New York Times to Walgreen: You’re unpatriotic if you don’t love high tax rates

A recent New York Times article by Andrew Sorkin is unintentionally hilarious from start to finish. He’s upset that a number of companies, such as Walgreen, AbbiVie, Medtronic and many others are all well on their way to moving overseas. I’d look for the Andrew Sorkin piece calling billionaire John Kerry “unpatriotic” for docking his luxury yacht out of state to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes, but I doubt it exists.

Mr. Sorkin wrote for the Times June 30.

Alarmingly, dozens of large United States companies are contemplating the increasingly popular tax-skirting tactic known as an inversion. Under the strategy, companies merge with foreign rivals in countries with lower tax rates and then reincorporate there while still enjoying the benefits of doing a large part of their business in the United States.

In Walgreen’s case, an inversion would be an affront to United States taxpayers. The company, which also owns the Duane Reade chain in New York, reaps almost a quarter of its $72 billion in revenue directly from the government; it received $16.7 billion from Medicare and Medicaid last year.

“It is unconscionable that Walgreen is considering this tax dodge — especially in light of the billions of dollars it receives from U.S. taxpayers every year,” Nell Geiser, associate director of Change to Win Retail Initiatives, a union-financed consumer advocacy group, said in a statement.

Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, called it “unfair and deeply unpatriotic if the company moves offshore while continuing to make its money here, leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab for its tax avoidance.

The last time I checked, Walgreen provides goods and services worth at least $16.7 billion to individuals who utilize Medicare and Medicaid — it isn’t simply holding out its hands and asking for taxpayer cash. It would be an “affront” to American taxpayers if Gregory D. Wasson, the chief executive of Walgreen, refused to pay his water bills for a decade and then demanded someone else pay them when he was drowning in debt (i.e., the citizens of Detroit).

In terms of patriotism, Mr. Sorkin and Mr. Clemente of Americans for Tax Fairness have it backwards — the patriotic thing to do is for Americans to protest high taxation. I applaud Walgreen and any number of pharmaceutical companies for packing up and moving overseas. You can only demonize the men and women running businesses for so long before they get fed up and leave. Instead of asking, “How do we make America more attractive to companies on the other side of the globe?” the New York Times throws socialist temper tantrums.

Mr. Sorkin continues:

The current law allows a company to reincorporate abroad if it acquires a foreign company in a transaction that transfers more than 20 percent of the shares to foreign owners. President Obama has sought to raise the threshold to 50 percent. While many Democrats appear to support a short-term solution, some Republicans, arguing that a Band-Aid approach could have unintended consequences, instead want to address inversions only in the context of an overall corporate tax overhaul bill.

Whereas Republicans realize that perhaps the corporate tax code is a nightmare, President Obama just wants to force companies to withstand significantly more pain before they make the decision to move. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

And finally, we have Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois:

Senator Richard J. Durbin, a Democrat from Walgreen’s home state, Illinois, told The Chicago Tribune last week: “I am troubled by American corporations that are willing to give up on this country and move their headquarters for a tax break. It really speaks to your commitment.”

Poor Dick doesn’t realize that American corporations aren’t giving up on America — they’re giving up on guys like him.

If America is no longer capable of being one of the world’s few outposts of economic and political freedom, then corporations have a responsibility to search out countries that are willing to take on the role. If U.S. citizens are unhappy with the business landscape that takes shape in the years ahead, then the blame will rest squarely on the shoulders of men like President Obama and Senator Dick Durbin.

Related: Dick Durbin: If you have a tumor, letting it grow is always an option

Portland African American Leadership Forum: We love vacant lots more than jobs, Trader Joe’s

Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland

You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t when it comes to race hustlers. If you stay far away from places that look like Eastern European nations that wrestled (and lost) with Communism, you’re racist. If you offer to bring jobs to the community, you’re really part of some sort of Machiavellian plan to “oppress” people, so the vacant lot just sits there for another decade.

The Associated Press reported:

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Trader Joe’s grocery-store chain has dropped a plan to open a new store in the heart of the city’s historically African-American neighborhood after activists said the development would price black residents out of the area. …

The lot is at Northeast Alberta Street and Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and has been vacant for years. …

[The Portland African American Leadership Forum] sent the city a letter saying it would “remain opposed to any development in N/NE Portland that does not primarily benefit the Black community.” It said the grocery-store development would “increase the desirability of the neighborhood,” for “non-oppressed populations.”

Trader Joe’s is based in Monrovia, Calif. Its store would have been the anchor of a two-building development that included space for four to 10 shops and 100 parking spaces. A company owned by African-Americans in Portland had been slated to build it.

