They keep us in the dark.

If you feel like the only sucker in the world who pays taxes, you’re not alone — in your feeling, or in your taxpaying. Friend, I too pay taxes. That makes you and me. There are probably a few more of us out there. Enough to form a small, wan cocktail party, perhaps. (BYOB!)

General Electric, they pay no taxes. Not a dime. Not even on profits of $14.2 billion, $5.1 billion of it domestically.

Not only do they pay no taxes, they get a refund on what they haven’t paid. (Although you can’t really call it a refund then, can you?) Srsly:

In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

You are paying taxes, in part, to pay General Electric’s tax benefit. Feel better now?

It so happens I’ve had taxes on the brain of late. The slow-motion catastrophe of the real-estate collapse will send aftershocks through our local and state governments for years, thanks to the gutting of tax receipts, affecting services, schools and, oh yeah, those richly compensated, lavishly benefitted state and local employees. The governor’s proposed budget slashes state aid to those schools, which will suffer greatly. And, of course, April 15 is right around the corner.

It’s contemporary GOP religion — thanks, Ronald Reagan! — that Americans labor under a crushing tax burden, which simple number-crunching shows to be untrue. But if it’s not true for American individuals, it’s ridiculously untrue for corporations with the right people doing the lobbying and calculations. If you’ll permit me a larger-than-usual excerpt, I think this gets to the point:

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.

While General Electric is one of the most skilled at reducing its tax burden, many other companies have become better at this as well. Although the top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, companies have been increasingly using a maze of shelters, tax credits and subsidies to pay far less.

Such strategies, as well as changes in tax laws that encouraged some businesses and professionals to file as individuals, have pushed down the corporate share of the nation’s tax receipts — from 30 percent of all federal revenue in the mid-1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.

Yet many companies say the current level is so high it hobbles them in competing with foreign rivals. Even as the government faces a mounting budget deficit, the talk in Washington is about lower rates. President Obama has said he is considering an overhaul of the corporate tax system, with an eye to lowering the top rate, ending some tax subsidies and loopholes and generating the same amount of revenue. He has designated G.E.’s chief executive, Jeffrey R. Immelt, as his liaison to the business community and as the chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and it is expected to discuss corporate taxes.

Doesn’t that make you feel better? They pay hardly anything, but they simply cannot compete with foreign companies. Because then, y’know, they might not be able to pay Jack Welch’s dues at three different country clubs. And who do you think Jeffrey Immelt is looking out for in this arrangement?

Oh, I don’t have time or stomach for this today. Let’s move on to something cheerier. Like many of you, I frequently have no idea what Prospero is talking about in the comments, but I liked this video he posted yesterday. I know exactly how these cows feel. This is the time of year when, after a long winter of couch-sitting and casserole consumption, I feel positively bovine myself.

Or we could discuss the grimly amusing case of Carlos Lam, the second Hoosier public servant to lose his job after he let his enthusiasm for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s union busting get the better of him:

Carlos F. Lam submitted his resignation shortly before the Center published a story quoting his Feb. 19 email, which praised Walker for standing up to unions but went on to say that the chaos in Wisconsin presented “a good opportunity for what’s called a ‘false flag’ operation.”

“If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions’ cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions,” the email said.

“Currently, the media is painting the union protest as a democratic uprising and failing to mention the role of the DNC and umbrella union organizations in the protest. Employing a false flag operation would assist in undercutting any support that the media may be creating in favor of the unions. God bless, Carlos F. Lam.”

God bless, Carlos. Sorry you’re losing your health care. By the way, I was trying to find this guy in the Indiana Bar Association directory, with no luck. Based on the mugshot in this story, I’ve narrowed down his probable undergrad alma mater to Butler, Wabash or — and this would make me especially happy to be such a shameless dealer in cultural stereotypes — Hillsdale. Anyone in the Hoosier state have info on the guy?

By the way, his first response to being found out? “That’s not me. My identity was stolen.” Laaaaame.

OK, time to get to work. Let’s leave on a weekend-y sort of note: Jim Griffoen on yet another of his crackbrain old-timey enthusiasms, in this case, Grandpa’s Wonder Pine Tar Soap.

Posted at 9:25 am in Current events |

71 responses to “They keep us in the dark.”

  1. coozledad said on March 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Grandpa’s also makes a hemp shampoo that will kill those dander eating mites you can only see with an electron microscope, but it’s a two step process that begins with significant hair removal, and ends with the mites in a grisly war of attrition in the craters and valleys of what used to be your scalp.
    Ultimately what’s left of your hair looks like the loose end of a piece of Manila rope.

    393 chars

  2. Connie said on March 25, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I have recently seen in the news the same no taxes paid for Bank of America and BP.

    Go Butler!

    97 chars

  3. Judybusy said on March 25, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Many of you already have probably read Perfectly Legal by David Cay Johnston; it’s from the early 2000s, but had me livid and quite unpleasant company at lunch hour for weeks. It could probably use an update, given what Nancy’s posted here.

