Jim Hightower - Should giant corporations pay taxes they owe?

Carl Icahn, noted corporate predator and takeover specialist who made billions of dollars in corporate deals, has recently begun pushing a charitable cause involving a group of people who, through no fault of their own, are being forced out of America. Syrian migrants who've lost everything, you ask? Or maybe Central American children fleeing the horrors of drug wars? Nope, none of those foreign sob stories for Icahn. Rather, he weeps for the incomprehensible suffering of a small tribe of Americans, namely: the CEOs of several U.S.-based multinational corporations.

You see, Carl is fronting for CEOs of a small group of huge multinational conglomerates who are demanding that Congress drastically slash the taxes they owe on foreign sales of their products. This "reform" would let them escape paying most of the $600 billion in taxes that U.S. law assesses on some $2.6 trillion in profits they've been hiding in foreign bank accounts and offshore tax havens. Three-fourths of these hidden profits belong to only 50 enormously profitable corporations.

In a recent heart-wrenching op-ed, he wails that poor superrich chieftains of such profiteering giants as Pfizer pharmaceuticals are having to move their corporate domains abroad, having been driven out of the USA by "our uncompetitive tax code." These American-raised corporations have been raking in enormous profits on foreign sales, but the CEOs have whined that those profits should be exempt from U.S. taxation, since they're taxed by the countries where their products are sold.

In fact, their "double taxation" claim is a fraud, for most of that $2.6 trillion in profits is subject to zero in taxes. These rank corporate tax dodgers are starving America's essential public services of $600 billion they owe us taxpayers, yet Icahn sobs in print that they are the victims.

If these trillions are brought back home, he explains, they'll be taxed — so, don't you see, this "forces" CEOs to desert the U.S., moving their corporate citizenship to a place that doesn't make them pay for public services.
Putting the $600 billion they owe into America's public treasury would fund a lot of education, infrastructure repair, green energy, social services, etc. that our people desperately need. But Icahn & co. claim that forgiving this corporate tax debt "would allow companies to reinvest ... in the United States, creating thousands of jobs." Notice that verb, "allow." They could put this tax windfall into job-creating and U.S. investments — but Icahn does not want Congress to require any sort of patriotic use of the money.

Stop the cruelty, Carl says. America must let the CEOs "repatriate" their foreign bounty by essentially forgiving the taxes they owe on it. That way, the corporations get to keep the money, and America gets to keep the corporations.

Carl even asserts that the corporate elites are "completely justified" in leaving America if they aren't given this tax boondoggle. After all, he says, CEOs "have a fiduciary duty to enhance value for their shareholders."

Haven't we seen this movie before? Ah, yes: It was in the 2008 tragi-comic, multitrillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street banks and big corporations. They said that if Washington rescued them, they would then invest in Main Street and in middle-class jobs. We did; and they didn't. They lied then, and the Icahn hucksters are lying to us now.

I would trust a pack of coyotes to guard my little herd of lambs before I'd trust a pack of corporate hucksters to "reform" America's tax code. Congress has a moral imperative to serve not the few who are big corporate shareholders but to enhance value for all people — for the common good. For information and action, go to www.AmericansForTaxFairness.org.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 482

Susan Estrich - The Donald vs. Big Bill

Not satisfied with hurling sexist invectives at Hillary Clinton, the Donald has turned his ire on her husband, the former president, claiming he has "a terrible record of women abuse."

Really? Does anyone recall Bill Clinton ridiculing women reporters (as Trump did with Megyn Kelly), insulting the looks of a female candidate (as Trump did with Carly Fiorina) and introducing a generation to Jewish slang for a male organ (his description of Barack Obama's '08 defeat of Hillary Clinton)?

The only reason Donald Trump is a viable candidate for the Republican nomination is because white men dominate Republican primaries and caucuses. They do not dominate general elections. Donald Trump has most "professional" Republicans — the kind who run and fund and organize campaigns — shaking in their boots, because every group except white men is overwhelmingly against Donald Trump.

