Tax Fairness vs Walmart

As my old friend Skip Sleyster used to say in the Kansas City Star every Sunday, “One moment of your time please”.

Please take a moment to read about all of the wonderful benefits we get from shopping at Walmart and taking advantage of all the savings they so benevolently bestow upon us.

Quoted from Americans for Tax Fairness as they explain it loud and clear:

“Americans for Tax Fairness is a diverse coalition of 425 national and state organizations that collectively represent tens of millions of members. The organization was formed on the belief that the country needs comprehensive, progressive tax reform that results in greater revenue to meet our growing needs. ATF is playing a central role in Washington and in the states on federal tax-reform issues.

Americans for Tax Fairness, 1726 M Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20036

www.AmericansForTaxFairness.org

KEY FINDINGS:

WALMART DODGES $1 BILLION A YEAR IN U.S. TAXES, ON AVERAGE, THROUGH TAX LOOPHOLES.

The U.S. statutory corporate tax rate – the amount corporations are supposed to pay – is 35 percent.

But Walmart used tax loopholes to reduce its effective tax rate – what it actually pays – to an average of 29.1 percent from 2008 to 2012. This allowed the company to cut its tax bill by

$5.1 billion over those five years – a tax savings of $1 billion a year, on average.

WALMART MIGHT AVOID ANOTHER $720 MILLION A YEAR IN TAXES – AND $7 BILLION OVER A DECADE –IF CORPORATE TAX RATES ARE LOWERED TO 25 PERCENT.

If Walmart lowered the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, its tax rate might drop from its average of 29.1 percent from 2008 to 2012 to 25 percent. Based on Walmart’s $87 billion in profits over those years, the company would have paid $3.6 billion less in taxes or million a year.

TAXPAYERS ALREADY SPEND AN ESTIMATED $6.2 BILLION A YEAR SUBSIDIZING WALMART’S LOW PAY AND MEAGER BENEFITS.

That’s because Walmart pays its employees so little that many of them rely on food stamps,

Medicaid and other taxpayer-funded programs.

WALMART IS AVOIDING PAYING U.S. TAXES ON $21.4 BILLION IN OFFSHORE PROFITS.

Walmart reports that the profits it makes offshore and on which it is not paying U.S. taxes have doubled in recent years, growing from $10.5 billion in 2008 to $21.4 billion in 2013. Because corporations can indefinitely postpone paying U.S. taxes on offshore profits that have not been brought to America, Walmart has paid nothing to the U.S. Treasury on those earnings.

Meanwhile,

Walmart’s international capital spending remained steady over the same period that these untaxed offshore profits doubled suggesting that Walmart is piling up cash overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes on the earnings, rather than using the profits for offshore investments.

WALMART COULD DODGE BILLIONS MORE IN TAXES UNDER A TERRITORIAL TAX SYSTEM.

A territorial tax system would eliminate all U.S. taxation of offshore profits. Any profits Walmart and its suppliers earn abroad would be taxed solely by the country in which they are earned. If a country has a lower tax rate than the U.S. – which many countries where Walmart operates do – Walmart would immediately cut its tax bill. A territorial tax system also would provide even more incentives for corporations to shift production and profits offshore to low-tax jurisdictions. One study has estimated that such a system would encourage U.S. corporations to create 800,000 jobs in low-tax countries rather than here at home.

WALMART PLAYS A LEADING ROLE IN EFFORTS TO REDUCE CORPORATE TAXES.

Walmart is working to influence tax legislation in three ways – through lobbying, campaign contributions and issue advocacy via major corporate coalitions. Walmart employs 74 lobbyists

80 percent of whom have previously served in government – and it has spent $32.6 million lobbying on tax and other issues over the past five years. Tax issues have been by far Walmart’s top lobbying focus. Its PAC has contributed $6.1 million to federal candidates, committees and political parties since 2009. And Walmart is the only major discount retail company that is a member of three major business coalitions trying to lower corporate tax rates – the RATE Coalition, Alliance for Competitive Taxation (ACT) and the Business Roundtable (BRT) – two of which (ACT and BRT) are advocating for a territorial tax system.”

Think about it!

The map of House districts

Republican and Democratic House of Representative districts following the recent midterm election. Sad but true. A reflection of the country which has now been bought and paid for by special interests, the rich and powerful corporations. For the sake of the nation this needs to change.

It’s All Obama’s Fault?

It’s All Obama’s Fault?

