Aug 21, 2021 • 1HR 28M

Feeding Local Economies/Starving the IRS

 
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Appears in this episode

Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all.
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Ralph welcomes Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance to talk about how enforcing anti-trust laws would lead to more decentralized and productive local economies. And Pro Publica’s Jesse Eisinger joins us to explain how Republican anti-tax groups have starved the IRS budget, which leads to billions of dollars of uncollected taxes from the wealthy. Plus, Ralph answers your questions.


Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies. She has also testified before the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee in their recent hearings on anti-monopoly policy. Her testimony is entitled A Second Gilded Age: How Concentrated Corporate Power Undermines Shared Prosperity.

[In the 1970s and 1980s] politicians– our elected officials– started referring to us as consumers, instead of citizens. And it’s our citizen muscle that we have lost track of. Our citizen muscle has very much atrophied. But that’s a very powerful muscle, if we can find it again. That’s the muscle that can restructure the online market in such a way that Amazon has its extraordinary stranglehold and grip broken.

Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

We often sort of mistakenly think of Amazon as a retailer. But really Amazon is an infrastructure company. Amazon has set out to be the infrastructure for the entire economy. To provide the rails, if you will, that other businesses have to ride in order to get to the market. They do that through their Cloud Services division, which has a huge number of companies and government agencies that now rely on that infrastructure to run their operations. And they do that through the ownership of their online marketplace. Two-thirds of Americans, when they want to buy something online, start at Amazon.

Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

We’ve been very much conditioned to think of ourselves as consumers… And as consumers we’re very weak. It’s very hard for us to collectively align enough of us in making those choices in order to shift anything.

Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

A lot of people don’t really know one very important power of Amazon. Because it reaches so many people, it’s invited a lot of small businesses to get on their platform and sell their products. Under which Amazon gets a huge commission, competes against them, and cuts them around with fine print contracts… It’s almost like an irresistible impulse to be imprisoned by hundreds of thousands of small businesses. Because they have no alternative way to expand their reach to potential customers.

Ralph Nader


Jesse Eisinger is an award-winning senior reporter and editor at ProPublica.  He and a colleague won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series of stories on the questionable Wall Street practices that helped make the financial crisis the worst since the Great Depression. Most recently, he co-authored The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.

Your chances of being audited if you are a member of the working poor now is greater than if you make $500,000 a year. So, what the audits are now of, disproportionally, are of the working poor. 40% of what the IRS does to audit people is of the working poor. And so that’s the state of affairs. The wealthy are seeing fewer and fewer audits. They’re thinner. they’re less aggressive. And the really aggressive audits are of the working poor today.

Jesse Eisinger, reporter and editor at ProPublica

There is a successful “defund the police” and there’s a successful “prison abolition” movement in this country. It’s for the wealthy. And it’s for CEOs. It’s for tech moguls, and pharmaceutical executives, and opioid manufacturers, and the billionaire families that are behind that. And… they’ve won. They’ve gotten the cops off the beat, there’s no question.

Jesse Eisinger, reporter and editor at ProPublica

There’s a tax gap of money that is owed to the government that the government is not collecting, or unable to collect. And the latest estimate, which is years old, officially is $600 billion a year. But [IRS Commissioner Charles] Rettig has recently said that it’s probably about $1 trillion. And this is not taxes that we should raise if we raise the rates. This is stuff that’s owed today that we’re not collecting. Including from people who make over a million dollars a year and owe over a million over a million dollars in taxes, and don’t file their taxes and we’re still not collecting it.

Jesse Eisinger, reporter and editor at ProPublica

It is amazing that the Republicans right now in Congress are not paying a political price for aiding and abetting super rich tax evaders and global corporate tax evaders. You would think the Democrats would know how to pin them against the wall on that.

Ralph Nader

People who pay their taxes, the vast majority pay their full taxes… They don’t like the idea that these super billionaires are going into space and paying no taxes.

Ralph Nader


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