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Hey, Corporate America! Show Taxpayers Some Appreciation!

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Apr 13, 2004, 4:22:44 PM4/13/04
Hey, Corporate America! Show Taxpayers Some Appreciation!
By Ralph Nader

If you work for a corporation, ask your own employer to support
Taxpayer Appreciation Day. (We’ve included contact information at the
end of the article.)

Take Action Now! April 15 is just around the corner. Please let us know
what action you’ve taken and what type of response you receive at

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that April 15th of each
year be designated Taxpayer Appreciation Day, a day when corporations
receiving taxpayer subsidies, bailouts, and other forms of corporate
welfare can express their thanks to the citizens who provide them.

Though it may not be evident, quite a few industries -- and the profits
they generate -- can be traced back to taxpayer-financed programs whose
fruits have been given away to (mostly) larger businesses.

Taxpayer dollars have often funded discoveries made by NASA, the
Department of Defense, and the National Institutes of Health and other
federal agencies. In many instances the rights to those discoveries were
later given away to companies that brag about them as though they were
the fruits of their own investments. Taxpayer dollars have played a
major role in the growth of the aviation and aerospace, biotechnology,
pharmaceutical, and telecommunications industries -- to name only a few.

Though corporate America insists it must file yearly income taxes just
like everyone else, it is responsible for a sharply decreasing portion
of federal tax dollars -- despite record profits. Despite record
profits, corporate tax contributions to the federal budget have been
steadily declining for fifty years and now stand at a mere 7.4% of the
federal government income because of the loopholes they driven into our
tax laws. The average citizen pays more than four to five times that in
federal income tax revenues (with the single exception of payroll

Clearly corporations that believe they are self-reliant are often, in
fact, dependent on taxpayer funds to maintain their financial viability.
The least they could do is thank us. Which is why we need something like
Taxpayer Appreciation Day. Consider the following:

General Electric bought RCA (which owned NBC) in the mid-1980s with
funds it was able to save by using an outrageous tax loophole passed by
Congress in 1981. That loophole allowed GE to pay no federal taxes on
three years of profits, totaling more than $6 billion dollars. It also
gave them a $125 million refund! That gave GE the money to buy RCA. GE
should arrange a media extravaganzas on NBC to say "Thank you,
taxpayers.” Pharmaceutical companies constantly ballyhoo their
discoveries in advertisements. What they don't tell us is that many of
the important nonredundant therapeutic drugs -- including most
anticancer drugs -- were developed, in whole or in part, with taxpayer
money and then given to them by the NIH and the Defense Department.
Bristol-Meyers Squibb, for example, controls the rights to Taxol, an
anticancer drug developed all the way through human clinical trials at
the National Institutes of Health with $31 million of taxpayer moneys.

Pharmaceutical companies spend billions on advertisements each year.
Perhaps they should consider a big "Thank You, Taxpayers" ad campaign
every April 15, if only to remind them where their drug research and
development subsidies come from.

Mining companies often receive vast sweetheart deals from taxpayers.
Under the 1872 Mining Act hard rock mining companies are allowed to
purchase mining rights to public land for only $5 an acre, no matter how
valuable the minerals on (or in) that land might be. A Canadian company
recently mined $9 billion in gold on federal land in Nevada after using
the Mining Act to purchase the mining rights to it for about $30,000.
Mining companies owe the taxpayers their gratitude.

Television broadcasters were given free license to use public airwaves
(worth around $70 billion) by a supine Congress in 1997. They too should
thank us. What about all those professional sports corporations that
play and profit in taxpayer-funded stadiums and arenas? The owners and
players should thank the fans/taxpayers who -- in spite of their largess
-- still must pay through the nose for tickets. For years McDonalds
received taxpayer subsidies to promote its products overseas as part of
a foreign market access program. Now McDonalds is a ubiquitous brand
name worldwide, but has it ever thanked the taxpayers who underwrote its
efforts? Then there are the HMOs, hospitals, and defense contractors
that have had their legal fees reimbursed by the taxpayers when our
government prosecutes them for fraud or cost overruns. Those companies
have great public relations firms that can help them show us their
gratitude. Corporate America has taken too much from us for too long.
It's time it shows us a little bit of appreciation.

Corporate Contacts:

General Electric (NBC):
David Frail
Financial Communications

Bristol-Meyers Squibb:
Peter R. Dolan, CEO
345 Park Avenue
New York, New York, USA 10154-0037

Viacom (CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET, Paramount Pictures, Viacom Outdoor, Infinity, UPN, Spike TV, TV Land, CMT: Country Music Television, Comedy Central, Showtime, Blockbuster, and Simon & Schuster):
Sumner M. Redstone , Chairman and CEO
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
(refused to provide email addresses)

Walt Disney Co. (ABC):
David Eisner, CEO
500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521 ABC, Inc.

McDonalds USA:
Jim Cantalupo, Chairman and CEO
McDonald’s Plaza
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Email on-line form.

Halliburton (Kellogg Brown & Root):
David J. Lesar, Chairman, President & CEO
5 Houston Center
1401 McKinney, Suite 2400
Houston, TX 77010

In addition to these, pursue your favorite and let us know what they say!

hundred lives and destruction of property worth
millions of rupees. In 1996, the year the insurgency commenced, 82 people
were killed. This figure included insurgents, security forces, personnel and
civilians. During the next year, total killings came down by half - 38
people died. The following year, in 1998, after the Maoists intensified
their program of violence, 408 people were killed - nearly an elevenfold
increase in the number of deaths over the previous year. Ever since, the
death toll has been on the rise. By late 2000 the death toll has risen to
over 2,100. As of August 2002, nearly 5,000 lives have been lost to the
insurgency "

Shining Path sent congratulations to RIM for its first anniversary in May of
1985. The Central Committee wrote, "...the people's war in our country
continues to blaze defiantly, expanding, spreading its roots and preparing
for newer and higher tasks, guided always by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism,
battling for the emancipation of our people for the purpose of and at the
service of the world

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