Chuck Collins

Effective tax policy that thwarts plutocratic power-building hinges upon this key detail

When we talk about the wealthy, who are we really referring to? Is it the billionaires on private jets? The neighbors up the street who seem to always have the flashiest new cars and exotic vacation photos?

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A California Trend Worth Catching: College for All

California can be an annoyingly trendy state. Think avocado toast, In-N-Out Burger, Hollywood fashion, even legal pot.

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U.S. Billionaire Bonanza 2017: 3 Men Now Own More Wealth Than the Bottom Half of the Country Combined

Anyone tracking the growing concentration of wealth can tell you the rich are getting richer. It’s not so easy to tell you exactly how rich. Enter Billionaire Bonanza 2017: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us.

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Meet Your New Neighborhood Loan Sharks

Mike Gallagher double-checks the address on his smartphone and walks up the cement steps of the brick two-story house on Detroit’s west side. He rings the doorbell, and after waiting a minute knocks loudly on the door. A dog barks and a shirtless black man in his mid-thirties cracks open the door.

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How to Go the Resistance Distance: Pop-Up Schools for Novice Activists

More than 200 people crammed into a meeting room at Smith College to listen to Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum speak at the May 4 opening ceremony of the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership. The new school provides in-person training opportunities in activism in five cities throughout western Massachusetts.

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Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt

It’s that time of year again. Flowers are flowering, spring is springing, and across the country college graduates are graduating with their newly awarded degrees held high.

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Gilded Giving: What Happens When Billionaires Dominate the Charitable Sector

The last couple of years have been boom years for philanthropy. Total donations from individuals, foundations and corporations rose in 2015 to over $373 billion, a 10-percent increase since 2013.

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I Was Born Into the 1 Percent - Here's Why I Gave Away My Trust Fund

The following is an excerpt from the new book Born on Third Base by Chuck Collins (Chelsea Green, 2016): 

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A Commencement Address for the Most Indebted Class Ever

Congratulations, college graduates! As you enter the next phase of life, you and your parents should be proud of your achievements.

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10 Steps to Break Up the Wealth of the Super Rich

The following is an excerpt from 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It , by Chuck Collins (Berrett-Koehler, 2012).

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iHate Corporate Tax Dodgers: How Apple Avoids Paying Its Fair Share

I’m an Apple fan. I’m writing on my third Mac laptop in a decade. I’ve purchased over $100,000 of Apple products for my staff over the same period. Plus all those iTunes gift cards for my teenage daughter.

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We Don't Need to Shut Down the Government: Tax the Wealthy and Deadbeat Corporations to Close Budget Gaps

Before any government shutdown–or drastic state and federal budget cuts –we should reverse huge tax cuts for the wealthy and deadbeat corporations.

When you hear politicians lament that “we’re broke,” consider this fact: If corporations and households with $1 million income paid at the same levels they did in 1961, the Treasury would collect an additional $716 billion a year – or $7 trillion over a decade.

Our communities are facing mammoth state and federal budget cuts because Congress has, in large part, failed to sufficiently tax America's millionaires and billionaires or prevent aggressive tax avoidance by multinational companies. The rest of us are paying to pick up the slack in budget cuts and future taxes.

There are two primary explanations behind our current budget “squeeze.” First, income and wealth have become extremely concentrated in the hands of the super-rich. The richest 1 percent of households own over 35.6 percent of all private wealth, approximately $20 trillion. The number of households with incomes exceeding $1 million has grown from 15,753 in 1961 to 361,000 today, adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile the middle-class standard of living is collapsing and poverty rates are at a 15-year high.

Second, we’ve dramatically reduced taxes on the super-rich and global corporations. A new report by the Institute for Policy Studies, “Unnecessary Austerity, Unnecessary Shutdown” (which I coauthored), chronicles 50 years of tax shifts off of the wealthy and multinational corporations onto middle-class taxpayers and small businesses. The report’s finding include:

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Vision: In it Together -- How Banding into Groups Can Help Us Face the Next Catastrophe

“I don’t believe the economy is getting better,” says Billy R., a member of a mutual aid group in Oregon that he jokingly calls “my reality support group.” “All around me I’m surrounded by media and advertising urging me to keep borrowing, buying, and sleepwalking. I love meeting with others who are staring down the potential risks and challenges of the future.”

