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“Black Friday Blues”

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By Frank Clemente

Shoppers will be lining up at the crack of dawn on “Black Friday” for spectacular deals. What they don’t know is that the best bargains have already been taken – not by other shoppers, but by some of America’s largest corporations.

Walmart, the biggest corporation in America, with revenues of almost half a trillion dollars, gets a $1 billion tax break each year on average by exploiting federal tax loopholes, according to a new report from Americans for Tax Fairness. Taxpayers, even those lined up in the early morning darkness at giant retailers like Walmart, pay the price.

How? First, the more big corporations dodge paying their fair share of taxes, the more American families and small businesses have to make up, or else there is less money available for critical investments, such as rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, improving education and making college more affordable, or finding new medical cures.

When Black Friday shoppers check the prices, they’ll never see these hidden costs of tax avoidance. But when Americans figure out what’s going on they’ll have a bad case of the Black Friday Blues.

The $1 billion Walmart “saves” by ducking its fair share of federal taxes is a low estimate. It doesn’t count the taxes Walmart is avoiding on $21.4 billion in profits held offshore. Walmart has paid nothing to the U.S. Treasury on those earnings because corporations can indefinitely postpone paying U.S. taxes on offshore profits until they are brought back to America.

The retail giant is also working with other large corporations to deeply cut U.S. corporate tax rates. So while American families and small businesses continue to recover from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge corporations making record profits are trying to rewrite the law so they pay much less in taxes.

If these corporations are successful, they will blow a $1.3 trillion hole in the federal budget over the next 10 years. Walmart alone will pocket $720 million a year on average – in addition to the $1 billion it already “saves” from current tax loopholes.

Big companies know that cutting corporate taxes isn’t popular with the public. Americans are outraged that profitable companies like General Electric, Verizon and Boeing – as well as 23 others – paid absolutely nothing in taxes over the past five years, according to the watchdog group Citizens for Tax Justice. Polls show that American families oppose lower corporate tax rates; instead, they want a more equitable tax system in which corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.

Fighting for an unpopular cause like lowering corporate tax rates could hurt corporate brands with the public. So Walmart and other companies pay large industry coalitions to do the work of waging media campaigns and cajoling members of Congress. Walmart is the only big box retailer that gives to all three of the industry groups that are trying to put a good face on bad policy – the RATE (Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably) Coalition, Alliance for Competitive Taxation and the Business Roundtable.

These organizations decry the 35 percent tax rate corporations are supposed to pay on profits when they know full well that they actually pay far less. Profitable corporations paid U.S. income taxes amounting to just 12.6 percent of worldwide income in 2010, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Walmart itself sends 74 lobbyists to twist arms on Capitol Hill, and tax issues are its No. 1 priority. It has spent $32.6 million lobbying over the past five years. It also tries to buy access to lawmakers by contributing heavily to their campaigns – giving $6.1 million since 2009, disproportionately to members of the two Congressional tax-writing committees.

Walmart wants to convince shoppers to flock to its stores on Black Friday to take advantage of low prices. What it doesn’t want you to know is that those prices come at a high cost of taxes dodged.

If large corporations succeed in slashing corporate tax rates, the effects on our country will be severe. For millions of American families and small businesses it will mean higher taxes, fewer services or a higher national debt.  Today’s “Black Friday blues” could turn into a full-blown economic hangover.


 

Clemente is executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 425 national and state organizations.

Foster Goal-Digging…Not Gold-Digging in Your Children

Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D

Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D

By Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D.

Parenting is the most important and rewarding part of life.  We have the divine opportunity to teach love, confidence, compassion, discipline and responsibility to another person. We will know what kind of parent we are by how we see our children get along, succeed and interact in the world. When love is the foundation of parenting we raise goal-driven children, rather than entitled children. If we love our children we mentor and discipline them. 

6 Tips to Raising a Goal-Driven Child

1) Love Connection: Children who are parenting with a sense of love, security and well-being from the beginning of life will spend the rest of their lives striving to keep that feeling. Children who are valued emotionally, given security, touch, eye contact, time, attention and patience become motivated to repair their sense of well-being when they lose it because it has already been integrated into their sense of self.

2) Self-Worth: Children who feel significant and included in the lives of their parents and whose parents are committed, involved, and supportive in their lives and activities develop a sense of self-worth. They believe in their abilities to succeed, to fail and get back up, to look any man, woman or situation in the face and be proud of who they are.

3.) Use Your Child’s Name:  Using your child’s name makes them feel important. Use their name when you are giving compliments, so they take that compliment as being directly related to their value. It tells them they are real and special.  Using their name helps soften discipline because you are making them a person, rather than a faulty behavior.

