News Release Archive - Economy and Business

G7’s Minimal Corporate Tax Proposal; Case for a Financial Transaction Tax

A group of economists and others have just released a letter to the G7 urging the adoption of a Financial Transaction Tax, see PDF.

The letter states: “We believe that a global FTT would eventually raise substantial revenue for many countries, including for the G7. But given the emergency situation in poor countries right now, our focus here is on them. Given the dominance of G7 financial markets, a G7-wide FTT could quickly start to provide at least $50 billion a year of emergency finance to fund vital public works and longer-term investments in developing countries, especially struggling young democracies.”

The signers include James S. Henry, global justice fellow at Yale and senior advisor, Tax Justice Network, who organized the letter; James K. Galbraith professor of economics at the  Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin; Sarah Anderson, Global Economy Project director at Inequality.org co-editor, Institute for Policy Studies; Pedro Biscay, former director, Central Bank of Argentina Buenos Aires; Ralph Nader, consumer advocate; William K. Black, associate professor of economics and law, University of Missouri-KC; Patrick Bond, professor of government, University of the Western Cape Cape Town, South Africa.

The signers write that while they “applaud the G7’s support for a minimum global corporate income tax (CIT) rate for multinational corporations,” the G7’s “current proposals would do little for poorer countries. Indeed, they would actually reinforce the unfair bias of international tax rules in favor of the richest countries, which host most of these corporations. If this were the only collective tax reform that the G7 undertakes right now, therefore, a huge opportunity will be missed — the chance to help developing countries recover from this historic tax injustice as well from as the pandemic, and to help finance public investments and advance the cause of international tax justice.”

The group suggests a very small tax: “a 0.1 percent transactions tax on all stock trades, paid for by investors located anywhere in the world who transact through G7 public exchanges.”

Still, substantial funds could be raised: “In 2020, for example, NewYork’s top two exchanges, the NYSE and the NASDQ, registered nearly $60 trillion in trades, nearly half the total volume of the world’s 85 stock exchanges.”

They add that to the “extent that the FTT does ‘pinch’ certain high-frequency traders, this may actually be a good thing. It enables G7 countries themselves to tackle ‘the finance curse,’ the bloated, unproductive and extractive part of high finance. It promotes longer-term investing and discourages casino-like stock speculation. …

“This nearly-perfect tax could channel $billions from a few hundred thousand wealthy folks at the top to tens of millions of people at the very bottom, whose very lives may depend on it. The FTT is so minimal and frictionless that it is not even noticed by most of those who pay it. It is hardly perceptible at all, especially compared with, say, New York City’s 8.875 percent retail sales tax or Europe’s double-digit VAT taxes. But in the right hands and if well spent, the positive impacts of all this tax revenue on the reduction of human suffering will be very perceptible. …

“FTTs also dramatically boost financial transparency and help to combat money laundering and corruption — as Kenya recently discovered when its new FTT surfaced a huge amount of ‘funny money’ washing through Nairobi’s stock exchange.”

Available for interviews:

JAMES HENRY, jsh11963@gmail.com@submergingmkt
Henry is Global Justice Fellow at Yale University, senior advisor to the Tax Justice Network and managing director at the Sag Harbor Group.

How Worker Co-Ops Weathered COVID-19 by Prioritizing People Over Profits

JAISAL NOOR, jaisal@therealnews.com, @JaisalNoor
Noor, a senior reporter at Real News Network, just released a 26-minute documentary that explores how worker-owners at eight cooperative run businesses weathered the pandemic, “Worker cooperatives prove your job doesn’t have to be hell.” Noor recently appeared on Means TV and Hill TV’s “Rising” to discuss his findings.

“Pandemic profiteers increased their wealth by over $1.6 trillion dollars during the pandemic, while frontline workers risked their lives for low pay and dangerous working conditions,” Noor said. “Retail online giant Amazon even unveiled a ‘therapy box‘ for workers experiencing stress from high workloads and unreasonable expectations. Meanwhile, the small but growing sector of worker-run cooperatives is demonstrating another way is possible: workplaces that operate democratically and share profits. Because the workers are the owners, they aren’t going to sacrifice themselves for profit,” Noor said. As the Biden administration talks of wanting to “Build Back Better,” Noor explores the lessons learned from eight cooperative businesses in four states.

