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General Atomics and Sempra on welfare

Big companies get the bulk of handouts

Welfare for corporations is one of our most rancid economic problems. Who is to blame? Surprise! Alexander Hamilton, our first secretary of the treasury. He is beloved on Broadway these days, but Appalachian moonshiners may rightfully disdain him for sins of the past. In 1791, swayed by Hamilton’s oratory, the United States put a stiff tax on whiskey. The indigent farmers in western Pennsylvania had been producing their own whiskey. The tax was a burden on them because they paid twice the rate that the established, rich Eastern distillers paid. The Eastern plutocrat distillers loved the tax because it drove the cheaper bootleg booze out of the market.

Alexander Hamilton

The Whiskey Rebellion was the result. The moonshiners took up arms to thwart federal tax collectors. President George Washington led 13,000 militiamen to quell the revolt. Finally, there was a détente. But a pecking order was established: well-heeled corporations and individuals are first in line for favors. Hamilton became known as the nation’s first champion of big business, lover of subsidies, and corporate welfare booster.

Getting information on corporate welfare is difficult. Both governments and corporations find ways to hide subsidies. Last August, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board approved a new set of rules making it harder for governments to conceal subsidies to business. Still, “It’s hard to make estimates,” says professor Kenneth Thomas at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, one of the experts in the field. “I would say there has been some decline in corporate welfare, but it is mostly related to the ebbs and flow of the economy” rather than new accounting rules, he says. This year’s subsidy data will be published next year.

There are various estimates on the size of corporate welfare. Tad DeHaven of the libertarian Cato Institute says that in 2012 alone, federal subsidies were about $100 billion. The subsidies were doled out by a number of federal sources: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation, and miscellaneous government offices such as the Appalachian Regional Commission, Export-Import Bank, International Trade Commission, and National Science Foundation.

Good Jobs First is a research organization based in Washington DC. It says that since the year 2000, the federal government has awarded $68 billion in grants and allocated tax credits to companies.

There is a big difference between $100 billion in one year and $68 billion in 15 years. Phil Mattera, research director of Good Jobs First, says the difference relates to methodology. Groups such as Cato ferret out “welfare provisions in the Internal Revenue Code,” he says. That approach omits the specific companies receiving the handouts. Mattera’s organization counts only data “that can be attributed to individual companies.” His group looks for specific grants to companies and is more conservative — actually, understated.

Some researchers believe state and local governments provide an estimated $50 billion of annual handouts to the private sector. Others say that estimate is quite high.

Cost of bank bailout

Consider the Great Recession of late 2007– early 2009. The Congress, and particularly the Federal Reserve, our central bank, bailed out the big banks. Bank of America got $3.5 trillion; Citigroup, $2.6 trillion; Morgan Stanley, $2.1 trillion; and JPMorgan Chase, $1.3 trillion in loans, loan guarantees, and bailout assistance.

The total annual economic output (gross domestic product) of the United States last year was $18 trillion. Yet in the 2008 collapse, we extended more than half that sum, $9.5 trillion, to four of our largest financial institutions, says Good Jobs First.

Do you want to see what Bank of America’s bailout looks like on paper? $3,496,780,985,709.

Mattera cautions that much of the bailout money loaned to banks has been paid back, but it still counts as welfare.

Federal contractors with the most Federal subsidies

Federal contractors make products for the federal government — say, ships, drones, military uniforms. These contracts are not corporate welfare. But many of these contractors also get grants and allocated tax credits, which are corporate welfare. Among contractors, General Electric has received the biggest pile of money in government subsidies, according to Good Jobs First. Do you know who is in second place among government contractors? General Atomics, the San Diego–based company known for its nuclear power reactor systems, drones, wireless and laser technologies, uranium mining and processing, superconducting magnets, and systems for destroying hazardous materials. Since 2000, General Atomics has received $615 million in federal government grants and tax breaks, according to Good Jobs First.

Privately held General Atomics refuses to answer any questions posed by the Reader, but Good Jobs First says the company has received nearly all its federal subsidies from the Department of Energy.

General Atomics comes in 14th among all kinds of welfare-gathering companies.

Another San Diego company, Sempra Energy, is 41st among corporate recipients of grants and allocated tax credits since 2000. The largest subsidy is for the Cameron LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant in Louisiana. Sempra has joined foreign companies in ownership of the operation. Sempra, which is investing $10 billion in the project, gets a property tax exemption for ten years. Sempra has also received subsidies for wind and solar projects and smart-grid projects, such as the Borrego Springs Microgrid operation.

