Hey, Corporate America! Show Taxpayers Some Appreciation!
By Ralph Nader
If you work for a corporation, ask your own employer to support
Taxpayer Appreciation Day. (Weve included contact information at the
end of the article.)
Take Action Now! April 15 is just around the corner. Please let us know
what action youve taken and what type of response you receive at
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that April 15th of each
year be designated Taxpayer Appreciation Day, a day when corporations
receiving taxpayer subsidies, bailouts, and other forms of corporate
welfare can express their thanks to the citizens who provide them.
Though it may not be evident, quite a few industries -- and the profits
they generate -- can be traced back to taxpayer-financed programs whose
fruits have been given away to (mostly) larger businesses.
Taxpayer dollars have often funded discoveries made by NASA, the
Department of Defense, and the National Institutes of Health and other
federal agencies. In many instances the rights to those discoveries were
later given away to companies that brag about them as though they were
the fruits of their own investments. Taxpayer dollars have played a
major role in the growth of the aviation and aerospace, biotechnology,
pharmaceutical, and telecommunications industries -- to name only a few.
Though corporate America insists it must file yearly income taxes just
like everyone else, it is responsible for a sharply decreasing portion
of federal tax dollars -- despite record profits. Despite record
profits, corporate tax contributions to the federal budget have been
steadily declining for fifty years and now stand at a mere 7.4% of the
federal government income because of the loopholes they driven into our
tax laws. The average citizen pays more than four to five times that in
federal income tax revenues (with the single exception of payroll
Clearly corporations that believe they are self-reliant are often, in
fact, dependent on taxpayer funds to maintain their financial viability.
The least they could do is thank us. Which is why we need something like
Taxpayer Appreciation Day. Consider the following:
General Electric bought RCA (which owned NBC) in the mid-1980s with
funds it was able to save by using an outrageous tax loophole passed by
Congress in 1981. That loophole allowed GE to pay no federal taxes on
three years of profits, totaling more than $6 billion dollars. It also
gave them a $125 million refund! That gave GE the money to buy RCA. GE
should arrange a media extravaganzas on NBC to say "Thank you,
taxpayers. Pharmaceutical companies constantly ballyhoo their
discoveries in advertisements. What they don't tell us is that many of
the important nonredundant therapeutic drugs -- including most
anticancer drugs -- were developed, in whole or in part, with taxpayer
money and then given to them by the NIH and the Defense Department.
Bristol-Meyers Squibb, for example, controls the rights to Taxol, an
anticancer drug developed all the way through human clinical trials at
the National Institutes of Health with $31 million of taxpayer moneys.
Pharmaceutical companies spend billions on advertisements each year.
Perhaps they should consider a big "Thank You, Taxpayers" ad campaign
every April 15, if only to remind them where their drug research and
development subsidies come from.
Mining companies often receive vast sweetheart deals from taxpayers.
Under the 1872 Mining Act hard rock mining companies are allowed to
purchase mining rights to public land for only $5 an acre, no matter how
valuable the minerals on (or in) that land might be. A Canadian company
recently mined $9 billion in gold on federal land in Nevada after using
the Mining Act to purchase the mining rights to it for about $30,000.
Mining companies owe the taxpayers their gratitude.
Television broadcasters were given free license to use public airwaves
(worth around $70 billion) by a supine Congress in 1997. They too should
thank us. What about all those professional sports corporations that
play and profit in taxpayer-funded stadiums and arenas? The owners and
players should thank the fans/taxpayers who -- in spite of their largess
-- still must pay through the nose for tickets. For years McDonalds
received taxpayer subsidies to promote its products overseas as part of
a foreign market access program. Now McDonalds is a ubiquitous brand
name worldwide, but has it ever thanked the taxpayers who underwrote its
efforts? Then there are the HMOs, hospitals, and defense contractors
that have had their legal fees reimbursed by the taxpayers when our
government prosecutes them for fraud or cost overruns. Those companies
have great public relations firms that can help them show us their
gratitude. Corporate America has taken too much from us for too long.
It's time it shows us a little bit of appreciation.
General Electric (NBC):
Peter R. Dolan, CEO
345 Park Avenue
New York, New York, USA 10154-0037
Viacom (CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET, Paramount Pictures, Viacom Outdoor, Infinity, UPN, Spike TV, TV Land, CMT: Country Music Television, Comedy Central, Showtime, Blockbuster, and Simon & Schuster):
Sumner M. Redstone , Chairman and CEO
New York, NY 10036
(refused to provide email addresses)
Walt Disney Co. (ABC):
David Eisner, CEO
500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521 ABC, Inc.
Jim Cantalupo, Chairman and CEO
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Email on-line form.
Halliburton (Kellogg Brown & Root):
David J. Lesar, Chairman, President & CEO
5 Houston Center
1401 McKinney, Suite 2400
Houston, TX 77010
In addition to these, pursue your favorite and let us know what they say!
October 6, 2002 rally in Central Park. Stewart was indicted for passing
messages on behalf of her terrorist client Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman.
One of the members of NION's Advisory Board, Abdeen Jabara, is a member of
the legal advisory board for the American Muslim Council. He is a past
president of the Arab-American Ant-Discrimination Committee, a board member
of William Kunstler's Center for Constitutional Rights, and a co-counsel
with Lynne Stewart for Sheik Rahman, the terrorist convicted for the 1993
World Trade Center bombing.
The American Muslim Council is one of the current members of Al-Arian's
NCPPF (the same group to which IFCO's Bernstein belongs). Leaders of the AMC
have been quoted as praising Hamas and Hezbollah. Jabara's AMC advisory
board colleagues include Fakhri Al-Barzinji. Al-Barzinji is involved in
Mar-Jac Poultry, which was raided last year by the FBI for links to Sami
Bashir Ahmad is another of Jabara's AMC advisory board colleagues. Ahmad is
a member of the SAMAD Group (a financial operation) and Justice Taqi Usmani
works for the SAMAD Group. Taqi Usmani is a suspected major player in the