Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Some Things I Just Can't Ignore

I typically attempt to keep this blog light. I can't turn on the news without my blood pressure shooting up 70 points. I don't want to add to the dreary information that is offered at every turn. However, there are a couple of things that are bugging the crap out of me and I just need to get them off my chest.

As you are sweating over your taxes and maybe trying to figure out how to come up with the cash to pay that extra unexpected amount that you are due over and above any withholding or quarterly prepayments, keep this in mind: GE declared a net profit -- yes, that's "net" as in "after expenses" -- of over $14 billion for 2010. How much did they pay or do they have to pay in taxes on that amount? Wait for it...$0!

Do you really need another reason for a flat tax? That's a tax that's the same across the board without credits, subsidies and loopholes. $14 billion net profit and $0 paid in taxes. As an individual, I can't make $6,000 (net) in a year and avoid paying taxes. Not only did they pay $0, somehow they wound up with a $3 billion credit toward next year's taxes. How did GE do it?

All you need do is spend $26 million or more lobbying the federal government to write its regulations to create subsidies and tax loopholes to benefit your business. Spend enough money, and evidently for GE $26 million is the magic number, and you too can avoid paying taxes. You can't afford that, you say. Well neither can many of GE's smaller competitors who don't get to operate within the warm embrace of Uncle Sam.

Did I mention that GE is the same company that over the last decade has shuttered more than 20 plants in the U.S. and shipped more than 20,000 jobs over seas? Yea, GE!

Just one example of how GE operates: It lobbied in support of higher efficiency standards for light bulbs. No incandescent bulb can meet those new standards. Why would GE do that; doesn't GE make incandescent light bulbs? Sure, but it also makes the double-helix-shaped compact fluorescent bulbs that are replacing those old-fashioned, energy-hungry incandescents. Of course, the incandescents were made in the U.S. while its compact fluorescents are made much more cheaply in China and other third-world locations.

That's the same strategy GE used to ensure that it didn't have to pay taxes on a $14 billion net profit.

My second gripe: What are we doing in Libya? I have yet to hear the same answer two days in a row. As far as I can tell from the news is that the U.S. is participating in some sort of drive-by bombing of government forces to support some UN sanctioned, humanitarian no-fly zone. Is that about right?

Our goal isn't to overthrow Gaddafi, but "he's gotta go." We are only establishing a no-fly zone, yet we are bombing and lobbing missiles at his tanks and ground forces. The U.S. is only a participant and not the leader of this effort; still we are flying 90 percent of the missions and firing all the missiles. Is that about right?

I just heard the announcement from our state department earlier today that Gaddafi's ability to command his forces has been greatly degraded. Really? How did that happen if all we're doing is enforcing a no-fly zone. Sounds similar to the result of our bombing leading up to both Iraq wars. You don't accomplish that by bombing some runways and antiaircraft batteries. Sounds like we are bombing his military to hell.

The larger question, however, is what do we expect to happen when we...oops, I mean, when the rebels drive Gaddafi out or kill him? Who is going to take over? Are U.S. interests going to be better served by whatever replaces him than they have been by him? History tells us, no. We were lucky, at least for the short term, that Egypt had a strong military to step in. Not so in Libya. There we are screwed.

Over the past couple of days it has come to light that al-Qaeda is one of the major players among the Libyan rebels? I know we are no longer at war with terror, but aren't we still fighting al-Qaeda? I thought that al-Qaeda was the one bad guy/extremist/overseas contingency operation that we were still engaged in. Did I miss a memo?

Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts? Evidently not many in Washington do.

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