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You Owe Us, Corporations: Four Reasons Why, and One Way to Pay


You Owe Us, Corporations: Four Reasons Why, and One Way to Pay

Paul Buchheit

The distorted belief that wealthy individuals and corporations are job creators has led to sizeable business subsidies and tax breaks. The biggest giveaway is often overlooked: corporations use our nation's plentiful resources, largely at no cost, to build their profits.

There are several factual and well-established reasons why corporations owe a great debt to the nation that has made them rich.

Our Tax Money Pays for Much of the Research


The misinterpretation/misapplication of the 14th Amendment to establish corporate personhood is largely to blame. The American Revolution was largely inspired by the desire to wrest the continent free from the chains imposed by English corporations. Early American corporations had finite lives and had to show promise to address the common good. Well America, as they say in the ad business, “you’ve come a long way, baby.”

This might be an interesting link for those interested in learning more:


A little ampliFication, a corporate world with no allegiance to any nation, a corporate world that wants to supercede any rule of a nation state that gets in its way of making a profit, a souless corporate world that cannot see its part in creating a common good, a warmongering corporate world that sees profit in war. These are the bestards that owe us. Maybe we should just sieze their assets and use the powers that they have for the common good.


Definitely, all corporations and insanely wealthy people need to give back to that which provided the framework from which they made their wealth. That doesn’t mean giving it all back, but refusing to give anything back is just greedy, bad manners, ingratitude. The way these superwealthy corporations/people have been dodging paying taxes, not giving their employees raises or hiring more employees shows that they are not interested in giving back. Just saying “oh now that I’m rich, I’ll be spending that money. See I’m giving back. It all trickles down eventually somehow mystically magically” is dodging this responsibility to give back.


While Buccheit’s analysis is compelling, his solution, and Barnes’, is not.
A “Dividends for All” solution does not initiate the substantive reform necessary to change the corrupt structures, institutions, policies and practices that cause the maldistribution of resources Buccheit outlines. It is, at best, a payoff. And considering corrupt structures, institutions, policies and practices unchanged by substantive reform will be in control of the administration of such a payoff, you can bet it will a paltry one at that. A little more tokenism. No change.


Indeed, it doesn’t move us toward an egalitarian, cooperative economy. It just throws a bone to the people.


Democracy cannot survive concentrated wealth. There has to be at minimum a much higher marginal tax rate, with zero loopholes. Concentrated wealth has deliberately Balkanized our society. Fueling manic religious and faux patriot delirium. And mythologized economics.


You meant maybe we should just SEIZE their assets. How is that this WE, presumably identifying persons who oppose corporatism are to achieve this ends when the corporations have fused with government, the courts, media, and academe and through these channels now own and command the armed forces that have been beefed up (using the pretext of the War on Terrorism) precisely to impede the public’s reaction to their Grand Theft on a global scale.


Your comment presumes that the overlords in charge of all the new technology WANT an egalitarian paradise-like society. As if.

Of course, most probably operating is the need on the part of Paid Message Shapers to do all that they can to discredit the data that Mr. Buchheit reliably exposes so that the 1% can continue on with their rampant rape of The Commons.

I find your argument analogous to that used by Nuclear power/The Atomic Energy Commission in promising benefits through the use of “the peaceful atom.” It’s also similar to other industrial agendas that promise one thing to The People while stealing their lives, dignity, and lands.


I’m from the ‘me first’ generation – I want both substantive reform and a payoff! And no, I’m not really trying to be obtuse and selfish, I just think that most of the peons in this country have earned both.


Preamble: Capitalism is purely an economic system comprised by four vertical elements: Ideas & Entrepreneurs; Managers; Labor: and consumers. The system is designed to maintain a continuous, steady the flow of [money] both up and down the four-rung-economic-ladder. Contrary to our Capitalism is NOT a system designed and intended to further fatten the porcine pouches of plutocrats. Keep this in mind as you read further.

Mr. Buchheit missed the one most costly debt that Corporate America owes to We The Common People: it is both the known and unknown costs of our military and their expeditions around the globe: certainly no less than $1 trillion/year . . . but for what? Democracy? Freedom? Justice? Our American Way of Life? Because we are Exceptional? Hardly! Whether declared or not, all wars are economic. With only one notable exception that I know of.ie., WW I. Wars are never fought between mutually profitable trading partners!

