Today the Move On organization published an article entitled "Pay Your Taxes? These Ten Companies Didn't." The article points out that while most of us U.S. taxpayers struggle to pay our fair share of taxes, there are certain corporations which have tax avoidance down to an art.
The list is complied by Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from the state of Vermont. His top 10 corporate freeloaders includes cruise giant Carnival corporation, which incorporated itself in Panama in the 1960s. Ever since then, it has flown the flag of that country to avoid U.S. taxes, as well as to skirt U.S. safety regulations and wage and labor laws.
I have written about Carnival's extraordinary ability to avoid literally billions in U.S. taxes over the years. Is paying virtually no taxes vital to the survival of the cruise line? Hardly, considering that its CEO Mickey Arison (photo circa 2000) is worth billions and billions. Arison is the richest person in Florida today. So why does he pay his injured and ill crew members slave wages? He may not be the only cruise executive billionaire - take a moment and read Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires - but he certainly is the fattest.
Arison owns the Miami Heat and is paying basketball stars Dwayne Wade and LeBron James hundreds of millions of dollars, but he treats his crew employees like dog crap.
I am hardly Arison's harshest critic. Ten years ago journalist Jim DeFede of the Miami New Times wrote a series of articles in which he asked the question "Is Mickey A Greedy Corporate Pig?" DeFede also wrote some of my favorites "The Deep Blue Greed - The Arison Clan Built Carnival into a Money Machine by Cleverly Avoiding Tax Laws" and "Ten Questions for Micky."
DeFede left the Miami New Times long ago, and we don't have his blunt questions to consider today. Over the past decade Arison's personal worth increased from $1,700,000,000 to over $4,100,000,000 last year, while Arison convinced the city of Miami to build him two basketball arenas in the process.
So I'll ask the same question DeFede asked 10 years ago: Is Mickey a Greedy Corporate Pig?
In arriving at your answer, consider that Carnival pays disabled crew members receiving medical treatment in their home countries a daily stipend of only $12 and expects them to find lodging and pay for their food and living expenses. You can't buy a beer and a hot dog at the Miami Heat game for $12 . . .
Photo: AP/Wide World Photo via Miami New Times