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Stephen King Meets the Estate Tax

Imagine a story about tax policy created by horror writer Stephen King. A fictional Congress, divided between anti-tax ideology and fiscal responsibility, amends the inheritance tax on the very wealthy so that it disappears entirely one year and then returns at steeper rates the following year.

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Victory: Taxing Wealth Dynasties Will Continue

Sometimes you can’t declare victory until the other side concedes defeat. That’s what happened Monday in the decade long struggle over the future of the federal estate tax, our nation’s only levy on inherited wealth.

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Billionaires Thank Tea-Baggers at Glenn Beck's March on Washington

“Health Care for Profit, Not for People!” “Let Them Eat Advil.” "Fear, Lies, Sedition! Pre-Existing-Condition!"

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So What Happened to That Talk About Reining in CEO Pay?

Last February, amid public anger over millions in bonuses at bailed-out insurance giant AIG, our top national political leaders rushed to express their outrage - and even took some steps to place a lid on over-the-top executive pay.

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Tax Day: You Pay Your Taxes -- Why Don't the Rich Pay Their Share?

Our nation needs a plan to pay for long-overdue investments in education, health and retrofitting our energy infrastructure. Nothing could be more obvious. But, just as obviously, we need a plan to pay for those investments.

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Executive Pay and the Obscene Culture of Wall Street

What’s happening with the AIG bonus scandal?

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What Would the Man Who Got Us Out of the Last Depression Do About Wall Street's Greed?

What would Franklin D. Roosevelt do if he were around today to see the bonus bozos of AIG's fast-and-loose Financial Products Unit spit in the face of the American taxpayer?

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Looking for Support in Hard Economic Times?

This is part of a special AlterNet series on Obama's latest plans for a rescue of the bankers and Wall Street's toxic assets.
Read our editorial on the big picture.

The common security club model was born out of work done in the last few years by people struggling with overwhelming indebtedness. Participants spend some time discussing the root causes of the economic crisis, drawing on readings and materials provided by the network. But they mostly focus on what they can do together to increase their economic security and press for policy changes.

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Obama Is Right to Take on the Very Rich

We've seen, in recent weeks, an outpouring of public outrage over the mega millions that keep flowing – despite the escalating economic meltdown – into the pockets of America's top bankers and corporate executives.

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Corporate America, Ground Your Jets

If anything symbolizes the excesses and inequalities of the last few years, it's the private Learjet or Gulfstream. While the masses take off their shoes and line up for security screening, high-fliers inhabit a parallel transportation universe characterized by cozy private terminals, flexible departures and nonexistent security. In flight, the sky is the limit, with some private jet owners spending $10 million to $40 million on interior decorating, which could include gold bathroom fixtures and rare-wood paneling, as well as flight staffs, including chefs and masseuses.

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10 Ways to Bail Out Wall Street (and Main Street) Without Soaking Taxpayers in Debt

As Congress debates the particulars of the Bush-Paulson bailout, one key question has gone largely unexplored: Who will pay for this mess?

Lawmakers in Congress appear to have assumed that the federal government will simply borrow more money to foot the bill for the bailout. The national debt ceiling will rise to a whopping $11.3 trillion, up from $8 trillion a year ago.

But this rush to borrowing merely shifts the bailout burden onto the backs of future taxpayers. Congress needs to change course -- and develop a "pay as we go" plan that makes Wall Street pay.

The lion's share of bailout funding should come from the high-finance gamblers and the wealthy CEOs who have so profited from our casino economy.

Funding the Bailout: Basic Principles

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Tax the Speculators: A Fair Plan for Economic Recovery

With the specter of financial Armageddon raised in headlines everywhere, two questions keep occurring to me. Where will the government find the $85 billon to bail out AIG and other Wall Street giants? And how will we pay for the proposed Main Street recovery, including federal aid to states, relief to homeowners, and public works projects for the unemployed?

The Bush administration plans to add to the $400 billion projected deficit and our $9 trillion national debt. But it's irresponsible to shift the bill entirely to the next generation. The corporations that rigged the casino economy and the wealthy CEOs and investors that profited at everyone else's expense should bear the recovery costs, not our kids and grandchildren.

