Carnival CEO Micky Arison joined Twitter in 2010. I was curious to see how such a big shot cruise executive would interact with the common man on such a popular social media platform like Twitter.
After the Costa Concordia disaster killed 32 of his cruise guests and crew members, cruise CEO Arison made no public appearances. When he was first seen in public it was at the Miami basketball arena here in Miami to watch his Miami Heat play. His first tweet after Concordia sank was "Let's Go Heat." Even when the world press focused on his insensitive and selfish antics, Arison could have cared less it seems. He tweeted away about his celebrity friends and his star studded basketball team as if Concordia never sank.
Yesterday Forbes published an article how Arison's cruise empire avoids U.S. income tax - "Ship Isn't The Only Thing That Stinks At Carnival: Low Tax Rate Stirs Ire".
Forbes explains that Carnival collects billions of dollars every year, but pays about a 1% tax rate because the Arison family incorporated the cruise line in Panama. Even though the cruise line benefits from being located here in Miami and uses the services of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and many other agencies, it essentially gets a free ride.
As Forbes states: "While the U.S. Coast Guard patrols the seas for Carnival’s ships – and, in the case of the Triumph, towed them back to safety – Carnival ducks out on most U.S. taxes."
Carnival's CEO Arison is a shrewd businessman. He know how to work the system. His cruise ships use the ports in the U.S. and foreign countries for free. Local citizens like you or me pay for the port terminals. If there is a port fee or head tax, the passengers pay it. When it comes to his basketball team, the local citizens pay for that too.
The Arison family have been gaming the system for 45 years. They will say that they are taking advantage of legitimate tax loopholes in the I.R.S. Code. But that begs the question of why the federal tax code is drafted as if it were written by Carnival's tax lawyers and why it has not been amended to result in Carnival paying a reasonable and fair shore of its share. The truth is that Carnival and other cruise lines spend many millions of dollars lobbying Congress while hiring high ranking federal directors of federal agencies to keep the cozy status quo exactly like it is.
But how much is enough for Arison? Fifteen years ago a local journalist asked "Is Micky Arison a Greedy Pig?" I repeated the question here a few years ago.
Arison is the richest person in Florida, worth over $5,000,000,000. Two months ago, he paid himself a end-of-the-year bonus of $90,000,000 - in the same year where his Concordia killed 32 people. The stricken cruise ship still lies on its side in the waters of Giglio, and the victims of that terrible ordeal were offered only $15,000 by Carnival, but Arison pays himself a $90,000,000 year end bonus.
After the Carnival Triumph ignited off the coast of Mexico last weekend, Arison made no public statements. Later that Sunday afternoon, there Micky sat at half-court at the Miami Arena watching his Heat beat the Lakers. His last tweet today was an instagram photo of him and Beyonce'.
Just how out-of-touch is this cruise CEO with the reality of the world around him? Over 4,000 of his guests and ship employees endured a week-long-cruise-from-hell aboard the urine and fecal stained Carnival Triumph but Arison tweets a photo of him hanging with Beyonce'.
The question arises again. Is Micky Arison a greedy pig? In answering the question, consider Arison's bio on his twitter page:
"CEO of Carnival. Owner of your @MiamiHEAT I do not respond to requests for free cruises or tix. Unfortunately we have to pay for fuel, food & players."
"Unfortunately we have to pay for fuel, food and players?" What a cynical mantra for his luxurious life.
How much greed does it take to turn Arison's enormous prosperity into petty bitterness over having to pay for food for his cruise guests and pay for the salaries of basketball players who bring him so much wealth, power and prestige?
So if you are just arriving home today from Arison's disgusting & disabled cruise ship after another cruise-from-hell, whatever you do, don't ask Micky for a free Heat ticket or a free cruise. He's too busy hanging with Beyonce' to even consider such a request.