The day after elections I was glad that President Obama, Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, Allan Grayson and other Democrats had won. One hour after arriving at work something happened to make me realize my side hadn’t won at all. That realization was a conversation I overheard in the lounge that two fellow employees were having. They were trashing people on welfare in the Youngstown area. They were talking about how some of the area’s low-income housing units are brand new. The two were going on about how they have to work for their money and they were trashing people getting public assistance. One of these women I’m pretty sure is a Democrat but I know the other one is an outspoken Republican. Why you would be a Republican when you are a working-class person is beyond me. I do know this woman is not very bright. I base that on the fact that a few years ago she had terrible stomach pains went to the hospital and delivered a baby without knowing she was pregnant. Forget the fact that neither one of these two would want to live in these area low-income housing units. Forget that these units were built to be energy-efficient and save the taxpayers money. Forget that if something happened to these ladies jobs they would have these new housing units as a safety net for their families to move into. Fact is all us middle-class are nearer to living in low-income housing than we are to living in Mitt Romney’s neighborhood. Heck, guys like Mitt and John McCain don’t even know how many homes they own.
Usually I refuse to ignore such wrong-headed conversations but my break time was over and I had to get back to work. All I had time for was giving the two a stare and shaking my head. I wish I’d of ask them why they only have a problem with using their tax dollars to help the needy but no problem with the greedy getting their tax dollars. Exempt from their criticism were the rich, and the corporations, who collect the biggest percentage of welfare in this country. The middle-class like my two fellow workers have been led to believe that welfare recipients are stealing tax dollars from them, when it’s actually, corporations and the wealthy with clever tax loopholes and huge unneeded subsidies for their businesses courtesy of “our representatives.” Once in Washington, D.C. our representatives need money to get re-elected. They then go on the auction block to get this money. The biggest purchaser of “our representatives” is the corporate welfare bureaucracy. This bureaucracy consists of over 11,000 organizations that have total access to, city halls, statehouses, the Capital and the White House. These organizations have think-tanks, trade organizations, conferences, seminars, newsletters, websites etc. all to push tax breaks for the wealthy, deregulation and trade agreements all in the name of “corporate welfare.” Of course, if I mention “corporate welfare” I am an un-American communist pushing class-war. The corporate world prefers the terms “economic incentives” or “enterprise zones.”
I’d have informed my two fellow workers that spending for corporate welfare programs is three times higher than spending for low-income programs. I’d have told my two fellow taxpayers that we each pay about $400 a year federally on programs for the needy. Food stamp recipients get $4.30 a day. I’d of then pointed out that each of us pays $1400 a year on corporate welfare programs for the greedy. I mention the needy and greedy idea because it is the perfect way to describe what is going on. If you are on social welfare because you are poor and get a job your welfare will be cut or eliminated depending on how much you are making. If you are on the corporate welfare system, the more money and assets you have, the more taxpayer-funded assistance you can get.
I’ve heard these two employees and many more talk about the bargains they find at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. The funny thing is these two stores are some of the biggest welfare queens on the planet. A study by Good Jobs First found that 244 Wal-Marts around the country had received over $1 billion in corporate welfare. Given that fact, Sam’s Club actually still has the nerve to charge to be a member before you can shop in their stores. Sorry Sam’s Club but we taxpayers have already shelled out $1 billion in welfare to you so we are not your potential members we actually already OWN YOUR ASS.
The middle class has been led to believe (by right-wing media) that welfare recipients are stealing their tax dollars, when actually, huge corporations and the wealthy are stealing from everybody with tax loopholes and huge unneeded corporate welfare for their companies. In 2010 General Electric (the sixth largest company in the United States with over $700 billion in assets) paid no taxes on $4.2 billion in profits. In fact, over two-thirds of corporations in the United States pay no income tax. For every dollar of workers’ payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents. A recent report by the Citizens for Tax Justice looked at 280 companies, all of them members of the Fortune 500, and found that “these corporations received a total of nearly $224 billion in tax subsidies.” Robert McIntyre, Director at Citizens for Tax Justice said “This is wasted money that could have gone to protect Medicare, create jobs and cut the deficit.” Most of the subsidies went to financial services, utilities, telecommunications, and oil, gas & pipelines. Oddly enough these are also the same four industries that donated the most money to politicians.
I know you’ve been told we have to worship the corporations and the wealthy because they are gods called, “job creators.” A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds. A report in Time Magazine, stated that the top five recipients of Export -Import subsidies over the past decade have reduced their workforce by 38% – 350,000 jobs gone. Boeing, the leading Export-Import subsidies recipient, has reduced its workforce by more than 100,000 employees over the past ten years. Studies have shown that for every job Wal-Mart creates, the community loses three. Politicians (owned by corporations) claim corporate welfare and tax breaks for companies stimulating the economy and create jobs. When businesses are under-taxed and get corporate welfare they just take the savings and corporate welfare as extra profits at taxpayer expense. Employers are not job creators, customers are job creators. Customers are what profits a business and stimulates the economy. Middle-class taxpayers can’t afford to have over $125 billion stolen from them every year to provide corporate welfare. It is wasted spending – that goes to many of the largest, most profitable corporations in America. When you steal money from the paychecks of working people, you hurt the economy because people can’t afford to buy the things they want or need. This decrease in demand then causes businesses to put people out of work.
Conservative pundits and even Mitt Romney blamed his losing the election on Democrats acting as Santa Clause and giving things free to people. The fact is the GOP is the Santa Clause for the corporations and the rich and their wealthy donors expected more Christmas presents like tax loop holes and corporate welfare. The need for corporate welfare is a bigger myth than Santa Clause. The need for social welfare is a very real and is a safety net anyone of us might need someday. We as the middle-class will not get ahead until we quit bashing the needy that we take care of with our pennies and focus on the greedy who are stealing our hard-earned dollars. The middle-class working together could accomplish so much. An example: The City That Ended Hunger. These are everyday people like us who decided to make government accountable because like us they are the government. The wealthiest are only job creators when it comes to establishing more lobbyist jobs. These lobbyists act as agents for the wealthy to purchase politicians and further destroy democracy. These politicians then become Santa Clause who will write laws that benefit only the wealthy. Speaking out against the wealthy who get corporate welfare they don’t need in not anti-American, to not speak out is anti-justice. If you hear people in your fellow middle-class trashing the poor speak up with love, courage and conviction and tell them who the real thieves are.
Anne Feeney: Corporate Welfare Song
“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” ~ Plutarch