How would it feel if you were part of a black construction company with your tools all ready to go, and then you were told that the grocery store that would have brought quality produce — and jobs — to the local population at affordable prices was ditched because activists determined a vacant parking did a better job of benefiting the black community? How would you feel if you were a young person who figured a job at Trader Joe’s would have been an ideal stepping stone to bigger and better things, but the “leaders” in your community squashed it because empty lots of grass and weeds baking in the summer sun were something that would guarantee “non-oppressed populations” stay far away?

It becomes increasingly hard to blame guys like Mitt Romney, the tea party, conservatives, Republicans, “non-oppressed populations” and any other boogeyman for the plight of neighborhoods like this when the people who live there perpetually allow “leaders” to set them up for failure. How convenient is it that whether or not jobs are brought to the area, the members of The Portland African American Leadership Forum always find a way to get paid?

Sane people everywhere salute you for trying, Trader Joe’s. They also salute you for walking away when it became obvious you were dealing with “leaders” like The Portland African American Leadership Forum.

Christopher Nolan creates more jobs than Obama

Thousands of extras. Sets to build. Special effects to create. A franchise worth billions. Is it possible that Christopher Nolan has created more jobs than Barack Obama? Using the federal government’s own method of counting jobs, the short answer is: Yes.

Christopher Nolan, the director behind the wildly successful Batman Returns, The Dark Knight, and the soon-to-be blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises is himself a White Knight. He just doesn’t know it. The Department of Labor doesn’t track jobs created by the writer and director, but let us consider this: Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has created more jobs than President Barack Obama.

First, the June 2012 jobs report:

The economy added 80,000 jobs in June, according to today’s monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but they weren’t enough to lower the nation’s jobless rate of 8.2 percent.

Now, let us look at The Dark Knight Rises, which opens July 20. With a production budget estimated to be around $250 million used to realize Nolan’s vision, 11,000 extras were brought into Heinz Field, over 10,000 hit the streets of New York, teams of special effects artists were hired, and construction on elaborate sets and set pieces had to be made. The direct jobs created for this movie alone must be in the tens of thousands.

Now, let us think about indirect jobs. And, since I want to be fair, I’ll use the same standards for indirect jobs created that the federal government uses for “green” jobs:

Since the guy who sweeps the floor at a solar panel company, an employee at a bicycle shop, a teenager at a record shop, and a garbage man are all touted by the Obama administration as “green” jobs created under its watch … I’d like to look at the multiplier effect of Christopher Nolan’s creative genius.

Not using the taxpayer’s money, Nolan reinvigorated the Batman name. Think of all the action figures that were created for his movies. Think of the jobs that were created (or saved) due to t-shirts, key chains, underwear, bedsheets, Halloween costumes, birthday cakes, birthday cards, video games, amusement park rides, comic book shops and a host of other Nolan-inspired “Batman” paraphernalia. When you think about it, it boggles the mind. One man — from the private sector — has a creative vision. He co-wrote a screenplay, put together a team of people who believed in the mission, and then directed the enterprise to critical and financial success. The Dark Knight made over $1 billion dollars in ticket sales alone (and that’s not counting DVD sales).

When one considers that the Obama administration took $10 billion from taxpayers to create … 355 green construction jobs, it’s hard to imagine why so many people believe their class warfare rhetoric.

Finally, let’s be frank: the president doesn’t create jobs, unless he’s expanding the government (and even then, the government must secure its funding for those jobs from the private sector). What the government can do through public policy is to create the environment where businessmen and entrepreneurs will take risks with their money. What the government can do is take uncertainty out of the market so investors and mom-and-pop retail stores can make long term plans with confidence. And in that sense, the Obama administration has failed. Miserably.

With over 8 percent unemployment for over 30 months, I’m beginning to think we would have been better off just giving billions to Christopher Nolan. We could have said, “Here, I think there’s a Superman movie that needs to be made. And a Justice League. And a few Marvel franchises while you’re at it.”

The real truth is, Christopher Nolan is one of millions of White Knights. They exist all over the private sector. They’re the people who are planning businesses and toiling away to heat our homes, figuring out ways to make our internet faster, and creating products we didn’t know we wanted until they existed (e.g., iPhone), and to make movies that move us.

To paraphrase a successful businessman: “The government wants to rob Peter to pay Paul, but they always forget that Peter is the one that is creating the wealth in the first place,” (D’Souza, The Virtue of Prosperity, 124).

God bless you, Christopher Nolan. Thanks for making some amazing movies, and even more so for all the jobs you’ve created.