May 16, 2003
Where's my toaster?
Once upon a time, banks competed with Savings & Loans and with one another. Customers were given toasters or other appliances when they opened bank accounts. These giveaways were part of the focus of Michael Moore's brilliant "Bowling for Colombine," where he found a bank that gave shotguns to new customers!
But now we learn from a terrific Capital Times series by Mike Ivey that bank owners are toasting their own bread. The reason they can't continue giving appliances to customers is that they are too busy opening tax havens in Nevada. That's right. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue estimates that 80 percent of state banks have subsidiaries in Nevada because that state does not have a corporate income tax.
The federal government tells us to lower our blood pressure, but, Ivey reports, the biggest corporations have managed to reduce their contributions to state coffers to a measly 4.6 percent with the use of loopholes and accounting strategies while many of our largest banks pay nothing at all. If that doesn't raise your blood pressure, hit the Capital Times link above and read the series.
Meanwhile, every locality in the state is announcing teacher layoffs, the UW gets a $250 million kick, students pay higher tuition and we are supposed to maintain a stiff upper lip? Where's my toaster! Perhaps the banks should make a deal with Eli Lilly. They could give out blood pressure meds with new accounts.
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