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Aug 30 2014

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Robert L. Borosage: Labor Day Reality: A Broad Middle Class Requires Strong Unions

On Labor Day weekend, we bid the summer goodbye. Families picnic; children play hard, knowing the school year is upon them. Politicians pay tribute to workers and to the rewards of hard work.

But this Labor Day, workers are struggling to stay afloat. Incomes haven’t gone up in the 21st century. Inequality reaches new extremes. A record portion of our national income goes to corporate profits, while a record low goes into workers’ wages. Three-fourths of Americans fear their children will fare less well than they have. This Labor Day, we should do more than celebrate workers — we should understand how vital empowering workers and reviving worker unions is to rebuilding a broad middle class.

The raging debate on inequality and its remedies often omits discussion of unions and workers’ power. Our extreme inequality is attributed largely to globalization and technology that have transformed our economy. Remedies focus on better education and more training, with liberals supporting fair taxes to help pay the freight.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Looks Like The ‘Burger King’s’ Subjects Are Royally Pissed Off

Tolstoy wrote in War and Peace that “kings are the slaves of history.” And when the “king” in question depends on the patronage of happy customers for his well-being, his monarchy is also a slave to public opinion. Unfortunately for Burger King, which intends to renounce its American status for tax purposes, neither history nor public opinion is on its side.

In fact, if social media is any gauge, the Burger King’s American subjects are downright pissed. [..]

What’s more, the fast-food monarch isn’t just losing the serfs and rabble-rousers. Even reliable royalists like Sir Joe of Scarborough are whispering of rebellion. That’s right: Conservative talk show host Joe Scarborough endorsed the idea of a Burger King boycott on his morning talk show, saying “I think a lot of Americans are should not go Burger King again if they’re going cheat on their taxes.” [..]

That’s not the kind of commentary any corporation wants, especially a publicly-traded one. Soon its investors will be beseeching the King of Burgers: Turn back, Sire, before it is too late. Otherwise Burger King may be forced to learn the lesson England’s George III was taught in 1776: Americans bend the knee to no foreign monarch, even if he offers chicken fries on the side.

David Sirota: Should Companies Have to Pay Taxes?

Reading companies’ annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission is a reliable cure for insomnia. Every so often, though, there is a significant revelation in the paperwork. This year, one of the most important revelations came from Microsoft’s filings, which spotlighted how the tax code allows corporations to enjoy the benefits of American citizenship yet avoid paying U.S. taxes.

According to the SEC documents, the company is sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it is keeping offshore. That amount of money represents a significant spike from prior years.

To put this in perspective, the levies the company would owe amount to almost the entire two-year operating budget of the company’s home state of Washington.

Dave Johnson: Why Fight for Unions? So We Can Fight an Economy Rigged Against Us

The other day I wrote about how FedEx has been pretending that their employees are not employees, which gets around labor standards for things like overtime, family leave and the rest.

This misclassification game is just one way that big companies have been rigging the rules to give themselves an edge, getting around what We the People set down for our democracy.

The result, of course, is even more people paid even less with even worse working conditions. And the bad players get an advantage that drives out the good ones.

Like misclassification, this game-rigging, cheating, edge-seeking, rule-bypassing stuff is everywhere you look. (Rigged trade deals, corporate tax “deferral” and inversions, corporate campaign donations, too-big-to-fail banks, congressional obstruction, etc., etc…) This rigging of the game in favor of the ultra-wealthy gets worse and worse.

Richard Reeves: Labor Day-You Remember ‘Labor,’ Don’t You?

I woke up last Thursday morning to learn that my FedEx man does not work for FedEx. Voices on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” informed me that although FedEx controls just about every minute of its drivers’ days, the corporation regards them as “independent contractors.”

Thus, no benefits-they even have to pay for their own uniforms-and the workers can be kicked out anytime FedEx feels like it. [..]

 So, I would argue, Labor Day is a farce. Even public employees-read Wisconsin!-are losing what security America offers. At the minimum, the first Monday in September should be called “Reagan Day,” or the date should be changed to Aug. 3 and the holiday called “PATCO Day.” That was the day in 1981 that President Reagan stated that if members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization-the only union that endorsed him in the 1980 presidential election-did not return to work, they would be fired. They did not return and they were fired. Corporate America got the message, and private-sector unions were marked for death.

Now, that is what we celebrate on Labor Day: the rise of management and the death of organized labor.

Eugene Robinson: Have We Gone to War Again?

I’d like to know whether the United States is at war with the Islamic State. I’d like to know why-or why not. I’d like to know whether the goal of U.S. policy is to contain the jihadist militia or destroy it.

President Obama? Members of Congress? Please pay attention. I’m talking to you.

The barbarians who decapitated journalist James Foley-and who commit   atrocities on a daily basis-control territory in both Iraq and Syria. I’d like to know why it makes sense to conduct airstrikes against Islamic State fighters on one side of a border that no longer exists but makes no sense to do so on the other side.