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pinion Regulations: Job Killer or Red Herring?


If corporate leaders could just feel like the forecast for business wasn't going to be dragged down by government rules and regulations, they would pull out their wallets and get this show on the road. To the degree that wealth has served those who have it, one might think that reviewing their recent rewards should be all that's needed for incentive.

How many times have we heard, 'just get government off of our backs'. Is it just that and boot straps that are needed to put the country back on track? Are we to believe that enforcing the Clean Water Act and the Polluter Pays principle would actually stifle economic development?

The Political Economy Research Institute predicts clean energy investments and increased environmental regulations would lead to a net increase of 1.7 million jobs. Construction, manufacturing and engineering would all experience an increase in opportunity. Transportation and housing are starved for innovative products that would reduce our current costly energy dependency, and that translates into more working Americans.

Should it not be in the best interest of corporations to do their part in guaranteeing the public has clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe? Plus, regulations also bring a level playing field to those who compete for market share to resolve those issues.

Supply and demand depend on competition to fuel the economic engines. Reasonable regulations are neither a job killer, nor do they stifle competition. Example: What sport generates more revenue than any other two combined, extremely competitive at every level, and is the quintessential example of regulations? Answer: NASCAR.

What sport is more regulated? A NASCAR race regulates the weight, the horsepower, the wheelbase, the shape, the tires, the fuel, the distance from the ground and just about everything you can think of that has to do with the sport, even the top speed. They couldn't let some thousand horsepower monster capable of doing 300 MPH get out on the track with the rest of them. That would present a imminent danger to them all.

Many see giant corporations like some monster pulling out on the track, not concerned with rules that limit the horsepower or safety issues that endanger fans (their consumers) or other competitors. Some find that approach is far more hampering to competition than regulations. Who jumps into the ring with an 800 lb. gorilla?

I believe there are many reasons corporate heads cast a persona to be concerned about small businesses. Their rhetoric is self serving and misleading to the actual reality small businesses are faced with when it comes to succeeding. What they are up against, are roadblocks placed there to beat-up on the little guy.

Do the small business owners really think the $3.3 billion spent by the 12,654 lobbyists last year (OpenSecrets.org), were all there on their behalf? Very few of those lobbyist represented issues that weren't concerns to special interest, tax exemptions, and ways around the laws that they themselves helped to construct.  

The agriculture industry, pharmaceutical industry, banking, healthcare, mining and insurance all have bigger-than-life industry executives running the government offices that wrote the regulations. When their term is up, they go back to the corporation as a well-paid board member. This is in large part to stifle competition not entice it.

Maybe Rip-Van Winkle could be convinced otherwise, but who thinks John H. Hammergren would allow anyone to get in the way of the $131 million in compensation he got for being the CEO of McKesson's Health Care Services last year? Is Michael D. Fascitelli of Vornado Realty really thinking that getting rid of a few regulations could get him more than the $64 million he got?

I doubt Richard Kinder, of Kinder Morgan Energy (oil and gas), lacks for incentive to boost the $61 million he was paid last year, or that David M. Cote thinks getting rid of a few regulations is what is needed to enhance the $56 million he was paid.

In 2011, Chevron's CEO John Watson was given $25 million for his guidance. In 2010, the average Fortune 500 CEO was paid $10.8 million, and that amount is expected to go up this year. Most multi-million dollar earners and corporations paid between 15 and 20 percent in income tax after exemptions. 

Citizens for Tax Justice found that 78 of Fortune 500 companies had at least one year in the last three that they paid zero taxes, and in some cases actually got money back from the government (negative tax rate). In 2011, Verizon Communications profited $19.8 billion with a tax rate of -3.8 %, while General Electric reported $19.6 billion in profits with a tax rate of -18.9%.

In the finical sector, Goldman Sachs only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes, even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received almost $800 billion from the federal reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008. Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department for nearly $1 trillion.

We don't hear about these outlandish amounts from network news because they too become well-paid celebrities that won't make them an issue, because they too can make in up to eight figures for masking the charade. The top earner, Matt Laure, just signed a $25 million per year contract.

Are we really going to believe that those who control the industries need incentive to continue to do so? Corporate tax rates are far lower that they were during the period most of the same corporations generated their fortunes. Personal wealth has also betrayed all logic. If they and the corporations they run are not up to the job to produce employment for the millions in dire need for them, perhaps they need to get out of the way. The more than $100 billion going out to Fortune 500 companies disguised as incentives, can be better used elsewhere, and the same amount in foreign aid should be considered too. The hundreds of billions in revenue lost to corporate tax-loopholes should be recouped, as well as the exorbitant deductions given to the highest wage earners.

To think the public should trade off the conditions of their rivers and lakes, accept even more pesticides on their food and pollution in their air,all to support the affluenza of the one percent, seems rather ludicrous.


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