Ted Folkert

November 12, 2014

Waiting for the smoke to clear. That’s what seemed like the right thing to do by most of the media pundits that we read or listen to. The outcome of the election was no shock. It was widely predicted by the pundits, and probably exacerbated by all of the pollsters, which projected the negative outcome for the Democrats, which fed shock-value fodder for the noise media to attract viewers and listeners. They aggressively quoted each other about Obama’s “plunging” approval ratings, which weren’t really plunging at all, they declined by about 2 points, like from 42% to 40%. Of course it was blasted by the noise media like it was a rejection of Obama, who was maligned throughout the campaign as the culprit of all of the country’s ills. Everything was Obama’s fault, even those things that happened long before he took office and those things that happened or didn’t happen because of the obstructionist House majority and the legislation-blocking Senate minority, a totally dysfunctional Congress, the least productive House of Representatives in the history of the country. Some seem to think that Obama’s biggest shortcoming is “PWB”, being president while black.

Charles Blow summed it up in his NY Times article: “The Obama Opposition”, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/10/opinion/charles-blow-the-obama-opposition.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0 .

Jeff Schweitzer summed it up in his blistering article in the Huffington Post: “The Price of Failure and Rise of Extremism: How Democrats Blew It”, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-schweitzer/the-price-of-failure-and_b_6099752.html.

We all have our likes and dislikes for the actions and non-actions of the Obama administration, beginning with his uninformed and disastrous decision to surround himself with Clinton cronies, all Wall Street swindlers, all of the banker-friendly guys who promoted the deregulation that enabled the banksters to pick our pockets one more time, like they have throughout our history for the last hundred years. The Big Six have changed names and faces over the years, but they still rule the world.

We all overlook the good decisions and beneficial actions that he was able to bring forth before the complete blockage of progress by the regressive House of Representatives majority and the filibuster-prone Senate minority. And we overlook the Affordable Care Act and other beneficial programs he continues to promote during his short time in office.

If he could be elected now, after receiving this on-the-job-training of the last six years, he could probably become a very good president, if there is such a person. Unfortunately, there is no training program for president of the United States. There certainly should be. One of the most important positions in the world, not only for us but for most countries, should have some prerequisites, some training requirements.

Life is strange. In order to drive a car you must have training, learn the rules of the road, and pass a written and driving test. Likewise for flying an airplane or being an attorney or a real estate agent. You have to pass a test. But becoming president of the US is just like becoming a parent, no training required, no test required, you just jump in there and start doing it, learning as you go and hoping not to destroy the target before achieving the objective. We need to rethink this policy and whenever it gets bad enough for the populace to rise up and change the electoral system, so that the people can once more have some control of government, we should create a training system for presidential candidates commensurate with the importance of the job and protective of the potential damage to society that can occur due to the lack of essential skills and knowledge of the consequences of inappropriate actions. Perhaps we should have a presidential panel instead of one person having so much power, like the Supreme Court, except that the panelists should require election by the voters, with term limits and a provision for removal from office by the people.

Think about it!

Our American War Heroes

Our American War Heroes

Ted Folkert

November 12, 2014

It was a sad event on a sad day. Maybe it was his way of emphasizing his mission of antiwar activism. He died yesterday, on Veteran’s Day. What better example of the result of unnecessary war than by calling the nation’s attention to the sacrifice of a vibrant young man, excited by the attack on his country, seized by patriotism, and willing to lay his life on the line in defense of his country – volunteering for military action two days after September 11, 2001, going through necessary training, becoming assigned to enter the war in Iraq, arriving on the scene, and a few days later becoming a victim of Bush’s war, hit by a sniper’s bullet, maimed for life, living ten years as an invalid, paralyzed from the chest down, and now dead at the ripe young age of thirty-four.

The bravery, patriotism, and ultimate sacrifice by Tomas Young, a Kansas City resident, who, at the age of 21 stepped up to the line and said, “take me, I’ll go, I’ll fight for my country”, didn’t work out so well for Tomas. After suffering tremendously from his injuries and then deciding that he wanted to go on living so that he could convince other young men to avoid the temptation to enter the military, he met Ralph Nader and Phil Donahue, who did a film about him, “Body of War.” He protested with Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in the war. She is the activist who asked President Bush to explain the “just and noble cause” that her son died for, an explanation that she never received.

Cathy Smith, mother of Tomas Young, and Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey Sheehan, are just two examples of loved ones who lost their sons or daughters in the Bush/Cheney wars. Of course Bush and Cheney were not involved, they had more important things to do, so they sent our sons and daughters, our moms and dads, our loved ones over there – and for what? There isn’t a thread of evidence of any good that came from it all, except for the defense contractors and wartime service companies who cleaned up handsomely. They completely destroyed two countries, devastated the citizenry and murdered hundreds of thousands of their people for some “just and noble cause” that they are unable to identify.

