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Letter: How to fix the financial mess

To help fix this financial mess we are in, I suggest that our elected officials look at the $62.4 billion in tax subsidies given to major corporations. Twelve paid no federal taxes in 2008, 2009 or 2010, despite $171 billion in combined profit. American Electric Power, Boeing, Dupont, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, General Electric, Honeywell International, IBM United Technologies, Verizon Communications, Wells Fargo and Yahoo didn’t pay anything close to the 35 percent tax rate required by the tax code.

Federal subsidies started when the oil industry was young. But now the oil companies are all grown up and pocketing record profits. Consumers are paying higher prices. We are still supporting them in their golden years. Exxon Mobil paid $39 million on its $9.9 billion profits in 2009 and 2010, which is a tax rate of 0.4 percent. I paid taxes so Exxon Mobil doesn’t have to.

Welfare for farms is also a place to look. The original intent of farm subsidies was to provide economic stability to farmers during the Depression. That was almost 100 years ago. Twenty billion dollars in subsidies was given to farmers and owners of farmland. Seventy-four percent of that money goes to agri-business’s largest and wealthiest 10 percent. They receive drought aid when there is no drought. They receive the aid even in good years. About 62 percent of small farmers did not receive cash subsidies.

What about the billions of dollars we give to Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Canada, Russia, China, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Jordan, Iraq, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, to name a few?

Shouldn’t our elected officials look at corporate welfare subsidies and foreign aid instead of making the middle class pay more? Maybe it is time for them to grow up and stop pointing fingers at each other like school-ground bullies.

EMILIE PHELPS

Concord

What we have right now is a boom and bust economy. We can get out of that cycle by adopting proper financial policies. First we need to decide what our goals are. Zero inflation for the next billion year, so that if you take a dollar out of your pocket now or a billion years from now, you can buy a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. That is the standard. That means that milk prices and bread prices have to drop from the ridiculous levels they are at. Inflation can go up or down 30%, within any century, but sometime in the next century needs to return to zero. We need to stop taxing corporate income. That is where our jobs are. We need to eliminate the inheritance tax, and income tax on gambling and other games of chance. We need to eliminate the national debt. Not just stabilize it at $16 trillion. But to rebuild the economy it does not matter if the debt goes to $50 or $200 trillion as long as our economy recovers. We need jobs, not a grid locked congress that does nothing.

I think that people worrying about $64B in what they consider "tax breaks" might be in the eye of the beholder. "Less than 3 percent of ExxonMobil’s earnings are from U.S. gasoline sales. ExxonMobil’s earnings are from operations in more than 100 countries around the world. The part of the business that refines and sells gasoline and diesel in the United States represents less than 3 percent – or 3 cents on the dollar – of our total earnings. For every gallon of gasoline, diesel or finished products they manufactured and sold in the United States in the last three months of 2010, they earned a little more than 2 cents per gallon" "While Exxon Mobil squeezes a couple of pennies out of each gallon of gas, the U.S. government does a bit better. The government rakes in somewhere between 40-60 cents in taxes from each gallon of gas. And since the government spends ZERO dollars to sell that gasoline, their profit margin is 100%" "The main component of the price at the pump is the cost of a barrel of crude oil. Another major component of the price of gas is state and federal taxes, which range from a high of 66 cents per gallon in California to a low of 26 cents per gallon in Alaska, according to January 2011 data". "ExxonMobil’s earnings are in line with the industry average In 2010, ExxonMobil made less than 8 cents for every dollar of revenue from all of our businesses around the world. That’s less than half of companies selling pharmaceuticals, beverages, tobacco and computers, just to name a few. On a dollar-for-dollar basis, ExxonMobil earnings, and those of the U.S. oil and gas industry at large, are generally in line with other mainstream corporations.

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