I’ve always liked that bumper sticker that reads “If you’re not OUTRAGED, you’re not paying attention.” (Though of course it can just as easily be stated that If you’re not outraged, you must be paying attention to Fox, but I digress…) Another slogan I’ve enjoyed goes “I’ll believe corporations are people when a Texas jury executes one.” To that sentiment all I would add is this: or until they pay they have to pay their taxes like all the rest of us working stiffs. To wit, today is Tax Day, everybody, so pony up! You, too, corporations — that is what your name means after all: “corporation” from the Latin for corpus and corporare, literally to make into a body. (Think “corporeal punishment” or “Marine Corps.” Or hell, just think corpse, as in the American dream/ social mobility/ public works/ U.S. revenue thanks to tax dodging loopholes.)
Let’s start with a short video, shall we?
From the excellent documentary We’re Not Broke, well worth watching in its entirety.
In that same vein, if you have not heard about U.S. Uncut (which I assure has not at all to do with circumcision and is not to be confused with the “intact” movement!), then I encourage you to check them out some when you have time.
Lord knows dodging taxes and corporate loopholes are nothing new. (Anyone else my age remember “Crackers the Corporate Crime-fighting Chicken”? If not, oh man! feast your peepers here!) But I am willing to be wrong here by suggesting the following: it’s one thing for industries like steel or cereal, glass and natural gas, not to pay their fair share and hardly anyone says boo about it because we are beholden to them — unless we stop driving cars and/or avoid all highways and bridges, quit working or living in buildings, or have them heated, cease and desist eating meals we don’t grow in our backyards — these are the facts of industrialized society’s life. But isn’t kind of weird that financial institutions can get away with not paying taxes? Or worse still: go bankrupt due to their own irrational exuberance, get a bailout from the federal government, but then still not pay back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service!
But really it’s technology that lodges a bee in my bonnet. Verizon is a notorious tax cheater, but how many of us break our contracts with them and opt for a more reputable company? I do understand the psychology of brand identity and marketing, but are Verizon phones really so great? Good enough to not care that the tax revenue that should be coming from them instead must be compensated for elsewhere — like a rise in property taxes, a social service rescinded, a teacher laid off?
Or — and I know this will upset people — that more glaring gorilla in the room we don’t like talking about, our collective cognitive dissonance, our poison pill we hate to love to swallow: Apple, Inc.
Cute slogans both: “iLove my iPhone, iHate the tax cheat” and “I can sync my iPhone to my MacBook, why can’t I sync it to MY VALUES.” I will make two disclaimers here: I myself do own one Apple product — an iPod — and I am generously endowed with blissful ignorance of whatever the hell syncing phones and books mean! What USuncut.org is trying to do here is admirable, but as a negotiating/bargaining strategy, it’s backwards and self-defeating. While Apple has received much flak the last few months over its tax dereliction and the working conditions of its overseas plants in Asia, are people boycotting Apple? Good heavens no! It is the single most profitable company on Planet Earth! The problem is people are both beholden and betrothed to their Apple gadgets. Until or unless we are willing to dispense with these so-called conveniences, all our inveighing to Apple is as empty a threat as someone driving an SUV hauling behind it three sets of jet skis and a boat as big as a barn sends an email to Exxon-Mobil about its “corporate citizen responsibility.”
Except that there’s no culture or cachet of “cool” with gasoline like there is with Apple products, which is part of our collective cognitive dissonance: we
like love the crap Apple makes because it’s different, hip, chic. And let’s just be honest: Windows blows and generic PCs are pretty bourgeois and mundane, the equivalent of a Toyota Corolla or Dodge Neon. What I am using right now is a boring, humdrum eMachines desktop running on Windows 7. (If I had even an ounce of the wherewithal and knowhow to run an alternative like Linux, I’d be doing it.) I have no illusions that Microsoft is free from sin or that whoever cobbled together the wiry guts and Tron-esque circuit board of eMachines desktops did so abiding a standard of untarnished workplace safety conditions. Any day I don’t use a computer is a good day, by and by. (No, the irony is not lost on me that to communicate this scribble requires us both to have one.) And if we could go back in time when a “computer” simply meant someone (not something) who computed, who counted, I’d be tickled pink. But I know that ain’t gonna happen. Still though I do not think that Apple is the shit, but its behavior on paying taxes sure stinks like it.
I’m not a Mac. But I am a taxpayer.
$$$ Want to peruse Apple’s tax documents on tax havens? Click here!
$$$ Want to see how Apple dodges paying its taxes via Ireland, the Netherlands, and the Bahamas?
Sure you do! Let’s go Dutch and check it out here.
$$$ Want to read more about this in general? Here you go.