On the News With Thom Hartmann: The Super-Rich Don’t Make Money by Hard Work, and More

In today’s On the News segment: The super-rich don’t make their money by working hard, according to a new analysis; corporations and the rich skip out on $184 billion in state and federal income taxes every year; the United States Postal Service has established a pilot program to have non-union, low-wage workers handle our mail in 80 Staples stores throughout the country; and more.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News…

You need to know this. For most of our lives, we’ve been taught that hard work pays off, but most of the super-rich didn’t make their money by working hard. According to a new analysis by Paul Bucheit of UsAgainstGreed.org, those at the top make most of their money by betting against the American people. The wealthy elite makes a fortune by speculating on rising food prices, which means that they profit by making it harder for people around the world to afford to eat. As if that isn’t evil enough, the super-rich also bet against mortgages, so that they could make a profit when Americans could not longer afford to stay in their homes. And, once millions of Americans found themselves out on the street, the private equity firms swooped in, bought up the foreclosures, and rented them back to the very people that they swindled out of their homes. The super-rich rake in even more by gambling on Wall Street, screwing over Main Street, and buying off the politicians that help make it all possible. The only hard work that the billionaires face is walking the fine line between so-called investing and criminal activities like bribery, fraud, and manipulating the market. Our nation used to really value hard work, and that work was rewarded with a better life and brighter future. But, for the last three decades, the super-rich have rigged the system, and managed to convince many of us that we’re just not working hard enough. The time has come to stand up, speak out, and fix this broken system while we still have a chance. We work hard, we play by the rules, and we need to fight for an economy that pays off for more than the top one percent.

Most of us could use an extra $1,200 a year. That’s how much each and every one of us are paying to subsidize offshore tax havens and corporate tax dodgers. A new report from the United States Public Interest Research Group says that corporations and the rich skip out on $184 billion in state and federal income taxes every year by using “complicated accounting tricks to shift their profits to offshore tax havens.” And, those devious tactics also give huge companies an unfair advantage over small businesses. The Mom-and-Pop shops end up paying much higher tax rates because they can’t afford to participate in these complex tax avoidance schemes. Huge corporations actually get tax refunds from the government, while you and me, and our local, small businesses, get stuck with the brunt of the bill. Enough is enough, and it’s time to close these loopholes and force these corporations to pay up.

All work and no play is not the only way to make a profit. An online education company called Treehouse is proving that giving workers some time off can make a lot of economic sense. Employees at that company only work four days a week, but that make the same salary as other technology workers. While many pro-business groups argue that shorter weeks mean lower profits, Treehouse generates more than $10 million a year and caters to more than 70,000 customers. CEO Ryan Carson says that his company benefits from rested employees and higher morale, which leads to better productivity when they are in the office. He explained, “Thirty-two hours of higher quality work is better than 40 hours of lower quality work.” And, he finds that it’s easier to recruit top talent, as prospective employees are drawn to the possibility of shorter weeks with equal pay. Not every business can take three-day weekends, but Carson explained that so-called rolling schedules – where some people work Monday through Thursday, and others work Tuesday through Friday – can make shorter weeks possible in many other work places. The fact is, more time at the office doesn’t always mean more work, and Treehouse proves that it also doesn’t mean more profits.

How would you like to have your mail handled by Staples. Well, thanks to a backroom deal made back in 2013, that’s exactly what’s happening in many areas. The United States Postal Service has established a pilot program to have non-union, low-wage workers handle our mail in 80 Staples stores throughout the country. Not only does this deal undercut postal unions, but it poses a serious threat to the security of our mail. Privatizing thid vital service means that delivery could be interrupted, and it means that poorly-trained, low-wage workers will be in charge of one of our last forms of completely private communication. Handing our mail over to Staples also means that the Post Office will be denied more much-needed revenue, which will worsen existing budget problems. We don’t need or want private companies handling our mail, and it certainly won’t help save the Post Office. We must protect this institution by demanding that our mail stays out of the hands of private corporations.

And finally… Some California lawmakers want to take action on excessive CEO pay. Last week, that state Senate advanced legislation from State Senators Mark DeSaulnier and Loni Hancock that would impose higher tax rates on companies with exorbitant executive pay. Although that bill is unlikely to pass in the full state legislature, it could be an effective way to close the gap between worker and CEO pay. Companies who pay their CEOs less than 100 times what their median employee makes would actually get a tax cut. However, businesses that have CEO-to-worker pay ratios above that mark would see their taxes go up by about five percent. Considering that in 2012, the average CEO made 273 times the pay of an average worker, this plan could have a huge impact on pay disparity. And, it could bring in some much-needed revenue to states all around our nation. No one worker is 300 times more valuable than the lowest paid employee, and it’s about time that our paychecks start reflecting that.

And that’s the way it is – for the week of April 28, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.