Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: About Occupy Wall Street

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  • Danielle, in reply to Thomas Johnson,

    most of the regulatory measures have made things worse

    Historically? That's an... interesting assertion.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3656 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4962 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Meanwhile, I’d be rather more impressed by Bill Gates if his support for so called ‘Robin Hood’ taxes was backed by an equally public calling out of shit like
    his own company’s multi-billion dollar tax dodges.

    Things were rosy in the giant software company’s just-ended fiscal fourth quarter, which produced record sales of nearly US$17.4 billion, a 30 percent increase in after-tax profit, and a 35 percent gain in earnings per share.

    But for the US Internal Revenue Service and foreign tax authorities, things weren’t so rosy. Microsoft reported only US$445 million in taxes in the US and other foreign countries, just 7 percent of its US$6.32 billion in pre-tax profit.

    Given the rancour in Congress and in the country about how to tackle the nation’s budget deficit and debt, including how companies stash profits overseas and enjoy lucrative tax breaks, it is instructive to see how the top brass at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters achieved this eye-popping tax result.

    Partly it was because the company had a one-time refund of US$461 million from the IRS for previous overpayments and because of its over-estimation of tax rates in previous quarters. There may be increased sales of products to consumers overseas, though it is not clear from company disclosures how much of a factor this might be.

    But Microsoft is straightforward about the core reason for its lower tax bill: It is increasingly channelling earnings from sales to customers throughout the world through the low-tax havens of Ireland, Puerto Rico and Singapore.

    Microsoft’s pre-tax profits booked overseas nearly tripled over the past six years, to US$19.2 billion in the fiscal year that just ended, from US$6.8 billion in the year ended in June 2006, according to company filings.

    Hypocrite.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12003 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Meanwhile, I’d be rather more impressed by Bill Gates if his support for so called ‘Robin Hood’ taxes was backed by an equally public calling out of tax avoiding multinational corporations like the one whose board he chairs:

    Sure, but that discredits Gates, not the FTT, right?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4962 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to 3410,

    Sure, but that discredits Gates, not the FTT, right?

    There’s intellectually respectable arguments to be made pro- and anti- FTTs (personally I’m a ‘devil in the details’ agnostic on the subject), but I don’t think either side helps itself with a poster boy so intimately connected with Microsoft. On Gates' watch, Microsoft had a long and grubby history of aggressive tax avoidance and lobbying against attempt to close profitable loopholes.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12003 posts Report Reply

  • Barrytrevorbruce,

    I think you are unfair on Ron Paul painting him as a racist, when those 'tracts' you refer to are newsletters of dubious origin that he denies writing. I am far from being a Ron Paul disciple but think he does have some interesting ideas that challenge the establishment and can see how these would be of interest to disenfranchised youth.
    Here also is a further interview with the fella in the original video, and far from being a 'RonPaulbot' appears to be an educated young man who has thought about his positions, and decided this movement is something he wants to be a part of....

    Auckland • Since Aug 2011 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Apologies if already posted (and the ad, varius stripes of taking points) but the blogger who joins at ~4:20 was interesting to me http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/roundtable-reactions-wall-street-protests-14699460 (hatip TV7).

    Aklthough attractive usual suspect from both sides I don't think this Occupy protest falls left/right, dems/rubs - they'll take aantone wich will take the money making out of the desicion making.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 563 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And capitalism really did pretty well in the 20th Century. This Australian Treasury paper on poverty and inequality in that century is worth reading. On life expectancy:

    Whether that's due to capitalism or simply the advances of technology is not so clear. But it's true that wealth in an absolute sense has risen the entire world over. What's changing is that relative wealth is redistributing. Hence my comment that it's not entirely clear if it's a good or bad thing from a global perspective. Much depends on what the militarily powerful western world does about it. What worries me about this time is the resemblance to the 20s and 30s, and what that led to. However, war is a different beast now, so there is some hope that it won't go like that again.

    Rising internal inequity is the same. In one sense, everyone in NZ is wealthier than they were 30 years ago. Many of the things we have were only dreams then, like mobile phones and the internet. But in other senses, some basic things are way more expensive than they were. Food, and housing, as two things that no one can reasonably do without, are much larger proportions of the average wage than they were. In my parents time, they went to see movies every single week with such pocket money as they had. Now, to go to the movies is a ridiculous luxury that I reserved only for very special occasions, even when I was in the top 5% of income earners (earlier this year).

    Despite all of the advances of 65 years since the war ended, people who work still have to work the same, or more hours. People who can't find work, or aren't even looking, are increasing in number, and have to really struggle to find enough money to pay for food and rent. These are failures of capitalism, plain and simple. If we really are many times wealthier than the 1940s, why on earth do we still spend our days grinding for the man, or begging for money?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8541 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    poverty and inequality

    Ah our old foes

    life expectancy

    And our greatest fear.
    No one's been watching where we were heading have they.
    Just fighting the "good" fight.....

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1221 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    People pay mortgage brokers, financial advisors and the rest for a reason.