4) Rewards Carry Over:  As your child gets older make sure to encourage and compliment their talents and interests. Celebrate them that they are able to do something well.  As they get this feeling of gratification it will carry over and help them to be more open to try and achieve new things. Rewards are the beginning of the development of internal motivation creating self-starters.

5) Set Your Children Up for Success: Children assess their value by how they are perceived by others. It will be important to not let your child quit what they start but also not to force them to do what they really don’t want to do. This balance helps your child to learn they must finish what they start but if they aren’t interested long-term is some endeavor, they may choose to stop. This is good for the exploration of their identity and also to learn the value of commitment and passion.

6) Give Your Children Responsibilities:  Children need jobs. One of the main ways children develop self-love, motivation, confidence and values is through helping maintain the family home. Giving children household duties helps them experience their worth and it provides them a sense of accomplishment and reward.

Little Life Message: Children need to know that hard work is their way to success.  They learn that to achieve their goals responsibilities come first and leisure comes second. 


Sherrie Campbell, PhD is a veteran, licensed Psychologist with two decades of clinical training and experience providing counseling and psychotherapy services to residents of Yorba Linda, Irvine, Anaheim, Fullerton and Brea, California.  In her private practice, she currently specializes in psychotherapy with adults and teenagers, including marriage and family therapy, grief counselling, childhood trauma, sexual issues, personality disorders, illness and more. She has helped individuals manage their highest high and survive their lowest low—from winning the lottery to the death of a child.  Her interactive sessions are as unique and impactful as her new book, Loving Yourself : The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.

She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2003 and has regularly contributes to numerous publications, including Intent.com, Beliefnet.com, DrLaura.com and Hitched.com.  She is also an inspirational speaker, avid writer and proud mother.  She can be reached at Sherriecampbellphd.com.

Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person is available on Amazon.com and other fine booksellers. 

The Holidays are coming: Can You Handle Them or Will They Handle You?

Dr. JoAnne Barge

Dr. JoAnne Barge

By Dr. JoAnne Barge

With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, we start the slow methodical progression toward what is, for many, the most stressful time of the year: The Holidays.

Families will be together, in the pressure-cooker of close quarters, and while the proximity has the intended goal of a renewed sense of connection, it unfortunately often ends up with the question of why we put ourselves through the ringer year after year.

Dr. Joanne Barge, a licensed Psychologist based in Los Angeles CA has some tips on how families can better cope with arguments over everything from who the better cook is to which football game to watch; arguments which really are more about underlying tension than the topic at hand.

“Much of the reason we have difficulty with family members stems from a deep-seeded desire to be seen & understood for who we are. When we want to be heard and this doesn’t happen, we feel hurt, rejected and anxious which can easily turn into anger,” explains Dr. Barge.

One of the ways this can manifest is in an argument about who is right. Nothing can be more sabotaging than the need to be right! It is a good idea to ask yourself rather you would prefer to be happy or right? If you want to be happy & enjoy your holiday, forget right, perceptions usually differ & right has nothing to do with anything except ego.

Dr. Barge says, “The key is to let go, find ways to validate yourself beforehand & expect to deal with differing points of view.”

  • Set realistic expectations: The dynamic in any family system has a long history and likely will not change on this one day. Don’t expect it to. And don’t expect the aunt who always says something nasty to be nice this year.
  • Set boundaries: If Uncle Sal usually gets to his third gin and tonic by 2 p.m. and by 3 p.m. the train is coming off the rails, plan to leave at the first sign things are getting out of control.
  • Practice a change of perspective, try to detach with love i.e., Care about your loved ones but detach yourself from the things that bother you so much!
  • Do not attempt to ‘control’ the interaction: Dysfunctional family members view this as a rationale to act even more abusive because you’ve just signaled that you are in the ring and ready to rumble!
  • Practice staying in touch with your own inner source of ‘power’: Sometimes all it takes is a trip to the bathroom to take a deep breathe and remind yourself of a few select quotes that calm you down. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel, but avoid reacting. Don’t jump into the ring (if there is one) but instead decide to look for the best in others.
  • Practice active listening: Focus on what the other person has to say, don’t interrupt, show interest and don’t give advice unless you are asked for it. If all else fails and someone is telling you you’re the worst Yahtzee player that ever lived, a simple response of “you may be right” will diffuse the situation and then you can exit the activity without having to dump the iced tea pitcher on their head!
  • Finally, try to bring the attitude & spirit with you that you would like to see in others & just maybe it will catch fire.

Dr. JoAnne Barge obtained her PhD in Psychology from the University of California Los Angeles and is licensed as both a Psychologist and as a Marriage and Family Therapist. She specializes in the treatment of addictions and in the family members of addicts and alcoholics. Dr. Barge also provides specialized treatment for depression, anxiety, panic disorders, marital or relationship problems, family of origin conflicts and attachment and loss. Her private practice is located in Brentwood, Los Angeles.