Women: check. Trump has the biggest gender gap of any candidate in the race. African-Americans: check. They prefer Clinton over Trump by a margin of nearly 10 to 1. Hispanics, one of the fastest growing demographic groups, overwhelmingly oppose Trump, likely because of his over-the-top rhetoric slamming immigrants as rapists and criminals. Interestingly, Asians, who might be expected to lean Republican because of their rising economic status, don't seem to be doing so this time around. It appears that they identify more as immigrants than as new members of the upper-middle-class Republican base.

No wonder Trump is attacking Bill Clinton.

The only problem is that Bill Clinton isn't running for president. And if he were, he would trounce Trump.

No question: The 2008 campaign was a tough one for the Clintons. The media was in love with Obama, in much the same way they'd been in love with Bill Clinton himself back in 1991-1992.

They were largely giving Obama a free ride, and the former president was much angrier on behalf of his wife than she was. I remember, the night before the Iowa caucus, the Clintons arrived late at their hotel, which — perhaps someone's idea of a joke — happened to be the same hotel Fox News had been assigned. Hillary greeted the crowd that formed in the lobby pleasantly and then said goodnight. Her husband stayed, posing for pictures with everyone who wanted one, and when he was done, gave me chapter and verse detailing the unfair coverage of the campaign so far. Anyone who doubts the strength of the bond between the two Clintons need only have listened to that conversation to be convinced.
And what about Monica Lewinsky, whose name, thanks to the Donald, is once again in papers everywhere because of his comments? Yes, Bill Clinton had an inappropriate sexual relationship with Lewinsky nearly 20 years ago. And he paid the price for it, politically. But his wife had nothing to do with it. And while it might have been true back in 2000 that many women were troubled she stayed with him, she won the Senate race that year with strong support from women.

Of course the former president is going to campaign on behalf of his wife. I have yet to meet a Democratic running for any office in recent years whose first choice for a "surrogate" to raise money or to campaign wasn't Bill Clinton. So he'll be out there, as he should be, as wives have been doing for decades, helping his spouse get elected.

But at the end of the day, Hillary is the one running for president, not Bill. And what could be more sexist than an opponent who (even if out of desperation) ignores the female candidate and aims his fire instead at her husband — as if Bill is the one running, as if Hillary is responsible for his sex life?

Happy New Year in these interesting times.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 755

Visiting a scene of devastation

By Gordon DuBois

On Aug. 15, 2011, a tropical depression exited off the North African coast. Over several days it gained strength, and emerged near the North American coastline as a tropical depression and was later upgraded to a hurricane named Irene. Irene approached the Outer Banks of North Carolina and slowly progressed up the eastern seaboard, moving into Vermont and New Hampshire on Aug. 29, when it was downgraded to an extra tropical depression. However, even though Irene weakened, it remained a powerful storm with sustained winds of up to 50 mph and dumping more than 11 inches of rain in the White Mountains.

This massive amount of rain caused tremendous damage to roads and bridges throughout the state, especially in the White Mountain National Forest, where many trails and roads were obliterated. Gov. Lynch declared a state of emergency. The storm caused over $10 million worth of damage to the White Mountain National Forest. The aftermath of Irene is legendary and the scars caused by this storm can still be seen today.

A few weeks ago, with hiking partners Dave Unger and Fran Maineri and, of course, Reuben, we visited one of the vestiges of Irene, a slide on the west facing slope of the ridge running between Hancock Mountain and its trailless neighbor, NW Hancock. I have climbed Hancock several times, but the main goal this time was to summit NW Hancock, a seldom-climbed peak that can only be reached by bushwhacking a mile along the ridge connecting the two mountains.

Our route would take us along the Hancock Notch Trail to the Cedar Brook Trail and then to the Hancock Loop Trail, which would bring us to the summit of Mt. Hancock. From here we would bushwhack, following a north westerly track, along the ridge to the summit of NW Hancock.

We then planned to hike down the western side of the ridge, following the slide created by Irene, and eventually back to the Cedar Brook trail that would bring us back to our waiting vehicle.

We began our hike at 7 a.m., knowing we would most likely be hiking out of the woods well past nightfall. We followed our planned route arriving at the summit of Hancock, stopping to grab a snack and admiring the limited view. We changed into our shells, knowing that the bushwhack would be wet with melting snow falling from the scrub pines we had to plow through.

