Sunday, May 14, 2006

BloodMoney from Katrina

The tragedy in the gulf coast....

not the tragedy that we have seen, but the tragedy within the tragedy. In the aftermath of this destruction, we see corporate opportunism and greed. Our corporate culture that will go to no lengths to gain an advantage, including profiteering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

So, as bodies floated, executives made plans. Emergency meetings, not about rescue operations, but about the impact that this disaster would have on their bottom line. Meetings about how they could position themselves to be the builders of the new New Orleans. Meetings about how they could divert public rescue funds to their bottom line.

The interview you can hear on our website, @ is with Rita J. King who has written for the Village Voice, the New York Times. This week, she is breaking a story about gulf coast corporate opportunists. This will be a major story and it will name some of America’s largest corporations.

So the larger question is: What happened to the soul of corporate America, the soul of government. Was it always this way? Where we always this way? Were we always so bottom line…..because that is what is bringing us to our bottom. Like an addict strung out, we approach our bottom….

We the people? We are the outsiders…with no power, armed only with a legislative system that is ineffectual at best, and corrupt at its worst. An intensely competitive system that has driven us over the fine line of what is legal. And we will hear about what is happening in the Gulf Coast, and that is that Entergy, the company that owns a huge network of nuclear facilities including Indian Point is about to get its Gulf Coast infrastructure rebuilt with tax money. With your tax money.

A change. So in my typically naive approach I suggest a different corporate model.

Lets use the management of a socially conscious mutual fund as a model for corporate reform.

We have two basic management teams in this model- two boards…. independent of each other.… one that operates on bottom-line financial objectives, the other an oversight board, a supervisory board…. they have mandates- no human rights violations, therefore, no sweatshop labor... they oversee all operations; no environmental consequences, all business components have environmental guidelines and objectives; fair treatment of employees, and participation in profits, diversity in management based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation; corporate partnership with their communities, working with local businesses, building communities, not forcing them under.

Unless we have this representation in corporate America, we have no outlet for who we are as people. The problems are in our corporate soul. We live in quarterly earnings, we live in corporate buyouts. The system that has evolved, a free market economy, fosters dysfunctional and sociopathic behavior, especially when it comes to the social issues we have to confront.

The root problem is in ourselves. There is tremendous apathy in America. The bad screenplay which has been our history in the last five years has driven leadership's approval ratings to record low levels.

And the insanity continues.

This week, lawmakers drive another nail in the coffin for the working man, and they lay yet another red carpet for our wealthiest taxpayers. In a clearly partisan vote, the Senate voted 54-44 to extend the special tax treatment on dividends and capital gains through 2010, and delay an increase in the alternative minimum tax.

At the same time, they were unable to reach agreement on a number of other tax breaks for low and middle income Americans, specifically deductions for college tuition, or a savings credit for low-income taxpayers that expired last year.

We are being set up for the day of reckoning. That comes in December 31, 2010. when all these tax cuts expire, along with the estate tax. Renewing these tax benefits will cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and would come at a time when huge numbers of baby boomers will begin to qualify for billions in Social Security and Medicare benefits.

In this bill, taxpayers earning over $1 milion a year will save $42,000 in taxes, while those earning $40,000- $50,000 will save $47.

With his approval rating in some polls at 29%, the President continues to alienate most Americans. More importantly, we are being set up for what will be enormous debt. With the deficit now over 9 trillion dollars, the debt service spirals out of control... more than twice what we spend on education and transportation combined.


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