Our Army is charged with protecting U S economic Interests abroad (definitions of the words "protect " and “interests” vary widely and are frequently abused); and the U S Navy has the duty of keeping the sea lanes open for our free trade and convenience . The more direct-acting CIA is also involved economically.

The trillion dollars cited above is spent on military arms here and abroad, in the majority of cases, being funnel ed directly into the pockets of Corporate American which never fails to profits handsomely from our wars. This is the same Corporate-America-gone-Predatory that:

Ships America’s most valuable assets – our jobs – overseas ;
Establishes corporate offices overseas to escape US taxes;
Holds foreign earned profits in overseas banks to avoid US taxes;
Pays Executives apparently unlimited millions of dollars each/year;
Blames and blackguards Organized Labor for Corporate mis-management;
Pollutes our air, land, seas and water with near-impunity;
Treats labor and junior management as expendable and easily, economically replaced spare parts;
Insinuates itself into both houses of Congress where influence is bought with campaign contributions;
But most egregious of all:
Impedes domestic cash flow and slows economic growth by hoarding cash in Corporate coffers and by undervaluing American Labor and failing to Invest back into America!

Our arrogant Corporate America – with their cornucopia of tax breaks and loopholes – acts as if We The Common People – the ones who actually fight the battles and pay out of pocket for our military and their excursions are the REAL free-loaders in this country . . . leaches who believe that We The People owe them an ostentatious lifestyle while 40% of all U S citizens (and growing) are living in poverty.


Buchheit’s continuing claim that the American people have some claim to corporate wealth on the basis of some undefined benefit to corporations from government spending on basic research is simply ludicrous. Two points:

  1. By Buchheit’s own figures, the total dollar value of government research is only about 30% of all research is funded by taxpayers. I don’t think he has a real appreciation for the value of that other 70%. Most of the scientific understanding discovered by taxpayer funded research (certain NASA and military programs excepted) is not directly applicable in the civilian marketplace. It is only with the additional investment of millions of dollars of corporate research funding that these modern miracles come to our lives.

  2. If there were a metric for “useful information per research dollar spent” the prize would not go to government research. Anyone who has been closely involved with government research and development knows that a large percentage of the money spent on such research doesn’t actually pay for research, but rather a wide range of associated “services”. The density of useful research (basic or applied) is much higher in corporate research activities.

Yes, there is some government basic research that it potentially useful. But without the expenditure of lots of development monies by industry, that information never realizes its potential. Far from having a free ride on the taxpayers, corporations and entrepreneurs the world over are spending their own money to realize the potential of basic research regardless of its origins.


I hear ya and agree. A payoff can help for what has happened in the past, serving as an appetizer for the main course which would be reform! We need a fundamental cultural paradigm shift! But, settling on old accounts first is certainly called for before opening new ones.


We are no where near having Star Trek style replicator technology (as much as I’d love to have it). 3D printers are cute and all but they aren’t going to serve up a glass of OJ. Till then, we need to fundamentally change our culture from a competitive premise to one of cooperation. We need less heirarchical and more horizontal decision making and assumption of responsibility in the workplace. Think employee owned and operated businesses. No more big boss on top with peons below who are expected to be grateful for their pittance. Profits should be shared such that, in my opinion, wages can be done away with. I know its a radical cultural shift from the current entrenched status quo that, as I believe, has its roots in feudal aristocracy. We need to sever ourselves from all vestiges of aristocracy and I do not believe we have even come close to doing so. Doing so won’t be easy for people to understand at first because the old way of thinking is so entrenched. Big changes never are easy but none-the-less necessary for the good of humanity and all life on earth.


Not a terrible idea but we would need some very strong and determined people in our three branches of government to get anything done. Maybe Warren or Sanders and there are a few more that could make some changes we need. We’ve just got to get them elected and hope they don’t sell us out like what we have now.