May Tomas Young and Casey Sheehan, and all of the others who lost their lives, rest in peace, knowing that they loved their country, had great courage, and died for some just cause, not militarily but as examples of the unjust wars of hubris, started by power mongers and fought by patriotic young people who thought they were doing the right thing. They are true war heroes.

Think about it!

Shelter for Homeless Vets

Shelter for Homeless Vets

Ted Folkert

November 11, 2014

I wonder what took us so long.

Today, Veteran’s Day, the Los Angeles Times featured an article about a 32 unit housing building for homeless veterans and some of those who are inhabiting the units. Many are Vietnam veterans who have lived on the streets for many years as we passed them by and ignored them. They are invisible you know.

Thirty two units – what a generous offering for the thousands who need lodging, health care, psychological help, food and clothing. Many more have died on the streets, unable to seek help or continue to exist with the addictions that controlled their lives, their only respite from the evils of warfare that caused their downward spiral into oblivion.

They were treated like unlawful aggressors and murderers when they returned home, those who returned home. They were cajoled, insulted, and slandered by the antiwar protesters, although all they were guilty of was following orders from their superiors in the chain of command, the primary principle of the military that enables the military function.

They didn’t start the war, they didn’t vote for it, they just ended up there, most of them drafted against their will. They killed and maimed millions of Vietnamese because they were ordered to, because they had to in order to survive themselves. If they had deserted we would have killed or incarcerated them, they had no choice.

But when they came home, we deserted them, we ignored them, we refused to hire them, we punished them for a war that was unnecessary, started by sabre rattlers exercising hubris and ignorance, power mongers who should have been the first ones on the battlefield but never showed up for the war.

May those who followed their orders and never came back rest in peace. They are true heroes. May those 32 for whom we finally provided housing rest in comfort as they reflect on the lifetime that our fearless leaders destroyed for them, the fearless leaders who never showed up for the war, they just beat the drums and strutted like brave heroes but in true cowardice. It is easy and painless to start a fight if you don’t have to compete in it. Having to actually compete should be the first requirement of starting a fight or a war.

The leader who declares a war or starts a fight should lead the troops. When that happens the likelihood of necessity is much greater and the decision to resist the temptation is much greater.

Think about it!

Hurray for our military members, past and present. I don’t know what we would do without them and I don’t know why we don’t do more for them.

The strange thing about this national holiday, although it is certainly more worthy than most, is that it is difficult to say “happy veterans day”. It isn’t a happy day.

State for sale to the highest bidder.

State for sale to the highest bidder.

Ted Folkert

Big money floods MO. Race

Matt Pearce of the L.A. Times tells us about this national group that pours hundreds of thousands of dollars into a Cole County, Missouri judicial candidate’s campaign. Cole is a rural county of 50,000 registered voters, but it includes the state government of Jefferson City.

In the only contested judicial race in Missouri, Brian Stumpe, the Republican candidate, is running to unseat 20 year Democratic incumbent Pat Joyce. It seems that one of Joyce’s rulings two years ago effectively stamped out a 2012 statewide ballot initiative backed by conservatives that aimed to replace income tax with sales taxes.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, a conservative political nonprofit, recently donated $100,000 to Stumpe after spending $150,000 on more than 100 television ads on opposition to his opponent.

Now this is a perfect, real life, example of that worn out phrase of “the best judge money can buy.”

Just one more reason to vote Democratic!

The best officials money can buy

The best officials money can buy

Ted Folkert

November 3, 2014

$4,000,000,000.00. – Yes, that is four billion dollars – that is the cost of this midterm election.

This is what the Supreme Court’s rebellious majority did to us with the Citizens United decision.

It unleashed this enormous onslaught of special interest dollars to buy those candidates who will carry out the wishes of those who desire the power and control of our nation in order to garner financial gain and privilege.

Who are those responsible for this purchase of the U.S. government? – The behemoth corporations and avaricious individuals, those who believe that they deserve control of the nation and control of the financial world. Those who believe that the working class – those of us who do the heavy lifting and provide all of the goods and services, all of the infrastructure that keeps the country going and progressing – should be happy to share a small portion of the income and wealth created by their efforts, leaving the riches of income and wealth to the chosen ones, the ones they chose.

Who are those who have made it possible to buy this country? – the five angry men in black dresses which we call the right-wing of the Supreme Court, the activist court, which makes policy instead of rendering decisions based on honest constitutional interpretations.

Who are those who gave us these right-wing miscarriages of justice? – The Republican presidents – the Republican Party.

We have an election tomorrow. We need to elect Democratic candidates. We need to reelect Democrats. We need to replace Republican officials of our state and our nation with Democratic officials.

