Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Chaplin’

yoThis well-researched article gives the lie to those that argue that corporate tax rates in America are too high, and continually blame the state of the economy on welfare recipients and the unemployed. If you tire of hearing this nonsense parroted daily by right wing politicians and commentators, I suggest you share this post widely with your friends.

What is bizarre is that here in Australia, and in the UK, American corporations are coming under increasing fire for not paying any taxes locally either. So one is obliged to ask, where is all the money going?

From RT.com

Twenty-six of the most powerful American corporations – such as Boeing, General Electric, and Verizon – paid no federal income tax from 2008 to 2012, according to a new report detailing how Fortune 500 companies exploit tax breaks and loopholes.

The report, conducted by public advocacy group Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), focuses on the 288 companies in the Fortune 500 that registered consistent profit every year from 2008 to 2012. Those 288 profitable corporations paid an “effective federal income tax rate of just 19.4 percent over the five-year period — far less than the statutory 35 percent tax rate,” CTJ states.

One-third, or 93, of the analysed companies paid an effective tax rate below 10 percent in that timespan, CTJ found.

Defenders of low corporate taxes call the US federal statutory rate of 35 percent one of the highest companies face in any nation. But the report signals how the most formidable corporate entities in the US take advantage of tax breaks, loopholes, and accounting schemes to keep their effective rates down.

“Tax subsidies for the 288 companies over the five years totaled a staggering $364 billion, including $56 billion in 2008, $70 billion in 2009, $80 billion in 2010, $87 billion in 2011, and $70 billion in 2012,” CTJ states. “These amounts are the difference between what the companies would have paid if their tax bills equaled 35 percent of their profits and what they actually paid.”

Just 25 of the 288 companies kept tax breaks of $174 billion out of the $364 billion total. Wells Fargo received the largest amount of tax subsidies – $21.6 billion – in the five-year period. The banking giant was joined in the top ten on that list by the likes of AT&T, ExxonMobil, J.P Morgan Chase, and Wal-Mart.

AFP Photo / Etienne FranchiAFP Photo / Etienne Franchi

 

About 1 in 11 of the 288 companies paid a zero percent effective federal income tax rate in the five years considered.

Pepco Holdings – which supplies utility services to Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey – paid a cumulative five-year effective rate of -33 percent, the lowest of any company in that period.

In fact, utilities came out particularly well among other industries.

Reuters / Jonathan ErnstReuters / Jonathan Ernst

 

“The sectors with the lowest effective corporate tax rates over the five-year period were utilities (2.9 percent), industrial machinery (4.3 percent), telecommunications (9.8 percent), oil, gas and pipelines (14.4 percent), transportation (16.4 percent), aerospace and defense (16.7 percent) and financial (18.8 percent),” CTJ reported.

CTJ said the companies are allowed to pay such low federal rates based on factors that include offshore tax sheltering, accelerated asset depreciation based on continued investment, stock options, and industry-specific tax breaks.

“Of those corporations in our sample with significant offshore profits, two thirds paid higher corporate tax rates to foreign governments where they operate than they paid in the U.S. on their U.S. profits,” according to CTJ.

The non-profit group says this lax taxation climate among the most powerful US corporations comes amid an aggressive push by lobby and trade groups on Capitol Hill “to reduce the federal corporate income tax rate, based on the claim that our corporate tax is uncompetitively high compared to other developed nations.”

Just this week, US House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (Republican) introduced a tax reform proposal that would lower the maximum federal effective tax rate to 25 percent.

Though, tellingly, this aspect of the plan – among other attempts at bipartisan consensus in the proposal – renders it no chance of even getting a hearing in the Republican-dominated House during a mid-term election year, when such a conciliatory offering can be used as a cudgel against disapproving conservatives.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) (AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla)House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) (AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla)

 

Companies have already disputed CTJ’s report, saying that the study only looks at federal income taxes while ignoring other tax burdens they face, such as on the state and local level. In addition, the companies say low effective rates are part of congressional attempts to offer tax relief to corporate America in order to create larger economic opportunity.

To reverse low corporate federal tax rates, CTJ recommends Congress end corporations’ ability to “defer” taxes on offshore profits; limit use of executive stock options that reduce taxes by “generating phantom ‘costs’” the companies don’t really incur; end accelerated depreciation opportunities; restore the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax; and strengthen corporate income and tax disclosure regulations.