    Prospero, that video was wonderful! I missed it yesterday (little time to spend online)so thanks for re-posting, Nancy!

    603 chars

  4. Sue said on March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Today is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. That was a ‘right-to-work’ company taken to its most logical extreme.
    It horrified the nation and led to big changes in labor and safety regs. I’ve been thinking about it the last week or so; for some reason it’s been getting more press than you would think. I don’t think there would be so much outrage today, or many changes. I can’t imagine what the press coverage would have been like. Well, yes I can, but I don’t like to think about it.
    It seems like this is the kind of stuff we’re going back to, not growing as a nation away from.
    BTW, did you know there’s a little section in the House budget bill that would make an entire family ineligible for food stamps if they applied as a result of lost income because of an on-strike adult member?

    827 chars

  5. LAMary said on March 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

    My grandmother used Packer’s Pine Tar Soap and Fels Naptha Soap for her beauty routine. I thought she smelled pretty good. The Fels Naptha was also used for laundry and floors. This was the Frisian grandmother who had no washing machine and boiled seven eggs every Monday morning so she wouldn’t waste water or gas every morning boiling an egg. She used the egg cooking water to water her plants. I’ve used Packer’s Pine Tar shampoo and while I wouldn’t use it regularly I sort of like the smell and my hair looked ok.

    518 chars

  6. Dorothy said on March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I thought Jim’s column about the soap was humorous and delightful and all that, but I felt he left out the most important part: what does his wife think of how he smells?

    Mary I’m going to borrow your grandmother’s idea about how to use/recycle the egg-boiling water. I bet I could do that with water from boiled vegetables, too (I use it in soups sometimes actually, but never thought of watering plants with it).

    418 chars

  7. LAMary said on March 25, 2011 at 11:19 am

    My grandmother was a tight with a dollar as you could possibly be but now I realize she was environmentally brilliant. She composted all the coffee grounds, egg shells and vegetable peelings, which I only started doing about 25 years ago. She ground her own coffee with a wooden box grinder with concave plates on the sides. You held the grinder between your knees and turned the handle on the top. She used to steam rolls and buns that had become hard to make them usable.

    473 chars

  8. moe99 said on March 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

    The GOP seem to have crossed yet another line in Wisconsin:

    170 chars

  9. Julie Robinson said on March 25, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Our parents and grandparents called the reduce, reuse, recycle way of life thriftiness, and it was considered a mark of good judgement. After too many years when people seemed to brag about wasting money, a sensible lifestyle is showing its value again.

    We now live on one modest income because we have always been thrifty, at first from necessity, then because we found it good stewardship of economic and ecological resources. I’m at the point in life where I see possessions as a curse that must be served. If I needed any reinforcement I’m getting it at my sister’s, which resembles any episode of Hoarders you’d like to imagine. Except that there’s also been a fire.

    Dorothy, Jim mentioned that he loved the soap so much he’d shill for it with this line: “Grandpa makes me smell like wet railroad ties and my wife hasn’t left me yet.”

    851 chars

  10. Jeff Borden said on March 25, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Mother of God, but the Republican Party has gone completely mad. I’ve usually separated local Republicans from the national chorus of clowns, knowing the latter must play to the drooling loons to keep those dollars coming and keep their faces in the public eye.

    Now, I wonder if the entire GOP is on LSD.

    What’s going on in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Indiana and other states where right-wing ideologues have taken power is so blatantly ugly and so incredibly weighted against those already struggling against the tide as to invite comparisons with something written by Dickens. What kind of twisted piece of shit would starve an entire family if a single member is on strike? What kind of short-sighted fuckwad demands a mural depicting a state labor movement –including a famous strike– be removed from the state’s department of labor building because he decides it is anti-business? What kind of arrogant asshole demonizes teachers, librarians and other public workers, but then allows a political ally to hire his mistress for a state job at $11,000 per year more than her predecessor all while proclaiming his state is completely broke?

    When one of the major political parties has literally gone batshit insane, what are we as citizens to do? We need a two-party system to function well, but how can that be accomplished when one of those parties is more interested in flinging its own feces around the room than addressing monumentally serious problems?

    1469 chars

  11. Jolene said on March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am

    If you subscribe to HBO, you can see a documentary called Triangle: Remembering the Fire. It’s on tonight, but I’m sure it’s on at lots of other times too. It’s not just about the fire; it also discusses the struggle for better wages and working conditions that led up to it and the changes that followed. I saw it already, but plan to watch it again.

    Also, CBS did a piece about it on the last Sunday Morning show.

    669 chars

  12. Jolene said on March 25, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Just wait until Michelle Bachmann starts running for president, Jeff, as she is threatening to do.

    98 chars

  13. John G. Wallace said on March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I had a bad case of poison ivy about ten years ago. An older woman who I worked with told me to fine Fels Naptha Soap, and “wash” throughly with it. It dried my skin out pretty bad but she was right. The poison ivy went away after one unpleasant shower.

