Last week the board of commissioners awarded a two year hauling contract to Les’ Sanitary to remove solid waste from the Beaver Hill Disposal Site to out of county landfills. The company has been hauling on a temporary contract of $47 per ton and the new contract amount is $56.19 per ton. Commissioner Sweet remarked after the award how wonderful it was that the county could support a “local company”. His comment is surprising because Les’ Sanitary is wholly owned by Waste Connections, Inc. (NYSE: WCN) and shows Q4 revenue of $448.8 million, up 18.2% as of February 2013. Perhaps Sweet remembers when Les’ was a local company but within the same discussion he referred to “Waste Connections” so surely he is aware that Les’ Sanitary profits from hauling county trash do not stay in the county but are distributed to foreign shareholders.
David Cay Johnston was interviewed recently regarding his latest book The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” to Rob You Blind.
There are 6 million corporations in America, but 2,600 of them, a tiny number out of 6 million, own 80 percent of the business assets in America…From 1966 – when Lyndon Johnson was president — to 2011, 45 years later, the bottom 90 percent of Americans’ average income, as reported on tax returns, went up by a stunning $59 — almost no change at all. If you measure that $59 increase for the vast majority of Americans as one inch, then on the same scale, the incomes of those in the top 10 percent went up by 168 feet. The top one percent, 888 feet. The plutocrats — the Mitt Romney crowd, the top one percent of the top one percent? Their incomes rose by almost five miles relative to that one inch.
Coos County is a gasping shriveled example of what happens when thriving local mills are gobbled up by behemoths like Weyehaeuser and Georgia Pacific and yet the county’s business leaders seem bent on following the same path. Instead of promoting and supporting small local enterprises SCDC and the Port of Coos Bay solicit big coal and natural gas and big box stores and woo them with tax breaks that further erode our local infrastructure and therefore burden existing businesses.
Former State Senator Joanne Verger who, along with her replacement Arnie Roblan supported every failed development scheme proposed by the Port recently commented on Facebook -
“Read my Post about the Economic potential of the International Paper Mill site. Timber counties suffer from loss of Revenue and population which can be restored by jobs. Poverty leads to poor statistics. We have the natural beauty of the coast and some great new young leadership at the Chamber. Companies are still looking at Oregon. We have untapped potential which requires positive community attitudes and support. People can make things happen. They have done it in rural Eastern Oregon. We need a little help from “our friends” like Business Oregon! We have the support of the Governor and that’s a good first step.”
Business Oregon lists as a competitive edge the state’s many tax incentives like enterprise zones, exemptions for very large capital investments from property taxes for 15 years, programs that potentially eliminating state business tax liability during an eight- or nine-year period after operations begin and much more.
Johnston points out that 21 states now allow companies to withhold taxes from your paycheck and keep the money and the media do not report on this. After the release of his earlier book Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and StickYou with the Bill) which made the best seller lists and devoted two full chapters to Coos County and the tax subsidies provided to Bandon Dunes Resort, Johnston sent press releases to all local media but not a word was mentioned about the book and the county’s only new book store, Winter River Books in Bandon refused to carry the book. Winter River was then owned by the wife of Hank Hickox, manager of the golf resort. (Free Lunch can now be found at Winter River).
Read Johnston’s book, I am only a couple of chapters into it but the information is vital for every informed voter and consumer and I can agree with the author. “If you don’t read it, you’re not going to know.”
Finally, just because a company has a presence in Coos County does not mean it is local. Verizon, Frontier, Pacific Power, Safeway and Walmart, Oregon Resources and yes, Waste Connections may all do business here but their profits exit the county the moment you pay them for goods or services