This is Issue 66.2 of Digestable, your thrice-weekly mouthful of things happening in the world.
Today’s news, fermented:
A few months ago, I was talking to an impassioned donor to the organization I work for, and he told me he’d fixed the problem of corporate abuse.
A white man from Washington state telling me he’d fixed a monstrous, many-tentacled problem at the root of global capitalism? Love that.
He went on to explain that if corporations were considered people, we could just use the death penalty on them. Mushy logic, of course, and some kooky idealism, but okay. We had a nice conversation.
(If you’d like to sign a petition calling on the president to abolish the death penalty, you can do so here.)
Why do I bring this up now? Well, corporate abuse is rampant every day, but because, as aforementioned, corporations are essential to the maintenance of white supremacist fossil capitalism, it doesn’t get ~talked about~ that much.
But today, the centrist, often-disappointing New York Times published a thick piece on the unacceptability of the nearly-invisible corporate tax rate. It outlines how the US slashed corporate tax rates in the latter half of the 20th century in an attempt to keep corporations here—rather than taking advantage of new (de)regulation that allowed the stowing of financial assets wherever a corporation pleased.
The combination of being able to headquarter in a nation with invisibly low corporate taxes and the weaker worker protections outside of the US meant that corporations could now do as they wished, not only with impunity, but also without paying taxes.
As the article describes and as we all know, this created fertile ground for the ever-growing crisis of inequality; economic recovery after crisis goes to the top, while the middle and working class are stuck with the consequences.
Here, we see that the last time corporations paid a higher tax rate than workers was in 1964 or so—around when many millenials’ parents were born or coming of age.
What that suggests to me is that, unless you come from parents who came from parents who already had enough money to provide stable housing, three meals a day, an opportunity to pursue higher education, and the racial/ethnic identity to avoid persecution by the state, you’re probably stuck in an endless cycle of working too much and forfeiting a chunk of your wages to a government that redistributes that money via tax breaks to industries that are continuously narrowing the window of human viability in this country and on this earth.
So back to my homie in Washington state. His allusion to the functionality of a policy that kills people—arguably similar to the economic oppression of failing to tax corporations, at a different scale—troubles me.
But the assertion that the US government, founded on treating people as property and obstacles to resource extraction, has a policy that can turn things around, is notable. As the NYT piece points out, the Biden Administration could implement a 25% base tax rate for all corporations, bringing in an additional $200 billion annually.
What’s the conclusion here? For me, it’s that there’s nearly always a solution to ~the world’s problems,~ but almost never the political will to make it happen. So, we could and should pressure the White House to take this action. But—or and—we must also envision alternatives to US empire and the corporate abuse it shields.
Some homework for this week, perhaps.
Here’s an octopus—a much smarter, friendlier, tentacled being than the problem above.
Back next week from the superb Latifah Azlan.