We can't recover the money from the companies now. They have extracted the profits and their CEOs have cashed their gilded paychecks. The speculators bought mansions, private jets, and small islands. Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy on Monday and 25,000 workers are on the brink of unemployment.

But Lehman CEO Richard Fuld is sitting pretty, with his $354 million compensation from the last five years and a mega-mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut.

When a CEO or employee improperly takes money from a company and is forced to pay it back, it is colorfully referred to as "disgorgement." In 1999, managers of Compaq Computer cooked the books and gorged on bonuses based on misrepresented profits. The government forced them to pay it back.

But what happens when a whole sector of the economy has been cooked and billions of dollars have already been stashed in offshore bank accounts? How are the crooks held accountable for robbing our entire economy? Here are six actions that will fairly generate over $400 billion a year to pay for a broad-based economic recovery and reduce the extreme inequalities that fueled speculation at the outset.

Institute a Financial Transactions Tax. Congress should levy a tax on financial transactions such as sale and purchase of stock and more exotic transactions such as credit default swaps, options, and futures. The UK has a modest financial transaction tax of 0.25 percent, a penny on every $4 invested. This is negligible for a long-term investor, but imposes a cost on the fast-buck flippers. Estimated annual revenue: $100 billion. Impose an Income Tax Surcharge Rate on Incomes Over $5 Million. The 50,000 households with annual incomes over $5 million are the biggest winners from twenty-five years of Wall Street deregulation. They've also seen their effective tax rates decline under President George W. Bush. Instituting a 50 percent tax rate surcharge on incomes over $5 million and a 70 percent rate on incomes over $10 million would generate $105 billion a year. Eliminate the Tax Preference for Capital Gains. Wealth extracted from Wall Street windfalls will pay out income for years to come. There's no economic reason for taxing income from corporate dividends and capital gains at 15% while taxing income from actual work at 35%. Taxing wealth and work at the same rates would generate $95 billion a year in revenue. Progressive Inheritance Taxes. When great amounts of wealth pass to the next generation a portion of that wealth should be taxed. A progressive estate tax could generate $50 billion a year in the short term, but much more in outlying decades.

Eliminate Taxpayer Subsidies for Excessive CEO Pay. Five loopholes that benefit top executives should be abolished. These include eliminating offshore deferred compensation, capping the tax deductibility of excessive pay, and eliminating double standards for stock option accounting. Closing these tax loopholes would generate $20 billion a year. (Read more about this in this recent report from the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy

Close Offshore Corporate Tax Havens. Congress should prevent corporations from playing games by claiming expenses in the United States and profits in countries that don't collect taxes. According to the Government Accountability Office, two-thirds of US corporations paid no corporate income tax between 1998 and 2005. Closing this loophole would generate over $100 billion.

Government action should prioritize protecting ordinary people and the real productive economy, not further reward the superrich and the speculative sectors of the economy. A fair plan to the pay for the recovery is a good start.

At the Height of an Energy Crisis, Fat-Cat CEOs Still Litter the Skies with Private Jets

If shareholders, corporate watchdogs and consumer groups would like to know just how weak the oversight of corporate management is in America, they need to check out the abuse of corporate jets.

The private jet industry has more than doubled its sales in the past five years, and corporate executives form the backbone of its clientele. In addition to legitimate business trips, many executives and their families have access to the company jet for personal use, an expense picked up by their companies' other stakeholders, including shareholders and employees. And the rest of us pay a price in diminished air quality as a result of these heavily polluting jets.

Private jet owners probably have noticed that wholesale fuel prices have increased 418 percent over the past five years, adding $5,000 to a Gulfstream jet flight between New York and Los Angeles. But this is small potatoes for a high-flier who shelled out 10,000 times that amount or more to buy the plane in the first place. At a time when both major-party presidential candidates are vowing to give shareholders greater influence over executive compensation, the private-jet perk deserves special attention.

Stakeholders now can get a better look at jet usage among corporate titans, because new rules require the disclosure of all perks valued at more than $10,000. Personal use of corporate jets was the most common perk among 386 of the largest companies on Standard & Poor's 500. A Corporate Library study found that more than half of the 215 companies surveyed allowed or required executives to use company aircraft on personal trips, with a median cost to shareholders of $182,929.

