The Latest Stage in Creeping Corporatism
What do employees think about paying income taxes that can be kept by their employer for 10 years to use, interest free, as management desires? Do they even know? Do the citizens who are looking at draconian cuts in government services – including Medicaid for the poor and elderly – know? Kansas and nineteen other states have just such a program. In Kansas it is euphemistically called the “Promoting Employment across Kansas,” or “PEAK” program.
PEAK works this way: move your jobs to Kansas and you can annually keep $4,800,000 of your employees’ state income taxes for up to 10 years and pay no interest. In other words, taxpayers are providing corporations with an interest free loan up to $48,000,000 over a 10 year period. One company that qualified for such a deal is AMC Corporation – the second largest owner of movie theatres in the World.
AMC was purchased a few years ago by a consortium of investment firms, including Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group. Movie theatres are not an investment with a bright future. Nevertheless, the owners of AMC were able to dump the company on the Chinese owned Wanda Dalian Group. It was Bain, et al. that moved the company across the state line to Kansas with all sorts of sweet deals.
Why Does China Want to Expand Its Role in the Movie Industry?
As David Denby discusses in the latest issue of the New Republic, the movie industry has, for the most part, degenerated into a shallow, boring, digital form of entertainment designed to appeal to a generation raised on video games. Movies goers with a bent toward artistic depth and averse to having their intelligence insulted are staying away from theatres in increasing numbers and profits in the industry are sagging.
Adding 5000 screens in the United States to their vast entertainment empire, Wada Dalian Group has grabbed a prime opportunity to spread Chinese culture in this country. Look for them to retain very talented Hollywood professionals in production of highly sophisticated and subtle propaganda. Given the American public’s apathy, acquiescence, and lack of critical thinking skills, impact of subliminal and even clever overt messages will escape the attention of most movie audiences.
Let’s keep in mind that the rulers of China are autocratic, totalitarian, thugs who will stop at nothing in maintaining and expanding their power. Furthermore, let’s not underestimate their cleverness.
Why the PEAK program now?
For decades, corporations have been colluding with state and local governments in foisting give-aways on taxpayers in the form of property tax abatements, factories built by taxpayers at no cost to the companies, and other incentives to move jobs into a particular state or locale. In Kansas, corporations have, in addition to all of the usual goodies, received practically all lottery money through two programs known as Kansas Industrial Trainingand Kansas Industrial Retraining – otherwise known as “KIT-KIR.”
The sad truth is that all of this does nothing for declining job opportunities on a national basis and very little at the state and local levels. Nevertheless, taxpayers have rolled over for these rip offs because the jobs dangled in front of them, but not necessarily materializing, fulfill a basic human psychological drive to eliminate worry about jobs. That’s about as far as the public’s thinking goes when it comes to these anti-democratic, corrupt deals. Very few Kansans even know their lottery money has been handed over to the likes of Boeing Corporation for decades, which is now pulling up stakes and leaving the state.
For some time now, the public has been tested by corporations with the help of rubes on city commissions and in state legislatures. With very few exceptions, citizens have acquiesced in this government-corporation merger. Why not push it to ridiculous limits and see how it works. Employees can now pay their taxes directly to the corporation, which can keep them for a considerable period of time. So far, it’s working.
Historically, Corporatism and Fascism Have Developed Simultaneously
A Fascist ruling elite doesn’t concern itself with what citizens think, need, or want. Democracy withers way, incrementally, and government evolves eventually into a government for servicing corporations – especially in the financial services in this day and age. The wealthy elite also sees to its interest – while at the same time an ideological right wing political party is stoked and appeased.
Bureaucratic operatives dare not defy the wishes or the best interests of the corporate power structure. I experienced this when I called the Kansas Department of Revenue and inquired about the AMC deal and the PEAK program in general. The gentleman to whom I was referred refused to tell me anything by claiming the right of welfare laden corporations to “confidentiality.” Citizens have no right to know the amount of revenue lost through this latest and most outrageous funneling of tax money to corporation. Check it out for yourself. I spoke to a Mr. Richard Cram at the Kansas Department of Revenue.
I called the Department of Commerce, the entity responsible for negotiating these deals with corporations, and was referred to a Mr. Wayne Groves. This gentleman did acknowledge that AMC had received the deal but wouldn’t tell me much else. For instance, I asked for a list of all corporations receiving the PEAK benefits. Most certainly, for Cerner to move across the state line, it would need as sweet a deal as AMC. All Mr. Groves would say that the Department of Commerce has a database of companies participating in PEAK and that I had no right to know who they are without a freedom of information request.
This Is Just the Beginning of this Story on This Blog
As the Brownback experiment in Christian Fascism and Corporatism proceeds, we will see elderly suffer from underfunded Medicaid programs – in fact, it will be interesting to find out if the few companies receiving managed care contracts will be in the PEAK program. Tax money handed over for use of private industry will be unavailable for poor children and adults, many of whom will experience hunger and homelessness as food and housing prices continue to escalate.
This is a serious and alarming story that needs to be told. It will be told on the Tallgrass Activist.