In the past three weeks, unlikely coalitions have stopped two pipelines: Palmetto in Georgia and Kinder Morgan in New England. These victories are very encouraging to those of us fighting to stop Bakken, and we need to keep pushing:
– Tell the Army Corps of Engineers to do a full Environmental Impact Statement.
– Circulate our letter to President Obama asking him to tell the Corps to do its job.
– Support legal action defending landowners standing up to Dakota Access.
– Support tribal actions, including the Run for Your Life.
– Prepare for the possibility of civil disobedience.
There’s one more critical action you can take: Support elected officials who’ve stood with us against Dakota Access and against the politicians bought and paid for by Big Oil’s tainted money.
The most vocal, consistent Iowa House member standing against the Bakken pipeline is State Rep. Dan Kelley of Newton. Dan has been with the people in this struggle, and now has a well-financed opponent.
Please take a few minutes to go to Rep. Dan Kelley’s website and make a contribution. He’s up against the very forces we’ve been fighting. Dan’s running a strong campaign, and donations from the grassroots will allow him to buy brochures, yard signs and other materials he needs to get his message out.
And Dan’s message is our message: “It’s clear that the IUB is listening to power and money instead of the people of Iowa, so it’s time for the Legislature to step forward and clarify that eminent domain must only be used for a genuine public purpose,” and “I’m proud to have been the first Iowa legislator to join The Climate Mobilization, a full-scale effort to combat the causes of climate change and to champion realistic solutions.”
So please, go to Dan’s website today and either send him a check or click the “Donate” button. It’s only six weeks until the June 7th primary election, so Dan needs your help ASAP.
On today’s Fallon Forum, we discuss:
– The refugee crisis in Europe, with Michael Luick-Thrams
– How the national political establishment continues to mess with Iowa’s US Senate race
– The frightening number of high school science teachers who deny climate change
– Run for Your Life, with Donnielle Wanatee
– Climate catastrophe in the Mekong Delta . . . and possible lessons for the Mississippi Delta
Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live on Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– On KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA) Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. CT
– On WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– On KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)
“We are in a water crisis in this state… We have sold our souls to the devil..”
The past two weeks have been simply startling at how those with wealth have been both evading taxes while hoarding money in almost unimaginable amounts in offshore tax havens. At the same time we have corporations doing all sorts of accounting and legal maneuvers to avoid taxes.
Paying your share of taxes was once considered to be a patriotic duty that one did proudly. Now as Leona Helmsley once stated “only little people pay taxes.” In the past at least 35 years since Ronald Reagan began his ‘me first and screw everybody else’ society paying taxes and doing the right thing by your country is looked down on as if only fools do that.
Buying politicians from county supervisors on up to presidents is one hell of a good investment. A few bucks invested reaps hundreds in taxes and fees avoided.
Recently we have had revelations from three sources giving us a glimpse of just how much in taxes are being evaded and avoided:
The Panama Papers are slowly leaking and have already taken down a couple of world leaders
Bernie Sanders who we must credit with making various aspects of inequality the central theme to this year’s campaign asked the GAO what percentage of corporations don’t pay taxes in this country.
Finally Oxfam released a report on US companies tax scams evading taxes.
The numbers are simply boggling and overwhelming. The imagination also boggles at what good the taxes from such money could do throughout the world. Schools, food, environmental projects and so much more. Estimates I have heard go from $7 Trillion (with a T) up to $32 Trillion.
To be honest, I am confused by the numbers and the various avoiding and evading tactics that my figures and descriptions may not be fully accurate. But the central message is this: We have be massively ripped off by the wealthy and the corporations. We are just now getting a glimpse of the iceberg. If we had a real press this would be story #1 day in and day out until it was resolved.
From Michelle Chen at the Nation magazine on tax day last Tuesday:
“If that $100 billion showed up on the government’s books, we could fund essential healthcare for more than 2 billion people worldwide, “quadruple spending on education in the world’s 47 poorest countries,” or basically finance the annual budgets for federal social security, labor and unemployment, and education program spending in the United States.