If people can’t get it together, I don’t see a solution. Rome fell. We may also go the same way. We would like to avoid that; that’s why we are Progressive! We try to learn from history to avoid making the same mistake. We are making the same mistakes as Rome. Your discussion on point #1 shows me that you are still attempting to conceptualize how a horizontal, egalitarian business would operate. That’s not a bad thing and I give you credit for trying. Its an unfamiliar concept to basically everyone… Unfortunately. Its not that management functions are done away with but rather everyone has their area of responsibility. Some people sweep the floor, some people do payroll, some people keep the books… With everyone filling their area of responsibility, everything that needs to get done does get done and that’s the heart of it. Each area of responsibilty has its own required skills and knowledge to perform. If someone isn’t fulfilling their responsibilities, the rest of the team can vote to boot 'em out. If the business isn’t successfull, the team discusses it and votes on what to do about it. Those are just food for thought. I’m sure in practice it would be done differently business to business but I do know that there are examples out there. One such example is some fishing villages on the coast of Mali. Everyone in the village works together to catch, process fish, and get them to the market. They share the profits in their own way. But they get outcompeted by Arabian fishing boats who can catch more fish. the Arabian fishermen catch the fish off the coast of Mali thereby reducing the available fish for the local Mali people to catch. This is why competition is detrimental and we need more cooperation. The Mali people have nothing else to turn to. They cooperate amongst themselves but the Arabians do not.


No, I don’t agree with any of those points you make.If you think I refuted my own line of reasoning, I think you are still grasping to old assumptions which I am not holding. Private ownership and nationalization are two such assumptions. Furthermore, clearly defined property rights have no bearing when one party does not respect those rights particularly when the “private owners” have no ability to enforce those rights like robbing candy from babies. Such issues wouldnt be a problem if everyone agreed to be cooperative. In regards to resources, a third party with no vested interests would be needed to monitor and manage the use of those resources- which is something extractive industries despise; a guild, an international consortium, I don’t know/care. For that to work, all parties would have to agree and abide to the terms. Under the current competitive paradigm, That’s not going to happen.


Sheep? No one is subservient to another in an egalitarian society. In our current society, we are expected to be sheep serving the interests of the elite. Do you think this would be a world without police and courts? I’d like to think it would be, but at least for the outset, its not likely. If someone’s taking more resources than they should or taking them from a place they shouldn’t, they would need to be corrected. A mechanism would need to be in place to do that. Design it as you will as long as its effective. Superficially, it looks like property rights but its not- hard to explain but think back to pre-Roman Celtic ideas of the commons. Its been beaten out of our society for many long years by people with a bigger stick. Yet there are a very few places where these ideas continue to persist such as a few Indian villages in Mexico and there’s an island off the coast of Yemen where the traditional people are this way. They don’t fight for resources. They discuss their needs and come to peaceable agreements. It can work because there are places where it does. Please let’s nuture it.


Ok, you win. Humanity is doomed. Capitalism is nothing more than a ruse to impoverish the many in order to benefit the priviledged. Satisfied, oh voice of treason? You’re precious model of capitalism is causing all kinds of social and environmental problems and all you want to do is defend it and still you do not explain why? Why are you so cruel to the majority of humans on this earth? Why are you so callous and cold hearted? Why do you insist that this path of destruction is the only way for humans? You talk about how to get the minority to go along with the majority but in our system its the minority dragging along the majority. Why is your model so awesome? I see it as cruel and unfair.


The concept of freedom and democracy was well known. There weren’t many peasants in the Americas before the Europeans came here and before the Romans went conquering the Celtic peoples of Europe. Perhaps if I limited myself to your narrow perspective I might then agree. I argue that people try to improve their condition in spite of whatever economic, social and political conditions prevail about them and that whatever humans have gained in the recent past 300 years was independent of competitive capitalism. When people are uncomfortable they try to make themselves comfortable even if its illegal for them to do so. Please describe your counterarguement if you want to claim that the majority of human development (globally) since the time of the American Revolution has primarily been due to the introduction of freedom/capitalism. The vast majority of humanity is still impoverished without access to clean drinking water, electricity, health care, sanitary living conditions and its just getting worse. So, I’m not sure what sort of human development you are referring to. Instead of aristocrats taking all the wealth, we have the 1% taking it all at the expense of everyone else. How is that an improvement? The Trickle Down Theory has been proven over and over to be a lie! And, there are conservatives all over in this country working hard to erode our freedoms to impose their values on the rest of us and yet they complain the most vociferously about nanny/intrusive government.