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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Taxpayer Assets/Paying Twice

Once upon a time, taxpayers would send money to Washington and the government would hold the patent on any taxpayer-financed research that led to inventions. Licenses to companies interested in marketing such inventions would be non-exclusive, open to any firms.

The taxation system has become more insidious now. These days your tax dollars go to Washington, fund government scientists or private companies to discover things and then the White House gives these taxpayer assets away. The AZT drug for Aids patients was developed by government scientists at the National Institutes of Health and granted through monopoly patent to Burroughs Welcome Company which grossed over $700 million in sales charging patients from $10,000 to $5,000 a year. This was too expensive for poorer patients so the taxpayers paid the company through medicaid many millions of dollars. The taxpayers paid once, received no royalties, and then paid twice.

Taxpayers send money for the Pentagon to use. The Pentagon then signs contract with defense contractors with your money. A contractor called Aerojet General was required to pay criminal fines totalling over $30 million for repeatedly dumping toxic wastes and contaminating groundwater. Aerojet General billed the Pentagon for these fines. You paid again. The contract provided for such reimbursement.

Taxpayers send money to Washington via a airplane ticket tax per passenger. It goes into an airport trust fund to build and upgrade air transport facilities. Reagan and Bush used too little of the fund in order to make the deficit look smaller. Airport authorities were desperately seeking this money for repairs and expansions. Finally, they went to Congress which authorized them to add another tax on your ticket. Look for it. In a few months, over twenty large airports will be taxing you. Taxpayers paying twice again.

The scene is New York City. Companies started going to City Hall years ago and say: we’re thinking of closing and moving our offices to New Jersey or Connecticut. What can you offer to make us stay in the City? Mayors would get “incentive packages” together, including tax abatements and other forms of tax exemptions. Taxpayers paying twice again — once for the City, once for the legalized shakedown.

The government spends billions of taxpayer dollars each year for a dazzling variety of data and information. Much of this information is given to demanding companies who massage, refine and sell it to taxpayers for billions of dollars. Taxpayers pay twice.

Not surprisingly, the taxpayer-funded Congress (1992 budget is about $2.7 billion) is personally in on the act. It charges citizens over $225 a year for the Congressional Record and makes sure that hearings, reports and other materials are greatly overpriced by the Government Printing Office. This keeps “sales” down and assures higher prices for taxpayers who are paying twice.

Taxpayers pay federal regulatory agencies to apply law and order to companies that misbehave. The banking agencies took the federal cop off the banking beat in the early Eighties. Savings and commercial banks were driven to insolvency by speculators and crooks at the top. So the taxpayers are now obliged to pay over $500 billion for this bailout. Some of the bailout packages provide huge tax dodges for billionaires taking these sweet deals. So the taxpayers pay thrice!

Perhaps the largest way taxpayers pay twice is when government spends more than taxpayers pay. This year, taxpayers will be paying over $210 billion to pay the interest on the national debt. That is the third largest expenditure in the federal budget.

It is time to consider ways for taxpayers to band together and organize — as through a voluntary checkoff on the tax form.