According to Oxfam, during 2008 through 2014, while the economy reeled and then hobbled forward, “the 50 largest US companies collectively received $27 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts for every $1 they paid in federal taxes.” It’s not that they were exactly ungenerous to Washington; they were just savvy in terms of where they deposited their assets. The same companies collectively sank $2.6 billion into lobbying federal officials, and got a return on investment of “nearly $11.2 trillion in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts.” Overall, 45 of the 50 companies scored major tax discounts, whittling down the statutory 35 percent corporate rate to just 27 percent, Oxfam reports. Since all this happened while state and local budgets were gutted so communities could supposedly “live within their means,” it’s no wonder people are outraged that companies have funneled away billions that might otherwise help repair the damage of the financial crisis.
Corporations have perfected elaborate accounting schemes to maximize loopholes, such as “inversion”—recently thwarted by the Obama administration in an attempted Pfizer merger—in which triangulation between different tax authorities enables mega-multinationals like Apple and General Electric to restructure their internal accounting and siphon revenues toward lower-tax jurisdictions, while the rest of the company’s operations remain essentially unchanged. Another shell game known as “earnings stripping” involves recycling revenues through internal loans, which enables “the parent company to essentially pay artificially high interest rates to itself” without actually producing anything.
David Cay Johnston noted in The American Prospect that “Apple and General Electric owe at least $36 billion in taxes on profits being held tax-free offshore, Microsoft nearly $27 billion, and Pfizer $24 billion.” Separately, such multinational brands also help fuel job offshoring, contributing to a hemorrhaging of the country’s human and fiscal capital through both financial manipulation and the “real” economy of labor.
And once more we have one of the best examples of why the internet in the United States must remain free and neutral. Once it falls into corporate control, stories like these will never see the light of day.
The old quizmaster has some family issues to deal with. He will be back on the job next week with a few extra questions to make up for his absence.
“Til we meet again!
In what is supposed to be a democracy – heck, this is supposed to be THE democracy – we are once again witnessing troubling signs that the very essence of that democracy, the vote, is rotten.
Throughout the primary and caucus season there have been examples of an individual vote being undermined by such instances as voters showing up at the polls only to find out they are no longer registered or their registration was changed by someone other than themselves; voters reporting that touch screen machines changed their votes; lines long enough to wear out the proverbial patience of Job.
The primaries have been more than a time to choose a candidate and have a say. For those who have been bent on voter suppression and stealing elections this has been a time to tune up their strategies for November. From reports from such far flung primaries as New York, Massachusetts and Arizona we can already see what may be a portent for this November.
Voters knocked off the rolls for no reasons, registrations changed, registrations not exactly matching driver’s licenses or other identification will all be part of the mix. We can also expect that precincts in urban areas will have long lines and not enough workers or materials.
The infamous voting machines themselves will be causing their own havoc, most of it unseen. Along with all the other problems they have such as vote flipping or changing vote totals internally, there may well be many starting to break down as they show the signs of age.
America never seems to have the time or money to study and determine an easily validated voting system. Of course this is by design. Add that to the myriad of purposely confusing state laws and voting machines that are extremely suspect and it looks like we will be staring down a general election in November that is ripe for the stealing.
They Take a Stand Opposed By 75% of Iowa
Iowa House Republicans again this year inserted an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood from any state funding.
This is a truly unpopular issue with Iowans. As Beth Wessel-Kroeschell is quoted in the Mason City Globe-Gazette:
Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, cited a public opinion poll published by the Des Moines Register that showed 3 out of 4 Iowans support state funding for health care providers like Planned Parenthood.
“We have a mandate. This is simple,” Wessel-Kroeschell said. “Not only do Iowans overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood funding, family planning dollars, but it’s a program that works. It’s a program that gives people power and choice over their health care.”
It is very hard to grasp why Republicans are pushing so hard for this unpopular amendment, so let’s see if we can understand their impetus for bringing this up and voting for it.
The first reason to vote for such an unpopular measure is that it plays well back home. Even though a measure is unpopular statewide doesn’t mean it is unpopular in individual districts. Measures like this are geared to the religious voter. Supporting anti-abortion measures in any form is a sure way to keep the religious coming out to vote.
