6:00 a.m. -- A Verizon cell phone, which doubles as your alarm clock, goes off. You silence the alarm and find a text reminder that your bill is due.
It's Verizon that needs a reminder to pay its fair share. From 2008 to 2010, according to a report from Citizens for Tax Justice, Verizon paid no federal income taxes and received state subsidies totaling $180.8 million. At the same time, Verizon cut 40,000 jobs and is demanding more than $1 billion in wage and benefit concessions from unionized workers.
6:05 a.m. -- You roll out of bed and flip on the lights to find one of your General Electric light bulbs has blown out. You make a mental note to buy a replacement at Wal-Mart later that afternoon.
Here's a bright idea for GE: pay your fair share. The replacement light bulb you're going to buy is made by America's biggest tax-dodger. General Electric paid zero federal income taxes from 2008-2010 -- according to Citizens for Tax Justice & the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy -- and over the last decade, GE's effective tax rate has been a paltry 2.3%. The corporation has cut 32,000 jobs since 2004, while moving billions of dollars of revenue overseas, avoiding U.S. taxes.
Before you head to Wal-Mart to buy anything, consider this: Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the U.S., but hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees live in poverty, many despite working full-time. Still, Wal-Mart received a whopping $2.5 billion in subsidies from 2008 to 2011. While avoiding taxes, Wal-Mart found money to fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the organization behind attacks on workers such as Right to Work (for less) laws. ALEC also writes model legislation like the kill-at-will law Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, is using for cover. In fact, Wal-Mart executive Jane Scott co-chaired ALEC's 2005 criminal justice task force responsible for creating the kill-at-will Castle Doctrine.
6:15 a.m. -- After brushing your teeth, you log onto your computer to check the balance of your Bank of America account and make sure your Wells Fargo mortgage and Sallie Mae student loan payments have cleared.
Wells Fargo claims that "together, we'll go far," but the bank's motto applies only to the richest 1% and other giant corporations. Wells Fargo made billions of dollars in profit off a taxpayer bailout, then foreclosed on homes, laid off workers, and funded job-killing politicians. Wells Fargo, a predatory lender that targeted minority applicants for so-called "ghetto loans," had $17.5 billion of foreclosed homes on its books in 2010. In the last year before the subprime bubble burst, Wells Fargo originated or co-issued $74.2 billion worth of subprime loans, contributing to the current foreclosure crisis. If Wells Fargo wrote down these mortgages to fair market value, it would create nearly 186,000 jobs.
Wells Fargo isn't the only corporate bank acting badly. Bank of America, which wanted to charge customers a $5 a month for debit card use until more than 300,000 people signed a petition decrying the fee, received $199 billion in taxpayer bailout funds. The bank reported a $6.3 billion cash income tax refund in 2010. While advising the richest 1% on dodging yacht registration taxes, Bank of America announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers.
Sallie Mae profits from defaulted loans while charging an unemployment penalty to pad its bottom line and squeeze recent graduates unable to find employment in the current economy. With $146 billion in federal college loans on its books, which will generate $14 billion in pretax cash for Sallie Mae over the next 20 years, the corporation's nickel-and-diming of struggling college grads is shameful.
Before 6:30 a.m., when you have your morning tea, you've come into contact with some of America's biggest tax-dodgers and most highly subsidized, job-cutting corporations.
While these giant companies spend billions advertising their value to American families, they refuse to pay their fair share, avoiding federal income taxes and taking huge government subsidies. Since 2008, at least thirty American corporations reported big profits and awarded their CEOs excessively -- while laying off workers and spending more on Washington lobbyists than they paid in taxes.
Starting this spring with corporate shareholder season, the 99% Power coalition -- workers and retirees, families fighting foreclosure and the unemployed, students, immigrants and environmentalists -- have united together to build an economy and a democracy that works for all us, not just for the 1%.
Thousands of people will be inside and outside more than three-dozen corporate shareholder meetings across the country, including Wells Fargo, GE, Verizon, Sallie Mae, Wal-Mart, Bank of America, Verizon and more. We are calling on tax-dodging and highly-subsidized corporations to pay their fair share in taxes, to create good jobs in our communities, to reset the housing market and restore our economy, to stop lavishing millions on executives while cutting jobs, and to keep corporate money out of our democracy.
99% Power will mobilize well over 10,000 people, from all walks of life and representing the diversity of the 99%, to engage in nonviolent direct action. All told, there will be more demonstrations connected to corporate shareholder meetings than at any point in American history. Together we fight to build a political and economic system that offers equal opportunity for all.
The 99% Power Movement is here, and with the 99% uniting, these corporations and the richest 1% will learn about 99% muscle.
Follow Sarita Gupta on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@jwjnational