Noor added: “Worker cooperatives distribute decision-making power, profits and risk. Data indicates that during the pandemic, worker cooperatives were less likely to lay off staff and often pivoted their business models so they could continue to operate while protecting their workers and the public. The country’s largest co-op, Cooperative Home Care Associates, partnered with textile cooperatives to provide their workers with PPE while other home care agencies frequently failed to do so. Baltimore’s majority Black-owned Taharka Brothers Ice Cream lost 70 percent of their revenue during the lockdown, but quickly recovered by shifting to a home-delivery model. And a growing number of businesses that closed during the pandemic are reopening as worker-cooperatives, which have proved to be a more sustainable model.”

The documentary, which Noor produced with support from Solutions Journalism Network, also explores the limitations of employing the cooperative model in the U.S.’s corporate capitalist system. “While cities like Baltimore offered Amazon billions in incentives in exchange for building a headquarters, it has invested a fraction of that in local worker co-ops. Banks also typically don’t lend to co-ops, so a network of revolving loan funds across the country has been created to fund worker co-ops, and provide workers with technical assistance to help create sustainable business models. None of the 60 worker co-ops that work with Seed Commons’ revolving loan fund closed permanently during the pandemic.”

The documentary is licensed through Creative Commons and can be republished and excerpted with attribution to The Real News Network; additional segments are available here.

Biden $750 Billion Pentagon Budget Called “Excessive”

The Biden administration, in a “Friday news dump,” released its Pentagon budget late last week.

WILLIAM HARTUNG, whartung@internationalpolicy.org
Hartung is director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy.

Following the release of the budget, he said: “At over $750 billion, the Biden administration’s proposal for spending on the Pentagon and related work on nuclear weapons at the Department of Energy is both excessive and misguided. At a time when the greatest challenges to human lives and livelihoods stem from threats like pandemics and climate change, sustaining Pentagon spending at over three quarters of a trillion dollars a year is both bad budgeting and bad security policy.”

Hartung’s recent pieces include “Memorial Day Can’t Obscure Biden’s Excessive Pentagon Budget” for The National Interest and “Two Weapons That Shouldn’t Be In The Pentagon’s New Budget” for Forbes.

He added: “Continued spending on unnecessary weapons systems like a new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile ($2.6 billion) and the troubled F-35 combat aircraft ($12 billion) represent budgetary and policy malpractice, diverting billions of dollars from other urgent national priorities. …

“The identification of China as a ‘pacing challenge is not an adequate justification for current, exorbitant levels of spending. The challenge posed by China is primarily political and economic, not military. And the United States already spends nearly three times on its military what China does, and has 13 times as many nuclear warheads in its stockpile.”

Is a Network of Donors Neutralizing Peace Activism?

DAVE LINDORFF, dlindorff@gmail.com
Lindorff is an investigative journalist who just wrote the piece “Peace-washing: Is a network of major donors neutralizing activism in the peace movement?” for Salon.

He writes: “Consider the liberal response to the Biden transition team floating Michèle Flournoy’s name as a potential secretary of defense. Instead of outrage at the idea of someone who had spent the previous four years helping arms contractors win business with the Trump Pentagon and who is an advocate for tough, even aggressive stances towards Russia, China and Iran, we saw an open letter of support signed by 29 key people active in the peace and arms-control arena. Signatories included Joe Cirincione, former president for 12 years of the Ploughshares Fund, along with Tom Collina, Michelle Dover and Emma Belcher of that same well-endowed grant-offering organization. They were joined by the likes of Tom Countryman and Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association, Rachel Bronson of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Ilan Goldenberg of the Center for New American Security, Joan Rohlfing of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and others. …

“Interestingly though, while serious opposition coalesced among anti-militarism, anti-revolving-door people and groups in the Flournoy case, her WestExec Advisors co-founder Antony Blinken, nominated as secretary of state, sailed through his nomination and hearing process. This despite Blinken’s record as an enthusiastic interventionist while serving in the Obama administration as deputy national security advisor and later as deputy secretary of state, and despite his profiting off his connections as a WestExec adviser to arms makers after leaving office.”

