Thursday, April 15, 2010
Hypocrisy - It's the New Black
The Drudge Report blew the dog whistle, and the right wing media leaped to attention. For days we’ve been hearing of how “half the people in the US don’t pay taxes” with accompanying shrieks and embellishments. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity are all in a lather as they bellow about this, while trying to pretend that they represent the common man. Yep, they’re just like you – provided you make upwards of $20 million a year.
The story is misleading. Cable news is great for producing slogans, and abysmal at providing context. The story neglects to mention payroll taxes, state income taxes, or property tax. Very few are getting away without paying something. Some of the best tax cheats are found in Corporate America. The dog whistle brigade failed to mention that Exxon Mobil had ZERO US income tax liability in 2009. They had such massive profits that they paid out $15 billion in income taxes to other countries, but not a dime of that came to Uncle Sam. That’s the same kindly uncle who subsidizes them with US tax dollars. Rather than pay the freight here at home, they choose to use offshore tax dodges in the Cayman Islands.
Exxon Mobil will have to cough up $32 million for underpaying royalties on natural gas produced from federal and Indian leases, from 1988-1999. The company claims they didn’t do this intentionally. This puts them in the company of Shell, Unocal, Texaco, and Chevron, all of whom had previously made settlements. It seems there’s a whole lot of unintentional going on in the land of Big Oil.
President Obama is talking about cutting $38 billion in subsidies for oil and coal out of the budget. Fossil fuels get a total of $70 billion in subsidies a year, with the lions share going to oil. This means that you and I are helping some of the wealthiest corporations in the word to get even wealthier. These same corporations use tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of US taxes. Our reward for this taxpayer largesse is available for discovery at your local gas station. That thank you note is inching up to $3 a gallon. Big Oil isn’t happy at the thought of losing part of the free ride gravy train, and has begun running ads calling this an “energy tax.” They’re earning record profits, but still have their hand out to Uncle Sam. You’d think the tea partiers would be shouting “socialism” from the rooftops, but you’d be wrong about that.
The whole tea party phenomenon would be hilarious, if there weren’t open racism, bigotry, and undercurrents of violence. Where were these tri-corner hats wearing patriots when George Bush was driving the US economy into the toilet? Driving up the deficit with war spending? Where were these protestors when Bush added a huge government agency – the Dept. of Homeland Security? These big gummint decriers didn’t utter a peep when Ole White George made big gummint even bigger. It’s even harder to take them seriously when you look at them. Many of the members of the mostly white crowds are obvious recipients of Social Security and Medicare.
There was a big tea party event in Boston this past Wednesday. David Abel of the Boston Globe wrote my favorite story about it. He spoke to a protestor who is an Air Force retiree, who is angry about the “move toward socialism.” Naturally he receives veteran’s benefits and health care. From the government. Abel quoted him as saying, “Where does it say in the Constitution that there’s a mandate for all Americans to have health care?’’ he said. “This bill will ravage the health care that I get.’’ Abel also wrote about Valerie and Rob Shirk, who drove up from Connecticut to this event. The Shirks brought along their 10 children, so that they could hear Sarah Palin speak about the evils of “government run health care.” Mrs. Shirk commented that the problem with this country is too many people looking for handouts. The Shirks get Medicaid for their 10 children. Yes, Medicaid, as in government subsidized health care. From David Abel’s story:
“When asked why her family used state-subsidized health care when she criticized people who take handouts, Valerie Shirk said she did not want to stop having children, and that her husband’s income was not enough to cover the family with private insurance.
“I know there’s a dichotomy because of what we get from the state,’’ she said. “But I just look at each of my children as a blessing.’’”
Once again, folks like the Shirks are all for getting their own government subsidized health care. They just don’t want anyone else to get anything. Valerie Shirk doesn’t see anything wrong with asking taxpayers to pony up to pay for her need to overpopulate. She doesn’t see herself as “asking for a handout” or somehow shirking her responsibility. As is the case for so many of these newfound patriots, it’s okay when they do it.
In other words: socialism is okay when it comes to Big Oil. The rest of the time, the dog whistler media will use the term incorrectly. Handouts are bad, except when they go to tea partiers.
Hypocrisy. It’s the new black.
© sbruce 2010 This was published as an op-ed in the Conway Daily Sun on April 16, 2010.
h/t to David Abel of the Boston Globe.
h/t to Joel Pett, the terrific cartoonist for the Lexington-Herald Leader in KY
Posted by susanthe at 11:18 PM