    Have a great weekend everyone. It’s 86 in Vero Beach but I’m powering up the warp drive for a trip to Northeast Indiana.

    377 chars

  14. Bob (not Greene) said on March 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Moe, I read Cronon’s piece in the NYT and it actually crossed my mind that this guy would probably have some vengeance meted out against him for having the temerity to write it. Then I thought, “Aw, quit over-reacting.” I guess not.

    Nance, the GE story is truly depressing. Right now we’re reporting on a tax hike referendum for the local high school, which has neighbors (anonymously and online in the convenient forums we provide at the end of each story — an issue of its own about which I am extremely conflicted) at each other’s throats.

    And when I read stories like the GE one, where the nation is being ripped off (hell, the government is helping them rip off the nation) and people whose homes have fallen in value and whose taxes continue to rise are screaming at each other because they have to bear the burden — well, all I can say is “mission accomplished.” The plutocracy is lighting cigars with $100 bills while the serfs scrap in the mud for bits of bread.

    Yet, a giant number of the serfs bangs the drum and shouts that their neighbors are thieves and are hurting the plutocrats, thereby forcing them to move jobs — and their tax shelters — overseas, etc.

    We’re a nation of fools.

    1212 chars

  15. coozledad said on March 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    There are some indications that Gaddafi’s people are putting out feelers to see if they can leave. The Republicans have already demonstrated they don’t have a flying fuck of an idea where they stand on this, so look for them to a) Embrace Gaddafi as an ally in the war on something, as they did with Slobodon Milosevic, and give him some form of financial aid and comfort, or b) attribute the positive turn of events to George Bush.

    (I heard about this via Digby. For some reason her site is loading very slowly for me this morning.)

    694 chars

  16. MichaelG said on March 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Prop 13 from back in the early seventies is one of the root causes of our current budget problems in California. Among the provisions was one that froze property taxes at 1974 (I think, somebody help me) levels for people and corporations that have not sold their property since then.

    So along with not paying any income tax, corporations are paying property tax based on long ago property values for property they’ve owned since before Prop 13. Take Disneyland for example or Standard Oil or any of those huge land holders, all paying pennies on every property tax dollar.

    It’s obvious that all of our financial problems would go away if corporations paid their share of taxes. When will the American public wake up?

    728 chars

  17. Rana said on March 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    moe, Bob – and others – if you haven’t read Cronon’s response, you really should. Not only does he lay out the situation – and the problems – well, it’s a splendid example of writing.

    It wouldn’t be too much to say that Cronon’s approach to history, and his approach to writing about it, strongly influenced my own scholarship, so I am probably biased, but he’s one of the most thoughtful and accessible historians out there.

    Another one is Simon Schama, who I had the fortune to hear speak yesterday. He talked about the difference between what he called “memory” (to me, I think “national myths about the past” would be more correct) and history, and one thing that struck me was his insistence that “our” desire for simple, simplistic, and self-affirming stories about our national past is profoundly damaging when it becomes as politicized as it is now. His corrective is more history, which he described as “pessimistic” and “sceptical” – I’d call it clear-eyed and attentive to complexity – and Cronon’s writing is a perfect exemplar of what he’s talking about.

    1078 chars

  18. Rana said on March 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Jeff B, if you look at the actions they’re taking in the area of women’s reproduction, it is even more horrific. Forget serfs – they are apparently happy to kill us if it allows them to pander to the “pro-life” crowd. For people who talk about “small government,” they’re awfully eager to declare human bodies government property, at least when it comes to female bodies between puberty and menopause.

    And don’t get me started about our “pro-worker,” “pro-choice” president, who has been remarkably silent on all of these domestic developments.

    549 chars

  19. Julie Robinson said on March 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Here’s a nice counterbalance to all the I’ve-got-mine-you-don’t-get-yours attitudes in both the public and private sectors:
    It’s worth noting that the benefactor is an immigrant.

    255 chars

  20. Sue said on March 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Rana, let’s not forget that the targeted legislation against reproduction services (and I’m not just talking about abortion, they are going after everything from contraception to screening exams) is in lockstep with budget legislation cutting funding for basic services for poor people.*
    Let’s make abortion de-facto illegal by making it next-to-impossible to get; take contraception out of basic health care coverage; cut funding for clinics that provide low-cost contraception; make sure poor babies have limited to no access to medical care and nutrition help (‘yes, you’re poor, but not poor enough; we’ve changed the baseline, budget cuts, you know’); then blame an entire segment of the population for breeding like rabbits and burdening society.
    Then make sure you put up lots and lots of voting barriers so that only those most deserving can vote. Redistricting helps, too.
    *Edit: forgot to mention, one of the kinder points in the Wisconsin budget bill is that while they are attacking all the social services budgets (nutrition, medical, etc.), they very nicely increased the funding for indigent funeral expenses. So that’s one way to show the love.

