Friday, September 24, 2010

H.R.2136 - Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act

What is it?

An act introduced (on 05/03/07) to restrict the use of offshore tax havens and abusive tax shelters to inappropriately avoid Federal taxation, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Lloyd Doggett D-TX

Co-sponsored by 47 other Reps...(please note: not ONE was Republican)

Actions:

May 3rd/07 Referred to House Judiciary

May 3rd/07 Referred to House Financial Services

May 3rd/07 Referred to House Ways and Means

May 3rd/07 Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committees on Financial Services, and the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

May 3rd/07 Introduced in House

Jun 4th/07 Last action: Referred to the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.

Dead in the water...
Maybe because it requires the Secretary of the Treasury to publish a final rule requiring unregistered investment companies, including hedge funds or private equity funds, to establish anti-money laundering programs and to submit suspicious activity reports.

Henry Merritt "Hank" Paulson, Jr. served as the 74th United States Treasury Secretary (under Bush from 06 to 09). He previously served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.

Timothy Franz Geithner is the 75th and current United States Secretary of the Treasury (under Obama). He was previously the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He played a supporting role to Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, in the decision to bail out AIG just two days after deciding not to rescue Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy. According to some observers, Geithner severely damaged the U.S. economy.

Geithner believes along with Henry Paulson, that the United States Department of the Treasury needs new authority to experiment with responses to the financial crisis of 2007–2010 (...during both their tenures...). Paulson has described Geithner as "[a] very unusually talented young man...[who] understands government and understands markets."

Yeah, so will all of us when we do some research to see who has more than a few tax havens. You can view the entire act here: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-h2136/text


The only information in I could locate on this subject since it died in referral was from local papers during election season on Congressional candidates that had offshore holdings like, Vernon G. "Vern" Buchanan, Republican Congressman representing Florida's 13th congressional district.

So why on earth was it referred to the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property? Intellectual property deals with patents and several bills introduced in the 110th Congress address the recently recognized phenomenon of patented tax strategies. These legislative initiatives respond in different ways to the grant of exclusive intellectual property rights by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on methods that individuals and enterprises might use in order to minimize their tax obligations.

Wikileaks article release: Patents on Tax Strategies: Issues in Intellectual Property and Innovation
http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL34221_20080110.pdf

Reminder - this election season when Republicans want to extend Bush Tax Cuts - you may want to consider they've been getting more than enough through the loopholes their corporate sugar daddies have created, by manipulating the law during the time Bush was in office. Don't forget how we got here.

Ready for real change?

(Additional sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/)

  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Moments of grace


This post is one part movie recommendation and  discourse. As a photographer I enjoy visually stunning movies and as a writer, I like good scripts that bring perfect harmony to the images.

You may see a post like this from time to time, especially when I feel that a film is artistically significant to current social/cultural events. [And, it is The Refreshment Center, after all!] One of my favorite past-times is viewing a great film and discussing it afterward. Bad movies are fun to discuss, too but rarely do they leave a mark like a great film is apt to do.

Several years ago, I watched the movie "Children of Men". I highly recommend viewing and promise the following synopsis won't spoil the experience. (Release year 2006) From IMDB: "In 2027, in a chaotic world in which humans can no longer procreate, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea, where her child's birth may help scientists save the future of humankind."

I've been thinking a lot about this movie recently after seeing it a second time online. I was struck with the same feeling that was difficult to describe. Upon first viewing, my mind was reeling with thoughts about the attitudes of western society, the apathy that runs rampant when given so many choices and the bombardment of the psyche to consume, consume, consume rather than create, build or dream. Basically, the state of mind of the world today has very little to do with being thoughtful, gracious, kind or sympathetic. Very feminine qualities some might say but I put to you that these are qualities of all human beings.

When the movie was over, I was struck in such a way that I had to jot down a quote that came off the top of my head. It is my intent to describe how a film brought me to this thought and provide some context to what follows.

"Moments of grace are short lived in the world of man."

