No one can ferret out the economic and tax outrage like David Cay Johnston. His new book, The Fine Print exposes more shafting of the U.S. middle class through fees, contracts and taxes, this time all buried in the details. Johnston tallies up all of the fees, overcharges and gifts to corporations to show small font corruption costs each American family of four about $2,390 per year.
Most of us know we do not have government by and for the people. Johnston documents the never ending collusion between corporate America and government. That's all government, federal, state, local and even the court system working not for the national interest, but for corporate America's interests. The book is front loaded with all sorts of outrage which should get your blood boiling. No political party and their agendas are spared.
Did you know state and local governments give corporations at least $70 billion per year in rebates and tax breaks? Some corporations get over 90% of new facilities paid for by taxpayers. Did you know corporations get massive state and local tax givebacks on the promise of a few jobs? State and local governments pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a few jobs which pay little, if the company bothers to hire any Americans at all. One deal for Verizon amounted to paying $3.1 million dollars per job promised by the company.
We all see state income taxes withheld from our paychecks on our W-2 form. Did you know those taxes don't go to the state government? Instead corporations keep those taxes for themselves. More than 2,700 corporations keep those state income taxes you thought were going to the government. That's foreign firms, foreign banks, domestic and multinational corporations getting a free gift by taking money out of your pocket and is in 19 states... so far.
With all of the talk of the Keystone oil pipeline being blocked, check out some of these facts. Existing gas and oil pipelines, some which run near schools and hospitals, are exempt from safety inspections. The book documents a host of people getting blown up by faulty gas and oil pipelines.
Together, industry with the help of the federal government will not even tell people where these pipelines are located. Oil and gas pipelines are also a monopoly, and are put in a master limited partnership as their business entity. As we noted in this post, partnerships do not pay corporate income tax. Yet, a little known regulator of oil and natural gas pipelines, the FERC, allows these partnerships to charge customers for non-existent corporate income tax as part of their fees. Sweet deal huh? A business that does not pay corporate income taxes is allowed to charge their customers for those non-existent taxes. According to Johnston, this charging for taxes oil and gas pipelines actually do not owe raises their profits by as much as 75%.
Another screw job is your cable and phone bill. Did you know we pay four times as much as those socialist French for phone, cable and Internet and we are ranked 29th in download speeds worldwide? That those additional fees on your bill are mislabeled and one of them, the FCC fee, doesn't go to the FCC, it goes to the cable and telephone companies. Remember all of those claims building up broadband into rural areas will help the economy? That part of the reason we're paying so much is the agenda to build out broadband infrastructure? That new infrastructure hasn't happened, instead we're sacked with fees and jacked up prices.
The use of contract law has become a fine art of ripping off the little guy and the title of the book is dedicated to those pages and pages of small font terms which force you into arbitration for disputes. That's no possibility of a civil suit, going to court or obtaining justice. Instead you are forced into arbitration and the decision is final.
Johnston touches on derivatives, the Banksters, Goldman Sachs and also makes a host of policy and legislative recommendations, a list of actions to correct these injustices and tax inefficiencies which cost us big time. Johnston also describes the shrinking American paycheck, offshore outsourcing, bad trade deals and shows how America has been financially squeezed. America is being taken to the cleaners with corporate gotcha games that are so numerous even Johnston's book can't cover them all.
Democracy Now did a long interview with David Cay Johnston about his book, shown below.
We highly recommend picking up a copy of The Fine Print. It's a must have as a corporate and government shake 'em down reference.