Check out the last Live Report of 2020!
Get the #CorporateRule news that we're tracking, learn about what we've been working on, get the latest updates from our grassroots chapters across the country, and find out what's ahead in 2021!
Corporate Rule News:
It is finally December -- all 48 months of 2020 are almost over!
Unfortunately, these holidays there's very little to celebrate for many Americans--and 2021 does not look all that promising as 14 million American households are at risk of eviction as protections expire this month.
But you know who is doing really, really, REALLY WELL?
The Morbidly rich and the mega corporations--obviously!
Yes, that’s right -- folks like Jeff Bezos became even richer thanks to Covid-19. But he still won't protect Amazon workers
Bezos has accumulated so much added wealth over the last nine months that he could give every Amazon employee $105,000 and still be as rich as he was before the pandemic. LET THAT SINK IN.
So you’d think he’d be able to afford safer workplaces. Yet as of October, more than 20,000 US-based Amazon employees had been infected by the coronavirus.
That estimate comes from Amazon, by the way. There has been no independent verification, nor has Amazon revealed how many of them have died.
Pandemic-fueled online shopping, coupled with the holiday season can only make things worse for the poor employees that have to endure unsafe working conditions and shitty pay.
And since Amazon has fought against union organizing since day one (that’s 25 years now)--these workers are pretty much on their own and without any real options…
But the truth is that Amazon isn’t the only one. A survey conducted in May by the National Employment Law Project showed that 1 in 8 American workers “has perceived possible retaliatory actions by employers against workers in their company who have raised health and safety concerns” about Covid-19.
Some people may be asking, can’t the government do anything? What about OSHA?
Well, since the start of the pandemic, it’s been useless. Although receiving more than 10,000 complaints of unsafe conditions, it has issued just two citations.
And even under the upcoming Biden administration, OSHA will have too few inspectors to adequately cover all of Amazon’s warehouses, let alone every other workplace in America where workers are endangered. And even when worker safety violations are found, the penalties are negligible.
All of these precarious conditions that hundreds of thousands of workers in America are facing right now are neither new nor accidental -- they are the direct result of years, decades, of having corporations and the super rich calling the shots in this country. You don’t believe it?
People are dying (307k as of yesterday), getting evicted (approx. 14M), and/or forced to work in unsafe conditions --
- Fast-food giants like Taco Bell operator headquartered in Minnesota; a Wendy’s franchisee in San Antonio; a group with more than 200 Pizza Huts in California; and a McDonald’s franchisee in Tampa, among others, gobbled up $1 billion in federal aid for small businesses!
And they are not the only ones getting a big slice of the money COVID relief money --
- Televangelist Joel Osteen's megachurch in Houston received a $4.4 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
- Tom Brady’s Massachusetts-based supplement and merchandise company, TB12 Inc, also received a $960K PPP loan, with which he then he bought a yacht! A FREAKING YACHT!
And of course, the Trump’s wouldn’t miss a chance to fill their pockets too--
- Over 25 PPP loans worth more than $3.65 million were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties, paying rent to those owners.
- Fifteen of the properties self-reported that they only kept one job, zero jobs or did not report a number at all.
- The loans to Trump and Kushner properties included a more than $2.1 million dollar loan to the Triomphe Restaurant Corp., located at Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. The company reported the money didn’t go to keeping any jobs. It later closed.
- A company called LB City Inc, which is located at Kushner’s Bungalow Hotel in Long Branch, NJ, received a loan for over half a million dollars.
- Two tenants at 725 5th Avenue, Trump Tower received more than $100,000 and only kept three jobs.
- Four tenants at the Kushner-owned 666 5th Avenue combined received more than $204,000, and only retained 6 jobs.
As you can see there are some troubling patterns for the distribution of PPP funds.
Which, we should remember, were intended to help small businesses keep their lights on while the economy healed during the hard-hit months of the summer, they’ve been grossly misused by opportunistic, greedy billionaires.
And talking about opportunistic, greedy billionaires, let’s talk about Elon Musk, who is fleeing California to avoid paying as much as 18 Billion dollars in capital gains taxes to the state.
Musk has a net worth of $139 billion, second globally to only Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. That wealth is largely in Tesla shares, which have climbed over 1,000% since July 2019--and well, as Musk begins to tap into that paper wealth, he’ll be required to pay California’s top capital gains tax rate of 13.3%—in addition to the top federal capital gains rate of 20%.