Following our short break, we dove into the woods following a herd path a short distance which disappeared after only a few minutes of hiking. We broke out the compasses and pushed on toward our mountain destination. It I took us almost two hours to cross the 1-mile ridge, where we found the canister that marks the summit of NW Hancock.

We lingered for a while, signing the register, eating lunch and discussing our climb down the ridge, to the infamous slide. Fran, Dave and I followed our track back along the ridge to where we thought the slide would be found below. We made our way through thick woods and blow downs, until we reached the top of the slide.

It appeared to us as a clearing, until Fran took one too many steps and found himself falling into the ravine which marked the upper most part of the slide. This is where the deluge from Irene hit the side of the mountain and was then funneled down through this narrow ravine, opening a huge swath of rock and gravel.

We were awestruck by the size of the gouge in the side of the mountain. The immense force of the wall of water rushing down the mountain side caused whole trees, boulders, gravel to wash down the ridge. As we began our decent, sliding and slipping on the loose scree and rock, we found ourselves in a canyon of destruction.  A section of the mountain had been wiped out in a matter of a few hours by the heavy rain. The terrain had been permanently altered. It is now a barren slope of gravel and rock.

We did notice that the woodland was attempting a comeback. Small trees and grasses were inching their way into the chasm of the slide. We stopped often to marvel at the destruction caused by Irene, amazed at the force of water as it charged down the mountain, permanently changing the topography. However, our gazing had to be limited as time was running short and sunset was approaching. We didn’t want to be on the slide trying to scramble along in the darkness with only our headlamps to light our way.

We did succeed in making it to the Cedar Brook trail before total darkness enveloped us. Once on the trail, we strapped on our head lamps and started our 4-mile trek back to the car.

It was another rewarding hike, finding the summit of NW Hancock, a seldom climbed summit, and then climbing down the slide of NW Hancock that Irene created.


Gordon has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondacks of New York State. In 2011 he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles). He has also hiked the Long Trail in VT, The International AT in Quebec, Canada, Cohos Trail in northern NH and the John Muir Trail in CA. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest. He spends much of his time hiking in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben. He especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity of his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders) and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 607

Roche Realty reports sales in excess of $126-million for 2015.

By Frank Roche

Roche Realty Group Inc. is proud to report sales volume in excess of $126 million for the 12 months ending Dec. 31, 2015. The firm experienced an increase of 42 percent in sales volume compared to the previous year. The company had a total of 485 transaction sides. The sales of $126 million represents our second highest year in total sales volume in the company's 24-year history.
I attribute this exceptional year to all our real estate agents and our dedicated support and marketing staff. Their commitment to superior service and their hard work, day-in and day-out, certainly made things happen. The company averaged $2.43 million in sales volume per week during the 12-month period in 2015.
Since 1997 Roche Realty Group has sold over $1.66 billion of New Hampshire properties, involving 6,223 transaction sides, and has ranked in the top 10 real estate firms in the entire state of New Hampshire out of 2,247 firms statewide reporting sales during this 19-year period.
The company produced a very strong showing in 2015 in waterfront sales on many of the lakes throughout the Lakes Region. Likewise, the semi-retirement and second home markets also produced strong results with a large number of cash transactions fueled by a recovering economy. Communities such as South Down Shores, Long Bay, Natures View, Samoset, Misty Harbor, Patrician Shores and other water access communities throughout the region showed exceptional activity.
As a 39-year veteran of Lakes Region real estate, I'm proud the company has continued to maintain a group of very knowledgeable and experienced real estate agents. We've also been fortunate to have several younger associates join our firm who have had an exceptional year. I'm particularly proud that the firm has grown consistently on its own, unaffiliated with any major real estate companies or franchises. We always want to stay a local, family-owned, independent firm.
This year we invested a significant amount to improve our worldwide Internet exposure. We've continually upgraded our website, www.rocherealty.com, our Internet optimization and our marketing presence on approximately 80 national and international websites. Through our worldwide connections with LuxuryRealEstate.com, LuxuryHomes.com and other portals we've increased our market reach immensely; www.rocherealty.com is one the most visited websites in the Lakes Region.
When you consider that 2004 was the record year in New Hampshire for sales volume in its history, and Roche Realty Group sold a record $131 million that year, we're not far behind at $126 million this year. It's been a slow, steady recovery and all of us are so grateful that the Lakes Region is a true four-season community with so much to offer.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at 279-7046.

