Archive for February 24th, 2004

Ever Get That Feeling?

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somethingbad

Ever get that feeling that something bad is about to happen?

photo from Therion Arms

Advantage to the Multinationals

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Anyone with a more than passing knowledge of the US tax system and
the Federal budget realizes that the far majority of government spending
comes directly from the paychecks of US workers. In fact, businesses
and corporations, whose total incomes actually exceed the total incomes
of all of America’s workers, account for LESS THAN 10% of total US taxes
collected. This is down from about a quarter of all tax receipts 50 years
ago.

If the business of America is Business, how come the businesses pay
so little of the operating costs for the ongoing operation of our national
enterprise? Could it have anything to do with corporate sponsorship of
the political system, soft-money funding of lawmakers campaigns, constant
and concerted lobbying to reduce the tax load on companies or the efforts
of legions of lawyers and MBAs to create, discover and exploit loopholes,
shelters and technically legal scams to save big bucks for business?

An informative article in today’s Boston
Globe
details how globalization,
outsourcing and job migration are further degrading the government’s
ability to collect a fair share of taxes from businesses and corporations.

When a company moves part of their operation off-shore, be it manufacturing,
assembly, distribution or services, the resulting production is still
part of the Gross National Product, as it has been created by a US entity.  However,
it is usually subject to the local, non-US tax system, and unless the
final profits are repatriated the US government can’t get their hands
on any of the resulting cash flow. 

For this reason, not only is Bermuda, with its 3% effective corporate
tax rate, an attractive haven, but seemingly reputable countries like
Holland (8.9%), Luxembourg (0.9%) and Ireland (7.5%) can represent billions
in savings for companies which manage to locate some of their profit
centers there.

There are several "legal" techniques for relocating profit centers to
countries with lower tax rates. An American company can transfer a trademark
or copyright to a foreign affiliate
so that all of the profit generated by that intellectual property is
taxed at a low rate.  The American mother company can sell its products
at low or no profit to a foreign subsidiary which then sells them on
the local market or re-exports them to a third country at a hefty markup,
leaving the resulting profit to be taxed at the lower foreign rate.

As further evidence of the sacrifice of patriotism to profits, the Globe
reports that nearly half of the $233 billion US corporations earned abroad
in 2001 were never brought back to the US where they could be taxed,
but instead were held in foreign tax havens.

Commerce Department data from December illustrate the challenge facing
tax officials. The figures show that corporate earnings held in offshore
tax havens like Luxembourg or the Cayman Islands have doubled over the
last 15 years. Those two countries have tax rates of 0.9 percent and
5.2 percent, respectively, compared with 28 to 35 percent in the United
States.

from the Boston Globe

Body Art of the Day

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bodarte

This jpg came to Norma Yvonne in email. Maybe we should hire a P.I.! If anyone knows who the original artist was we will give credit here…

Body-Art of the Day

ø

bodarte

This jpg came to Norma Yvonne in email. Maybe we should hire a P.I.! If anyone knows who the original artist was we will give credit here…

UN Protects Seascape from Costa Rica to Ecuador

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San Jose, Costa Rica – In one of the most ambitious marine conservation
initiatives in the western hemisphere, four Latin American nations, the UNESCO
World Heritage Centre, the United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation), Conservation
International (CI) and others are consolidating a marine protected area that
stretches from Costa Rica to Ecuador and helps safeguard some of the world’s
richest marine habitats and dozens of endangered species.

The project, known as the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape, covers 211 million
hectares (521 million acres) and extends from Costa Rica’s Cocos Island National
Park to Ecuador’s Galapagos Island National Park and Marine Reserve.

Along the
way, the Seascape helps link marine protected areas in Panama and Colombia, safeguards
an important migratory route for the Endangered blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
and protects one of the last remaining nesting grounds in the Eastern Pacific
of the Critically Endangered leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).

from the United Nations Foundiation via Eureka Alert