So what does he do? He flees like a criminal and heads to Texas, which is 1 of 9 states that doesn't have a capital gains tax. (The others are: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, and Wyoming.) With this move, Musk follows the steps of Jeff Bezos and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates—who now all “reside” in states that don’t collect income tax!
But that’s not the only incentive that drove Musk to Texas --
Musk will also be getting a Boost From Anti-Poverty Tax Break
And I know that doesn’t quite make sense -- especially after I just said that Musk is like Morbidly Rich…
Well, as it turns out, ridiculously expensive rocket projects aren’t the only thing Musk and Jeff Bezos have in common -- Their facilities are in areas designated as opportunity zones, giving them a path to low-tax expansion.
These zones, or tracts are designated as “underdeveloped” and come with a big dollar sign bonus if you develop jobs on them.
So, Musk’s SpaceX company has been doing some of that at the Texas/ Mexico border. They've created very few jobs in this community, not nearly enough to pay for the environmental destruction that these projects have caused in the area-- I mean, they've already blown up at least 3 spaceships down there! And although those spaceships weren't financed directly with taxpayer money, per se, the opportunity zone benefit is coming from taxpayer money!
The program that designates these areas as “selected zones’ or ‘ underdeveloped was a part of trump's 2017 plan entitled 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and it is supposed to incentivize development of these zones, but the real issue here is that the zones can be designated AFTER the fact, allowing the companies to claim that the benefits after they've already established their location”.
This sounds a hell of a lot more like a form of political favoritism rather than economic need and gross misuse of scarce resources to be subsidizing billionaires to go out into space when there are people struggling with real problems here on earth.
Lamentably, this toxic culture of giving more to those that clearly don’t need it while excluding those that clearly do is not exclusive to this Administration-- and it is enough to look at the Cabinet picks the ‘incoming’ Biden/Harris Administration is making to know that it will not end soon!
I mean, REALLY, just look at his cabinet picks so far--
Biden WH Staff picks so far:
- Venture capital executive Ronald Klain.
- Former pharmaceutical, insurance lobbyist Steve Ricchetti.
- Top Dem recipient of Big Oil $ Cedric Richmond.
- Co-founder of a firm that represents pharma & private equity Jen O’malley Dillon.
Biden Admin picks:
- Co-founder of a firm that represents big defense & tech companies Anthony Blinken.
- Ex-consultant for data-miner @PalantirTech Avril Haines
- Senior VP (on leave) of a firm that represented embattled Swiss-based mining giant Glencore Linda Thomad Greenfield.
Economic Team picks:
- Managing director for massive NY financial firm Brian Deese.
- ex-senior advisor for a massive NY financial firm Wally Adeyemo.
- CEO of DC think tank that has raised millions from Wall St, big banks, big tech & defense contractors Neera Tanden.
And also worth noting --
Biden just picked a Raytheon Board Member to Lead the Pentagon--
And sure, Lloyd J. Austin III would be the first african american chief of the US war machine...but, in case that you didn’t know, while as head of Central Command, Austin actively campaigned to resurrect the Pentagon’s spectacularly failed program of trying to arm “rebels” in Syria to fight ISIS, and in 2014 he backed immunity for US troops from war crimes prosecutions by the government of Afghanistan. He helped spearhead the Iraq invasion, and he is a member of the same private equity fund which invests in defense contractors as Flournoy and Biden’s warmongering pick for Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
As you can see, I won’t be holding my breath thinking that all our woes will be resolved under a Biden/Harris administration.
The way we see it is there’s only two ways --
1. Either EVERYONE in America incorporates as an LLC so that our ‘Elected officials’ actually start caring about us
2. We come to realize that help won’t miraculously Trickle down or come from the Federal/State governments -- but rather we should follow Chile’s, and most recently, India’s example rising up to the moment and demanding systemic change.
Re-imagining our laws and legal and political institutions, such as the Constitution itself, isn’t far fetched at all; People in almost every state periodically examine their own constitutions – proposing, debating and voting on changes. Several states have had constitutional conventions to replace or seriously amend their original version.
And internationally, constitutional conventions happen all the time in other nations — on average, every nineteen years in most countries!
So, maybe it is time for us to take our Constitution into our own hands and make sure that the human rights of everyone left out by the original framers are explicitly acknowledged, as well as envision what a foundational document that is relevant to the realities of humanity right now would say!
And to this end, I am happy to announce the launching of Toward a People’s Constitution -- go check it out and sign up to stay on the loop about future events and actions: peoplesconstitution.us