    1166 chars

  21. Suzanne said on March 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Ah, yes, it’s great to be a Hoosier, land of the Sec. of State who can’t figure out where to vote, our man Mark “Washington made me horny” Souder, and now this prosecutor. I guess Mitch the Man is right–there is a brain drain problem.
    We live near a small family owned dairy farm and yes, the cows really do go nuts in the spring. I’ve seen it first hand and I know how they feel!
    My husband has psoriasis and that pine tar soap does help, although it smells rather lousy…kinda like pine tar!

    499 chars

  22. Suzanne said on March 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Oh, and one more thing. I have a friend who works for an accountant who specializes in people owing back taxes. She says she’s amazed at all the wealthy people who simply do not bother to file.

    195 chars

  23. moe99 said on March 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Interesting article about a lecturer at the Univ. WA who is one of the leaders of the Libyan rebels:

    179 chars

  24. garmoore2 said on March 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm


    The funeral expense increase is more of a pat on the head to funeral home owners, who have to accept state indigent funeral rates.

    138 chars

  25. coozledad said on March 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    We just elected a five hundred pound tub of human shit to the DA’s office who owed sixty thousand in back taxes, in part because he took a more phallogocentric approach to his campaign and topped it off with a generous helping o’ Jeebus, Jeebus, Jeebus.
    On a related note, in response to some pretty good questions about the disparity in tax rates from the Greens at our County Democratic party meeting last week, our state reps had a pretty good comeback. North Carolina hosts the banks that purchased the national election, through Dick Armey, Dick Morris, and Koch Brothers front organizations: therefore North Carolina based banks will pay no taxes.
    These are the people who have a fundamental dislike of America’s citizens and they’re the ones who’ll bury the country. They’ll work over any old sectional wound, race, class, or labor issue, to get their morons to the polls, and then they’ll do them up the ass along with everyone else.

    943 chars

  26. Sue said on March 25, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    garmoore2: you mean, they’re not doing it to be nice to the poor folks? Help them out a little once the circle is complete?

    125 chars

  27. prospero said on March 25, 2011 at 3:23 pm


    And it’s two days since the one man in the control tower at the Ron Raygun airport either fell asleep or really, really had to take a dump. One guy on shift from midnight to 6am? Yeah, I’m sure that could happen if there were collective bargaining over working conditions. It’s not like 6 or 700 lives depended on it. But nobody died, so maybe the Great Communicator was right. We doan need no steeenkeeng ground controllers. Thing is Raygun was president of a union, back, way back, before he decided they were all pinkoes, and ratted out all his former friends.

    And, how is this different from Creationism taught as science? I assume this is a fabrication, but it’s brilliant, and hilarious. It sounds exactly like something W might have said, while he was falling off a Segway.

    Moe, Seattle Times is a terrific paper. Decidedly Republican, but like back in the day when there were Republicans that understood governing. Aside from Lugar, is there a single one left?

    And you know, it used to seem as if Republicans cared about kids from conception until birth, but now the kids aren’t safe after the big sperm-ovum meetup. The Party of the Moment of Conception, and screw you forever after if you’re not a rich donor.

    All of this free the incandescent lightbulb fulmination from Republicans should serve to render these yahoos laughingstocks to anybody with a working cerebellum and cerebral cortex. And bike lanes. That was Timothy McVeigh’s idea.

    Festival of Holi. Damn, Hinduism looks like it’s fun. What one might expect from Bokononism. Nice, nice, very nice.

    2171 chars

  28. coozledad said on March 25, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    It’s usually well nigh impossible to double post here. I think I’ve discovered a magic portal!

    94 chars

  29. Little Bird said on March 25, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I have a bar of pine tar soap. It smells funny, but it takes care of my SERIOUSLY dry elbow. That’s right, elbow – singular. It smells like tobacco and the woods, if the woods had experienced a minor forest fire. I felt a little silly buying it, but hey, the stuff really does work.
    Edited to add: You can buy it at Whole Foods. Surprise, surprise.

    354 chars

  30. prospero said on March 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    And this mightexplain a lot about the supremely bizarre Paul political empire. We’ve got state of the art Kohler models, and, damn, they work great, fast and quiet. And why wouldn’t this work with CAFE standards?

    327 chars

  31. LAMary said on March 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Fancy stuff like Neutrogena T-Gel shampoo is basically pine tar soap made more socially acceptable. Hence the T in T-Gel.

    121 chars

  32. Mark P. said on March 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Pine tar reminds me of turpentine. My father used to tell us about how they would get a dose of turpentine with sugar in the springtime as a sort of general, medicinal tuneup.

    175 chars

  33. garmoore2 said on March 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Sue: No, making life a little easier for businessmen is more the Republican legislative schtick than showing mercy to the least fortunate.