A company has to spend money to rake in subsidies. The Sunlight Foundation estimates that between 2007 and 2012, America’s most politically active corporations spent a whopping $5.8 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions.

For that money, these corporations received a total of $4.4 trillion in federal business and support, including contracting. Qualcomm is 96th on that list, having spent $38.6 million on lobbying and $2.1 million on contributions in those years. General Atomics is 122nd on the list with $14.7 million on lobbying and $1.7 million on contributions.

Here’s the punchline: during this 2007–2012 period, the federal government paid $4.3 trillion to Social Security recipients. So, corporations raked in more in federal business and support than 50 million Americans got in Social Security payments (not including Medicare) over the same period.

Yes, excessive social welfare is a severe economic problem. But so is corporate welfare and corporate contracts won through heavy lobbying and gifts to politicians. Corporate welfare strains federal, state, and local budgets, and the expenditures are artfully concealed, particularly on the state and local levels.

What’s needed is a major study to indicate whether corporate welfare exceeds social welfare. Trouble is, the only organization with the money and manpower to do such a study is the federal government, and it doesn’t want to know.

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Comments
32

I suppose it would be better to give more free cash to people that are not productive members of society?

Besides, when someone steals less money from you than they could have, does that make the victim guilty of something?

June 8, 2016

Sjtorres: First, all people who receive Social Security benefits are not non-productive members of society. I know people who work five to seven days a week and also receive Social Security. Many if not most people have inadequate wealth for retirement, and have to live off Social Security. The economy would not function well without transfer payments such as Social Security. More than 70 percent of GDP is consumption.

This does not address the long-term problem, which is that Social Security has stark resemblance to a Ponzi scheme. That is a topic for another day. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

Sjtorres didn't mention Social Security. So where does the diatribe come from? And "the economy would not function well without transfer payments"??? Pure bunk. Why is it that you're very concerned about huge sums of money that disappear into "big banks" (given to them by government, I'll add), yet not a word about the far vaster sums that disappear into government and our mounting federal debt? $19 trillion in US debt is "the cost of doing business", but some amount that same government gives to banks is cause to lambaste the banks, but not government?

It seems like you're saying ridiculous or absurd things more and more often.

June 8, 2016

jnojr: Sjtorres talked about free cash given to people who are not productive members of society. I assumed he was talking about government transfer payments, the most prominent of which is Social Security.

You think it is "pure bunk" that the economy would not function well without transfer payments. Your opinion is pure bunk. The richest 1 percent hold 42 percent of the nation's wealth. The bottom 80 percent own 7 percent. The top 10 percent average over 38 times more income than the bottom 90 percent.

Consumer spending is more than 70 percent of gross domestic product. Money spent on $25 million homes and $50 million yachts will not support that 70 percent. The distribution of wealth and income is lopsided, and consumption could not remain strong without transfer payments.

"A rising tide lifts all yachts" Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

Thanks for calling a spade a spade and not allowing yourself to be bullied.

June 8, 2016

Flapper: I have been preaching this line for decades -- even, believe it or not, when I was writing for the U-T. But the message didn't resonate, for me or the others who wrote about it. Bernie Sanders lit the public's fire, and for that he earns my gratitude. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

I wasn't referring to Social Security. But to the trillion dollars annually of our tax dollars our government gives away in the form of various welfare programs to individuals.

June 10, 2016

Sjtorres: I thought you were talking about Social Security. Sorry. Your reasoning seems to be that welfare for individuals is worse than welfare for corporations.

I believe that the government has responsibility for people who can't take care of themselves. I do not think that is true of corporations. If they cannot succeed, they should go bankrupt, as several of Donald Trump's companies have. Best, Don Bauder

June 10, 2016

Some people think that any company that receives any government money, or any break from paying the government a dollar, is being "subsidized". Those people very literally don't know what the word means. And a lot of them are people who love big government, want more government... but when that government buys products or services from the private sector, oh how they howl!

But let's put that aside, and go ahead and say, yeah, these "Big Corportaions" are being subsidized. OK... so that money is going towards creating jobs, buying capital goods, etc. Why isn't that far better than subsidizing indolence? Why is it great and noble to hand money to someone who isn't working and who is completely dependent upon receiving more money each and every future month; but if we send that money to an entity that provides jobs it's some enormous injustice?

June 8, 2016

jnojr: The column clearly states that government contracts are not corporate welfare (unless there is a secret overpayment).

