Excessive corporate power is causing the standard of living to fall for 90 percent of Americans, according to David Cay Johnston, a Syracuse University law professor.
Johnston recently published a book called 'The Fine Print,' which describes how corporations get rules and regulations written in their favor so they can milk Americans, a penny at a time. A review of the book notes,
No other modern country gives corporations the unfettered power found in America to gouge customers, shortchange workers, and erect barriers to fair play. A big reason is that so little of the news . . . addresses the private, government-approved mechanisms by which price gouging is employed to redistribute income upward.”In a recent interview with Alternet's Joshua Holland, Johnston tells us:
What big business -- and that’s those 2,600 companies which own 80 percent of the business assets in America – what those 2,600 companies have figured out, and their leaders have figured out, because people running these firms are very smart people, is that it is easier to mine Congress and the state legislatures for gold than to go out and earn it in the marketplace.
You are being systematically exploited by powerful corporations every day. These companies squeeze their trusting customers for every last cent, risk their retirement funds, and endanger their lives. And they do it all legally. How? It’s all in the fine print.Johnston shares 10 outrageous facts about how corporations rob American workers and consumers blind. It's even worse than we thought. We originally posted that .43 percent of the corporations in America own 80 percent of all business assets. Johnston called to tell us our math was off, and we corrected the number to an almost incomprehensible .0043 percent. Believe it or not, it's still worse. Johnston contacted us again to say it's a truly unbelievable .00043 percent. Here's the rest:
- .00043 percent of the corporations in America own 80 percent of all business assets.
- The bottom 90 percent of Americans' average real income, as reported on tax returns, went up by $59 from 1966 to 2011 (adjusted for inflation and as reported on tax returns).
- For each extra dollar of annual income going to the bottom 90 percent of households since 1966, $311,233 went to households in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.
- Despite massive bank fraud during the oughts, there has not been a single prosecution of any significant person involved. During the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, a federal regulator named Bill Black got 1,000 high-level felony convictions and 3,000 convictions overall.
- Over the past 50 years, the amount of federal corporate income tax receipts increased 764 percent. Personal income taxes 2,540 percent. Social Security taxes rose 4,881 percent.
- In 2011 the average adjusted gross income of the vast majority fell to $30,437 per taxpayer, its lowest level since 1966 when measured in 2011 dollars.
- The pipeline industry rakes in $1 billion a year by collecting one penny from every American every day. It got itself exempted from the corporate income tax but still collects it from consumers.
- The average monthly cost for cable TV, phone and internet service in the U.S. is $160. In France it's $40 to $70.
- U.S. internet speed is 28th in the world, behind Bulgaria.
- In 21 states, state taxes withheld from workers' paychecks can be kept by the company. Not every employer gets the windfall, but 2,700 big companies do.