Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why corporations should pay taxes

"General Electric, the Nation's biggest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.  The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion."

"So what? Why should corporations pay taxes in the first place?

"Why shoudn't they?"

"They're not people."

"They are according to the US Supreme Court. That's why they can contribute lots of money to politicians they like."

"If corporations have to pay taxes, they'll just pass the cost on to consumers."

"Maybe, maybe not. It depends on their competition. In any case, corporations pay taxes on their profits. They can afford to do that. In addition, corporations must be regulated or, as we know too well, they'd screw over everybody. Who's going to regulate corporations? Government, that's who. It costs money to regulate. Corporations should pay their fair share. And it ain't zero."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Warning! New threat warning system.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has decided that a new threat warning system is in order. The current system has five, color-coded levels:

Low/Green -- we hope everything will be okay, but you never can tell, and isn’t green a nice, non-threatening color?

Guarded/Blue -- we have this sort of floating anxiety; it makes us feel blue

Elevated/Yellow -- it seems about time something bad happened and we’re getting really scared

High/Orange -- we’ve heard some rumors that something bad is going to happen and that makes us think of exploding pumpkins

Severe/Red -- suspicious people seem to be chatting a lot about stuff that doesn’t make any sense to us and it reminds us of the “Red Scare.”

Since its inception, the DHS threat level has mostly cycled back and forth between yellow and orange, initially keeping everyone on edge until most people learned to ignore it and focus instead on steadily more intrusive airport security procedures.

DHS has finally admitted that they don’t really have the intelligence (double meaning) to discriminate between the five levels, so they’ve tossed three levels and now have just these two:

Elevated threat alert -- the previous four threat levels wrapped into one nebulous level we were going to color code puce, but Janet wouldn’t let us

Imminent threat alert -- be afraid, be VERY afraid (and vote Democratic/Republican)

I feel better already. How about you?

Monday, April 18, 2011

One Pinnacle of Human Achievement to Another

Astronauts on flight STS-1 captured this view of Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait through a viewport on the space shuttle on April 13, 1981. The photo was taken with a handheld camera on the 15th orbit around Earth, during a flight that lasted 54 hours.

This week NASA is announcing where the soon-to-be-retired space shuttles will be displayed as museum relics. On April 19 the space shuttle Endeavor will be launched, on the penultimate mission of the program. The end of the space shuttle program will mean that the U.S. will have to rely on Russian rockets to deliver American astronauts to space, pending the development of private commercial spaceflight.
Wave goodbye to human space exploration.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Responses from Senators Cantwell & Murray on my email regarding Republican attempt to defund NPR

Dear Dr. Badalamente,

Thank you for contacting me about funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue, and I regret the delayed response.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was created by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 as a private, non-profit corporation with a mission to promote non-commercial radio and television broadcasting for instructional, educational, and cultural purposes. Subsequently, CPB offerings have been expanded to include online services. CPB was created as an independent corporation rather than a federal agency to ensure that grant recipients could be free from editorial interference by the government that might come from direct federal funding. 

The CPB is the largest single source of funding for public television and radio programming. Most CPB-funded television programs are distributed through the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and most CPB-funded radio programs are distributed primarily through National Public Radio (NPR), American Public Media, and Public Radio International. While each NPR and PBS station receives some funding from the CPB, the majority of each station's funding comes from direct private donations. 

Congress historically funds CPB two years in advance. That is, CPB funding for fiscal year 2010 was included in the fiscal year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Advance funding allows stations to plan programming and find additional sponsors. For fiscal years 2011, and 2012, Congress has appropriated $430 million and $450 million, respectively. The President's annual budget request included $450 million for CPB for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.  Recently, the House of Representatives proposed budget cuts tomany federal programs, including funding for public broadcasting.  The House's proposal, H.R. 1, would rescind any unobligated funds for CPB from fiscal year 2010, as well as an $86 million cut in fiscal year 2011 funding that covers assistance for stabilization grants (for stations that see non-federal revenues decline), digital programming production, and public radio interconnection upgrade or replacement.

Public broadcasting is an invaluable resource to Washingtonians like you and me.  Please be assured that as a member of the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the CPB I will keep working with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure the CPB receives the federal funding it needs to continue supporting high quality public television and radio broadcasting and will also continue working to ensure that the governance of public broadcasting remains nonpartisan.

Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.

Maria Cantwell
United States Senator

Dear Dr. Badalamente:
Thank you for contacting me in support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and local public radio and television. I share your support for this important programming and appreciate your taking the time to express your views. 
CPB provides a unique service that is highly valued by communities throughout the country. As an alternative to commercial network television and radio, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) offer a diverse range of educational and family-oriented shows for children that millions of Americans enjoy every day. 
I recognize the important contribution of CPB and have worked to increase its funding. In 2009, President Obama signed H.R. 1105, the Omnibus Appropriations Act, which included $430 million for CPB.  As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I supported this increase in funding and will continue to support funding for the CPB in order to keep this important service intact. 
Thank you again for contacting me, and please know that as Congress addresses public broadcasting in the 112th Congress, I will keep your views in mind. 
If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please feel free to sign up for my weekly updates at http://murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=GetEmailUpdates. Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
Patty Murray
United States Senator