The future portrayed in the film is not one too far off if we do not become thoughtful, gracious, kind and sympathetic human beings who care for it and for others who share it with us. Lots of things are broken and it is alright to be angry about it. It's possible to repair a lot if we use that anger in a positive way, to build rather than destroy and stand up rather than take things sitting down. And stop praying on your knees for something to happen...YOU have to happen. Because WE have to happen.

Who am I talking to? All my fellow citizens, some formerly known as the 'middle class' (or as lovingly referred to by corporate fat cats, the 'small people'). Those savvy, hard working folks that have a little more time on their hands than they'd prefer. Those people who struggled to pay for a college degree and are busing tables or still looking for work. Those who may be lamenting this past Labor Day for the lack of good paying labor jobs.

You have skills and they are needed. It's a good time to shift our thinking about 'labor' to 'work we've always wanted to do'...or to put it another way: the work we were meant to do. Those things we dreamed of doing and need to focus some time on when we feel the least bit down. Write, paint, sing...join or start a community project or garden. Lend your talents to your city or hometown. Engage locally. If you feel your talents in organizing and planning are going to waste, plan meetings and gather concerned citizens to a cause. I can guarantee you will not be alone in your concern.

My advice during election time is to tune out the radio, TV and seek information in places you never thought to seek it before. Just because it is easy to turn on the television or a radio doesn't mean what is coming out of it is right or good. You can choose to clean and clear the media sludge in your mind that gets left there by corporations pimping goods to all us obedient pharma dumpsters or greedy politicians and their consumer guilt trips. I chose to get rid of my television almost two years ago and I began to focus on what I loved to do. My mind and my life changed for the better...no gadget, car, political party or pill can do that.

You can choose not to listen to idle gossip and drama between people who would rather not be above their little ego's reality TV show dictates. Choose to be tired of molehills becoming mountains while the rich get richer, the middle class disappears and the Gulf is dying. Choose to be tired of no talent, bubble-headed heiresses slowly morphing into poisonous role models while parents weren't paying attention to what their kids were watching because they were too busy listening to a bubble-headed politician that wants to ban literature.

Yes, I'm referring to Palin. What she isn't bright enough to figure out is the little first amendment blow back that's such a pisser for Neocons but good for book sales...if you want to read a really great book, just pick one from a banned book list. (Aunt Gabby says: have fun kids!)

I've heard it said it takes a village to raise a child...and too often, the village has allowed the TV to be the babysitter. But haven't we become the children to an extent? Do we no longer have a village? I challenge all who read this to spend a week away from the television, radio, internet and reconnect with your kids and young family members. More importantly for them in the long run, reconnect with nature, a good book...reconnect with yourself! The slick, pretty, screaming heads on the screen will tell you nothing more...and they will keep selling until they buy you out of what's left of your own mind.

How important would television be if humankind experienced an economic collapse tomorrow? What if we don't remember how to fall back on our own thinking, were never taught to rely on our own wits or never allowed any of our true abilities to shine out? I've often wondered what some Wall Street bankers wanted to be when they grew up; that is, if their paths hadn't already been chosen. It's historical fact that during the Great Depression, many bankers jumped out of windows to their death because they ruined the economy and the lives of millions...or could it be it was because they lost their own shirts? I guess we'll never know but the difference now is that these swine jump with golden parachutes.

So what do you have? When you think for yourself, go with your gut and trust your heart...what you will have are those things 'corporate persons' do not and they and no one else can never take from you:

Wings.

Want to fly? Stop giving consent for your wings to be clipped.

"Moments of grace are short lived in the world of man." - (Know what I mean?)

  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Power of Nightmares

posted by Gabrielle Jones-Price

I watched this series about a month ago and it really shined a bright light on how the Neocon/Neoliberal 'experiment' began to grip this country and turned the American politic into the most illogical, morally bankrupt system known to man. The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear is a 2004 television documentary series by Adam Curtis.

"When fascism comes to America, it will be draped in a flag and carrying a cross." ~ Sinclair Lewis