“These findings refute the prevailing view inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway that America’s corporate income tax is more burdensome than the corporate income taxes levied by other countries, and that this purported (but false) excess burden somehow makes the U.S. ‘uncompetitive,’” CTJ concluded.

Centralised wealth creating socialists more effectively than any socialist speaker ... some things haven't changed much since the early 20th century. Indeed, the trend continues.

Centralised wealth creating socialists more effectively than any socialist speaker … some things haven’t changed much since the early 20th century. Indeed, the trend accelerates.

Researching some photos to illustrate this article, and as luck would have it, I came across Charlie Chaplin’s astonishing cry from the heart in The Great Dictator, (see below), calling in both despair and hope for a better world.

It’s a dry old subject, but cracking down on tax avoidance and more equitably sharing the burden of creating a fair and just society would be a good start to creating a world that everyone can enjoy.

The power of centralised wealth is reaching epic proportions, greater than at any time in humanity’s modern history.

One does not have to hark back to the trade union-dominated era of much of the Western world post-WWII, nor to toy with ideas of reviving nationalisation and  government-owned enterprises (although in Australia renewed Government ownership of Qantas should be considered in return for taxpayer support) to see that the current situation is a million miles from the idealistic dreams of a participatory, share-owning democracy where capitalism would produce widespread wealth.

Concepts of “trickle down” economics from low-tax regimes have been comprehensively debunked as nonsense. I am a fan of markets that are as free as practically possible, but what business needs to face up to is that with freedom comes responsibility.

Where the Directors and Boards of massive corporations devote the bulk of their time to avoiding tax rather than growing their businesses, democratic Government must intervene to correct the balance.

If they do not, the reaction will be severe. The people are beginning to work it out: machine men with machine minds and machine hearts – be warned.

 

You, the people, have the power. Look up. Look up. Naive? Perhaps. But it is wonderfully, inspirationally naive. Little wonder the “powers that be” in America hated Chaplin with a passion. If you haven’t seen it before, I warmly recommend it.

New to Game of Thrones? You'll be needing this. And the pause button.

New to Game of Thrones? You’ll be needing this. And the pause button.

Just two hours after it launched in the US, Series 3 of Game of Thrones has broken like a small tsunami on the shores of Australia, delivering Foxtel two whopping great ratings wins with its 4.30 pm and then 8.30 pm showings on Easter Monday.

Providing one doesn’t take it at all seriously, the show is just sheer delight. Almost every character is uniquely wonderful, murderous, humourous, or just plain yummy to look at. There’s great quantities of completely gratuitous nudity, sex, and sword-slashing violence, highly original set and costume design, smart writing and labyrinthine plotting – not to mention dragons, did we say dragons? – all of which set the series apart. Dammit, even the opening credits are cool.

Interestingly, the show also showcases two young women who I reckon will become major stars. As the last time I did this is was to pick Keira Knightley in Bend It Like Beckham and Police as the next mega-band (on one hearing of Roxanne), I recommend you pay attention.

Born in Madrid, she spent her childhood mostly in Spain, Switzerland and Cuba, but also travelled often because of her mother's film career. She started dancing ballet, salsa and flamenco at an early age.

Born in Madrid, she spent her childhood mostly in Spain, Switzerland and Cuba, but also travelled often because of her mother’s film career. She started dancing ballet, salsa and flamenco at an early age.

The first is Oona Castilla Chaplin, born 4 June 1986, who is a Spanish actress. Yes, you’ve heard that name before.

She is indeed the grand-daughter of filmmaker Charlie Chaplin and the great-grand-daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill.

When Chaplin was fifteen, she went to study at Gordonstoun in Scotland on a drama scholarship. During her time there, she appeared in several school plays, touring England in an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and impersonating her grandfather in the role of Bottom in an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was performed at the Edinburgh International Festival. After leaving Gordonstoun, she was accepted to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, from where she graduated in 2007.

After graduating from RADA, Chaplin has acted in mainly British and Spanish short and feature films. She has played alongside her mother in three feature films: Inconceivable, ¿Para qué sirve un oso? and Imago Mortis.

