Check the facts
(Re: “Libya and Lockerbie,” Letters, March 31.) Peter Johnson’s letter pooh-poohing my assertion that the CIA (aka the Christian Investment Authority) has a long history of utilizing narcotics in its international skullduggery deserves a brief reply.
Since space is limited, I suggest that Johnson, and other interested Boulder Weekly readers, consult the following books: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Alfred McCoy, 1972 (revised several times); Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, Gary Webb, 2003; Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press, Alexander Cockburn, 1999; American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan, Peter Dale Scott, 2010; and The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA, Jonathan Kwitny, 1987.
McCoy and Scott are, or were, academics. The other authors are investigative journalists.
For those who prefer enlightenment via the entertainment route, see Air America, starring Mel Gibson.
Kwitny’s book is particularly interesting. A long-time investigative journalist for the Wall Street Journal, the author named several U.S. generals and an admiral who were associated with, or held responsible positions in, Australia’s defunct Nugan Hand Bank, the bizarre financial institution that laundered huge amounts of drug money for the CIA. Former CIA director William Colby was a lawyer for Nugan Hand.
With regard to the Lockerbie disaster, all I can do is again urge readers to peruse Lisa Pease’s article, “Lockerbie Doubts,” posted on CommonDreams. org, Aug. 23, 2009. The trial of the two alleged Libyan terrorists was, for numerous European journalists and jurists, a kangaroo trial replete with anomalies galore. For example, both defendants were tried on the same evidence, yet only one was convicted, the other set free.
Truth, as the saying goes, is stranger than fiction.
Licensed to steal
Although I am one of those who is unalterably opposed to the idea of allowing a corporation the same rights as a living person, and find that the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same is a travesty of real justice, I recognize that it is the law of the land nonetheless.
Given the above, corporations — at the very least — should also be required to accept the same responsibilities as those expected of a person; it should be a good citizen and an honorable, ethical member of the community. In the case of international corporations, that community has to be defined as the world.
In actual practice, however, corporations are the opposite of good citizens in many if not most instances. They bribe politicians to write laws that cheat society on a mammoth scale, most significantly by allowing them to avoid paying many of the very real costs incurred in conducting their businesses. What economists refer to as “externalities” are left out of price calculations.
This includes the social and environmental costs of destruction of valuable resources, pollution, the burdens on society of workers who become injured or ill and receive little or no health care, the indirect funding received when companies are permitted to pay employees less than a living wage, provide substandard working conditions and extract natural resources from public lands at less-than-market prices.
Additionally, allowing corporations to domicile offshore to avoid taxes is to allow corporations to evade taxes, and if that is considered wrong for living persons, it should be considered wrong for corporations. Further, most corporations are dependent on public subsidies, exemptions, massive advertising and lobbying campaigns, and complex transportation and communications systems that are underwritten by taxpayers; their executives receive inflated salaries, perks and “golden retirement parachutes,” which are written off as tax deductions.
Under proper accounting, all the above externalities would be factored into the costs of products. Those goods and services that are inherently “clean” would also be the cheapest. Consumers would pay a premium for products that strain the environment and society: The price would include funds to correct the damage. In a truly “free” market economy, these very real costs would be “internalized” — included. But they are not. Why? Because accounting firms are not obligated to enforce sound accounting principles; they only need adhere to those required by laws — which are written by politicians who are dependent on the corporatocracy.
Modern corporations have all the
rights of individuals, but none of the responsibilities. In fact, they are licensed to steal. From an economic standpoint, there is simply no other word for it. They plunder the poor and future generations in order to further enrich the wealthy. This is a reprehensible situation … inherently unjust, unethical and, at this point in our nation’s history, intolerable. This must change.
Tax meat and dairy
With the annual tax filing date upon us, pundits are searching for ways to make our tax code fairer and more reflective of our social incentives and burdens. In this regard, there is a growing interest in a tax on meat, eggs and dairy products designed to curb the self-destructive health impacts of their consumption and to effectively compensate society for the associated devastating environmental impacts.
The concept is hardly radical. We already pay similar taxes on tobacco and alcohol products. A number of states have or are considering imposing taxes on soft drinks and other junk foods.
The revenue would reimburse the Medicare and Medicaid programs for treating victims of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other chronic killer diseases that have been linked conclusively with consumption of animal products. It would pay for restoration of waterways and wildlife habitats that have been devastated by production of these items.
Mark Twain said that nothing is certain except death and taxes. Yet, the first can be deferred and the other reduced selectively by a tax on meat and dairy products that reflects the associated social costs.
Covering the cost of war
Just as a “modest” proposal: I would like to suggest that our so-called “defense” budget could be covered by a heavy surtax on the profits of every international corporation currently investing in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is time for the Pentagon to begin handing out invoices for “services rendered,” and the tips to their “servers” should be huge.
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