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh@riseup.net
Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. Until his resignation five years ago, he was a board member of Council for a Livable World, one of the larger national security/arms control organizations in the Peace and Security Funders Group (PSFG). Hoh tells Lindorff that while he has no inside information about the funding policies of the funding consortium or its members, “The assumption that the big peace and national security funding groups are taming the peace movement is a correct one.”

He explains: “When you have a bunch of organizations in a group like that, and some of them are really mainstream vanilla like Open Society, you’re going to see the whole organization and its member groups moderate their positions and their funding policies to the lowest denominator. These big groups, especially the ones that also act as holding pens for people in the foreign policy area who have to leave government employment when a Republican administration comes in, and use them as references when looking for government jobs under a new Democratic administration like this one, don’t want to be funding groups that mount protests in House or Senate committee hearings or try to arrest [former Nixon Secretary of State] Henry Kissinger for war crimes.”

Hoh says he recalls comments being made while he was at CLW about organizations receiving grants needing to “ease up” on their rhetoric or protest actions, but doesn’t recall that kind of conversation moving beyond CLW to the collective PSFG membership. But he also says, “I think the issue of putting pressure on activist groups has deepened over the last 10 years.” He adds, “The best evidence that there is pressure on activists to tone down is the way you’re finding so few leaders of groups that get funding from PSFG member organizations willing to speak for this article on the record.”

Research for Lindorff’s article was funded by a grant from the ExposeFacts program of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Facebook Collaboration with Israeli Military “Beyond Outrageous”

NADIM NASHIF, nadim@7amleh.org@7amleh
DANI NOBLE, via Sonya Meyerson-Knox, sonya@jewishvoiceforpeace.org, @jvplive
Nashif, a Palestinian living in Haifa, is co-founder of 7amleh (pronounced Hamleh), the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, a non-profit organization that advocates for Palestinian digital rights. Nobel is campaign organizer for Jewish Voice for Peace.

The two groups are signers of a letter generated by the new initiative FacebookWeNeedToTalk.org along with a host of other groups including Access Now, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Fight for the Future and BDS France:

“As Palestinian residents defend their homes in Jerusalem from forced dispossession by the Israeli government and state-sanctioned Zionist settler groups, their calls for support have received widespread international attention — inspiring social media campaigns and mass protests around the world. This international outcry only grew after the Israeli military attacked Ramadan worshippers at al-Aqsa mosque and started brutally bombing Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip …

“Facebook executives’ decision at this moment to directly collaborate with Israeli Defense and Justice Minister Gantz on content moderation, without appropriate parity of government engagement until prompted by civil society, is beyond outrageous. …

“In addition, the numerous reports of removal or chilling of political speech that several of our organizations have received over the past two weeks, combined with the report released by 7amleh last week [‘The Attacks on Palestinian Digital Rights,’ PDF] that includes 429 reported incidents from Instagram and Facebook, raise concerns about Facebook’s relationship with the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s extra-legal Cyber Unit. The fact that since May 6 there has been widespread removal of Palestinians’ content or supportive content (including removal of content and deactivation of accounts or pages based on Community Standards violations, as well as the mass removal of Instagram stories) that after review have been restored for lack of any violation, indicates that Facebook is perhaps voluntarily agreeing to takedowns recommended by the Israeli Cyber Unit. This unclear relationship between Facebook and the Israeli Cyber Unit is concerning, as it is not subject to any formal governmental or legal process.”

Could Postal Banking Address “Inequality in the Financial System”?

Members of Congress, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, are proposing a postal banking program to address inequalities. She recently said: “This pilot program will not only help us begin to address systematic inequality in the financial system, but it will also create much needed source of revenue for the U.S. Postal Service.”

CHRISTOPHER W. SHAW, christophershaw.ca@gmail.com@chris_w_shaw
Shaw is author of the book Preserving the People’s Post Office and recently wrote the piece “The U.S. Postal Service Was Designed to Serve Democracy” for Foreign Affairs.