Cities and states pay corporations enormous sums to locate a plant in a community. The rationale is that tax receipts will offset the cost of the subsidy. That seldom happens. For the nation as a whole, this is a zero sum game, and maybe a negative sum game.

Within a metro area, one town will subsidize a shopping center or hotel or auto complex or movie theater to filch tax receipts from a neighboring town. Again, this is zero sum or negative sum for the broad community. The subsidization of professional sports teams owned by billionaires is the biggest scam of all.

Most of the time, these subsidies don't create jobs. They just take jobs from elsewhere. The Padres claimed they would create jobs with a new stadium. Balderdash. The cooks and vendors just came over from Qualcomm, for the most part.

Often, when a community pays a company to locate a plant in the community, government finances suffer, schools and services worsen, and pretty soon the company finds it hard to hire executives. So they line up a deal to move again, as soon as their commitment runs out. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

Ibid.

June 8, 2016

That's what's called a Giant Suckin' Sound.

June 8, 2016

Flapper: I think Ross Perot used those words first -- or at least popularized them. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

Don - You are (one of) the Greatest of all time! We have been taught untruths since school daze. Capitalism good, end of story, don't even think about what it really means for us. Civil service to represent the public's interests, almost dry. Maybe Bernie's band of new blood will help, if they can avoid the alcohol and addiction traps. Not a wonder that liquor is everywhere and more ridiculously, marijuana is labeled a moral defect.

June 8, 2016

shirleyberan: I prefer capitalism to any other system, but it desperately needs reform now. We were able to reform the system in the days of the Robber Barons. We can do it again. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

This should be a major article in The Economist.

June 8, 2016

Flapper: The Economist is a very good publication. Every week I see summations of its stories. I have to believe the publication has written about wealth and income disparity. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

For the record, however, if I am not mistaken, the accepted spelling in 1890 was whisky. It's usually the British who insist upon surplus letters, but this time it's the Americans who should be the centre of the con-trov-er-sy. Center simply makes more sense, even if "centre" does not add any letters, just switches them.

The American spelling simply makes more sense in this case, as whisky does in the British spelling. The American sense of insecurity, however, remains persistent, and those wishing to seem royally sophisticated render themselves foolish by adding "e's" after "t's," as in Pointe Builders, now, thankfully, defunct (technically, as yet another form of corporate thievery). Not be be outdone, there is now a "Grosse Pointe Builders."

Gross!

June 8, 2016

Flapper: Just go to Detroit's wealthy suburbs and express contempt for the words Grosse and Pointe. You will be tarred and feathered, as was the poor fellow in the drawing accompanying this column. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

All businesses are subsidized in one form or another. Think of all the tax breaks private businesses get. They can write off many expenses on their taxes and in some cases pay no tax at all. GE a few years back paid zero in federal tax, oil companies like BP can cause an oil spill be fined billions and then write it off. Reductions in property taxes are another common dodge. All of these writeoffs are then paid by the little people.

June 9, 2016

Dennis: You are right. Big monetary charges against large corporations are reduced, sometimes to insignificance, by several dubious methods, including writing off the charge on taxes. Beset, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Shirley Brand. True. In grade school and high school,, we only hear about the good, the honorable. Everything the U.S. does is noble, we are told. It isn't so. How are high schools treating Vietnam and Iraq ll? Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Mike Murphy: Maybe the Small Business Administration gives grants to such businesses. I do not know. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Roxanne Greene: Some people believe that we pay into Social Security then only get back what we put in. It is far more nuanced than that, and involves straight-out welfare payments, among other things. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Shirley Brand ll: I can't answer this one because I don't understand the question. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Shirley Brand lll: True. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Don - not questioning. Much torture equipment was created by Catholics. Saw a display of what they had prisoners sit on; torture exhibit brought to Balboa.

June 9, 2016

shirleyberan: Even ardent Roman Catholics find it hard to defend the church's activities during The Inquisition and other periods featuring cruel punishments. Best, Don Bauder

June 10, 2016

If you steal less money from someone than you could have, it doesn't mean the victim did something wrong.