We need a constitutional amendment to reform our election laws and assure that all of the citizens’ voices are heard.

We need a more honest Supreme Court.

The only way to achieve these needs, these goals, is at the ballot box.

Please go vote.

Please vote for your Democratic candidates and office holders.

Please help us elect better leaders.

Country for sale! To the highest bidder!

United States of America – model of the free world

For Sale to the biggest liar and the highest bidder

Contact: Elmer Gantry, P. T. Barnum or Charles Ponzi

Ted Folkert

October 31, 2014

This is a costly but curable disease. No, I’m not talking about Ebola. You can tune in to any TV channel, newspaper, or magazine and get nonstop coverage about Ebola. We all know plenty about it. It is a terrible contagious disease which deserves all of the efforts underway to control and overcome it. There is nothing we can add to that conversation.

The costly disease we need to focus on is the contagious, democracy-threatening, disease of inequality, fueled by corporate-inspired, right-wing expounded, special-interest financed, avaricious, hyperbole which is being drummed into the heads of those of us who are unable or unwilling to investigate and educate ourselves on the true facts of the issues that will determine the future of the working class in this country and the sustaining economy upon which our future relies.

The campaign of falsehoods, miss-truths, out-of-context statements, misleading advertisements, and outright lies makes our famous fictional and real swindlers look like beginners. You remember Elmer Gantry, the bible thumping con man, evangelist selling religion to small town America. You member P.T. Barnum, the carnival, circus guy who said: “there’s a sucker born every minute”, and “every crowd has a silver lining’, as he removed money from your pocket and put it in his with his hoaxes. How about Charles Ponzi, well-known for the Ponzi scheme, a clever selling of big paying investments fueled by paying dividends to former investors with new investors’ money, a scheme still quite popular today, particularly on Wall Street.

The shenanigans of Gantry, Barnum, and Ponzi look like chump change compared to the high-stakes game being administered by the corporatists, through the efforts and co-conspiracy of the Republican Party today. The would-be aristocrats today have hooked them up and reeled them in with offers they couldn’t refuse, offers that make the Godfather’s small time crime look like chump change.

We are talking big bucks now. I don’t know how much, but I read about part of what they are willing to spend to get the laws they want and the enforcement of the laws they want.

Check these numbers out: 2014 campaign expenditures for House and Senate races almost $1 billion to date (FEC). This is the money they are willing to spend, not the reward they expect to get from the investment. And the candidates are willing to sell their ideas in order to enjoy the power of office and the monetary rewards down the road for having held the office.

As far as enforcement of our laws is concerned, states who elect judges are now experiencing huge increases in campaign contributions for election of the best justice that money can buy. Not to be casting aspersions upon our elected judges, but how else can we interpret this inevitability. Since the year 2000, $288 million has been the cost of judicial elections. (FEC)

The only way we can break this enormous obstacle to our progress toward democracy is by getting the money out of political campaigns, getting the money out of judicial campaigns, and restoring the intended method of election, candidates running on their merits and on their integrity and on their principles.

As we now know, this won’t happen without a constitutional amendment. But we can start it in the right direction by electing better leaders. And we can start that next Tuesday when we select our choices and cast our votes.

Vote for Democratic candidates. We know where they stand. They stand closer to the working class, closer to the proletariat, further from the plutocrats, further from the corporatists, further from the aristocracy.

Think about it!

Please help us elect better leaders!

Knowing who your friends are

Knowing who your friends are  

Ted Folkert

October 28, 2014

Bill Moyers tells us what his dad said about Franklin Roosevelt – he said: Roosevelt is my friend. My mom and dad lived through the Great Depression and they felt the same way. They thought Roosevelt was their friend. They always voted for Democrats because they thought Democratic candidates were their friends. They thought Democratic candidates had their best interest in mind, that their hearts were in the right place, and that they believed in the common good of all the people.

I wonder how many of us now know who our friends are.

Our only chance to express our opinion and have it counted is upon us. What is it we want from government? A strong economy with jobs for everyone who wants one? A job with a living wage? A safety net for those of us who need a helping hand, to help us through catastrophic events that we can’t handle? A government that assures a safe and beneficial infrastructure for transportation, utilities, and protection from catastrophes? National defense? Police protection? Flood protection? Disaster relief?

The Social Security Act was signed into law by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt. All Republicans voted against it. All attempts to end it, reduce benefits, or hand the fund over to Wall Street to gamble with the money have been promoted by Republicans and denied by Democrats.

Medicare was signed into law in 1965 by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. Since then Republicans have relentlessly attempted to reduce it and eliminate it many times.