The companies with the highest fliers include Abercrombie & Fitch, which gave CEO Mike Jeffries $1.4 million worth of corporate jet time over the past two years, and Starwood Hotels, which spent $866,178 in 2006 flying CEO Steven Heyer back and forth between his Atlanta home and corporate headquarters in New York.

Sometimes it's the CEOs' relatives who benefit. Tyson Foods Chairman John Tyson is allotted 120 hours per year of corporate jet time, which he can parcel out to friends and family whether or not he accompanies them on the trip. In 2007, Qwest Communications ponied up several hundred thousand dollars so that new CEO Edward Mueller's wife and stepdaughter could use the corporate jet to commute between Qwest's Denver headquarters and a home in California.

It's the norm these days for the largest firms to require CEOs to use private jets for all travel, including personal vacations, citing concerns for their executives' security. New York University School of Business professor David Yermack says this arrangement "is like telling the CEO: 'We insist that you eat at a five-star restaurant for your own nutrition, and we insist that you drink $800 champagne for your health.'"

When corporate boards are approving such outrageous perks, you have to wonder what else they might be signing off on. Indeed, in virtually every recent case of corporate corruption, private jets have played a role. Countrywide Financial's Angelo Mozilo, under investigation for his role in the subprime mortgage meltdown, threatened to resign in 2007 unless the company let his wife fly with him and cover his personal taxes for the perk.

The private-jet perk is -- literally and figuratively -- a high-profile sign of an executive reward system out of control. It's time for corporate stakeholders, including institutional investors, to intervene to help CEOs break the habit.

Want to Stimulate the Economy? Tax the Wealthy

Every couple of years, when big investors suffer losses, Congress and their partisan economists launch into a heated debate over how to stimulate the flagging economy. This is mostly a rehash of the "trickle down" versus "bottom up" debate that dates back to the Reagan years.

Conservatives argue that the answer to the recession is to cut taxes and interest rates targeted at their über-wealthy and global corporate patrons. This is their program for any season, rain or shine, so it is immediately suspect.

Progressives argue, correctly, that we should target tax breaks and rebates to low- and middle-income people; their consumer spending will keep the economy chugging. Give a tax break to big corporations and the rich, and it will go anywhere on the planet in search of maximum returns. Give a tax rebate to a lower-income person or a small business and it is spent in the local economy, thus stimulating bottom up demand.

The likely congressional compromise will direct tens of billions in tax breaks to corporations and send ordinary people a check for $300 or $400. The wealthy will be further enriched, and everyone else will have extra cash to spend or pay down their Visa bill.

Whatever Congress does, however, it will borrow funds -- adding further to a national debt that now tops $9 trillion. More borrowing will continue to weaken our economy, widen our trade deficit, increase current and future wealth inequality, and postpone the bill payment for another day.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world's economists look at the United States like we're profligate fools jumping up and down on a bubble of debt. They're nervously depending on us to remain the "shoppers of the world" by borrowing money and buying imports beyond our means. But they see what we ignore: The gig is up.

Underlying our economic crisis is a polarization of income and wealth. Real wages for working people have been stagnant for decades, a horrific fact that has been masked only by increased work hours and vast amounts of private consumer debt in the form of credit cards and second mortgages. On the other end of the wealth spectrum, the superrich have so much money that they are engaging in speculative investments in search of maximum returns. This casino class, with its hedge funds and mortgage gambling schemes, have fueled further economic instability.

Congress should pass a "bottom up" stimulus package and pay for it with taxes on the rich. Three progressive tax proposals could pay for additional investments that would broaden prosperity and reduce distortions caused by concentrated wealth.

Increase top income tax rates. There are 7,500 households in the United States with annual incomes over $20 million. This private jet crowd has been the big winner of the rigged tax system of the last two and a half decades. Congress should boost the top tax rate to 50 percent on annual incomes over $5 million and to 70 percent on incomes over $10 million. This would generate an additional $105 billion a year and pay for a federal stimulus package.

Increase estate taxes. While the Bush administration is using the recession as a pretext for abolishing the estate tax by making the 2001 tax cut permanent, Congress should do just the opposite. The estate tax, our nation's only levy on inherited wealth, should be revamped to tax inheritances over $20 million at higher rates. Revenue should be dedicated to reducing the payroll tax or providing debt-free college educations. As part of reforming the estate tax, Congress should restore the credit that allows states to "piggy back" on the federal estate tax and generate billions in revenue for states. State spending on education, infrastructure and community development are among the most effective intermediate-term economic stimulus.