June 10, 2016

Shirley BrandIV: Agreed -- excellent observation. Best, Don Bauder

June 11, 2016

Sjtorres: Maybe the victim did something right: beating the snot out of the crook before he could take more money. Best, Don Bauder

June 11, 2016

Jeff Madruga: We keep trying. Best, Don Bauder

June 12, 2016

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“Famous Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania,” an 1880 illustration of a tarred and feathered tax collector being made to ride the rail
“Famous Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania,” an 1880 illustration of a tarred and feathered tax collector being made to ride the rail

Welfare for corporations is one of our most rancid economic problems. Who is to blame? Surprise! Alexander Hamilton, our first secretary of the treasury. He is beloved on Broadway these days, but Appalachian moonshiners may rightfully disdain him for sins of the past. In 1791, swayed by Hamilton’s oratory, the United States put a stiff tax on whiskey. The indigent farmers in western Pennsylvania had been producing their own whiskey. The tax was a burden on them because they paid twice the rate that the established, rich Eastern distillers paid. The Eastern plutocrat distillers loved the tax because it drove the cheaper bootleg booze out of the market.

Alexander Hamilton

The Whiskey Rebellion was the result. The moonshiners took up arms to thwart federal tax collectors. President George Washington led 13,000 militiamen to quell the revolt. Finally, there was a détente. But a pecking order was established: well-heeled corporations and individuals are first in line for favors. Hamilton became known as the nation’s first champion of big business, lover of subsidies, and corporate welfare booster.

Getting information on corporate welfare is difficult. Both governments and corporations find ways to hide subsidies. Last August, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board approved a new set of rules making it harder for governments to conceal subsidies to business. Still, “It’s hard to make estimates,” says professor Kenneth Thomas at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, one of the experts in the field. “I would say there has been some decline in corporate welfare, but it is mostly related to the ebbs and flow of the economy” rather than new accounting rules, he says. This year’s subsidy data will be published next year.

There are various estimates on the size of corporate welfare. Tad DeHaven of the libertarian Cato Institute says that in 2012 alone, federal subsidies were about $100 billion. The subsidies were doled out by a number of federal sources: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation, and miscellaneous government offices such as the Appalachian Regional Commission, Export-Import Bank, International Trade Commission, and National Science Foundation.

Good Jobs First is a research organization based in Washington DC. It says that since the year 2000, the federal government has awarded $68 billion in grants and allocated tax credits to companies.

There is a big difference between $100 billion in one year and $68 billion in 15 years. Phil Mattera, research director of Good Jobs First, says the difference relates to methodology. Groups such as Cato ferret out “welfare provisions in the Internal Revenue Code,” he says. That approach omits the specific companies receiving the handouts. Mattera’s organization counts only data “that can be attributed to individual companies.” His group looks for specific grants to companies and is more conservative — actually, understated.

Some researchers believe state and local governments provide an estimated $50 billion of annual handouts to the private sector. Others say that estimate is quite high.

Cost of bank bailout

Consider the Great Recession of late 2007– early 2009. The Congress, and particularly the Federal Reserve, our central bank, bailed out the big banks. Bank of America got $3.5 trillion; Citigroup, $2.6 trillion; Morgan Stanley, $2.1 trillion; and JPMorgan Chase, $1.3 trillion in loans, loan guarantees, and bailout assistance.

The total annual economic output (gross domestic product) of the United States last year was $18 trillion. Yet in the 2008 collapse, we extended more than half that sum, $9.5 trillion, to four of our largest financial institutions, says Good Jobs First.

Do you want to see what Bank of America’s bailout looks like on paper? $3,496,780,985,709.

Mattera cautions that much of the bailout money loaned to banks has been paid back, but it still counts as welfare.

Federal contractors with the most Federal subsidies

Federal contractors make products for the federal government — say, ships, drones, military uniforms. These contracts are not corporate welfare. But many of these contractors also get grants and allocated tax credits, which are corporate welfare. Among contractors, General Electric has received the biggest pile of money in government subsidies, according to Good Jobs First. Do you know who is in second place among government contractors? General Atomics, the San Diego–based company known for its nuclear power reactor systems, drones, wireless and laser technologies, uranium mining and processing, superconducting magnets, and systems for destroying hazardous materials. Since 2000, General Atomics has received $615 million in federal government grants and tax breaks, according to Good Jobs First.

Privately held General Atomics refuses to answer any questions posed by the Reader, but Good Jobs First says the company has received nearly all its federal subsidies from the Department of Energy.

General Atomics comes in 14th among all kinds of welfare-gathering companies.

Another San Diego company, Sempra Energy, is 41st among corporate recipients of grants and allocated tax credits since 2000. The largest subsidy is for the Cameron LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant in Louisiana. Sempra has joined foreign companies in ownership of the operation. Sempra, which is investing $10 billion in the project, gets a property tax exemption for ten years. Sempra has also received subsidies for wind and solar projects and smart-grid projects, such as the Borrego Springs Microgrid operation.

