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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Paul Rawlings: CORPORATE RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITY

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled corporations can give unlimited amounts of money to politicians and political causes—free speech.
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  • Mitt Romney says corporations are people.
     
    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled corporations can give unlimited amounts of money to politicians and political causes—free speech. The Court is considering whether to allow corporations to deny employees certain health insurance benefits—freedom of religion.
     
    Some believe the sole purpose for a corporations existence is to make it’s owners money.
     
    Some believe corporations should act ethically, be held accountable and punished for their misconduct.
     
    Please consider the following corporate activities:                                               
     
    TAXES
    In 1999 Caterpillar paid Pricewaterhouse Coopers more than $55.0  million to devise and put into effect a corporate restructuring that shifted most of the profits from overseas parts sales to a Swiss subsidiary saving/deferring or avoiding $2.4 billion in U.S taxes over the last 15 years.  Wall Street Journal April 2, 2014
     
    Over two-thirds of corporations pay no federal corporate income tax.  Headline January 10, 2012 Huffington Post
     
    Nearly 300 Fortune 500 Companies paid 18.3 per cent in taxes and 30 companies –such as GE, Wells Fargo, Verizon, Boeing didn’t pay a cent in 2008-9-10.  Citizens For Tax Justice report 11/3/2011
     
    Corporate tax avoidance cost states a combined $42.7 billion between 2008-2010.  Citizens For Tax Justice report December 2011
     
    Other articles on corporate tax avoidance: 
    CNN-Many big firms pay zero corporate tax (video)
    Washington Post---Big corporations use loopholes, dodge taxes, study shows
    New York Times –Biggest public firms paid little U.S tax study says
    Bloomberg—Thirty top companies profited without paying tax study finds
    Reuters—Thirty companies paid no income tax 2008-2010 report
     
    GM AND OTHER AUTO MAKERS
    Since January 1, 2014 GM has recalled 7 million vehicles of 27 different models it sold with defective ignition switches and lock cylinders that resulted in at least 13 deaths.  
     
    Since January 1, 2014 BMW AG, Fiat, Chrysler , Ford, GM, Toyota, and Volkswagen have recalled 15 million vehicles.
     
    During the 1990’s auto makers issued recalls of 123 million vehicles which rose to 170 million in the 2000s.   Wall Street Journal April 10-11, 2014
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    WALL STREET
     
    J.P. Morgan Chase paid $13.0 billion in fines and settlement costs in October 2013 for making false and misleading statements about bond and mortgage securities which contributed to the Wall Street meltdown in 2007.   Bloomberg News October 23, 2013
     
    The six largest banks paid $62.2 billion in fines for their 2007 wrongdoing which caused the second greatest economic collapse in U.S History.   Six years later criminal charges, have NOT BEEN FILED AGAINST ONE TOP BANK OFFICIAL FOR THIS CORPORATE WRONGDOING. Numerous articles in many publications
     
    BIG OIL
     
    BP was fined $4.5 billion in November 2012 for the Deepwater Horizon disaster for violating well safety tests in which eleven workers were killed.  Wall Street Journal October 19, 2013
     
    Exxon paid $900 million to settle the Valdez oil spill of March 24, 1989.  Wall Street Journal October 19, 2013
     
    On March 29, 2013 Exxon-Mobile’s pipeline near Mayflower, Arkansas ruptured sending thousands of barrels of Canadian oil through a residential area causing 27 homeowners to evacuate their homes.  Spill under investigation.   Numerous articles in Arkansas Times—Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
     
    TOBACCO INDUSTRY
     
    In 1998 the five largest tobacco makers agreed to pay out $246 billion to the various states over the course of 25 years ending in 2025.   WSJ October 19, 20
     
    PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY
     
    GlaxoSmithKline in July 2012 paid a fine of $3 billion for illegally marketing drugs and withholding safety data.  Pfizer fined $2.3 billion in 2009, Abbott Laboratories fined $1.6 billion in 2012, Eli Lilly fined  $1.42 billion in 2009 and Merck & Co fined $950 million in 2011.  WSJ October 19, 2013
     
    COAL INDUSTRY
     
    Alpha Natural Resources, the third largest U.S. coal company agreed to and paid a fine of $27.5 million in June 2013 for water pollution in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.  Alpha, and its subsidiaries, discharged heavy metals 6,289 times through 794 different discharge points.   Associated Press March 14, 2014
     
     
     
     
    AIRLINE INDUSTRY
     
    FAA fined Southwest Airline in March 2009  $7.5 million for flying planes that were not safety checked.  NBC News March 2, 2009
     
    Should criminal charges be brought against the top Wall Street bank officials responsible for the 2007 massive securities fraud?
     
    Should auto makers be allowed to sell cars with defective parts in order to make more money for GM’s shareholders?
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    Should corporations who make billions of dollars in profits be allowed to pay no federal income tax?
     
    Should corporations who pollute your drinking water with toxic waste be held accountable and punished?
     
    Should politicians accept contributions from corporations that do not treat their customers, their employees and the public in an honorable, credible ethical manner?
     
    Would you vote for politicians who accept contributions from corporations who are guilty of misconduct?
     
     
    (Paul Rawlings of Heber Springs contributes his “progressive” viewpoint each week to the The Sun-Times.  He writes a blog at www.pauls-musings.blogspot.com)

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