When it comes to paying taxes, the latest ploy in corporate America's never-ending search for loopholes and escape hatches is "inversion" -- creative accounting by which companies pretend to be headquartered abroad and make big profits on which they pay little or no U.S. taxes. Inversion is just one more way jobs are being lost overseas and revenue is being drained from government and its services.
That's why a recent report by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz for the Roosevelt Institute is so important. Paying a fair share of taxes and cracking down on corporate tax dodgers, Stiglitz writes, could be a cure for inequality and a faltering economy. This week in an encore presentation of "Moyers & Company," Stiglitz told Bill Moyers that Apple, Google, GE, and a host of other Fortune 500 companies are creating what amounts to "an unlimited IRA for corporations.
"I think we can use our tax system to create a better society, to be an expression of our true values," he said. "But if people don't think that their tax system is fair, they're not going to want to contribute. It's going to be difficult to get them to pay. And unfortunately, right now, our tax system is neither fair nor efficient. ... We have a tax system that reflects not the interest of the middle. We have a tax system that reflects the interest of the one percent."
Joseph Stiglitz's best-selling books, including The Price of Inequality, The Trillion Dollar War, and Freefall, have shaped worldwide debates on globalization, income inequality, and the role of government in the financial marketplace. He is currently a professor at Columbia University, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and president of the International Economic Association. Stiglitz served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton, and as chief economist of the World Bank.
Bill Moyers (now retired) hosted a weekly hour of compelling conversation about the state of American democracy, featuring a range of scholars, activists, scientists, and newsmakers.