice organizers know that low income communities suffer more from the toxicity of late stage capitalism. 


"Pentagon Planet" by Anthony Freda

But we're all here on the same planet, buffeted by hurricanes and scorched by forest fires.



Whether skywriting or scoping out their next civilian bombing targets, the U.S. military is filling the atomosphere with more greenhouse gas than any organization in the world.

But if you search for information about the Pentagon and air pollution, what Google will let you find are articles about planning for the impact of climate change on coastal military bases. Or about the U.S. Navy greening itself, which is a bigger joke than a dick in the sky, for sure.

Our corporate masters can manage information and cheat inquiring minds of the truth, but ultimately they can't fool Mother Nature.