bag-of-money

Sometimes it’s just overkill.

Comcast Technology & Innovation Center?

A friend of mine the other day sent me a link. A link to an article bloviating about the new Comcast building they are planning to build in Philadelphia.

I’m not kidding, no words, she just sent the link:

http://goo.gl/AKQBZ5

This was my reply (marginally edited here for context and minor redacting):
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Hmmm. I want to say that’s great and parts of it are (mainly the jobs it would create from construction through to Comcast jobs). Certainly the tax revenue generated by those jobs would be good as would the benefits to ancillary businesses, like restaurants, etc. Those are all serious pluses.

However, it wouldn’t be happening unless there was a TREMENDOUS upside for the corporation. And whatever that upside is (I am purely speculating that it involves SERIOUS tax breaks, beyond the ten year tax abatement stated in the article) it’s not going to trickle down to you and I.

This positive spin only masks the endemic problem permeating corporations today. The aversion of the corporations and the super rich (like Comcast, the Roberts family and the Comcast chief principles) to paying their fair share of the taxes. Taxes that would help Philly and PA avoid any pension deficit (which will surely hit every state and city in the next 10-15 years), taxes that could help pay for public education (which is the ultimate key to stopping our societal downward spiral), taxes that ultimately would help all levels of society.

Furthermore, I’d like to see some of that capital expenditure being spent on current employees. Perhaps a better tuition reimbursement plan, for those who choose to utilize it. Perhaps both a cost of living increase AND a merit increase. Perhaps some help alleviating the medical insurance burden placed on employees. Did you know the average employee increase to benefit packages this year will increase between 6-7%. I suspect most organizations won’t offset that increase. 

I have a friend who was a small business owner. He had an organization of roughly 25 employees. Regarding merit and cost of living increases, he gave all employees an annual cost of living increase and then a merit increase, where warranted. They were separate.

It’s been my experience that NO company today delineates between any “cost of living” increase and any “merit” increases. I’m sure some do, I just don’t know of any. So, how is that a guy with 25 employees, operating on margins thinner than that a huge multinational can afford both cost of living AND merit increases?

If one is to believe the Republican rhetoric about stimulating small business, I am all for it…provided they all use my friends financial compensation model. However, most of their rhetoric is specifically geared FOR the corporations and the super rich and specifically designed to push the tax burden (aka, societal responsibility) to the middle and lower classes.

Now, I am not saying Comcast and their founders and the real leadership team are evil by not paying taxes. I also don’t mean to imply they are deliberately avoiding them. I don’t believe that. At all. They are simply using the tax code to their benefit.

I propose it is time to re-evaluate the tax code.

Furthermore, please don’t think that I believe taxes are the ultimate answer. They are a BIG part of the answer, but not the only one. I’m simply saying if you are a huge corporation generating billions of dollars and you’re avoiding paying a fair share of taxes on the revenue, regardless of legality, something is askew.

Unfortunately, legality often stands in direct opposition to morality when it comes to corporate interests. 

And for whatever I think about the people at the top (and it is mostly favorable) it is the tiers below them that I have the most contempt for. They’re shifty, soul sucking, back stabbing lemmings who work to please their masters thinking that doing so will give them the access to the golden key. It won’t. Maybe it gives them a better Christmas bonus, say one better than a popcorn ball and a movie pass. Worker bees, regardless of title and salary, are not allowed into that exclusive club.

Simply put, you’ll never get rich working for someone else.

Also, if you noticed the recent ruling on Net Neutrality (probably not because it was, not surprisingly, almost universally ignored by the big media companies who have the most to gain by its demise…an informed public is a dangerous public); if that ruling stands, there are only about four or five companies (maybe six) that will benefit from it. I’m serious. Guess which is one of them?

And the people who suffer the most if that ruling stands? You and I.

The number varies, but according to Speedtest.net, the USA currently ranks 31st on global broadband speeds. Placing access and speed in the hands of four or five companies is not the way to fastest Internet speeds and is the exact opposite to keeping the Internet open. Should the ruling go uncontested by the FCC and allowed to stand, it would set us back even further. Do we really want Latvia having faster Internet speeds than America?

Also, how satisfied are you with your cable? If you are like many Americans, they LOATHE their cable company and it’s shitty options/packages. Imagine those shitty options being applied to Internet access? Exactly.

There won’t be any one person, company, city or state that benefits MORE than those four or five, maybe six, companies.

My point? Comcast will be able to afford that new building.

In short, the 30 seconds of “oh, that’s cool!” have passed. The big winners on a project like this won’t be you and I (although I am certain almost EVERYONE will think it is the greatest thing ever). I can literally here XXXXXXXX XXXXXX pontificating about how awesome it will be.

Something like this is disguised to be a great benefit to the proletariat when, in the long term, it’s simply not. At all. There are really only about a dozen people, not corporations, who will see long term benefit from something like this.

It’s important to maintain some grounded perspective when shit like this gets thrown into the fan.

Look, I don’t wanna piss all over it, because there are parts to it that are great. Mostly the job creation and tax revenue. Although I would prefer to see Comcast be held responsible now for their MORAL obligation to paying a fair share of taxes as opposed to pushing it down to the people constructing the building, etc.

Also, Philly will never rival Silicon Valley, let’s be real. Some overzealous PR person is responsible for that line. Silicon Valley is home to EVERY major Venture Capital firm and it’s a stones throw away from the greatest entrepreneurial and technological incubator on the planet, Stanford University. No city can compete with that, except maybe New York City or Boston and, even then, we can’t compete.

Not sure if you noticed but NO ONE in those sketches was wearing a suit. NO ONE. And I get the annual note of “Keith must increase his executive presence.” which is white collar speak for “Keith is not dressing professionally enough.” Which is bullshit, I dress for the industry I’m in and what I do. If I dealt with suits every day, I would wear one ever day. I don’t. 

Bet you didn’t expect this reply.

Oh yea, Good Morning!
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Just to be clear, by “fair share” of taxes I simply mean anything more than what corporations pay now. According to Nerd Wallet, Comcast reported tax payment of 37% but actually paid about 1/2 of that, 18%. Even Warren Buffet agrees, “The Oracle of Omaha has for years pushed for higher taxes on the rich, lamenting that his tax rate is lower than his secretary’s.” (emphasis mine)

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