Chaplin has also had several supporting roles in British and American television. In 2010, she appeared as a Brazilian cage dancer in ITV’s Married Single Other (2010), followed by roles as the wife of one of the main characters, Hector Madden, in the BBC period drama The Hour (2011–2012), as Dr. Watson’s girlfriend in an episode of Sherlock (2012) and now as Talisa in Game of Thrones.

Ms Chaplin appears to have inherited her grandfather’s astonishing facility with the camera, not to mention her mother’s graceful screen presence as well. It’s something about this family’s eyes. As she moves through her scenes, she seems, blessedly, entirely unaware of the camera and is thus utterly convincing. Oh, and yes, she is drop dead gorgeous. Expect to see much more of her.

The second is Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie, a Scottish actress born in Aberdeen on 9 February 1987.

rose

Rose Leslie grew up – apparently in some comfort – in Lickleyhead Castle, the family’s 15th century ancestral seat. Her father is the Aberdeenshire Chieftain of Clan Leslie, Sebastian Arbuthnot-Leslie. Goodness.

Rose is the third of five children. As well as Lickleyhead Castle where she grew up her parents own the 12th century Warthill Castle in Rayne, Aberdeenshire, as well. She attended first the local primary school in Rayne and then the very exclusive (and pro-arts) Millfield School before spending three years (2005–2008) at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Leslie made her debut in the 2009 TV film New Town, for which she won the Scottish BAFTA for Best Acting Performance (New Talent) Award. In September and October 2010, she appeared at the Globe Theatre in Nell Leyshon’s play Bedlam and memorably appeared in the role of Gwen, a housemaid, in the first series of the adored 2010 ITV television drama Downton Abbey. She certainly knows how to select winning vehicles for her work.

As the wildling Ygritte in Game of Thrones she combines a winning way with accents – I pick impeccable Yorkshire – and a presence which is both winsome, dangerous, challenging, amusing and sensual.

She is blessed with that most wonderful of gifts for an actor, a face and manner which is both highly attractive and yet not “standard fair”; it’s a long, proud visage, strong nose and chin, breathtaking blue eyes, a ready smile and a mane of exquisite red hair.

She is definitely not the girl next door. Although if she was, you’d probably be moving in next door post haste.

There are innumerable other beautiful people in Game of Thrones, of course, including the very pretty Emilia Clarke who wafts through the show playing Daenerys Targaryen, Lena Headey as the truly horrid Queen Cersei Lannister, the awesome Jason Momoa as the ill-fated Khal Drogo, “she’s everywhere” Natalie Dormer who has parlayed her scenery-chewing excellence as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors into a fine and busy career, and a honourable shout out, too, to Stephen Dillane as the ambitious and tortured Stannis Baratheon and the hugely talented Carice van Houten as the seductive and evil Melisandre to Dillane’s Baratheon. She’s enough to have half the male population of the world moving to Holland. Not to mention that magnificent looking old stager Charles Dance who must be any woman over 30’s thinking crumpet. That all these people can act brilliantly, seem to be able to hold a conversation without a script, and all the while still look stunning in real life and on the screen and stage is testament to their skills and, I guess, why we all love the glamour of “stars” so much.

But in Chaplin and Leslie I sense something else. Some indefinable extra “quality” which may set them apart from your run of the mill hard-working actor. Is it steel? Determination? A certain detatchment?

I honestly don’t know. But you heard it here first.

I am told, also, that women all over the world are swooning over the exploits of the most famous
small person since Tom Thumb – peter and ericaPeter Dinklage – who is regularly delivered some of the best lines in the show, such as “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you are only telling the world you fear what he might say.” And “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge”. Wonderful stuff.

Sorry to tell you ladies that he is happily married to another talented and attractive actress and director, Erica Schmidt, with whom he has a daughter. Oh, and no, he is not leaving Game of Thrones, that was an April Fool’s gag. So relax.

Single handedly, he must have brought encouragement to an entire generation of people with dwarfism, and good on him.

When asked about his height in a 2003 interview, he said: “When I was younger, definitely, I let it get to me. As an adolescent, I was bitter and angry and I definitely put up these walls. But the older you get, you realize you just have to have a sense of humor. You just know that it’s not your problem. It’s theirs.”

Amen, buddy.