2014: The Year of the Hypocrites
There were countless candidates, from individuals to corporations to government officials, all of whom combine the capitalist sense of me-first entitlement with a disdain for the needs of others.
Individuals: The Public is Blocking My Freedom To Take from the Public
AIG's Hank Greenberg, who saved about $300 million when his high-risk insurance company was bailed out by our tax money, sued the federal government because he felt cheated by the bailout, even though without the bailout his stock would have dropped to zero.
Next is Cliven Bundy, who refused to pay grazing fees for the use of our public land, then turned around and blamed government for not maintaining the fences on the land when one of his cattle strayed onto the highway and caused an accident.
Finally we have Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who criticized fracking regulations for "holding back the American economic recovery," and then protested when a fracking water tower was to be built near his home.
Corporations: Sure We Don't Pay Our Taxes, But We Want Tax Relief Anyway
Tax avoidance is reaching new levels of hypocrisy. Caterpillar, which complained that government failure to spend on infrastructure impedes its business, is recognized as a leading avoider of the federal taxes that could pay for infrastructure.
Pfizer had 40% of its 2013 sales in the U.S., but claimed all of its profits overseas.
Medtronic is one of the biggest names in the so-called inversions that allow companies to desert the country that provided decades of publicly funded research in technology and medicine.
As a further insult to the American taxpayer, much of the untaxed corporate foreign income is actually held in U.S. banks and stocks and other assets. Microsoft, for example, at one point held 93 percent of its offshore profits in U.S. assets.
Charter Schools: We're Public Schools. No, We're Not Public Schools
In her quest for public space for her Success Academy charter schools, Eva Moskowitz argued: "We want educational justice. We want access to educational excellence and opportunity."
But when the State of New York wanted to audit the school's finances, Success Academy objected on the grounds that the State lacked the authority to do so, even though the state constitution authorizes audits of all public schools, including charters.
It's easy to understand the charter school's reluctance to open its books. The Wall Street Journal reported: "Lease documents show the city is paying almost $18,000 in rent for every student at the Success Academy that opened last month in Washington Heights, in the former Mother Cabrini High School...The rental fees come on top of $13,777 for every student that taxpayers provide to charters, which are publicly funded and independently operated."
Eva Moskowitz makes $72 per student as CEO of the private Success Academy in New York City, while Carmen Farina makes 19 cents per student as Chancellor of New York City Public Schools.
Politicians: Of Course We're Guided by Public Opinion -- We Always Do the Opposite
Despite the fact that Medicaid has slashed medical expenses among the poor, and despite the fact that Americans are strongly in favor of Medicaid expansion, and despite the fact that opting out of Medicaid leaves 5.7 million Americanswithout vital health insurance coverage...
...Despite all that, 24 states opted out of Medicaid this year.
A comprehensive political study found that "economic elites...have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens...have little or no independent influence."
In other words, Congress passes laws that are desired by the rich, and skips on laws that are desired by the middle class.
Laughable If Not Sad: Suing Climate Change, and Beautifying Pollution
In response to flooding claims, Farmers Insurance filed suit on behalf of its customers against Chicago-area communities for not recognizing the threat of global warming and fortifying local sewers.
Worse yet, with a note of irony, any success by Farmers to collect on the lawsuit (which was later dropped) would have meant that the insurance company's own customers would be paying damages through their tax money.
And finally, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the leading proponent of breast cancer awareness and thus presumably health conscious, accepted $100,000 from oil giant Baker Hughes, which will paint their fracking drill bits pink in honor of the foundation's pink-ribbon logo. Hypocrisy on both sides.
And the year isn't over yet.