A company has to spend money to rake in subsidies. The Sunlight Foundation estimates that between 2007 and 2012, America’s most politically active corporations spent a whopping $5.8 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions.

For that money, these corporations received a total of $4.4 trillion in federal business and support, including contracting. Qualcomm is 96th on that list, having spent $38.6 million on lobbying and $2.1 million on contributions in those years. General Atomics is 122nd on the list with $14.7 million on lobbying and $1.7 million on contributions.

Here’s the punchline: during this 2007–2012 period, the federal government paid $4.3 trillion to Social Security recipients. So, corporations raked in more in federal business and support than 50 million Americans got in Social Security payments (not including Medicare) over the same period.

Yes, excessive social welfare is a severe economic problem. But so is corporate welfare and corporate contracts won through heavy lobbying and gifts to politicians. Corporate welfare strains federal, state, and local budgets, and the expenditures are artfully concealed, particularly on the state and local levels.

What’s needed is a major study to indicate whether corporate welfare exceeds social welfare. Trouble is, the only organization with the money and manpower to do such a study is the federal government, and it doesn’t want to know.

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Comments
32

I suppose it would be better to give more free cash to people that are not productive members of society?

Besides, when someone steals less money from you than they could have, does that make the victim guilty of something?

June 8, 2016

Sjtorres: First, all people who receive Social Security benefits are not non-productive members of society. I know people who work five to seven days a week and also receive Social Security. Many if not most people have inadequate wealth for retirement, and have to live off Social Security. The economy would not function well without transfer payments such as Social Security. More than 70 percent of GDP is consumption.

This does not address the long-term problem, which is that Social Security has stark resemblance to a Ponzi scheme. That is a topic for another day. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

Sjtorres didn't mention Social Security. So where does the diatribe come from? And "the economy would not function well without transfer payments"??? Pure bunk. Why is it that you're very concerned about huge sums of money that disappear into "big banks" (given to them by government, I'll add), yet not a word about the far vaster sums that disappear into government and our mounting federal debt? $19 trillion in US debt is "the cost of doing business", but some amount that same government gives to banks is cause to lambaste the banks, but not government?

It seems like you're saying ridiculous or absurd things more and more often.

June 8, 2016

jnojr: Sjtorres talked about free cash given to people who are not productive members of society. I assumed he was talking about government transfer payments, the most prominent of which is Social Security.

You think it is "pure bunk" that the economy would not function well without transfer payments. Your opinion is pure bunk. The richest 1 percent hold 42 percent of the nation's wealth. The bottom 80 percent own 7 percent. The top 10 percent average over 38 times more income than the bottom 90 percent.

Consumer spending is more than 70 percent of gross domestic product. Money spent on $25 million homes and $50 million yachts will not support that 70 percent. The distribution of wealth and income is lopsided, and consumption could not remain strong without transfer payments.

"A rising tide lifts all yachts" Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

Thanks for calling a spade a spade and not allowing yourself to be bullied.

June 8, 2016

Flapper: I have been preaching this line for decades -- even, believe it or not, when I was writing for the U-T. But the message didn't resonate, for me or the others who wrote about it. Bernie Sanders lit the public's fire, and for that he earns my gratitude. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

I wasn't referring to Social Security. But to the trillion dollars annually of our tax dollars our government gives away in the form of various welfare programs to individuals.

June 10, 2016

Sjtorres: I thought you were talking about Social Security. Sorry. Your reasoning seems to be that welfare for individuals is worse than welfare for corporations.

I believe that the government has responsibility for people who can't take care of themselves. I do not think that is true of corporations. If they cannot succeed, they should go bankrupt, as several of Donald Trump's companies have. Best, Don Bauder

June 10, 2016

Some people think that any company that receives any government money, or any break from paying the government a dollar, is being "subsidized". Those people very literally don't know what the word means. And a lot of them are people who love big government, want more government... but when that government buys products or services from the private sector, oh how they howl!

But let's put that aside, and go ahead and say, yeah, these "Big Corportaions" are being subsidized. OK... so that money is going towards creating jobs, buying capital goods, etc. Why isn't that far better than subsidizing indolence? Why is it great and noble to hand money to someone who isn't working and who is completely dependent upon receiving more money each and every future month; but if we send that money to an entity that provides jobs it's some enormous injustice?

June 8, 2016

jnojr: The column clearly states that government contracts are not corporate welfare (unless there is a secret overpayment).

