Is America in financial trouble? Absolutely. Teachers and firefighters are being laid off, companies are closing in every region, and thousands of budgets for essential services are slashed. The deficit climbs every single second.
But – is our country “broke”? Not at all.
The truth of the matter, according to “We’re Not Broke,” a documentary by Karin Hayes and Victoria Bruce, is that multibillion-dollar American corporations are actually making colossal profits. But the country is paralyzed because these entities don’t pay the official 35% tax rate so many of them complain about.
In many cases, they don’t pay a dime.
“Intel used to pay 50 million a year in state corporate income tax” says Chuck Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. “Now they pay zero. Yet Intel benefits from all the public structures the rest of us support with our tax dollars; they can’t have an educated work force without schools. They want a court system to be open 5-days a week. But they’re not willing to pay for it. And they should pay for it.”
Sheketoff, along with We’re Not Broke producer/director Karin Hayes, will speak at the next Salem Progressive Film Series, on September 13, when the film, We’re Not Broke will be shown.
Hayes told Salem Weekly, “We initially asked the experts to tell us which multinational corporations were shifting profits offshore, claiming little to no profits in the U.S., and thereby reducing their federal taxes, and the resounding answer we received was “almost all of them!”
“Since it’s technically legal for the corporations to do this, we wanted to find out why they do it, how they do it, and how it’s affecting all of us.“
The film follows a group of regular folks who joined the “Uncut” movement, which started in the UK and spread worldwide, a precursor of the Occupy movement. The working people interviewed, such as Chris Priest, are outraged.
“The forefathers would not stand for corporations being in the place of solid democratic government,” he says.
“$70 billion a year is lost,” according to the film, from the machinations of corporate lawyers. That’s $70 billion that could help our economy in numberless ways. Instead, that money is handled by highly paid attorneys who, with the collusion of legislators paid unregulated amounts in campaign contributions, engineer means such as offshore accounts to conceal earnings.
It’s hard to remain unmoved by the facts the movie presents; “In 2010 when the economy stalled and during high unemployment, corporate profits rose 37%. And by the fourth quarter of 2010, corporate profit reached between 1.60 and 1.68 trillion.”
Or, “since 2009, $2.4 trillion has been lost in Federal revenue due to Bush tax cuts.”
The problem is only getting worse, Hayes says. “In the months since the film was released, campaign contributions have been allowed to grow due to the Citizens United decision and the Super PACs. With our exposure to each layer of the problem, we realized this is something that isn’t just affecting the U.S. and U.S. citizens, it’s affecting citizens globally as multinational corporations become more and more profitable.
The knowledge outraged us, and we set to the task of making a film that would unravel the subject in an engaging, entertaining, and eye-opening way.”
Hard truths and facts are intermingled with stories of seven citizens who take online action and organize protests in the outside world. They are often giddy with a sense of accomplishment after events they created, and the viewer understands the relief of “unheard” people who finally express their rage to those who damage the rest of us.
Sheketoff will present a view of Oregon, a subject he has studied in depth. We are not exempt from the crisis by any means. Statistics show, for example, that Oregonians in the middle and lower classes have not only made no headway in recent years- but their income has actually fallen. Meanwhile, the wealthiest among us have experienced bold increases. (SEE GRAPH) There will be discussion and time to ask questions.
Attendees will be able to talk with Hayes on Skype and Sheketoff in person. Both speakers will offer advice to viewers who want to take action.
Hayes says, “We hope our film will shed light on some of the underlying contributors to the current economic situation and how we can begin to make our way out of it. The corporations may have more money, but we as individuals have votes.
WE’RE NOT BROKE
2012 Documentary by Karin Hayes
and Victoria Bruce, 81 minutes
Thursday September 13, 7 pm
Grand Theater, 191 High St. NE
Karin Hayes, producer/director
Chuck Sheketoff, Exec Director of
Oregon Center for Public Policy
More info: www.salemprogressivefilms.net