Why do Conservatives use Facebook?

Image from ‘The Social Network’, the movie about Facebook.

I admit it–I’m a Facebook junkie. But lately, my enthusiasm has dropped a good deal because I’m not hearing from a lot of people. As part of my work here (and my work on various social causes), I’m subscribed to a gazillion pages and friend accounts. And unbeknownst to me, Facebook has limits on the number of posts I can get in any given 24 hour period. I’ve unfriended family members who’ve sent me 35 pictures a day of dogs or cats that need to be adopted (I live in a city apartment that I’m out of 13 hours a day, and any new mammalian pet would soon be jealous of the attention I lavish on my sea monkeys). I’ve also blocked folks who want to post every 15 minutes about what they’re eating or whether their intestinal problems are back. I was subscribed to one political blogger who was posting 25 times a day–no more. And despite all this, I’m still not seeing all the posts I’d like–I missed a friend’s announcement of an adverse diagnosis, for example.

Moreover, as I’m also a  political junkie (I don’t think there’s a program for that), I’ve been aware that Facebook’s founder is increasingly remembering he’s part of the 1% of the 1% and thus having his minions block or censor content. Friends in European protest movements that maintain Facebook pages have recently had pictures or stories taken down. Last week, there was a particularly shocking photo of one of the Femen topless protesters having her arm broken and her shoulder dislocated by Italian Prime Minister Berlosconi’s security detail when they protested him as he left his polling place in Milan. The picture gets pulled in a matter of seconds when they attempt to post it to their Facebook page, and usually they get a snotty note about ‘terms of service’ (you can see the picture here). A rather significant figure in the American peace movement was put on ‘suspension’ (couldn’t respond to messaging or threads) for various unspecified offenses.

It’s worth remembering that if you are a Facebook user, you are NOT a Facebook customer–you are a Facebook product. While you are sending friends pictures of your Margarita, Mr. Zuckerberg’s clever little web-bots are looking at your machine’s cookie files and web browsing history in the hopes of selling your info to interested vendors, who are able to send you very targeted adverts. And Facebook has apparently never been shy about sharing its info with government agencies.

I told you that to tell you this.

One of the things that saved the 2012 election for the Democrats (besides Todd Akin and friends continuing to open their ill-informed pie-holes) was Romney’s characterization of roughly half the electorate as being dependent on government handouts. Romney’s running mate, Eddie Haskell doppelgänger Paul Ryan,  also separated the world into the ‘takers and the makers’, a particularly odd statement from one who received Social Security survivor benefits for his teen years. This has been a rallying cry of the Fox News folks for ages–that half of Americans ‘aren’t paying their share’ of taxes.

Leaving aside a whole question about what taxes people pay (the poor and working class pay FICA on every dime they earn, and have a much bigger proportion of their income going for things like sales and property taxes, for example), there was no attempt to separate out the moochers.  My best guess is that the Taker class includes:

  •  People on Social Security retirement and/or Medicare;
  • Low income people working fulltime (that would include the hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers who collect income supplements like Food Stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, subsidized school lunches for the kiddies, and Medicaid) who don’t earn enough to pay income taxes;
  • People working part-time involuntarily (they used to be counted as unemployed);
  • People getting SS/Survivor benefits (as Paul Ryan did when his father died);
  • People on SS/disability (1 in 11 working age people–not surprising in a country where poor people with chronic diseases like diabetes or hypertension usually don’t have wellness insurance and work until they have a physical breakdown);
  • And long-term unemployed (the U6 ‘discouraged workers‘ who fall out of the general UI stats from the BLS but probably account for a minimum of some eight million souls).

Are there moochers in that group? Probably. And I’m willing to address the argument that there are immigrants who come to this country and are able to start businesses and build wealth. It’s just that we don’t do that as a nation as well as we used to–our social mobility has fallen behind many of our competitors.

But there’s a 1% of the 1% that’s part of Willard’s 47% (and Ryan’s “takers, not makers”). Those are the corporations that pay little or nothing year-to-year. General Electric is the gold standard for tax evasion, of course–even Forbes magazine called them out. I’m given to understand that GE’s capital division got bankster bailout money during the crash. And they’re hardly alone:  the effective corporate tax rate for corporations has fallen significantly since the 1950’s, which puts the burden on everyone else.

Which brings me back to Facebook. Poor, poor Facebook, which lost perhaps $7 B in the disastrous IPO offering last year, but which technically made a profit of well over a billion dollars. And what was Facebook’s tax bill per a report by Citizens for Tax Justice?

Zero. Nada. Zilch. They got money back.

Now Cons usually huff and puff that what GE and Facebook do is completely legal. Of COURSE it is–GE and Facebook and all their friends pay tens of millions to their lobbyists to make sure that US tax policy is shaped just-so. And the money they spend in lobbying is a rounding error next to what they get back. Zuckerberg’s operation would be just a pipe-dream were it not for that big ol’ government subsidy for Arpanet back in the day when we were fighting a cold war. And his (and other company’s) lack of paying their fair share means we’re probably not going to lead in innovation–we’re going to use the Sequester to slash R&D, to slash education, to slash the kinds of programs that provided the country with enough educated people to staff a Facebook.

Why don’t Conservatives boycott companies that pay no tax? Why do Conservatives use Facebook? Why do right-wingers subsidize a taker?

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