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The Cost of Doing (BIG) Business

Big business has made it a habit to privatize profits and socialize disasters. It's time to put an end to their destructive pattern of behavior and the rules which allow them to get away with it. (Photo:

“The cost of doing business.” That’s what corporations call it when they claim a deduction from their taxes for the damage they’ve done to people and the planet. It’s a cost of doing business all right; a cost to us, of doing business with them the way we currently do it, and it’s just one of the reasons so many people are calling for a whole new system.

To recap: on April 20, 2010, BP’s leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing eleven workers and spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico. That rig kept spewing for 87 miserable days while reporters were kept away and the company told the public lies.

Five years on, BP has been found guilty of gross negligence and misconduct. They’ve been slapped with $42 billion in fines and damages. But the British behemoth’s not only threatening politicians they’ll pull out of the Gulf entirely if their fines aren’t reduced, they’re claiming a lot of that money back, thanks to a tax loophole that will enable BP to claim as much as 80 percent of the damages they've paid out so far as an ordinary business expense.

It’s not just BP either. Car makers, chemical companies, mine owners and banksters routinely deduct part of their court ordered payouts from their taxes…Which means that means we the people who sustain the damage, are also the ones subsidizing the damages.

What to do? US PIRG - the Public Interest Group are petitioning the Justice Department to deny BP more write-offs. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has sponsored a bill to change close the loophole. But even to talk about a loophole suggests there’s an opening in a fabric that's otherwise intact. When it comes to the public's contract with big business, that fabric never been stitched straight.


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Big business has too much power and local coffers are far too strapped. That’s dangerous for people and the planet as we saw in the gulf. And no small reform is going to be enough to fix it.

That’s why more and more people are looking at alternatives: not just renewable energy, but collectively owned utilities, and local, not corporate control.

“There’s a revolution going on right now when it comes to local power,” Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self Reliance told us recently. Mitchell and a slew of Laura Flanders Show guests have signed onto “A Next System Project” launched by our colleagues at the New Democracy Collaborative. There’s no doubt more on this to come. But it just may be that this is a great time for BP to move out. The bill for the cost of doing business big business's way just may be coming due.

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See more in the video below including Flanders' interview with Mitchell of ILSR and Esteban Kelly of the Aorta Collective on the growing movement for a new economy:

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Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders is a best-selling author and broadcaster who hosts the The Laura Flanders Show, where she interviews forward thinking people about the key questions of our time.  The LF Show airs weekly on KCET/LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV, and in English & Spanish in teleSUR. Flanders is also a contributing writer to The Nation and Yes! Magazine (“Commonomics”) and a regular guest on MSNBC. She is the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). The Laura Flanders Show first aired on Air America Radio 2004-2008. You can find all her archives and more at or via Twitter @GRITlaura

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