Tax warehouses of wealth. Over the last two decades, the über-rich have funneled billions of dollars -- funds that could have been taxed -- into private foundations and nonprofit organizations like Harvard University. This is the "people's money," forgone tax dollars that should help stimulate the economy. We should increase the annual excise tax on private foundations and nonprofit corporations with assets over $20 million by two percent. Foundations that fail to pay out more than 5 percent a year, excluding their overhead, should be assessed an even higher excise tax.

These measures would generate hundreds of billions to pay for immediate economic stimulus as well as meaningful investments in economic opportunity. Borrowing funds to stimulate the economy will just postpone the pain. Paying now, through targeted taxes on the wealthy, makes economic sense. Further, it addresses the root of our current economic distress, the extreme inequality of wealth and power.

Warren Buffett to Congress: Keep Taxing the Mega-Rich

Billionaire Warren Buffett testified before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday in defense of the federal estate tax, the nation's only tax on inherited wealth.

Buffett invoked the historical roots of the estate tax, established in 1916 during the Gilded Age to put a brake on anti-democratic concentrations of wealth and power. "Dynastic wealth, the enemy of meritocracy, is on the rise," Buffett told the panel. "Equality of opportunity has been on the decline. A progressive and meaningful estate tax is needed to curb the movement of a democracy toward plutocracy."

As a result of the 2001 Bush tax cut, the federal estate tax is being phased out and in 2010 will be completely repealed for one year. But the entire tax bill sunsets in 2011, and unless Congress takes action, the estate tax will return. The votes no longer exist for "permanent repeal," so a compromise lies ahead.

Wealthy individuals and tax cutters have always disliked the estate tax, which they labeled the "death tax." In the mid-1990s, a group of superrich families began funding organizing efforts to abolish the tax, culminating with the passage of the 2001 legislation.

For the last decade, conservative tax cutters working to abolish the tax have had the upper hand, beating up Democrats for supporting a tax that they alleged "destroy family farmers and small businesses." They put forward these farmers and small business owners as the public face of their campaign, even though research and investigative reporting have vanquished these charges. Tom Buis, president of the National Farmers Union, representing 250,000 farmers, complained, "Family farmers and ranchers are insulted by those who use farmers as the reason for eliminating estate taxes, when the real beneficiaries are the nation's multimillionaires."

After a decade of false accusations and innuendo, Wednesday's hearing was the first opportunity to set the record straight as to who pays the estate tax, how much revenue it generates and why we should retain it. Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., a supporter of abolishing the tax, conceded that the "99 times out of a hundred, the tale is worse than the tax."

Republican Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, complained that "the death tax" was "fundamentally wrong." Buffett responded that use of the phase "death tax" was "intellectually dishonest" and "clever, Orwellian and dead wrong."

Buffett pointed out that tax cuts of the last decade have enabled the superrich, including himself, to get richer. "Tax-law changes have benefited this superrich group, including me, in a huge way. During that time the average American went exactly nowhere on the economic scale: He's been on a treadmill while the superrich have been on a spaceship."

Buffett noted that only one in 200 households in the United States pays the tax, and they are exclusively multimillionaires and billionaires. "Leona Helmsley's dog, Trouble, reportedly is inheriting $12 million," Buffett quipped. Without an estate tax, "Trouble could instead receive $22 million."

Abolishing the estate tax will cost over a $1 trillion in lost revenue over the next 15 years. This would shift debt further onto future generations and low- and middle-income taxpayers.

With massive budget deficits and Democrats in control of Congress, the conversation is changing from "Should we abolish the estate tax?" to "How should we responsibly reform it?"

"The estate tax is not going away," acknowledged Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who has led the effort to eliminate the tax. Those who have historically voted for repeal, like Kyl and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., are now putting forward "virtual repeal" proposals intended to gut the law. But these proposals cost almost as much as repeal.

The fight comes down to how high the wealth exemption will rise and how low the rate will be reduced. Currently estates valued under $2 million pay no estate tax and this amount is scheduled to rise to $3.5 million in 2009. That year, the tax rate comes down to 45 percent.

