Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Corporate Predators and Human Prey 

Just as with wild life, we too have predators and prey -- sometimes we're both. Many "successful" business people work within the confines of our economic system to acquire wealth using invention, innovation and production, creating not only wealth for themselves, but wealth for the people they employee.

In return, we have products and services that benefit us all, increasing our standards-of-living, and providing us a means for our basic necessities for living.

We have laws and regulations so that predators don't abuse our economic system -- so they can't cheat, fleece or physically harm us, the would-be prey. But some people believe we should have no regulations at all in a "free market", and that the corporate predators should be free to roam the economic landscape, free to do as they wish.

Even with our current laws and regulations, we constantly find greed, corruption, and fraud...can you imagine if there were no regulations at all? People are human, and greed is a part of human nature (many are actually addicted to money). So predators must be contained and regulated for the benefit of all. If not, we would have economic anarchy and chaos, and the predators would always make their kill.

A free market is supposed to be a market where prices are determined by supply and demand, but our system, without regulation, would be massively manipulated and abused (more so than it is already). Many in business already use an army of attorneys to cuts corners and skirt the laws in every way they can. When they're discovered, and there is a public outcry, more regulations are sometimes invoked.

The same goes with the tax code. Every time a tax law is written, the wealthy and successful business people use their tax attorneys to cuts corners and skirt the laws in every way they can. Many deliberately break the law to avoid paying income taxes. When they're discovered, more tax laws might be passed to plug their "loopholes".

That's why there is so much regulation and such as complicated tax code, because of successful business people who are constantly trying to game the system. The Republicans, who are the political party of the rich and large corporate interests, are in a constant struggle with the Democrats to upset the balance of  a "fair and just" economic system for the common people.

The Republicans believe that the common people (the government) are the beasts that must be starved. The GOP is very open about their ideology, and have been very successful in selling their philosophy to many American voters. They do this in many ways, and all to get their constituents to vote against their own best interests.

The GOP is ruthless in their strategies for achieving this, many times using out right lies, and telling the same lies over and over again. Since 1999 they've had a new partner in the media as a propaganda arm to their party, Fox News, which changed the way the media began reporting the news. The "mainstream" media was forced to take a more biased approach to their slant to counter the forceful right-leaning Fox.

We always see Republican politicians on Fox News being pampered by the commentators. Bret Baier and Chris Wallace are the most "fair and balanced", while Neil Cavuto, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the crew are outright liars. Geraldo Rivera is somewhere in the middle.

Here is but just one example that I hear all the time from the talking heads on Fox News: The GOP wants a territorial tax so American corporations can continue to outsource jobs to countries for cheap wages without having to pay U.S. corporate taxes on earnings made in foreign countries.

But the "guests" on Fox News keep repeating that the U.S. corporate tax rate (statutory at 35%) is one of the highest in the world, yet they never mention the fact that the average "effective" tax rate corporations actually pay are far much lower (average 18%). Just visit their websites, go to investors relations, and download their annual reports.

Many American jobs went to China, which has a strict tax rate of 25%, higher than what they'd pay here; but unskilled labor costs them $1 an hour in China, whereas the minimum wage in the U.S. $7.25 an hour. These American corporations save money on labor costs, even while paying the Chinese government a higher tax.

Another excuse you'll hear from our "captains of industry" is, they moved their operations closer to their "supply chains" to reduce costs. B.S.!!! We had "supply chains" in the U.S. when they first began outsourcing their factories overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor -- they destroyed our domestic "supply chains" because Americans working at those "supply chains" also needed to earn a "living wage". Over-regulation and high taxes are just excuses used to reconcile their greed while fattening their own paychecks.

Also, have you seen the air in China? Besides chronic pollution, hundreds of thousands of children are suffering from lead poisoning. American corporations have little to no environmental or labor-related regulations in China, saving themselves more money...profits at any cost...corporate predators gaming the system.

Can you imagine an America with the same wages and working conditions as in China? If allowed, American corporations would turn us into a Third World nation, and the GOP would be more than happy to accommodate them.

And whenever you hear a Republican talking about creating jobs, always ask them: "Jobs that pay a living wage?"...because 50% of the work force in the U.S. is already earning poverty wages. At this rate, America will soon become the new "emerging market", just like we once were in 1492 before the New World was discovered.

