Thursday, January 2, 2014

Milking the System

Let’s talk about those that are truly “milking” this system, those that are on Welfare without needing to be.

In 2013 a handful of big oil companies received subsidies from the United States ranging anywhere between $14 to $52 billion a year, while these oil companies raised the cost of gasoline for the rest of us; but no one is outraged by this. Of course, the big oil companies do not call these moneys subsidies, they are “investments” because, according to them, they are providing a service, producing jobs, etc. as if they were the only companies doing this and completely forgetting about the disastrous damages they have inflicted in the environment and that we, collectively through our taxes, have helped cleaning up.

Microsoft, a company that as we all know is in no dire need for financial assistance, received in the form of a tax credit (from 2004 – 2010) a total of $305 million dollars or an average of $50.8 million a year. Microsoft revenues during those same years were $343 billion dollars… but no one raised an eyebrow about this. Granted, Bill Gates is a great philanthropist that donates most of his profits, but we can’t say the same about Microsoft's shareholders which benefit from the Federal "handout" or tax credits, that greatly increases their profits.

According to an article from the Huffigton Post, last year about $180 billion dollars were given to corporations in the form of tax breaks. On April 15, 2013, IPS (Institute for Policy Studies) published an article, Corporate Tax Dodgers: 10 Companies and Their Tax Loopholes, that states that ExxonMobil received a tax subsidy of $6.8 billion; FedEx received a tax subsidy of $2.1 billion; Honeywell received a tax subsidy of $1.7 billion, after paying no taxes for 4 years, and the list goes on. 

In 2013, Congress approved $9.5 billion in Farm subsidies that will go to wealthy “farms.” Some of the congressmen that were so “giving,” receive farm subsidies themselves and these same congressmen were among the ones that decided to make significant cuts in SNAP or what is commonly known as “food stamps.” The majority of the “farmers” that received the farm subsidies are the same that invested millions in lobbyist to push for these “farms” to receive huge handouts from the government. Farmers have received a total of $256 billion dollars from 1995 to 2012.

According to EWG and Forbes, the major recipients of these “farms,” with their corresponding net worth in parenthesis, are: Paul Allen, Co-founder of Microsoft (Net worth: $15.8 billion); Charles Ergen, Co-founder of DISH Network (Net worth: $12.5 billion); Philip Anschutz, Owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group and co-founder of Major League Soccer (Net worth: $10.3 billion); Leonard Lauder, Son of Estee Lauder and former CEO of the Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (Net worth: $7.6 billion); Jim Kennedy, Chairman of Cox Enterprises (Net worth: $6.7 billion); S. Truett Cathy, Founder of Chick-fil-A (Net worth: $6 billion); Leslie Wexner, CEO of L Brands Inc., which owns Victoria's Secret (Net worth: $5.7 billion); Charles Schwab, Founder of brokerage firm Charles Schwab Corporation (Net worth: $5.1 billion); Stewart & Lynda Resnick, Owners of POM Wonderful, Fiji Water and Teleflora (Net worth: $3.5 billion); David Rockefeller, Sr., Former chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank (Net worth: $2.8 billion); and Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce (Net worth: $2.2 billion).

The Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidies Database mentioned a few congressmen that received farm subsidies in 2012 and therefore, in 2013 as well; most of them voted to make substantial cuts to the SNAP program. Click here to see the list.

While the U.S. 2013 Budget lists $117 billion dollars in Welfare expenses. $6.7 billion of it went to WIC and $82.6 billion went to the Food Stamp program. However, the expenses for Food Stamps is broken into 3 different expenditures (all named Food Stamp Program: one which reported 0 expenses, a second one that reported $75.7 billion expenses and a third that reported $6.9 billion expenses). I will select the highest as the one going directly to the needy: $75.7 billion dollars.

It is important to keep in mind that veterans and the families of the actively serving troops are included in these figures; there are about 900,000 veterans and about 5,000 military families that rely on food stamps. In 2013 there were a total of 23,052,389 families receiving food stamps (including veterans and military families). The average monthly amount provided by SNAP for one person is $189.00, and this is not necessarily true… my mother, who is a SNAP recipient gets only $140.00 a month and even though I am unemployed, I do not qualify, so I receive none. The amounts received per person varies, but it is never over $189.00 a month, which is the maximum allowed for a single individual; the larger the family the less each person will receive. A family of 5 (a father, a mother and three children) will receive as a maximum $750.00 a month, which is $150.00 per person or $4.83 per person, per day for all three meals.

So, if you are outraged that the government spent $75.7 billion helping the needy but you are not outraged at the billions the government gives to wealthy corporations, then you are a worthless, heartless and selfish human being!

Compassion starts at home… I just don’t know when America will begin practicing at home what it preaches abroad.

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