How American Corporations
and the Super Rich Steal From the Rest of Us
Main Street is going broke. Wall Street is
By Paul Buchheit
December 29, 2014 "ICH"
Merriam-Webster definition of 'steal' is
to take the property of another
wrongfully and especially as a habitual or
regular practice. Much of our country's
new wealth has been regularly taken by
individuals or corporations in a wrongful
manner, either through nonpayment of taxes
or failure to compensate other contributors
to their successes.
1. The Corporations
As schools and local
governments are going broke around the
country, companies who built their
businesses with American research and
education and technology and infrastructure
paying less in taxes than ever before.
Incredibly, over half
of U.S. corporate foreign profits are now
being held in
tax havens, double the share
of just twenty years ago. Corporations are
stealing from the nation that made them
There are many examples of
greed among individual firms. Based largely
on 2014 SEC documents submitted by the
has almost 80% of its productive oil and gas
wells in the U.S. but declared only 17% of
its income here. The company used a
theoretical tax to account
for 83% of last year's income tax bill, and
paid less than 2% of its total income in
current U.S. taxes.
has about 75% of its oil and gas wells and
almost 90% of its pipeline mileage in the
United States, yet the company claimed only
13% of last year's income in the U.S., and
paid almost nothing
(less than 1/10 of 1%) in current U.S.
had 40% of last year's sales in the U.S.,
but claimed losses in the U.S.
and $17 billion in profits overseas.
of America, despite making 84% of its
2011-2013 revenue in the U.S., declared just
31% of its profits in the United States.
had 43% of its 2011-2013 revenue in North
America but declared less than 3% of its
profits in the United States.
does most of its product and
research development in the United
States. Yet the company
moved $30 billion in profits to an Irish
subsidiary with no employees, with loopholes
in place to avoid establishing residency in
any country. The subsidiary files no returns
and pays no taxes. Apple CEO Tim Cook said,
"We pay all the taxes we owe."
based on the Internet, the Digital
Library Initiative, and the geographical
database of the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet the
company has gained
recognition as one of the world's
2. The Forbes 40
Defenders of inequality
argue that fortunes are deserved because of
innovation and hard work. But many of the
40 Americans who
own as much as the poorest half of the
country have relied on less deserving means
of accumulating great fortunes (details
Hathaway) made a $28 billion profit last
year, yet claimed a $395 million refund.
---The Koch brothers have
taken clean air and water from us.
---The Walton siblings
take our tax money to subsidize their
---Larry Ellison was #1 on
Greediest of 2014 list.
The rest of the Top 40
here) is speckled with instances of
fraud, tax avoidance, and
billionaire subsidies. The
worst is probably hedge fund manager
John Paulson, who has built a $13
billion fortune after conspiring with
Goldman Sachs in 2007 to bundle and bet
against sure-to-fail subprime mortgages that
took the homes from millions of Americans.
hedge fund managers, the carried
loophole allowed just 25 individuals to
take almost $5 billion from society last
year by claiming that their
income is different from the rest of ours.
3. The Deniers
After 35 years of wealth
theft there are still inequality deniers --
American Enterprise Institute, which
claims that income inequality has been
shrinking since 1989,
we should be asking whether
or not the bottom 60% are paying their fair
Another insult from
Income Inequality Is Good For
Reason Foundation tops it off, advising
us that the best way to defuse
the situation is to teach tolerance for
All of which suggests that
the theft of society's wealth may be due to
ignorance as well as to greed.
Paul Buchheit teaches
economic inequality at DePaul University. He
is the founder and developer of the Web
PayUpNow.org and RappingHistory.org,
and the editor and main author of "American
Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity
Press). He can be reached at