He said today: “Eight million households in the United States lack bank accounts because the existing system of privately owned banks doesn’t offer accessible and affordable financial services. But the U.S. Postal Service can serve as a solution. A growing political movement highlights how the Postal Service could offer a public option for banking, making essential financial services more available to low- and middle-income households at over 30,000 post offices nationwide. Significantly, there is an important historical precedent: postal banking operated for more than fifty years during the twentieth century, when millions of Americans deposited billions of dollars in the postal bank. A new congressional push for programs in selected rural and urban areas to provide surcharge-free ATMs, wire transfers, check cashing, and bill payment at post offices would perform a pilot study for extending banking services to millions of underserved Americans. Expanding financial services at post offices also would bring new revenues to the Postal Service helping to revitalize the agency.”

See his op-ed in the Washington Post last year: “Postal banking is making a comeback. Here’s how to ensure it becomes a reality.

U.S. Military Spending Still Dwarfs China, Russia, Iran…

Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept just released his latest project: “EMPIRE POLITICIAN: A Half-Century of Joe Biden’s Stances on War, Militarism, and the CIA.”

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson@gmail.com, @davidcnswanson
Swanson is executive director of World Beyond War and recently wrote the piece “Biden’s Announcement That Trump Got Military Spending Just Right Is Dead Wrong.” Today, he tweeted about New York Times columnist Tom Friedman now claiming: “China is now a true peer competitor in the military.” As Swanson recently wrote: “U.S. military spending is $1.25 trillion per year across numerous departments. Even just taking the $700 billion and change that goes to the Pentagon and stands in for the full amount in media coverage, U.S. military spending has been climbing for years, including during the Trump years, and is the equivalent of many of the world’s top military spenders combined, most of which are U.S. allies, NATO members, and U.S. weapons customers.

“Still using that artificially reduced figure, China is at 37 percent of it, Russia at 8.9 percent, and Iran is spending 1.3 percent. These are, of course, comparisons of absolute amounts. Per capita comparisons are extreme as well. The United States, every year, takes $2,170 from every man, woman, and child for wars and war preparations, while Russia takes $439, China $189, and Iran $114.”

LINDSAY KOSHGARIAN, lkoshgarian@nationalpriorities.org, @natpriorities
Koshgarian is program director of the National Priorities Project, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies. She notes that while Biden is heralding the delayed withdrawal of thousands of troops from Afghanistan, “instead of redirecting any savings to our dire domestic situation, they are plowing those savings right back into the Pentagon.

“The majority of Americans support shifting at least ten percent of the Pentagon budget to pay for other urgent needs. Americans deserve to know that the administration isn’t representing their priorities on Pentagon spending. It’s past time we had a national conversation about the resources being wasted on the Pentagon.”

Earlier this month, the group put out a statement on Biden’s proposed budget: “There is no shortage of options for how to rein in the Pentagon’s excesses. Profitable weapons systems and costly service contracts account for more than half of the Pentagon budget, and the nation’s longest war continues to drain national coffers. Experts from across the political spectrum have put forth detailed proposals for Pentagon cuts that would put real security needs above contractor profits and endless war. … The cumulative cost of these wars has topped $6.4 trillion, and every one of those dollars could have been put to better use. Even a moderate ten percent cut in Pentagon spending could be used to create more than one million jobs in infrastructure, or end homelessness.”

Why Does IRS Target Working Poor More than Billionaires?

CHUCK COLLINS, chuck@ips-dc.org or via Bob Keener, bobk@ips-dc.org
On the news of President Biden’s plan to increase the IRS’s enforcement efforts, reportedly targeting the wealthy, Collins, director of the Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies, and author of the new book, The Wealth Hoarders; How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Billions, released the following statement:

“Taxes have become almost optional for the super-rich. President Biden’s plan is a welcome first step in reversing wealth hidding and tax avoidance by billionaires and multi-millionaires. You are four-times more likely to get audited if you use the Earned Income Credit – a tax break for working families – than if you’re a billionaire using a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust.

“This is not an accident. The super-rich — those with over $30 million and up — hire a veritable army of what social scientists call the ‘wealth defense industry’ to dodge taxes, stash wealth, and lobby for weak taxes. These are highly paid tax attorneys, wealth managers, and accountants, who specialize in creating complex shell games using offshore tax havens, dynasty trusts, anonymous shell companies, and bogus transactions. Billionaires pay them millions to hide trillions.

