Friday, March 15, 2013

"We're Not Broke": big business lobbies away taxes

Remember how John Boehner, early in the debt ceiling debate in 2011, hinted that better-off social security recipients should accept means testing and turn it back, because “we’re broke. We don’t have the money”.
Well, a 2012 documentary by Victoria Bruce and Karen Hayes shows that we do have the money; “We’re Not Broke”, the film title says. Is this about shared sacrifice?  Or is it about a world that sees evading taxes as a way for richer people to "support families"?

The biggest part of the problem is that mainstream corporations can shelter than income from reasonable taxation.  The film maintains that offshore tax havens aren’t just the province of Internet hackers and counterfeiters.  Mainline US corporations do this all the time.  The film gets into an obscure discussion of “territorial taxation”, practice by many other countries. 

The film also presents the “Occupy” movement, including “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy DC”.  There is a scene of the Freedom Plaza demonstration in Washington DC in 2011.
It also presents attractive upper middle class young men helping organize and join in the demonstrations.

The film skims across the waves of the question whether our society is “everyone for himself” – the Michael Moore retort about “What’s in it for me”?  It doesn’t go down too far into the spiritual area (like Rick Warren’s “Purpose”). 

There is an interesting history of how Athens (the Greek City-State) justified taxation of its people.  With no Athens, there could be no personal wealth. 

The film also shows the collusion between corporate lobbyists and IRS tax executives, who often play miscal chairs in their own job market (sounds like "conflict of interest").  People "support families" by manipulating the tax system to exclude their own shareholders from taxation.  Small businesses, with moderate income consumers (and sometimes even without separate corporate structures) have no chance to protect themselves from higher taxes (despite GOP claims to the contrary).  What does the GOP really mean when it is so intransigent on any new revenue at all as part of political compromise? 

The official site (Paradigm and Roco Films) is here.
The film can be rented on YouTube for $2.99.   It is also available on Hulu and Netflix Instant Play. 

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