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2004-04-15 18:18:53+00:00 - Hey, Corporate America! Show Taxpayers Some Appreciation! - (anne@votenader.org)

Hey, Corporate America! Show Taxpayers Some Appreciation! By Ralph Nader If you work for a corporation, ask your own employer to support Taxpayer Appreciation Day. (We?ve included contact information at the end of the article.) Take Action Now! April 15 is just around the corner. Please let us know what action you?ve taken and what type of response you receive at taxday@votenader.org I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that April 15th of each year be designated Taxpayer Appreciation Day, a day when corporations receiving taxpayer subsidies, bailouts, and other forms of corporate welfare can express their thanks to the citizens who provide them. Though it may not be evident, quite a few industries -- and the profits they generate -- can be traced back to taxpayer-financed programs whose fruits have been given away to (mostly) larger businesses. Taxpayer dollars have often funded discoveries made by NASA, the Department of Defense, and the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. In many instances the rights to those discoveries were later given away to companies that brag about them as though they were the fruits of their own investments. Taxpayer dollars have played a major role in the growth of the aviation and aerospace, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications industries -- to name only a few. Though corporate America insists it must file yearly income taxes just like everyone else, it is responsible for a sharply decreasing portion of federal tax dollars -- despite record profits. Despite record profits, corporate tax contributions to the federal budget have been steadily declining for fifty years and now stand at a mere 7.4% of the federal government income because of the loopholes they driven into our tax laws. The average citizen pays more than four to five times that in federal income tax revenues (with the single exception of payroll taxes). Clearly corporations that believe they are self-reliant are often, in fact, dependent on taxpayer funds to maintain their financial viability. The least they could do is thank us. Which is why we need something like Taxpayer Appreciation Day. Consider the following: General Electric bought RCA (which owned NBC) in the mid-1980s with funds it was able to save by using an outrageous tax loophole passed by Congress in 1981. That loophole allowed GE to pay no federal taxes on three years of profits, totaling more than $6 billion dollars. It also gave them a $125 million refund! That gave GE the money to buy RCA. GE should arrange a media extravaganzas on NBC to say "Thank you, taxpayers.? Pharmaceutical companies constantly ballyhoo their discoveries in advertisements. What they don't tell us is that many of the important nonredundant therapeutic drugs -- including most anticancer drugs -- were developed, in whole or in part, with taxpayer money and then given to them by the NIH and the Defense Department. Bristol-Meyers Squibb, for example, controls the rights to Taxol, an anticancer drug developed all the way through human clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health with $31 million of taxpayer moneys. Pharmaceutical companies spend billions on advertisements each year. Perhaps they should consider a big "Thank You, Taxpayers" ad campaign every April 15, if only to remind them where their drug research and development subsidies come from. Mining companies often receive vast sweetheart deals from taxpayers. Under the 1872 Mining Act hard rock mining companies are allowed to purchase mining rights to public land for only $5 an acre, no matter how valuable the minerals on (or in) that land might be. A Canadian company recently mined $9 billion in gold on federal land in Nevada after using the Mining Act to purchase the mining rights to it for about $30,000. Mining companies owe the taxpayers their gratitude. Television broadcasters were given free license to use public airwaves (worth around $70 billion) by a supine Congress in 1997. They too should thank us. What about all those professional sports corporations that play and profit in taxpayer-funded stadiums and arenas? The owners and players should thank the fans/taxpayers who -- in spite of their largess -- still must pay through the nose for tickets. For years McDonalds received taxpayer subsidies to promote its products overseas as part of a foreign market access program. Now McDonalds is a ubiquitous brand name worldwide, but has it ever thanked the taxpayers who underwrote its efforts? Then there are the HMOs, hospitals, and defense contractors that have had their legal fees reimbursed by the taxpayers when our government prosecutes them for fraud or cost overruns. Those companies have great public relations firms that can help them show us their gratitude. Corporate America has taken too much from us for too long. It's time it shows us a little bit of appreciation. Corporate Contacts: General Electric (NBC): David Frail Financial Communications 1--203-373-3387 david.frail@corporate.ge.com Bristol-Meyers Squibb: Peter R. Dolan, CEO 345 Park Avenue New York, New York, USA 10154-0037 1-212-546-4000 peter.dolan@bms.com Viacom (CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET, Paramount Pictures, Viacom Outdoor, Infinity, UPN, Spike TV, TV Land, CMT: Country Music Television, Comedy Central, Showtime, Blockbuster, and Simon & Schuster): Sumner M. Redstone , Chairman and CEO 1515 Broadway New York, NY 10036 1-212-258-6000 (refused to provide email addresses) Walt Disney Co. (ABC): David Eisner, CEO 500 S. Buena Vista Street Burbank, CA 91521 ABC, Inc. 1-818-460-7477 netaudr@abc.com McDonalds USA: Jim Cantalupo, Chairman and CEO McDonald?s Plaza Oak Brook, IL 60523 1-800-244-6227 Email on-line form. Halliburton (Kellogg Brown & Root): David J. Lesar, Chairman, President & CEO 5 Houston Center 1401 McKinney, Suite 2400 Houston, TX 77010 1-713-759-2600 communityrelations@halliburton.com In addition to these, pursue your favorite and let us know what they say! -- of her terrorist client Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman. One of the members of NION's Advisory Board, Abdeen Jabara, is a member of the legal advisory board for the American Muslim Council. He is a past president of the Arab-American Ant-Discrimination Committee, a board member of William Kunstler's Center for Constitutional Rights, and a co-counsel with Lynne Stewart for Sheik Rahman, the terrorist convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The American Muslim Council is one of the current members of Al-Arian's NCPPF (the same group to which IFCO's Bernstein belongs). Leaders of the AMC have been quoted as praising Hamas and Hezbollah. Jabara's AMC advisory board colleagues include Fakhri Al-Barzinji. Al-Barzinji is involved in Mar-Jac Poultry, which was raided last year by the FBI for links to Sami Al-Arian. Bashir Ahmad is another of Jabara's AMC advisory board colleagues. Ahmad is a member of the SAMAD Group (a financial operation) and Justice Taqi Usmani works for the SAMAD Group. Taqi Usmani is a suspected major play