If you put long hours and hard work into a job, would you be upset with a boss who paid you with a handful of nickels, especially if hundred-dollar bills spilled out of your boss' pockets while he dug around for the coins?
As taxpayers, Americans expect to get what they pay for -- safe infrastructure, prompt emergency response, good schools and a strong social safety net. As shareholders in profitable companies, investors expect to get what they pay for -- dividends. And as job seekers in a troubled economy, America's unemployed are trying to find work wherever they can; but corporate greed is depriving taxpayers, shareholders and job seekers of what they need and deserve.
With $2 trillion at home and $1.4 trillion abroad, corporations are sitting on record-high piles of cash. For example, Apple holds $76 billion by itself, more than the U.S. Treasury. Yet, these hoards of cash remain untaxed. A 35 percent tax on corporate America's cash reserves in the United States alone would generate $700 billion in revenue. That amount would reverse every budget cut in every state, rejuvenating America's schools and infrastructure by recreating 400,000 public sector jobs lost since the recession.
If corporations simply invested their American stash of cash reserves in creating good jobs for America's unemployed, they could put 3.5 million new people to work in the private sector each year for five years, at an annual salary of $40,000. If corporations just used their cash reserves to pay dividends to their shareholders, investors like the Mississippi Public Employees Retirement System wouldn't have to cut benefits for their retirees.
Corporate executives blame the "uncertainty" of the economy as an excuse to sit on piles of cash, yet the economic boost of 17.5 million jobs created in five years would dramatically lower the unemployment rate and increase GDP, bolstering local economies by creating a surge of new demand for struggling small business owners. Using cash reserves to pay dividends to shareholders would restore confidence in the market and strengthen the investments millions are counting on for their retirement.
It is both greedy and irresponsible for American corporations to allow untaxed cash to pile up on their balance sheets while American infrastructure crumbles, public education suffers, the unemployed struggle to survive and shareholders lose their investments. It's time for America's "job creators" to do their job.