Cities and states pay corporations enormous sums to locate a plant in a community. The rationale is that tax receipts will offset the cost of the subsidy. That seldom happens. For the nation as a whole, this is a zero sum game, and maybe a negative sum game.

Within a metro area, one town will subsidize a shopping center or hotel or auto complex or movie theater to filch tax receipts from a neighboring town. Again, this is zero sum or negative sum for the broad community. The subsidization of professional sports teams owned by billionaires is the biggest scam of all.

Most of the time, these subsidies don't create jobs. They just take jobs from elsewhere. The Padres claimed they would create jobs with a new stadium. Balderdash. The cooks and vendors just came over from Qualcomm, for the most part.

Often, when a community pays a company to locate a plant in the community, government finances suffer, schools and services worsen, and pretty soon the company finds it hard to hire executives. So they line up a deal to move again, as soon as their commitment runs out. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

Ibid.

June 8, 2016

That's what's called a Giant Suckin' Sound.

June 8, 2016

Flapper: I think Ross Perot used those words first -- or at least popularized them. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

Don - You are (one of) the Greatest of all time! We have been taught untruths since school daze. Capitalism good, end of story, don't even think about what it really means for us. Civil service to represent the public's interests, almost dry. Maybe Bernie's band of new blood will help, if they can avoid the alcohol and addiction traps. Not a wonder that liquor is everywhere and more ridiculously, marijuana is labeled a moral defect.

June 8, 2016

shirleyberan: I prefer capitalism to any other system, but it desperately needs reform now. We were able to reform the system in the days of the Robber Barons. We can do it again. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

This should be a major article in The Economist.

June 8, 2016

Flapper: The Economist is a very good publication. Every week I see summations of its stories. I have to believe the publication has written about wealth and income disparity. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

For the record, however, if I am not mistaken, the accepted spelling in 1890 was whisky. It's usually the British who insist upon surplus letters, but this time it's the Americans who should be the centre of the con-trov-er-sy. Center simply makes more sense, even if "centre" does not add any letters, just switches them.

The American spelling simply makes more sense in this case, as whisky does in the British spelling. The American sense of insecurity, however, remains persistent, and those wishing to seem royally sophisticated render themselves foolish by adding "e's" after "t's," as in Pointe Builders, now, thankfully, defunct (technically, as yet another form of corporate thievery). Not be be outdone, there is now a "Grosse Pointe Builders."

Gross!

June 8, 2016

Flapper: Just go to Detroit's wealthy suburbs and express contempt for the words Grosse and Pointe. You will be tarred and feathered, as was the poor fellow in the drawing accompanying this column. Best, Don Bauder

June 8, 2016

All businesses are subsidized in one form or another. Think of all the tax breaks private businesses get. They can write off many expenses on their taxes and in some cases pay no tax at all. GE a few years back paid zero in federal tax, oil companies like BP can cause an oil spill be fined billions and then write it off. Reductions in property taxes are another common dodge. All of these writeoffs are then paid by the little people.

June 9, 2016

Dennis: You are right. Big monetary charges against large corporations are reduced, sometimes to insignificance, by several dubious methods, including writing off the charge on taxes. Beset, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Shirley Brand. True. In grade school and high school,, we only hear about the good, the honorable. Everything the U.S. does is noble, we are told. It isn't so. How are high schools treating Vietnam and Iraq ll? Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Mike Murphy: Maybe the Small Business Administration gives grants to such businesses. I do not know. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Roxanne Greene: Some people believe that we pay into Social Security then only get back what we put in. It is far more nuanced than that, and involves straight-out welfare payments, among other things. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Shirley Brand ll: I can't answer this one because I don't understand the question. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Shirley Brand lll: True. Best, Don Bauder

June 9, 2016

Don - not questioning. Much torture equipment was created by Catholics. Saw a display of what they had prisoners sit on; torture exhibit brought to Balboa.

June 9, 2016

shirleyberan: Even ardent Roman Catholics find it hard to defend the church's activities during The Inquisition and other periods featuring cruel punishments. Best, Don Bauder

June 10, 2016

If you steal less money from someone than you could have, it doesn't mean the victim did something wrong.

June 10, 2016

Shirley BrandIV: Agreed -- excellent observation. Best, Don Bauder

June 11, 2016

Sjtorres: Maybe the victim did something right: beating the snot out of the crook before he could take more money. Best, Don Bauder

June 11, 2016

Jeff Madruga: We keep trying. Best, Don Bauder

June 12, 2016

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