by Nate Jackson
On Tax Day the 99% took to the streets to show big corporate tax dodgers extraordinaires like Amazon and Wells Fargo that they were on notice. Thousands of people across the country participated as workers, concerned citizens and community groups came together to address some of the fundamental problems facing all of us, big corporations not paying their fair share.
There were protests in Spokane and Yakima who went after some of our representatives who have seemed to forget that the representatives work for us, not corporations.
Hundreds marched from Westlake Park first to Wells Fargo, the foreclosure specialists, to tell the big bank that it needs to pay their fair share. The 99% erected huge foreclosure tape banners around the Wells Fargo building and held a live auction of some of the big banks assets.
The auction took facts from the giant bank and put them up for sale, facts like the ridiculously high compensation of Wells Fargo CEO Stumpf.
“Can I get $5 Million, 5, 5, 6 come on whose got 7?” A fast talking Angela O’Brien barked into the microphone auctioneer style.
Folks held up their hands yelling out amounts that kept creeping up and up: $5 million, $7 Million, $12 Million.
“Sold! For $19.8 Million!” She said pointing out to the surprised crowd.
The CEO of Wells “Foreclosing” Fargo made $19.8 Million in total compensation in 2011.
Another speaker took the microphone. Maribel Peralez, speaking in front of the “Seattle Tulip” sculpture outside of the Wells Fargo building, addressed the crowd.
“So these big banks get away with dodging taxes,” she said. “How do they get away with it? One word: lobbyists.”
Wells Fargo paid more money into the hands of corporate lobbyists than they did in Federal taxes in 2010.
“Shame on you Wells Fargo,” Peralez said. “We need that money to fund essential services like health care and education.”
If big corporations and the 1% would pay their fair share we wouldn’t be in the situation we are right now with billions in budget cuts, slashing of social services and layoffs of public employees who teach our children and watch over our homes while we sleep.
It’s a shame that our big corporations would rather invest in lobbyist and take advantage of loopholes than pay their fair share and give back to our communities.
Wells Fargo wasn’t the only corporation that we wanted to bring our message to. We also had our eyes set on a home grown big corporation, Amazon.
The players were Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon, Wells Fargo CEO Stumpf and Mr. 1% himself Mitt Romney. It was a close battle as the 1% tried to hog all the pie for themselves, but in the end Bezos took the crown by a mouthful.
We marched over to the Amazon campus along Westlake Avenue as evening commuters looked on. Amazon in 2010 paid an effective federal tax rate of only 5.5% using the most asinine of loopholes that rewarded them for giving stock bonuses to millionaire executives. Seriously.
When we reached the Amazon campus we gathered between two large Amazon towers in a “privately owned public space.” There Pastor Gurming Elca of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America took the microphone and pointed up at the glittering buildings.
He called out for the giant online retailer to pay their fair share and treat all their workers with respect. He told the retailer that it needs to do better by the community that made it so successful in the first place.
The big corporations and the 1% are on notice. We will no longer tolerate them not paying their fair share or treating the 99%, the folks who actually created all the wealth, so poorly anymore. We are waking up. We are rested and we’re ready to go.