“Strengthening the IRS is a vital first step to economic recovery and reducing extreme wealth inequality. The future of the IRS may determine whether we become a society dominated by billionaires or a functioning democracy.”

Did Amazon Shred the Law to Stop Worker Unionization?

PAUL GOTTINGER, paul.gottinger@gmail.com@PaulGottinger
Gottinger is a staff reporter at Reader Supported News which just published his piece: “How Much Did Amazon Spend to Crush the Union Drive in Alabama?” He writes: “Last week, Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted against forming a union after an almost two-month-long election that received significant national attention. The vote was 738 in favor of a union to 1,798 against it.

“But this isn’t over yet.

“The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is challenging the election with the National Labor Relations Board over what the union describes as Amazon’s illegal interference in the election. The union alleges that Amazon put a ballot dropbox on warehouse property after the NLRB told Amazon that wasn’t allowed because it could be seen as an attempt to intimidate workers. The union will ask for a second election, claiming the last one was spoiled by Amazon’s illegal practices. …

“Amazon faces dozens of federal allegations from its facilities across the country for firing workers who organized protests and walk-outs demanding the company improve its COVID-19 safety best practices. Amazon employees at multiple facilities report fear of being open about their support for a union at work because they might be fired or harassed.

“Since February of 2020, there have been at least 37 charges filed with the NLRB against Amazon in 20 cities across the country.

“One tactic Amazon used to its advantage against the union campaigners was engineering extremely high turnover in Amazon facilities (averaging about 100 new employees a week). This meant union organizers constantly had to convince new employees of the merits of the union, while losing union-supporting employees. …

“In one particularly disturbing account, an Amazon employee named Jonathon Bailey, who organized a walkout over Covid-19 safety concerns, alleges he was ‘detained’ on his lunch break by an individual wearing a black camouflage vest who identified himself as former FBI. …

“Corporations spend $340 million per year on ‘union avoidance’ consultants in an attempt to deny workers their right to organize.

“Until the laws in the U.S. change to force corporations to be more transparent about their anti-union funding and tactics, and put strict limits on what they can do, organized labor will continue to face a tough road ahead.”

Wall St. Pumped Record $2.9 Billion to Washington Politicians, At Least

LISA DONNER, Carter Dougherty, carter@ourfinancialsecurity.org
Donner is executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, which just released the report “Wall Street Money in Washington.” She said today: “The enormous sums that Wall Street has at its disposal, combined with a broken campaign finance system, means there is little practical limit to the amount of money the financial services industry can inject into American debate on politics and policy. Year in and year out, this torrent of money gives Wall Street an outsized role in how we are governed, while driving and protecting policies that help this industry’s super wealthy amass even greater fortunes at the expense of the rest of us.”

The group found: “During the 2019-20 election cycle, Wall Street spent at least $2.9 billion on campaign contributions and lobbying to influence policy in Washington. … That total, which amounts to $4 million a day, shatters the previous record of $2 billion set in the 2015-16 presidential cycle.

“The highest-ever level of spending by Wall Street banks and financial services reflects the industry’s relentless push to influence decision-making, regardless of the party that controls Congress or the executive branch.”

The group states that “the financial sector spent an extraordinary amount of money in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to preserve Republican control of the Senate and maintain a divided government that would lock in deregulation and tax cuts enacted under President Trump and prevent financial reform legislation. …

“In this election cycle, individuals and entities associated with the financial sector reported making $4,971,464 in contributions to the eight Republican Senators and $38,512,126 to the 139 House members who voted to overturn the election (as reported by February 17, 2021), for a total of $43,483,590.” But the group also notes that “of the $982,775,706 in party-coded contributions by individuals and PACs associated with finance, 47 percent went to Republicans and 53 percent went to Democrats.” The group also stresses that because of dark money, these numbers are a bare minimum — they are simply unable to track all the cash involved.

Among the biggest spenders were: Bloomberg LP, National Association of Realtors, Blackstone Group, Charles Schwab & Co., American Bankers Association, Paloma Partners, Bain Capital, Renaissance Technologies and Wells Fargo.

Among the largest recipients: Senate Leadership Fund, Senate Majority, Independence USA PAC, House Majority PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund and America First Action, NextGen Climate Action and American Bridge 21st Century.