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 1075

Pat Buchanan - Is the Western world disintegrating?

On Jan. 1, 2002, the day that euro coins and banknotes entered into circulation, my column, "Say Goodbye to the Mother Continent," contained this pessimistic prognosis: "This European superstate will not endure, but break apart on the barrier reef of nationalism. For when the hard times come, patriots will recapture control of their national destinies from Brussels bureaucrats to whom no one will ever give loyalty or love."

The column described what was already happening.

"Europe is dying. There is not a single nation in all of Europe with a birth rate sufficient to keep its population alive, except Muslim Albania. In 17 European nations, there are already more burials than births, more coffins than cradles.

"Between 2000 and 2050, Asia, Africa and Latin America will add 3 billion to 4 billion people — 30 to 40 new Mexicos! — as Europe loses the equal of the entire population of Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

"By 2050, the median age in Europe will be 50, nine years older than the oldest nation on earth today, Japan. One in 10 Europeans will be over 80. And who will take care of these scores of millions of elderly, before the Dutch doctors arrive at the nursing home?

"Immigrants is the answer, immigrants already pouring into Europe in the hundreds of thousands annually from the Middle East and Africa, changing the character of the Old Continent. Just as Europe once invaded and colonized Asia, Africa and the Near East, the once-subject peoples are coming to colonize the mother countries. And as the Christian churches of Europe empty out, the mosques are going up.

"Yet, even as great nations like France, Germany, Italy and Spain grow weary of the strain of staying independent, sovereign and free, the sub-nations within are struggling to be born again. In Scotland, Wales, Ulster, Corsica, the Basque country and northern Italy are secessionist movements not unlike those that broke up Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union into 24 independent nations."

What was predicted, 14 years ago, has come to pass.

Migrants into Germany from the Middle and Near East reached 1 million in 2015. EU bribes to the Turks to keep Muslim migrants from crossing over to the Greek islands, thence into the Balkans and Central Europe, are unlikely to stop the flood.

My prediction that European "patriots will recapture control of their national destinies," looks even more probable today.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who almost lost a referendum on Scottish secession, is demanding a return of British sovereignty from the EU sufficient to satisfy his countrymen, who have been promised a vote on whether to abandon the European Union altogether.

Marine Le Pen's anti-EU National Front ran first in the first round of the 2015 French elections. Many Europeans believe she will make it into the final round of the next presidential election in 2017.
Anti-immigrant, right-wing parties are making strides all across Europe, as the EU is bedeviled by a host of crises.

Europe's open borders that facilitate free trade also assure freedom of travel to homegrown terrorists.

Mass migration into the EU is causing member nations to put up checkpoints and close borders. The Schengen Agreement on the free movement of goods and people is being ignored or openly violated.

The economic and cultural clash between a rich northern Europe and a less affluent south — Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal — manifest in the bad blood between Athens and Berlin, endures.

Northern Europeans grow weary of repeated bailouts of a south that chafes at constant northern demands for greater austerity.

Then there is the surge of sub-nationalism, as in Scotland, Catalonia, Flanders, and Veneto, where peoples seek to disconnect from distant capitals that no longer speak for them, and reconnect with languages, traditions and cultures that give more meaning to their lives than the economics-uber-alles ideology of Frau Angela Merkel.

Moreover, the migrants entering Europe, predominantly Islamic and Third World, are not assimilating as did the European and largely Christian immigrants to America of a century ago. The enclaves of Asians in Britain, Africans and Arabs around Paris, and Turks in and around Berlin seem to be British, French and German in name only. And some of their children are now heeding the call to jihad against the Crusaders invading Muslim lands.

The movement toward deeper European integration appears to have halted, and gone into reverse, as the EU seems to be unraveling along ideological, national, tribal and historic lines.

If these trends continue, and they seem to have accelerated in 2015, the idea of a United States of Europe dies, and with it the EU.

And this raises a question about the most successful economic and political union in history — the USA.

How does an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual, multicultural United States avoid the fate to which Europe appears to be headed, when there is no identifiable racial or ethnic majority here in 2042?

Are our own political and racial divisions disappearing, or do they, too, seem to be deepening?

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 635