    139 chars

  34. prospero said on March 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Sorry, but anybody that would vote forMr. Bad-Wig should be disenfranchised immediately and forever. Haley the Hut is not quite this level of reprehensible. Although, the Donald isn’t an outright racist schmuck. He probably doesn’t think things were more copacetic when nigras was nigras. So who they got? The magic underpants inventor of Obamacare. Two obnoxious twats that are so stupid/nuts they have no idea what’s come out of their mouths until they don’t read it in a major newspaper. Huckleberry Hound, that thinks Indonesia and Kenya share a common border and Mau Mau history. Mr. Patriotism Made Me a HornDog, Ayn Rand’s demon spawn? Governor I Supported the Bridge until It Fell Down? Altogether paltry.

    847 chars

  35. Jeff Borden said on March 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm


    You’re correct that the GOP field is utterly uninspiring and/or crazy as hell. So, what has to happen to change this? Do the Republicans need to suffer a McGovernesque crushing at the ballot box to see the error of their ways? I doubt even that would help. Too many of the loons would be arguing they lost big because they were not conservative enough.

    I fully expect some of the old lions including Dick Lugar are going to get teabagged in the primaries, removing some of the few sentient human beings with an R after their name. I know Orrin Hatch –freaking Orrin Hatch!!– is not conservative enough for the Utah brand of teabagger and there has been talk of Lindsey Graham also being targeted. Good luck getting anything done in Congress except denying abortions and cutting taxes if this trend continues.

    826 chars

  36. prospero said on March 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm


    I live in SC, and while Lindsey is infuriating in his gutlessness when push comes to shove, I’ll walk miles to keep him in office. What else do we have? Demented? My Congressman, Joe Wilson? Nikki ‘Appalachian Trail of Her Own” Haley? Lindsey frequently knows the right thing to do, without the cojones to do it. But on a ship of fools, that’s better than nothing. And yes, I voted for Alvin Greene, as the less objectionable of two opprobrious choices. And Demint was behind that whole deal, and nobody in SC doesn’t think so.

    536 chars

  37. prospero said on March 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    But we’re not in the dark, Nancy. Everybody here knows the facts of these matters to some extent. Anyway you look at it, ****@* run the world.

    Just for fun. Iggy covers Jonathon Richman. And who knew Jim could play guitar that well?

    400 chars

  38. Catherine said on March 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    If pine tar soap is to Neutrogena as retsina is to pinot grigio, sign me up!

    76 chars

  39. Deborah said on March 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Why can’t it be patriotic for American businesses to help their country when it’s in need instead of the other way around? I feel a lecture from Mark coming. During WWII citizens and businesses made sacrifices to help the effort. Those days seem to be long gone. Why don’t businesses who send jobs overseas get branded as unpatriotic? Why don’t businesses that don’t pay any taxes get branded as unpatriotic? Why is it only considered unpatriotic if you don’t wear a flag lapel pin? I don’t get this, somebody please explain it to me.

    534 chars

  40. prospero said on March 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Retsina tastes pretty much like pine tar soap smells.

    53 chars

  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Re: Cronon — “Changes in the Land” changed how my wife and I approached natural resource interpretation, and just how we look at the landscape. I’ve forced that book on more teachers, docents, interpreters/rangers than anything this side of Freeman Tilden. His other books are very good, but “Changes in the Land” is a paradigm changer (although after Errol Morris’ most recent sequence in the blogs, I don’t hear that phrase the same way, either).

    For general interest: — the “Related Links” on down the page are also fascinating.

    If corporations are legal persons, than they should pay as peoples. Economically, I get the case against: corporations don’t ever pay taxes, they pass them along to consumers. But that’s why I don’t think they’re legal persons, and still think that was a legal error on the part of the Supreme Court . . . but hey, I’m a mediator, not a lawyer.

    958 chars

  42. moe99 said on March 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Jeff tmmo: the one thing that corporations have that ordinary humans do not is the ability to live forever. And their ability to live forever is dependant on their continuing to create profits for their shareholders. Not on their ability to make society a better place. Given that, I don’t think they should be treated the same as humans.

    342 chars

  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 25, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Can someone find a legal basis for the objection? I know a read one a few years back, by a Dershowitz level legal scholar who wasn’t making a political point, just saying that corporate personhood was bad law.

    A-HA! Prospero, you’ve just solved the riddle of your occasionally epically incoherent posts. Retsina — opa!

    323 chars

  44. Deborah said on March 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Prospero, my husband is a big fan of Grappa and it tastes just like turpentine to me.

    85 chars

  45. Mark P. said on March 25, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    moe99, in order to live forever, a corporation depends on many things that government provides or secures, like transportation and communication networks, police and fire protection, intellectual property rights protection and many, many other things. If they don’t help pay for those things, then they are getting a free ride on the backs of real people. It’s true that corporations pass expenses like taxes along to customers, so in one sense real people end up paying twice. But, on the other hand, people have the power not to buy if the cost is too high.

    But none of it will matter as long as the powerless voters keep buying the bill of goods sold by those in power.

