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other SUMMER 2009 articles


  Summer 2009

Corporate War on the People

Welfare Giant Maximus Gets Courts to Ignore their Medicaid Fraud 

Often when a large corporation is charged with a crime, the prosecution is deferred. If the corporation behaves well during the period of the deferment, the charges will be dropped.

       In 2007, Maximus faced serious criminal Medicaid fraud charges. Their lawyer, DeMaurice Smith, hammered out a deferred prosecution with a twist—no charges would be filed. The Justice Dept. agreed to defer filing charges for 24 months. If Maximus abides by the agreement, the Justice Dept. will never file charges. If Maximus engages in criminal activity in the next 2 years, the Justice Dept. can file charges. 

       Smith said this was the first deferred prosecution agreement he knew of with no filing of charges.


Creating the World We Want 

A town in Germany has eliminated all vehicles with engines from their streets. Vauban is near the border with Switzerland and France. It is a suburb of Freiburg, a university town. It has 5,300 residents. If they want a car, they must park it in a garage outside the town…at a high cost.

An ultra-efficient tram service connects the town with Freiburg. For vacations or moving items, many people participate in a car-sharing scheme.

Sounds of birds chirping and children playing have replaced motors. Gardens have replaced driveways. Most homes and apartments are powered with solar energy and co-generators that use wood chips.  Their energy costs are extremely low. And their homes often generate surplus electricity, so owners sell their excess electricity to power companies. Some homes no longer use drains for toilets or showers. Waste is turned into compost. And used water is filtered to be used for watering yards.

 Vauban is a blueprint for a future way to live compatibly with Mother Earth.  Bus loads of tourists park outside and walk through the town. It used to house barracks for Adolph Hitler’s army. Than it was occupied by France. Later it was taken over by squatters.

The town is a wonderful example of living with respect for the Earth. But it lacks one essential for a future world. There is no room in this middle-class town for low-income peoples of any race. (Obviously the squatters were driven out.) Even people of color with middle-class incomes are missing. Children grow up in safe, environmentally wise systems. But they face a deadly lack of diversity of cultures, races, and incomes.

Hopefully creating a new social and economic diversity blueprint will be Vauban’s next challenge.


Insurance Giants Put Profits Before Health 

A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that US health and life insurance companies invest at least $4.4 billion in tobacco companies. Tobacco contributes to 5.4 million deaths a year.

       Insurance firms profit twice--through their investments and by charging smokers higher premiums.


Doctors Block Health Care Reform 

To get universal health care, we need a public option large enough to drive down drug prices and private-insurance premiums. It’s the only way to make health care affordable. In June, the American Medical Association (AMA) came out against a public option. But President Obama said he supports it. 

       The last president to successfully take on the giant health care lobbies was LBJ. He got Medicare and Medicaid passed despite the AMA and other giant lobbyists standing in the way.

       The AMA gave $9.8 million to congressional candidates since 2000. Big Insurance and Big Pharma are increasing their firepower. The five largest private insurers--America’s Health Insurance Plans--spent $6.4 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2009. United Health Group spent $1.5 million. Aetna spent $809,793. Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker, spent more than $6.1 million in the same quarter.

       America’s health care system spends twice as much per person as Canada’s. Yet our infant mortality rate is 40% higher than Canada’s. And American mothers are 57% more likely to die in childbirth than Canadian moms.


British Virgin Islands—Paradise for Big Business 

Ever wonder how so many billionaire businesses like Citigroup, Pfizer, Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, and Goldman Sachs pay no taxes or very low taxes? 400,000 major corporations list the British Virgin Islands as home. Yet they have no factories, headquarters or even employees on the islands. In fact, all 400,000 are located in one gray, two-story building in the town of Tortola!

            So why do they incorporate on this island? It is a tax haven. Corporations can claim they are based on the islands and avoid paying taxes back home! Yet they do no business on the island.

            Who wrote these laws? Corporate lobbyists and corporate politicians. 83 of the largest 100 US corporations have created “subsidiaries” to stash profits in places like the British Virgin Islands.  Citigroup has 427 of these tax-avoidance subsidiaries. It presently stashes away $23 Billion in profit in tax havens. Yet Citigroup just got a $45 billion bailout from us.  See www.uspirg.org for more info.


Making a Mockery of Democracy 

93 major companies spent $283 million on lobbyists in 2004 to slide a special “job creation” bill through Congress. It created no jobs for anyone but lobbyists. And it allowed the corporations to dodge $62.5 billion in taxes they owed.

       This was a 22,000% dividend on their investment in lobbyists. They made $22,000 for each dollar they spent.

       DC lobbyists now promise corporations returns of 100 to1 or better on every dollar invested in lobbyists. No secret that legislation is for sale. It mocks America’s pretense of representational democracy.  Go to www.uspirg.org for more info on lobbying reform.


Bankers Wail for More Breaks

Bankers took billions for their bailouts. Then they refused to give loans to help businesses stay afloat and workers keep their jobs.

       Now some banks want to avoid part of the bailout agreement—executive-pay restrictions and taxpayer stock ownership— by repaying the billions. But the bankers must also pay for the taxpayers’ ownership share.

       One banker dared to complain, “It’s fundamentally un-American. It amounts to a penalty for early withdrawal.” Isn’t that what banks do to their customers every day?


Is US Headed for Corporate Dictatorship? 

The US crisis presents both dangers and opportunities. We face the danger of more poverty under a corporate control (see previous articles). “Fascism” is the open dictatorship of the corporations. It is rooted in the electronic surge that has transformed our country. Robots and computers (and self-service) have permanently eliminated millions of jobs.

       Millions of dispossessed may be forced to fight for a new society. But we have the opportunity to build a cooperative society where corporate property becomes public property.

       The old capitalist society can no longer provide the basic necessities of life to everyone. A cooperative society--where the means of production are owned and controlled by the people--is a solution.

       Fascism merges corporations and government. The government protects the corporate owning (capitalist) class. For instance the government gives trillions of dollars to banks and other billionaire businesses. Fascism also creates laws like the Patriot Act and court decisions that restrict people’s legal and human rights. This includes the right to speak, protest and gather information. Under fascism the government monitors what we say and do through eavesdropping and surveillance.

       Revolutionaries represent the true interests of the people. Can we win over the people to understand that their needs can only be met by fighting for a cooperative society? The victory of the people is not guarantied. Whoever wins the war of ideas will impose their vision on society.

See the peoplestribune.org for more ideas.


Stolen Beauty--Boycott AHAVA 

There is a Jewish teaching: “Thou shall not derive personal pleasure or benefit from any product created through exploitation.” AHAVA, an Israeli cosmetics company, violates this teaching. AHAVA profits from the occupation of Palestine.

       AHAVA uses resources from the ancient waters of the Dead Sea. The company manufactures its products in an illegal Israeli settlement in Occupied Palestine. They violate international law by labeling their products of “Israeli origin.” They violate the Fourth Geneva Convention by exploiting occupied natural resources for profit.

       Bikini-clad CODEPINK activists smeared with mud have rallied in Tel Aviv, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, France and DC to expose the dirty secrets of AHAVA. Learn about AHAVA’s illegal practices at www.stolenbeauty.org. Add your name to the boycott. Join the team and receive updates. Visit a store selling AHAVA and follow CODEPINK’s 10-step action guide.


Sources: TruthOut ~ AlterNet ~ Corporate Crime Reporter ~ The Hightower Lowdown ~ People’s Tribune

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