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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Hey Corporate Free Loaders! Show Taxpayers Some Appreciation!

The following statement by Ralph Nader and associates is a call to action. We want you to contact US corporations and tell them taxpayers deserve some explicit appreciation for funding their government subsidies, tax breaks and bailouts. We suggest contacting the corporations mentioned in the article as a first step but feel free to add your own companies.

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 by emailing [email protected].

We are going to 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 openly express their thanks to the citizens who have to provide these benefits.

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 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, computers, containerization and telecommunications industries — to name a few.

Though corporations insist they must file yearly income taxes just like everyone else, they are responsible for a sharply decreasing portion of federal tax dollars. Despite record profits, the percentage of corporate tax contributions to the federal budget has been steadily declining for fifty years and now stands at a mere 7.4% of the federal government income because of the loopholes they have driven into our tax laws. The average citizen is the one who pays.

Clearly corporations that claim they are self-reliant are often, in fact, dependent on taxpayer funds to maintain their financial viability, including a variety of bailouts. 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 extravaganza 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 obtained ownership of $9 billion in gold on our 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 publicized 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 which can help them show us their gratitude.

Large corporations in America have taken too much from us for too long. It’s time they shows us a little appreciation.

Corporate Contacts:
General Electric (NBC): Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO
David Frail, Financial Communications
(203) 373-3387
[email protected]

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

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

The Walt Disney Co. (ABC), Robert Iger, CEO
500 S. Buena Vista Street Burbank, CA 91521
ABC, Inc.
[email protected] 

McDonalds USA
Michael Roberts, President and CEO
2111 McDonald’s Drive
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Or comment at: http://www.mcdonalds.com/app_controller.custsat.custsat_form_other.html

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