What may not be so visible to many of us in our daily lives is the billions of dollars every year wasted by the government on corporate welfare to wealthy, successful corporations.
We’ve all seen many examples of folks abusing the welfare system: perfectly able-bodied folks drawing disability; intentionally prolonging their unemployment until their extended unemployment benefits run out; working for cash under the table so they don’t lose government benefits; selling food stamps for $.50 on the dollar so they can buy drugs and alcohol; or turning down employment because they can do just fine on the government dole. We’ve seen the government using our tax money to incentivize illegal aliens to illegally enter the country. We have seen families making over $90k per year being encouraged by the government to accept subsidies for health insurance. And we’ve seen Obamacare drastically increase the number of people on Medicaid, even though Medicaid is going broke.
However, what may not be so visible to many of us in our daily lives is the billions of dollars every year wasted by the government on corporate welfare to wealthy, successful corporations. The largest corporations rule both parties, and both GOP and Democrat politicians answer to the large corporations rather than the voters. Powerful corporations give huge sums of money to self-interested politicians, who then support legislation or regulations that favor those same corporations and disadvantage their competition.
Lobbying the government is a lucrative and rewarding business. Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrop received a combined total of $1,540 in federal contracts and support for every $1 they spent on lobbying and political donations. Nearly 80 percent of the hundreds of billions of dollars in federal loans, loan guarantees, and bailout assistance awarded since 2000 went to just 12 American and Foreign banks.
The federal contractor with the most grants and tax credits is General Electric, with $836.5 million, mostly from the Energy and Defense Departments. General Atomics comes in second with $614.7 million from Energy. Other major defense contractors that have each received tens of millions of dollars in Pentagon grants are United Technologies, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, and Raytheon.
The contractor with the most in loans and loan guarantees is Boeing, with $64 billion from the Export-Import Bank.
This practice of taking hard-earned money from the taxpayer and redistributing it to the pockets of large corporations will continue until we change the system and implement a flat or fair tax with no exemptions for anyone.
Another blatant example of corporate welfare is the bloated system of agricultural price supports. The government even pays large farming co-ops not to plant. It is possible to qualify for subsidies even if an owner of arable land had never intended to grow the crops in the first place.
According to the Environmental Working Group, the federal government provided agricultural subsidies of over $143 billion, from 1995 to 2004, to mostly large farming organizations or cooperatives.
Government spending on green energy is another huge transfer of wealth from the average taxpayer to the wealthy. The Cato Institute estimates that in fiscal year 2003, the Energy Department spent $670 million on green projects. By today’s standards in the era of Obama, that looks like a piddling little amount. Obama managed to waste almost that much on only one of many failed green companies when he lost $500 million of taxpayer dollars just on Solyndra.
Another example of government welfare for the rich is the massive relief paid to owners of beachfront condos and hotels after a hurricane. This practice encourages more development in disaster-prone regions than would otherwise occur (if the owners had to pay full-market insurance premiums). Obviously owners of banks and beachfront property tend to be high-income earners.
Below are some other interesting examples of corporate welfare provided by Heritage:
- The Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program provided $400,000 to the liquor lobby, which used part of those funds to transport foreign journalists to different breweries and distilleries in the southeastern United States.
- The International Trade Administration spent $284,300 to send American indie music executives on an international tour to promote the “independent” music industry.
- The U.S. Enrichment Corporation received $60 million from the federal government despite the company announcing plans to declare bankruptcy.
- One coffee plantation in Hawaii received a $25,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture to use solar power to dry coffee beans. Coffee bean farmers have been using the sun, in one way or another, to dry their beans for centuries.
- The Department of Agriculture awarded a $37,475 grant to teach northern Nevada farmers what kind of fruits and vegetables the Hispanic community enjoys and how to market them to Hispanics.
- The Department of Agriculture awarded a $50,000 grant to “Mary’s Alpaca,” an alpaca farm in The Plains, Virginia. This grant came from the Agriculture Department’s “rural development funds” and is intended to support the farm’s business of packaging, selling, and marketing alpaca manure.
- In an attempt to create more jobs in butterfly farming, the Department of Agriculture granted $500,000 to the Euchee Butterfly Farm to train Native American members of the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town in butterfly farming.
Allen Tharp is President of the San Antonio Tea Party.
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