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Big business, Washington working together

Published September 03. 2011 09:01AM

Dear Editor:

Read it and weep: Jobs - Jobs - Jobs - gone forever. What right to work? I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand, that the world owes no man a living, but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.

We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more strongly toward the rich and the great, than toward the wise and the virtuous. We see frequently the vices and the follies of the powerful much less than the poverty and weakness of the innocent.

There was a time when a major corporation was defined by the country in which it was founded and did business. Today many American corporations seem to try to transcend their place of origin. They act as though they've grown so large as not to require a home country. They are in every sense of the word, "multinational."

As their power and financial strength have risen, U.S. multinationals have increasingly used their sheer mass to affect the political agenda. In my opinion, these companies are now far too influential in American politics. These companies pay out hundreds of millions of dollars a year to lobby our elected officials. And they aren't paying those high-priced lobbyists to make sure your interests and mine are well considered by Congress.

Exporting America - Corporate Greed is shipping American Jobs overseas, but corporate America isn't doing all this on its own. Big business and Washington are working together. Trading our nation's livelihood for short-term gains while they undermine our very way of life.

The millions of unemployed workers in this country deserve better, and so do the millions of Americans whose job are threatened by mindless trade, labor and immigration policies. All of us who care about this country and one another must demand that our political leaders represent the real interests of this country.

In the months following 9-11 many were labeled traitors by our government. It was easy to point an accusing finger at the very apparent traitors, those who had taken aims against this country or, worse yet, dared to question the administration.

But just off most of our radars and just off our shores lurk our not-so-apparent traitors, the U.S. companies who have set up shop in the Bahamas, Switzerland, and elsewhere to avoid taxation. It's called "tax motivated expatriation" - a nice corporate phrase for "freeloading" - and it's a tax code loophole that allows U.S. companies to enjoy all the benefits provided by their government without the nuisance of having to pay for them.

Real patriots pay U.S. taxes: these "American" companies don't actually have to move to the Bahamas, the money gets to live in the Caribbean. They just have to set up a P.O. box on the island - essentially a phone, with some kind of mailbox to collect their dirty, blood money. It gets more sophisticated in Switzerland: I call it AWOL.

What happened to morality? You know, the moral thing to do, that also off the radar screen. It's all about GREED.

"What's good for business is good for America!" Well no. Fraud can be good for business; sweatshops are good for business; children work cheap! The tax cheats in the Caribbean who are AWOL love to give you that malarkey about how, without the taxes, they can cut the cost of the product they're making. Yes, and slavery's a real cost-cutter, too.

Rich people did very, very well in the last three decades. But now it's time to give back and not forget that that kind of wealth was only made possible because it was accrued in a country that with all its flaws, is the envy of the world precisely because we have functioning government agencies, like the IRS, that allow people to conduct commerce. Without the S.E.C. and the Federal Reserve, not to mention the FBI and a kick-ass army, the conditions for amassing wealth simply wouldn't exist.

The IRS estimates that this offshore tax dodge siphons $200 billion each year from our U.S. treasury. The connection we have to make here is this: Politicians respond to pressure. If they don't think the people are outraged about something, it slips off their agenda. There are fundraisers to attend, lobbyists to entertain and mistresses to entertain. We have to let them know in Washington what makes us mad at home, and this kind of nonsense certainly should. But, any idiot can win votes coming out against the taxes - we all hate taxes, we all hate the IRS. But many nations would love to have the effective way of collecting legitimately needed tax revenue - and, unfortunately, with highway robberies like this, we're becoming one of them.

Greed has overtaken a sense of higher responsibility to shareholders, to community, to employees, and to the public trust. Too many of these businesses are run with an indifference to basic American values and basic American responsibilities - like paying a fair share of taxes.

Joseph L. Koperna

Tamaqua, Pa.

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