    676 chars

  46. prospero said on March 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Jeff, have not touched that vile stuff since a bad experience in a fountain at the Greektown festival in 1967. These days, it’s more likely Tennessee corn, which is actually the only use of that grain I’d like to see subsidized by the Federal Gubmint. Ethanol is akin to a Ponzi scheme and feeding cattle bioengineered and antibiotic-laced corn is pretty close to criminal. And all of the money goes to about 10 corporations, with virtually zero bucks to ‘family farms’, which these days are mostly, basically sharecroppers. Cut the deficit? That and defense are surely where to start.

    Whatever the current version of Raygun’s StarWars hallucination is, nobody really thinks shooting a bullet with a bullet will ever work (it sure as shit hasn’t yet, even when the contractors cheat they asses off on tests), and at least $1trill has disappeared down that rathole. Remember when the Patriots were shooting down SCUDS, Arthur Kent was reporting from hotel roofs with bombs bursting in air, and Wolf Blitzer was soiling his Utrou under a desk in the lobby? Well HW and Raytheon said they were 90% effective, when the real number was 10%, and that was happening in the atmosphere. Everyy dime on shit like that is wasted, as is every dime on DARPA, ELF and every other hare-brained weapons scheme anybody ever invented to put money in the hands of defense contractors that do their crooked bidding.

    Social Security and Medicare. First get rid of Part D. Then make rich people live up to their purported Christian values and apply payroll taxes to folks making significantly more than $106,800. That ceiling is absurd, and was imposed when the sum was serious cash.

    Then we actually regulate financial “institutions” and make “hedge fund manager” cough up half.

    And never get talked into idiotic invasions by guys that put their combs in their mouths and say it will pay for itself. They have some sort of Mad Greasy Dandruff Syndrome, and it won’t. And they will leave it out of the Federal budget while the self-appointed VP has his corporate lackeys abscond with pallettes loaded with Benjamins, to buy him the healthy hearts of Innocents and Pagan Babies.

    2443 chars

  47. del said on March 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    An older curmudgeon attorney sent me a copy of a sample trial opening statement from a trial lawyer’s association that dealt with the historical underpinnings of corporations and explained that they were devices by which aristocrats maintained and protected their wealth inter-generationally. Owners of corporations, as a rule, cannot be held personally liable for the corporation’s debts. It was intended for use by the plaintiffs bar and presented an interesting condemnation of the corporate form.

    Some of aspects of the statement may have crossed the line with some judges because there are standard jury instructions that require jurors to treat corporations the same as natural persons.

    Again, for the record, I think the answer to many of our debates on taxes and corporations is simple — progressive taxes for individuals.

    840 chars

  48. Crazycatlady said on March 25, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I just had a ‘Grandmother’ memory about a scent. My grandmother was a serious gardener and used Lava soap for scrubbing dirt from her hands. She was seamstress and upholsterer and her hands were calloused. It was the only thing that got her clean!

    247 chars

  49. brian stouder said on March 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    So I surfed and surfed, in search of a google-eyed view of where the hell Indiana’s latest Hoosier homeboy halfwit hooked himself a law degree, and I failed.

    But not before finding that the official Jefferson County prosecutor’s office still lists him(!)

    Deputy Prosecutors
    Joseph Villanueva
    Chief Deputy
    Supervisor for Pretrial Diversion and Infraction Deferral programs
    Handles general felony cases
    Practices in Circuit Court
    Daylon Welliver
    Chief Trial Deputy
    Handles general felony cases
    Practices in Circuit Court

    Janine Jackson
    Administrative Deputy
    Handles general felony cases
    Practices in Superior Court 2
    Rob Seet
    Handles general felony cases
    Practices in Superior Court 2
    David Abbott
    Superior Court 3 Supervisor
    Handles general felony cases
    Practices in Superior Court 3
    Joseph Gaunt
    Handles general misdemeanors cases and felony probation violations
    Practices in Superior Court 3

    Andrew Foster
    City Court Supervisor
    Handles general misdemeanors cases and felony probation violations
    Practices in Superior Court 3

    Carlos Lam
    Handles general felony and misdemeanors cases
    Practices in Superior Court 3 for felony and Magistrate for misdemeanors


    So then after more fruitless surfing, I came across this site, where I remained fruitless, but found this interesting, unrelated little nugget –

    Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, will stay busy despite giving up control of Liberty Central, a website and group for “citizen activists.” She has a new job as a special correspondent for the Daily Caller, a news website run by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson. She will interview community and political leaders, “with a focus on listening to those outside the Beltway,” according to a press release. TPMDC, the Huffington Post and the New York Times Caucus blog have stories.

    Aside from all that, my next book (after Madison and Jefferson) is Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “Too Big to Fail”. He gave a tremendous lecture at IPFW last fall, and while speaking about the 2008 market crash, he addressed what would have happened had the government not intervened when it did; and I remember being surprised that he said GE would have collapsed within two weeks. I hadn’t realized that GE Capital was such a huge (half?) part of the corporation, and that it was teetering; and that it would have taken the rest of GE with it.

    Presumeably those astronomically unbelievable numbers that Nance relayed above stem back to that.