Raising the wealth exemption reduces the number of estates that pay the tax. But this doesn't help the superrich families that have bankrolled the repeal movement. They care about the rate reduction and advocate for dropping the rate down to 35 percent and even 15 percent. But as Bill Gates Sr. wrote in Politico, "This would mean handing out hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest five out of every 1,000 citizens."

Coalitions working to preserve the estate tax are now coalescing around a "revenue neutral" estate tax reform that retains revenue lost from raising wealth exemptions by instituting progressive rate structures on estates over $10 million and $20 million.

Warren Buffett has a few lessons for Congress on tax priorities for the coming years. He supports making the tax system more progressive. To underscore the unfairness of the tax system, he recently offered a $1 million reward to any member of the Forbes 400 who could prove that they pay a higher tax rate than their personal assistants and secretaries. So far, he has had no takers.

"Keep the estate tax and its $24 billion," Buffett proposed. "There are 23 million households in the United States with $20,000 or less of income. … Let's give those 23 million households a $1,000 annual credit. ... The cost of this would be less than getting rid of the tax on less than 12,000 estates."

Minimum Wage Increase Is Good for Business

The Senate is scheduled to vote as early as Tuesday to raise the minimum wage for the first time since 1997.

The usual array of "Chicken Littles" have claimed a hike in the wage floor will be bad for business and hurt low wage-workers. Earlier this month, columnist George Will suggested that the "minimum wage should be the same everywhere: $0. Labor is a commodity."

So it's surprising and refreshing when you meet small business owners and CEOs who believe the opposite: that competing on the basis of who pays less is a dead end.

"People who tell you that raising the minimum wage will hurt small business are flat out full of it," said Lew Prince, co-owner of Vintage Vinyl, a music retail business in St. Louis. "Small business owners know that keeping workers is easier and cheaper than finding and training new ones."

Prince and a growing number of small business owners argue that paying a decent wage lowers employee turnover, improves morale and is the right thing to do. "Our long-term employees are way more likely to establish ongoing relationships with customers," said Prince.

Prince has joined several hundred business owners in signing a public petition of business owners and leaders who support a hike in the federal minimum wage. The effort is coordinated by the interfaith coalition Let Justice Roll and a network currently in formation called Business for Shared Prosperity.

Some of the well-known signers include Jim Sinegal, CEO of Costco; Eileen Fisher, CEO of apparel giant named after her; Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, and Bill Foster, the cofounder of Electronic Theater Controls.

For many business owners, paying their workers well is common sense. "Trying to save money by shortchanging my employees would be like skimping on ingredients," said Kirsten Poole, a petition signer and co-owner of Kirsten's Cafe and Dish Caterers in Silver Spring, Md. "I'd lose more than I saved because of declining quality, service, reputation and customer base. You can't build a healthy business or a healthy economy on a miserly minimum wage."

A growing body of evidence shows that successful businesses that are "built to last" don't skimp on wages. "It is a sound business decision to increase the minimum wage," said venture capitalist Adnan Durrani, president of Condor Ventures in Stamford, Conn. "I have found that without exception in the successful ventures we've backed, providing sustainable living wages yielded direct increases in productivity, job satisfaction and brand loyalty from customers, all contributing to higher returns for investors and employers."

Research by the Economic Policy Institute validates the theory that raising the minimum wage will have a positive effect for low-wage workers without a negative effect on the economy.

The measure will eventually pass the Senate. The only question is how much corporate lard will be added to slide it through the Senate and across the President's desk. Small-business owners know that most of these tax breaks aren't for them. "They're trying to add a bunch of pork and so-called tax breaks for the big businesses that are trying to gobble up our customers," observed Lew Prince.

On Friday, Republicans in the Senate continued to offer amendments to the minimum wage bill, leading Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to finally blow his stack. "When does the greed stop?" he asked on the floor of the Senate, pointing to over 70 amendments costing over $200 billion. "How much more do we have to give to the private sector and to business? How many billion dollars more, are you asking, are you requiring?"

Senate Democrats should keep pushing for a minimum wage bill unencumbered by billions in tax breaks. Let's cleanly raise the minimum wage and get on with the people's business.

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