How would you react if one of your neighbors announced that while he obviously benefits from having clean water, highways, Medicare, police protection, parks, schools and other public services, he was no longer going to pay his part of the taxes that make them available?
And what if this neighbor also said he was renouncing his American citizenship to become a citizen of Switzerland, because he could pay less in taxes there? Not that he was actually moving to that cold country, mind you — no, no, he'd still be living right here in the good ol' USA, still benefiting from all those public services that taxpayers like you provide.
Surely, you think, this has to be a joke. Well, meet Gregory Wasson of Long Grove, Illinois, who has announced all of the above.While he's not personally your neighbor, the corporation he heads might be, for it has stores in hundreds of neighborhoods all across the country. Wasson is CEO of Walgreen Corporation, the $72-billion-a-year drugstore chain that is America's largest.
But Greg no longer wants Walgreen (whose stores go by the better-known "Walgreens" name) to be American, so he's planning to reincorporate it in Switzerland. Why? To skirt paying about $800 million a year in corporate taxes that Walgreens owes to America.
Of course, the stores will not move to Switzerland. Wasson fully intends to keep extracting profits from our neighborhoods and for Walgreens to keep benefiting from all the public services that America provides, from police to infrastructure.
Oh, one more thing: About a fourth of Walgreens' annual income is derived from — guess who? — the U.S. government. Yes, the very government that Wasson & Co. say they no longer want to help support. The unpatriotic drugstore ingrate drew nearly $17 billion last year from Medicare and Medicaid payments provided by Uncle Sam.
If Walgreens doesn't want to support public programs like these, the programs should not be supporting Walgreens.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.
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