2011-11-23 / Opinion


Facebook’s tax dodge

To the editor:

I have been participating in our local Occupy Brunswick demonstrations where, not surprisingly, Facebook is employed to disseminate information and facilitate communication. So much has been made, rightly, of such tech assistance in combating tyranny.

Occupy Wall Street, and its satellites, are concerned with tyranny by the so-called 1 percent. The irony is that using Facebook and Google to combat the 1 percent also increases the wealth of that very 1 percent.

Facebook is of the 1 percent, and its service is a major tool for corporate marketing. That would be fine if corporate America were more responsible taxpayers, but the 1 percent has a problem that way. Legal tax evasion, though permitted, still hurts America.

Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, has adapted a strategy similar to Google’s that funnels earnings through Ireland to the Cayman Islands, according to an Oct. 21, 2010, Bloomberg News report, which states, “The tactics of Google and Facebook depend on ‘transfer pricing,’ paper transactions among corporate subsidiaries that allow for allocating income to tax havens while attributing expenses to higher- tax countries. Such income shifting costs the U.S. government as much as $60 billion in annual revenue.”

Corporate America needs some incentive to share its wealth.

If Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg were to reconsider his company’s position and lead by example, hearing from Facebook accounts demanding a better corporate model and seeing the PR benefit/loss potential, he would become a true corporate leader. Who knows if this wouldn’t have a domino effect for the greater good?

No major business had a policy of uncontested sales returns until L.L. Bean established one. Many companies now champion sustainability as part of their branding. Bill Gates changed his spots, so why not Mr. Zuckerberg?

Being the 1 percent is no longer great branding.

The point isn’t to diminish Facebook’s profitability, but to keep America’s wealth in America, to bring fairness back into the economy.

Facebook Friends, let Mark Zuckerberg know that his company should bring America’s wealth back home and pay taxes like you and I. Just a chat between friends!

Gary Anderson

Drive safely in dark

To the editor:

Now that the short days of winter are upon us, more and more commuting is being done after dark. Drivers, please remember to be courteous and dim your headlights when approaching oncoming traffic. State law requires headlights to be switched to a low beam within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle.

Please also be aware that this law applies when encountering any oncoming traffic, including bicycles. It is extremely difficult for a bicyclist to see where he is going while being blinded by the high beams of an oncoming vehicle.

Thank you and safe travels to all.

Scott Harriman

Feasting on ourselves?

To the editor:

Thank you to Michael Tucker for his thoughtful commentary, “Conservatives’ symbolism, scapegoating divides nation,” (Nov. 18).

I appreciate Tucker’s imagining of the perfect society. I’ve wondered, too, listening to the rhetoric, what kind of perfect society is imagined by fiscally conservative friends and neighbors. Perhaps it’s a noholds barred form of capitalism or “Darwinian Capitalism” — a society that believes survival belongs to the most fit among us. Never mind that Darwin drew his theory from among species roaming the Galapagos, eating whatever was available on the local fast food chain.

Humankind has other mechanisms, besides ordering up lunch, that serve to inform who we are to ourselves and one another. I heard on National Public Radio recently an African parable that says it very well: “I am, therefore we are.”

Capitalism, by its own Darwinian nature, is not the elephant in the room. Rather, it’s the wisdom of compassion that tames the “steely beast” of unbridled greed.

Mr. Tucker’s article would do well served up around the Thanksgiving table. Let us feast on that.

Martha Hulbert

Advent vigils

To the editor:

Standing together in hope of a peaceful world, we hold the Advent Vigil for Disarmament at Bath Iron Works.

We will meet across from the Bath Iron Works administration building on Washington Street in Bath from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the four Saturdays of Advent, Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 10 and 17.

We stand with signs calling for the end of the building of weapons of mass destruction by General Dynamics here in Maine. Specifically, we stand in opposition to the Arleigh Burke class of Aegis destroyers and the new Zumwalt destroyers, which cost more than $3 billion each and are under construction at the shipyard.

These guided missile warships are nuclear capable, and the Navy now has more than 50 of them. Appropriately named destroyers, these warships are a key component of what is called the Theater Missile Defense System.

Their existence is a crime against humanity that condemns us to endless war. It is time to end the construction of these warships. Peace is not possible while we continue to spend billions of dollars on these and other weapons systems.

Please join us for an hour on these four Saturdays before Christmas as we witness for a joyous revolution and a nonviolent world by holding vigils for peace through disarmament.

George Ostensen
Maureen Ostensen

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