The Civil Rights Act was signed into law in 1964 by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965 by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. The Southern States then became heavily Republican because of the widespread racial discrimination in those states.

Universal health care has been a goal of Democrats for more than fifty years. It was defeated by Republicans many times until 2010 when the Democrats passed and Democratic President Barack Obama signed into law, the Affordable Care Act. Since then the Republican congress has voted 50 times to repeal this law, a law which has enabled thousands, perhaps millions, of uninsured people to have health insurance.

For many years Republicans have tried to eliminate or reduce unemployment benefit programs. All attempts have been prevented by Democrats.

When we go to vote we must remember who our friends are.

Our friends are the Democratic candidates, the candidates who represent the working class as well as the privileged class, the proletariat as well as the plutocrats.

Vote Democratic. Vote for the people, all of the people.

Please help us elect better leaders!

The Three “E”s – Education, Energy, Environment

The Three “E”s – Education, Energy, Environment

Ted Folkert

October 23, 2014

The three “E”s go together like the song we all remember, like “love and marriage”, like a “horse and carriage” – “you can’t have one without the other”.

Education, energy, environment – Environment, energy, education – Energy, education, environment. It doesn’t matter what order you put them in, it is all or none – we have to have them all or it won’t work.

We can’t have a safe and life-supporting environment without renewable energy sources. The development of renewable energy sources requires a good system of education to provide us with well-educated scientists and engineers. We must have renewable energy sources. The energy sources we have are finite and are inducing global warming, which the scientific community, almost unanimously, agrees is destroying the ability of our environment to support human life.

This factor alone supports the belief that nothing can be more important to the future of the country than education. The experiments with “No child left behind”, Bushes pathetic brainstorm, using constant testing to gauge the success and ability of educators who have no choice but to teach the students they are given, regardless of their intellect, their language barriers, their family life or lack thereof, their social privilege or lack thereof, their nutrition or lack thereof. Thousands of good educators, teachers and administrators, have lost their jobs due to failure to meet testing score achievement requirements. Many more have lost their jobs due to cheating on the testing in order to save their careers, although it was the only way to meet the challenge due to the impossibility of reaching the goals with the students they were given to teach.

A college education needs to become more affordable. Students should not be at the mercy of avaricious lenders who load them up with student loans, financially guaranteed by their parents, which become a burden for many years to come, delaying marriage and child bearing, preventing the purchase of homes, furnishings, and other necessities of family life, and ending up with an education that fails to provide the employment opportunities that they had anticipated. We need to make it possible for all of our young people to receive higher education at the level they can achieve and at a cost they can afford.

Our primary energy sources all entail the burning of fossil fuel – coal, oil, and natural gas. All products of buried life forms of millions of years ago, plants and animals. Mother Nature buried them over millions of years and we are extracting them and consuming them in a couple of hundred years or less. We are not only consuming them, we are sending the part we don’t use into the atmosphere, which makes our air toxic, destroys ocean life, and causes a warming of our planet. What a way to take care of your home. It is like pouring gasoline on your house and assuming that lightning will never strike or turning on the water in the bathtub and laying down and going to sleep. How stupid can we be?

Let’s face it. We are ignoring our home. We are destroying our home. We continue to deter the best way of saving our home, education. Why do we do this? We do it because it isn’t important to those we elect to lead us. They are totally absorbed in fund-raising so they can keep their jobs. They serve those who pay for their campaigns, those who tell them what to be focused on and how to vote on whatever comes up, if anything ever comes up. They allow the behemoth corporations to own all of the public airways. Consequently, we don’t hear the opinions of the scientific community. Consequently, we don’t get a fair analysis of the qualities of those who run for office, we get the analysis they want us to hear. They allow the five angry men in black dresses to hand the behemoth corporations total control of the electoral process, so that they can focus on the only thing that matters, next quarters value of their corporate stock, stockholder value. That is all that matters. That determines the salaries and bonuses of the corporate leaders. What could be more important than that? They have numerous homes, cars, planes and helicopters to support. They need the money.

Well, we know what they need. And we also know what we need. What we need is education. What we need is renewable energy. What we need in a life sustaining environment, a planet-sustaining environment. And the way we get what we need is by electing better leaders. What we have now isn’t working. What we have now is ignoring the clear and present danger to the planet and focusing on the clear and present personal reward for those who control the largess of the public treasury. They are doing what they are told but we the people don’t get to tell them what to do. That isn’t the way it is supposed to work. We can change that at the polls. It is up to us. We can do it.

Think about it!

Vote for education. Vote for energy. Vote for the environment.

Help us elect better leaders!