    Unless one is megarich, or willing to pay hundreds of dollars an hour to an accountant, any such people you meet will basically be salesthings. Sure, they've struggled through a few exams, but basically, their skills are in schmoozing - plus they're being paid by the providers to sell you product.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4459 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S,

    The chairman of the Fed Alan Greenspan knew and followed Ayn Rand and was strongly libertarian. He publicly stated that one of his finest achievements was to kill the Glass Steagall act which the US had introduced to control the banks after the depression.Many of his actions helped create a long period of increasing prosperity, not necessarily equitable.He was a champion of banking deregulation saying "Why inhibit the pollinating bees of Wall St?" Giving the means for these 'bees' to develop vastly complicated financial instruments traded solely in the manner of a casino.He has had to publicly acknowledge his ideology was flawed. We however are now enveloped in a crisis for which he was the midwife.
    Not all of the problems now confronting us can be laid at his feet.
    Globalisation has wrought great changes, some of which have been beneficial and others not so welcome.
    Overpopulation is probably the fundamental crisis that this planet has to deal with.
    Interesting times.

    Since Apr 2010 • 80 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I've been watching this movement mostly via twitter since just before 17 September. A friend lives in New York and I kept asking him about it but he hadn't heard anything until he went down to the park and saw it all happening (but he has a banking background so wasn't inclined to join). It's been very interesting watching the media slowly take an interest since the early days (less than a month ago) when Al Jazeera and the local Indymedia provided the only coverage apart from extensive social media.

    Anyhow it's exciting and heartening that is starting to happening around NZ, including a meet-up at the Wellington City to Sea bridge over looking the NZSX building from 1pm Saturday. It's seems to be very postmodern movement - very grassroots, youthful, and bring-your-own-poster, - and resistant to any one person or group claiming to have 'the' message that others should follow. And if you are inclusive to the '99%' you will have a variety of interpretations about what this means. So I'll be there - even if I am 20 years older than anyone else.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2089 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    George Monbiot's new column on Professor Steve Keen's book, Debunking Economics, seems apposite.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18893 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1147 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16680 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And the first comment by him as well.
    I'll just use the juciest bit...

    There's a massive debate to be had, and I hope it can begin on this thread, preferably with rather less of the atmosphere of a chimpanzee's tea party than we sometimes find here.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1221 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    It seems that Simon Power's new job involves managing the wealth transfer following the sale of state assets to a few high net worth individuals who are customers of Australian owned Westpac. What a great example of the the 99% versus the 1%.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2089 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    What a great example of the the 99% versus the 1%.

    And a great example of the osmosis of the ruling elites, who model their behaviour on an organised crime gang.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But even globalisation looks different if you're in, say, China or Vietnam and you have a life your parents couldn't have dreamed of.

    You are referring to wide screen TVs, the Internet, an I phone, fast-food, facebook, pop music and a degree of isolation?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1195 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Yes Hilary. Simon........wait for it......Power.

    He seemed to just fall into that job. Fancy a bank having an offshoot called a Private Bank. Cosy.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1496 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Alan Grayson's response to PJ O'Rourke sums it up astutely.

    The crisis that underpins the GFC is decades of government that have failed to exercise governance and ensure the regulation of financial markets and institutions.

    Consumption taxes have rewarded government's during the "false expansion"..

    It is great that the OWS is taking place – I hope it leads to the roll out of a better future. It will be interesting to see what becomes of it all.

    The ability of corporations to lobby and influence govt creates distortion as it is largely unchecked/not disclosed as to how this influence affects govt policy and legislative process.

    A few weeks, or a month, ago Key mused openly in the media something along the lines of, “It would be a tragedy for NZ if Fletcher Building located off shore”. I found myself thinking that was a strange thing to say with the looming assets sales agenda and wondered whether there was an arm twist in the government providing Fletcher Building the default setting as regards the “Christchurch Rebuild”.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1195 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Oh, seriously, I hope so. A coherent, democratic movement for reform would be a historic achievement.

    But America's such a weird place.

    Democracy is coming

    Sail on, sail on
    O mighty Ship of State!
    To the Shores of Need
    Past the Reefs of Greed
    Through the Squalls of Hate
    Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1496 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to DexterX,

    You are referring to wide screen TVs, the Internet, an I phone, fast-food, facebook, pop music and a degree of isolation?

    I think he may be referring as much to healthcare, public transport systems not found in many parts of the world, an abundance of food, peace, employment and the likelihood that you will survive long enough to see your kids turn into adults - and even meet your grandkids.

    The Chinese are now the world's largest outgoing tourist market so that isolation may increasingly be a Western preconception.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And, as Alan Bollard explained in his book, the mainstream view was that that was a fine arrangement. The increasingly prosperous East needed somewhere to invest, we needed access to finance.

    The counter to that is that many people in the mid-late '90's were part of or involved in the 'anti-globalisation' movements. While they may have been broad churches, and as a consequence somewhat unfocussed and incoherent, there was certainly a strong thread in there of trying to rein in the crazy-out-of-control-meth-head-gambler who seems to have been at the wheel of the good ship Global Finance for the last few decades.

    One of the lesser tragedies of 9/11 was that all those movements were basically killed stone dead just as they were gaining some mainstream traction. I reckon you could put together and argument that these current protests have their roots in, and are rising from, the ashes of the anti-globalisation movement.

    Nek minnit

    All your memes are belong to us....

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2396 posts Report Reply

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