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A Modest Proposal
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It’s April 15th, the day your landlord Uncle Sam comes around to shake the annual rent from your pockets for the privilege of living in the world’s greatest nation, while promising to quell the racket from your downstairs neighbor, Mexico. And despite doing the best we can to hide our assets and shave our income, at the end of the day We, The Tenants, share a great, collective sense of gratification: watching the news as people who are not us wait in long post office lines till midnight.

No! What we share is the gratification of contributing our fair share toward maintaining the machinery of our wondrous democratic cooperative. Even the poor slob earning only $8,025 a year -- the minimum taxable earnings for a single taxpayer -- knows the joy of kicking in his 15% to keep us humming along. Which makes it all the more perplexing to discover that, over a five year period studied by the Government Accounting Office, 61% of U.S. corporations paid no corporate income tax, and 94% reported a tax liability of less than 5% of their total earnings.

Now why would corporate America deprive itself of the warm glow that comes from supporting the much-lauded “free market” that allows it to thrive like a stripper during shore leave? The answer is the same as the punch-line to a joke involving a dog and its genitals: because they CAN.

Our corporate chieftains are quick to defend their punch-line status by pointing out how they suffer under the second highest corporate tax rate in the world – 39.3%, just a tick behind Japan’s 39.5% (that extra .2% no doubt related to the cost of defending against periodic attacks on Tokyo by atomic-generated monsters). But according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a watchdog agency that apparently watches both dogs and agencies, when measured as a share of Gross Domestic Product, U.S. corporations quickly drop from second-highest to thirdlowestin the world.

While an ability to suddenly go from second-worst position to third-best might interest, say, the New York Knicks, it doesn't explain how most corporations get away with zerotax liability. For that, we can thank our business-hugging politicians for the various tax loopholes they've buried in our tax code like DaVinci in a bad novel.

For instance, one way to avoid a variety of pesky tax obligations like Medicare and Social Security is to create a “shell company” in places like Bermuda, Gibraltar and the Caribbean -- a sort of Bermuda Triangle where corporate revenue goes to disappear only to turn up later, like the long-lost flyboys in “Close Encounters,” hustled away and safe from taxation. This is a favored way of doing business by many companies with giant federal contracts, like Haliburton, who, in addition to holdings in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, also have incorporated subsidiaries in Panama, Liechtenstein, Dubai, and someplace called Vanuatu, which may or may not be real.And thanks to your elected officials it's all legal, and as simple as purchasing a post office box just like the one you might use to receive porn in a plain brown wrapper... except you can feel better about yourself.

Why should you care? As the notoriously subversive underground publication Parade Magazine points out: because as corporate America shakes off its tax responsibilities like a wet dog, you, the lowly individual, are forced to assume more and more of the federal tax burden. Way back in 1940, when the World's Fair promised us a future of robots and rocket packs, corporations paid 50% of all federal taxes. Here in the 21st century, where "Soylent Green" looks like a plausible future, corporate taxes make up only about 14% of U.S. revenues. Stick that in your rocket pack!

So when you go to sign your tax return today, resist the urge to stab yourself in the neck with that pen, and try to forget that you’re still eight days away from seeing the first penny you’ve earned all year (Tax Freedom Day is April 23rd!). Instead, be grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our highways, schools, public safety, congressional salaries and sub-par body armor for our troops.

Or, if you look good in Bermuda shorts, you can always incorporate.

*** A rare follow-up postscript: It took the so-called "mainstream media" another 4 months to figure this out (but give them the benefit of the doubt! They may after all have been unconscious since stabbing themselves in the neck with a pen). CLICK HERE for the GAO's August 12th report guaranteed to induce nausea quicker than rush night at an unpopular frat!***

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Disclaimer: This website is satirical in nature and naturally satirical.  Although many of the facts, figures, statistical information, and events both current and historical contained herein are true and accurate, "Eat The Poor" also contains elements of parody, including exaggeration and ridicule, regarding events, public figures, corporations, government institutions, and others we find deserving of unwanted attention.  No harm is intended to figures both public and private and/or institutions or corporate entities mentioned herein.
The use of the phrase "herein" herein is hereby acknowledged to be unnecessary and excessive.

A Modest Proposal for a film by Kurt Engfehr and Ken Pisani.
2006 Ken Pisani and Kurt Engfehr.  All rights reserved.
All "Blogging Poorly" posts  Ken Pisani.