    Edit: oh well. I was hoping for Hillsdale, too, but our false-flag lawyer got his degree from IU (I suppose any Purdue person could have predicted that, eh?)

    2964 chars

  50. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 26, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Heh. Go Boilers!

    16 chars

  51. alex said on March 26, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Looks like everyone’s leaving the Times. Here’s Bob Herbert’s last column. I won’t especially miss his writing, but I’ll sure miss looking at his mug. Why do the makeup artists always put pancake on his face but not his forehead?

    327 chars

  52. prospero said on March 26, 2011 at 10:41 am

    George Carlin and


    on the American Dream.

    The governor of Maine is nothing but a confrontational, petty, flaming paudeen.

    395 chars

  53. beb said on March 26, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Rana@17: Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” has been an eye-opener for me (also too depressing to continue into the story of the Robber Barons. One tale-away from the book is that what we’re seeing today is the same vile things that where done back then. This book should be taught in school.

    And what Rana says about the GOP’s assault on woman, women’s rights and womens respect. The canard that Obama started bombing Liberia because he was being lead around by the nose by three women is bizarre, total bizarre. I’m not even sure what three women that would be.

    Re:GE — The governor of Michigan wants to tax the pensions of retired people. While I’m willing to do my bit (as a potential retiree) if this were to plug some hole in the budget, what Snyder want to do is cut corporate taxes by nearly two billion dollars and use the pension tax to plug the hole he is carving out. Snyder claims he wants to streamline the business tax, remove complexities like tax credits for specific industries and such. I can go along with that and replace it all with a single flat tax. I can go along with that, too. But why can’t do all this good stuff while keeping the changes ‘revenue nenutral’? It makes you wonder whether he is trying to simplify the tax code or hide the fact that he’s slashing taxes on our millionaire corporations.

    1357 chars

  54. MarkH said on March 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Hmmm. If NN.Cers read this column, will it result in the end of rants on the subject matter? Goes for Palin and the Pauls, too. And a few others of her ilk who won’t matter at election time.

    356 chars

  55. beb said on March 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Jeff Borden @35: What will it take to pull the GOP out of the sink-hole of madness they’re in. losing an election big time like McGovern? As you say, that probably isn’t going to work. Look at the Newt the Toad who left Congress in humiliation and still thinks he can be elected president. It’s going to take a generational die-off before rational minds take over the party again. And maybe even two or three generation since look at how the South still feels victimized by the treason they started.

    I never liked Dick Luger when I was a Hoosier but I kind of feel sorry for him, a reality based man surrounded by loons ho now has to make like a loon or give up the prestige and power of a sitting senator.

    Deborah@39: Patriotism during WWII did not deterr a lot of companies from profiteering. What held them in check was an agressive war-profiteer panel lead by Harry S. Truman, which is why he was picked as FDR’s VP. The profiteer in Iraq was astonishingly gross but nary a peep about prosecuting any of it.

    1017 chars

  56. MarkH said on March 26, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Wow. Geraldine Ferraro. Gone. RIP.

    118 chars

  57. Mark P. said on March 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Isn’t interesting that two of the most famous Presidents were the rich, Republican trust-buster Teddy Roosevelt and the poor, Republican slavery-buster Abraham Lincoln? The irony is almost too great to comprehend.

    213 chars

  58. brian stouder said on March 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Mark H –

    1. That is amazing about Ms Ferraro. Way back in the day, I didn’t like her, and the controversy around her husband suited my prejudices just fine. Aside from that, her sudden passing is one of those news items that makes me say “oh!” – which seems to be more often, now that I’m an old guy

    2. will it result in the end of rants on the subject matter?

    No. Because nobody has a crystal ball. (see below)

    Mark P –

    Isn’t interesting that two of the most famous Presidents were the rich, Republican trust-buster Teddy Roosevelt and the poor, Republican slavery-buster Abraham Lincoln?

    It is indeed very interesting. And recall that Teddy Roosevelt was immediately referred to as “that damned cowboy” when Leon Czolgosz murdered President McKinley, and the 42 year old TR became POTUS.

    By way of saying – Sarah Palin is a joke, and has been from the get-go, but John McCain (who knows better) and millions of American voters (who should know better) were ready to put Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency of the United States.

    It worked out for the nation in TR’s positive case (and in Palin’s negative case) but I will never take for granted that ridiculous national figures (like Bachmann), or people who say ridiculous things (like the Pauls, or Huckabee) can be safely ignored.

    I think unrelenting and “serious” coverage is absolutely warranted for personages such as Bachmann and Palin (et al), because the alternative is that these people bluster their way onto the stage with unchallenged gravitas; their very presence on the stage would seem to confer seriousness onto them, that would be nothing more than a swindle of the public trust.

