US Uncut launched another nationwide day of protest this week involving around forty participating chapters. The activism strategies again ranged from traditional protest to more creative forms of occupations such as San Francisco’s flash mob in a Bank of America.
This latest campaign follows a busy week for the fledgling organization. US Uncut, along with the Yes Men, have been at the center of the media’s attention following their successful pranktivist duping of the AP.
The anti–corporate tax dodging movement is growing momentum during a time when GOP leaders such as Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty propagate daily the lie that corporations are already overtaxed in America. While corporations claim they’re taxed at 35 percent, their actual effective tax rate is much, much lower after deductions, credits and write-offs.
During the 1950s, the decade in which more people joined the middle class than at any time in history—before or since—corporations paid 49 percent of their profits in taxes. Last year, it was about half that rate, a decidedly more modest 26 percent. In 2010, corporate tax collections totaled $191 billion—down 8 percent from $207 billion as recently as 2000.
Perhaps a more telling yardstick, corporate tax revenue in 2009 came to just 1 percent of gross domestic product—the lowest collection level since 1936, or three-quarters of a century ago. In 2010, it edged up to a puny 1.3 percent—the second-lowest since 1940. Even worse, the shriveled tax collections came at a time when corporations were registering an all-time high in profits. At the end of 2010, corporations posted an annualized profit of $1.65 trillion in the fourth quarter. In other words, the more they made, the less they paid.
America has a revenue problem because of a two-tier taxation system that steals from the poor and offers corporate welfare to the rich. While tax evasion has always been an American business tradition, the practice has now reached frenzied proportions where the government is no longer simply turning a blind eye to the practice but actively facilitating it.
The Fed gave hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to hedge funds and other investors with addresses in the Cayman Islands during the bailout. The addresses belong to companies with American affiliations like Pimco, Blackstone (Pete Peterson’s company that seeks to privatize Social Security) and Waterfall TALF Opportunity (a company owned by Christy Mack, wife of John Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley). The government is now actively subsidizing tax evasion by using citizen dollars to fund corporate stealing for companies like Blackstone that seek to privatize Social Security, which would rob poor Americans of one of their last great social protections.
The legend of welfare kings and queens is true, but these societal parasites don’t live in the ghettos. They live in the Hamptons and on Wall Street. Many Americans now realize this and are beginning to fight back.
Thousands turned out this week to protest Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget cuts in Michigan.
“The script Gov. Snyder has written for his Republican cronies is not the kind of Michigan we want to live in,” Herb Sanders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers told the crowd. “If the politicians won’t listen to us at the Capitol, then we’re prepared to take the fight to them in their home districts.”
Sarah Palin graced Wisconsin with her presence for the sole purpose of stating approval of Governor Scott Walker’s decision to strip unions of the right to collectively bargain. She was enthusiastically booed by a counter-protest, a response that so flustered right-wing mouthpiece Andrew Breitbart that he rushed the podium to scream “GO TO HELL!” at the crowd before encouraging a community that had organized the event to ironically applaud the death of community organizing.
Every week, there are more teacher and students protests opposing education cuts, labor protests demanding the right to collectively bargain (not the right to higher wages or safer working conditions, but the mere right to a seat at the table) and more citizens gather to oppose the two-tier America where the poor suffer while rich corporations raid the Treasury.
US Uncut doesn’t plan to relent with its resistance any time soon. Another larger wave of action is planned for April 18, and so far more than 100 protests have been announced.