Let's have a peek at some of our well-known "captains of industry", "pillars of the community", "good corporate citizens", and "job creators" -- those that the Republicans admire so much:

  • Bernie Madoff holds the world-record for biggest Ponzi scheme in history. Madoff stole billions while chairing the Nasdaq and maintaining cushy relationships at the SEC. He received the maximum sentence of 150 years in prison.
  • Jon Corzine, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and of MF Global, a financial services firm specializing in futures brokerage. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2011, and he can't account for over $1 billion that's missing.
  • Joseph P. Nacchio - The CEO of Qwest Communications International. He was convicted of 19 counts of insider trading in Qwest stock and was sentenced to six years in federal prison
  • Kenneth Lay and Jeffery Skilling -- Enron!!!
  • Thomas Joseph Petters - The former CEO and chairman of Petters Group Worldwide and convicted for turning his company into a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme. He received a 50 year federal prison sentence.
  • Eugene Plotkin and David Pajcin, both formerly of Goldman Sachs, were the masterminds behind a complex Wall Street con and a scam using strippers to solicit information from Wall Street bankers.
  • Richard Scrushy - He was once the superstar CEO of HealthSouth, a huge provider of outpatient rehab services until federal prosecutors accused him of masterminding a $2.7 billion fraud.
  • Samuel Israel III turns his wall street hedge fund Bayou Investments into a Ponzi scheme after poor management, then attempts a fake suicide to flee prosecution.
  • Dennis Kozlowski - He was once described as "The Most Aggressive CEO in America," now sits behind bars. A poster boy of excess, the former CEO of Tyco stole millions from his company, using the money for a lavish party, a gilded shower curtain and expensive art.
  • Anthony Elgindy - "The Mad Max of Wall Street" - The founder of Pacific Equity Investigations was a short seller who made millions in a trading scam using government secrets.
  • Lou Pearlman - The manager of bands like *NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys and masterminded scams of $500 million from investors in the longest running Ponzi scheme.
  • Al Parish - An economics professor and a trusted financial advisor was sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to financial fraud. Nearly 600 people lost up to $90 million invested in Parish Economic's private investment pools.
  • Sholam Weiss - He helps fix the National Heritage Life Insurance's gaping $35 million accounting hole, and ends up partnering up with them - and bilking customers out of $500 million. He was sentenced to 845 years in prison.
  • Robert W. McLean - An investment manager and arts patron who traveled by limousine and ran a Ponzi scheme that had siphoned tens of millions of dollars from close friends and business associates. He eventually killed himself.
  • Stephen Trantel was once a Wall Street insider, a broker making hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Manhattan trading pits. After becoming unemployed, he started robbing banks.
  • Nancy Kissel murders her husband Robert Kissel, who had been a vice president in Goldman Sachs' Asian special situations group. His brother, Andrew Kissel, who had been accused of defrauding a New York co-op board of millions of dollars, was found murdered at his rented Greenwich, Connecticut estate.
  • Alberto Vilar - An investor who was known as "a patron of opera". He was tried and convicted in November 2008 on charges of money laundering, investment advisor fraud, securities fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud, and was sentenced in February 2010 to nine years in prison.
  • Danny Pang - He was the CEO of Private Equity Management Group who ran a Ponzi scheme and made millions betting on when people will die. His wife, ex-stripper Janie Louise Pang, was murdered in the Villa Park house, possibly by a contract killer, after she took steps toward a divorce. He has also since died. Wall Street Journal
  • Marc Harris promised financial freedom to people with off-shore bank accounts as a way to keep assets out of the reach of government. But the "guru" was running a Ponzi scheme and bilking clients out of millions of dollars.
  • Robert Allen Stanford - He was the chairman of the now defunct Stanford Financial Group and was a sponsor of professional sports - - now accused of a massive Ponzi scheme.
  • William “Boots” Del Biaggio III - A venture capitalist and former co-owner of the hockey team San Jose Sharks. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and more than $67.4 million in restitution for misappropriating funds from individual investors he advised.
  • Martin Frankel - A financier and con-man who vanished with $200 million dollars. A story of money laundering, prostitution, bizarre sex and drug abuse.
  • Bernard Ebbers - The CEO of WorldCom becomes the poster child for everything that went wrong on Wall Street in the 1990s. WorldCom's eventual downfall shakes the financial community and the lives of thousands of investors.
  • Stefan Wilson - Operated a fraudulent investment fund. His Ponzi scheme took almost $13 million from over 50 investors and landed him 20 years in prison.
  • Marc Dreier is a high-powered lawyer with celebrity clients. But Dreier is a conman and steals more than $700 million from hedge funds.
  • Arthur Nadel - Manages the hedge fund Scoop Management Co, a $350 million fund. In the blink of an eye, he disappears and leaves clients without their life savings.
  • Kenneth Starr - An accountant to stars like Sylvester Stallone, Diane Sawyer, and Wesley Snipes, but mismanages his clients’ money, pockets millions, and then he marries an exotic dancer. But then later he gets more than seven years behind bars for a multimillion-dollar investment scheme.

*** And because of Congress (usually the Republicans) all these greedy thieves paid a lower tax rate than the average kindergarten teacher. Thank you GOP!!!

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