    Just sayin’

    1714 chars

  59. alex said on March 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I think unrelenting and “serious” coverage is absolutely warranted for personages such as Bachmann and Palin (et al), because the alternative is that these people bluster their way onto the stage with unchallenged gravitas

    I agree. When I first saw Bachmann on “Meet the Press” or some such Sunday show, my gut reaction was how dare they cheapen themselves by having her as a guest and how dare they elevate her credibility by giving her a place at the table. But after she started talking, I had a very different reaction. She’s incapable of answering even the simplest of questions, going off into incoherent tangents and having to be redirected, scolded really, only to veer off again and again. It’s a different sort of evasion tactic than that used by most politicians, but instead of just making her look slimy it also shows her for the blustering buffoon that she really is. I think the mainstream media ought to give her as much rope as possible with which to hang herself.

    995 chars

  60. Connie said on March 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Go Butler! (Sorry Dorothy)

    27 chars

  61. MarkH said on March 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Indeed, Connie! So much for the “experts”. Three of four #1 seeds gone. “Lowly” Butler (same players as last season, right?) emerges again.

    139 chars

  62. brian stouder said on March 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Well, I had Florida picked on my office-pool bracket, and up ’til today, that was OK.

    So who killed my bracket?

    As always, the Butler did it

    146 chars

  63. Connie said on March 26, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    MarkH, Butler lost last year’s top player, Gordon Hayward, to the NBA draft. He would have been a junior, plays for Utah. Today there was a freshman whose name escaped me, (Hopkins?) who played several times and made a great showing including a 3 pointer. Only two seniors in the starting line-up, so a chunk of the team will return next year.

    Brian, my daughter sent me a picture of the Bulldog captioned (in the LOLcats way) I haz broke your bracket. Ha!

    462 chars

  64. Dexter said on March 27, 2011 at 12:25 am

    alex (@52) –I didn’t see this one coming, but I wish Mr. Herbert well in his new endeavors. I enjoyed his columns much more that the words of Friedman and Brooks. Without Frank and Bob, I won’t miss the Times much anyway.

    Brad Stevens looks like the engineering interns who used to come and get in the way when I worked in the factory. He looks like the drugstore manager I know.
    He looks like the student teachers we all have dealt with—he looks like the “one in charge” when the techs comes to replace the cable line to your house…so…who is he?
    He coaches Butler U in mens’ basketball and again he is going to the Final Four.
    Today , post game, he told us that he had been “out-coached by Billy ( Donovan, FL coach) and just darn lucky to be able to win today.”
    Hey Brad Stevens! You freakin’ WON. YOU out-coached HIM. Gloat a little bit.

    859 chars

  65. coozledad said on March 27, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Excellent analysis of the Libyan intervention, and long overdue.

    138 chars

  66. Connie said on March 27, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Dexter, there’s a facebook event on Friday: Wear glasses to show your support for Brad Stevens and Butler.

    107 chars

  67. prospero said on March 27, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I read that Juan Cole this am cooz. He has better contacts and far more knowledge of these events than any of the various fulminators on the subject, particularly including Republican wanna-be Presidential candidates. I mean, he speaks Arabic. His analysis certainly makes the President’s political and media critics look like partisan knee-jerk know-nothings. No offense intended to anybody that has a strictly moral objection to the military action. I hope some WH aide has passed this along as Obama’s Libya speech is being prepared.

    As far as Butler is concerned, you go, boys. Donovan was outcoached, and I love seeing Florida lose at any sport. And all this reverence for Coach Donovan, well I’d trust him about as much as Bruce Pearl and Geno Auriemma to play by recruiting rules. And I’d be ecsstatic if that little gym rat Coach Shaka ‘Zulu’ Smart could get VCU past Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean).

    We’re more interested in WBB now, because UGA’s still in it and Andy Landers deserves to win a championship (750-248, alltime in 31 years). Although how he didn’t win with Teresa Edwards (five Olympics, four gold medals) and Katrina McClain(three and two) at the same time, I don’t know. The women’s game is exceptionally enjoyable to watch. I used to run a camera on Georgia hoops contests when I worked for Georgia Public broadcasting. Single camera, perched on a 4×8 plywood platform in the rafters of the Coliseum. Temperature at that level would reach 90s during games, and there was always a danger of pitching off the aerie with a $200grand piece of equipment. I’d be drenched by the end of games. My PBS salary: $5.2grand per annum. I’m ashamed of my greed as a quasi-public employee.

    1741 chars

  68. Deborah said on March 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I also think the Juan Cole piece is spot on. Sometimes the left really bugs me and I consider myself part of it. They (we) can be just as blindly ideological as many right-wingers are. The world in reality is highly ambiguous and full of paradoxes. Cole points that out very succinctly, thanks for the link Coozledad.

    317 chars

  69. moe99 said on March 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Maybe if we didn’t have all the Republicans and half the Democrats telling us that we, as a country, are broke, I would feel more generous about spending money on other countries. But when we have people like Nikki White dying at age 32 from lupus because she could not get healthcare in the US (the first page of T.R. Reid’s book The Healing of America), I have to wonder what is going on here.

    404 chars

  70. brian stouder said on March 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    What Moe said

    13 chars