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Crying Uncle

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Reprinted from Mike Malloy

Tax Day. The day that Grover Norquist and the insane Libertarians hate the most. It's no picnic for most Americans, either -- unless you're among the lucky 1% who have so much money our lawmakers figure they're too rich to pay taxes. The Leona Helmsley class who know that only "little people" pay taxes. Oh, and it's a happy day for the corporations, the Neocons in Congress decided they didn't have to pay their fair share, either. Funny that, since the Supreme Court declared that corporations were people. Guess they're also part of America's 1% Fortunate Sons.

We of the 99% are carrying the burden of funding the workings of the Federal government by ourselves, while there are hundreds of billions of dollars that American corporations are concealing from Uncle Sam in overseas accounts. Recently, to avoid prosecution, a swiss bank agreed to pay $211 million in fines for helping a small fragment of these corporate felons hide their billions. But the IRS is too disorganized, the tax code too complicated, and staff too poorly trained to go after these crooks in a meaningful way.

Have you ever wondered why the decades-old congressional promise to simplify the tax code has never been legislated? The current tax code is a nightmare, it exceeds 70,000 pages and there have been 15,000 changes in tax laws since the last major rewrite in 1986. And the Devil, indeed, is in these tangled details. Clearly, there is safety in that massive mess of papers for our corporate criminals and, obviously, for their congressional cronies.

Of course, even if -- by some miracle -- the the current system was reformed to perfection and a sensible tax code enacted -- the Capitol Hill gang would likely allocate most of the new influx of cash to those programs devoted to death and destruction, rather than to education, infrastructure repair, scientific research, sustainable energy programs, environmental protection, or any human service that would keep people alive and healthy, rather than destroy cities and make people dead.

But I digress ...

The wage gap in America is disturbing. According to the NY Times:

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"The United States has one of the world's largest pay gaps, with chief executives earning nearly 300 times what the average worker makes, according to some economists' estimates. That is much higher than the 20-to-1 ratio recommended by Gilded Age magnates like J. Pierpont Morgan and the 20th century management visionary Peter Drucker."

Today thousands of Americans in 230 cities are fighting to change that shameful statistic. As we have discussed on previous programs, many full-time fast-food employees earning minimum wage (or a tad more) are forced to accept public assistance, as in food stamps, to scrape by. You may remember McDonald's infamous helpful "tips" page on their website, full of helpful advice for their poor workers, such as chewing their food slowly to make it last longer, or using smaller plates to make it appear they have enough to eat. Or, my favorite, supplementing their income by selling their belongings on ebay -- like unopened Christmas gifts.

How many McDonald's corporate officers are on food stamps, you reckon? Or are selling their Rolex's on ebay to buy Ramen noodles and peanut butter?

These employees aren't slackers, looking for handouts. They are hardworking Americans who would jump at the chance to earn enough to pay their fair share of taxes. NBC News has more on this Big Mac attack:

"Fast-food workers rallied on Wednesday for higher pay, using the April 15 tax deadline to publicize their claims that they cannot survive on the hourly wages paid by many U.S. corporations.

"The protests for pay increases to $15 an hour, planned to spread nationwide, kicked off at dawn outside a McDonald's in New York with several hundred demonstrators. Marching behind a banner reading 'Raise wages, Raise the city,' protesters carried placards that read 'Fight for $15 on 4/15.'

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"Organizers said they chose to mobilize on April 15, the U.S. deadline for filing federal income tax returns, to highlight their complaint that many workers must rely on public assistance. Plans called for rallies to be held in 230 cities across the nation.

"The campaign by low-paid workers for a living wage has been building on their position that the U.S. federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not enough to lift them from poverty. Fast-food and retail chains are starting to respond, but their wage increases are generally less than organizers demand."

Republicans will argue that raising the minimum wage would destroy small businesses and discourage start-ups, ultimately hurting our economy. But one small business owner in Seattle believes otherwise, and his business model is making headlines today. From the NY Times again:

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Kathy never expected a career in radio as a talk show producer. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Kathy was completing her nursing degree when in 2001 - in an emergency - she was asked to fill in as the producer of Mike's program. Within a few (more...)

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