A second reason to vote for such an unpopular measure is that it punishes those who violate an unwritten moral code that frowns on sexual acts especially by women. While that may seem odd, men are not punished for sexual acts resulting in a pregnancy, only the women. If a woman becomes pregnant she should therefore accept the result of that sin, the sex act, by carrying the child to term and raising said child to adulthood. To follow this punishment even further, Republicans at all levels make it hard to get state aid to feed, clothe and educate this child.
A third reason to vote for such an unpopular measure is that it most frequently punishes the poor. Planned Parenthood is not used exclusively by poor women, but often for the poor it is often their only choice. We know how Republicans feel about poor people. It is their fault and they should suffer the consequences. If not having access to health care is part of that so be it.
One of the most overarching reasons for voting for any anti-abortion measure at a state level is to be part of the “movement conservative” across the US. The movement realized it could change more policy in the country working at a state level than trying to push a big rock uphill in Washington. Thus every little legislator in the smallest state is but a cog in the bigger movement. Note that in being part of the larger movement the individual legislator often does not represent his or her district.
Finally there is the desire to legislate one’s own moral and religious code into secular law. Such religious code in this country is usually found in some interpretation of one of the many variations of the bible. Stated in another way, Christians have been known to enact their religious code into law to punish those that are seen as morally weak in their eyes. As proof let us just consider all the so-called “religious freedom” bills that are rushing through various state legislatures.
Iowa is but one vote in the senate from being yet another state with a movement conservative legislature and governor all set to enact religious beliefs into law. Elections are extremely important.
This is just one of a number very unpopular measures that Republicans have been responsible for in the past couple of years. Many were solo jobs by the governor. But the governor is the head of the party in this state and not someone apart from the party. Who can forget closing the mental health facilities at Mount Pleasant and Clarinda? How about the line item veto of school funding last July? May pumping multi millions into fertilizer plants with few jibs to show for it got your blood boiling? Of course the big one was the governor’s unilateral privatizing of Iowa’s Medicaid system so the administrative companies could take a big cut of our tax dollars.
Really makes you wonder why anyone would vote for such scoundrels. But they do.
Factory farms, officially called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), make the worst possible neighbors. People forced to live close to CAFOs often report becoming sick from toxic gases produced by decomposing animal waste. They can’t even enjoy their own backyards or open their windows on summer nights because the stench from CAFOs miles away is overwhelming. Residents near CAFOs also report an increase in pest infestations, including rodents and swarms of flies. Family and friends often refuse to visit because the smell is so unbearable.
But it’s much more than the intolerable smell that impacts rural communities. Manure run-off from CAFOs contaminates streams, rivers, and lakes that were once recreation centers and tourist destinations. Over-application of manure on fields near residences also causes their wells to become contaminated, threatening the health of anyone coming into contact with the water.
CAFOs take a tremendous economic toll on communities too. Property values plummet whenever a CAFO moves in. Some owners living near CAFOs have filed property tax appeals and won in court, demonstrating that their homes and properties lost significant value due to these industrial-scale facilities. All CAFOs entice communities with the promise of increased tax revenue, but the falling values of the properties surrounding CAFOs negate any promised increase.
Not only do communities lose income when CAFOs move in, they are also forced to increase expenditures on the development and maintenance of infrastructure, especially roads and bridges broken down by CAFO semi-truck traffic. Once a CAFO shuts down, communities are then left with depressed economies, low property values, and costly, often irreparable environmental damage.
Unlike traditional family farms, which purchase feed, supplies, and building materials from local suppliers, CAFOs typically purchase everything from outside of the region while paying their workers a very low wage. Because local residents are rarely willing to work for the dismal pay CAFOs offer, these facilities encourage low-wage workers to move into communities. Consequently, CAFOs provide little to no stimulus for local economies, while imposing prohibitive costs. Wherever CAFOs come in, family farms are driven out of business–and when family farms and the good jobs they provide disappear, rural main streets become ghost towns.
CAFOs are a resource extraction industry, draining the wealth from communities and leaving behind polluted water, foul air, broken roads, and sick residents. The only ones who benefit from CAFOs are their CEOs and corporate shareholders, whose pockets are lined with profits reaped from polluting the environment, paying workers unfair wages, treating animals inhumanely, and devastating rural economies.