How true. And how sad. This latest loophole is especially ugly because it abuses article 527 of the tax code, which is meant to benefit non-profit, tax-free organizations. Republican leaders are cynically manipulating it to give for-profit corporations a secret way to funnel unlimited sums of money to the very lawmakers from whom they need legislative favors. It's a secret funnel because, under article 527, groups are not required to disclose the names of their contributors or the amounts contributed. It amounts to a Bribery Blind, allowing the buying and selling of legislation without the awkwardness of public scrutiny.
Don't listen to the Washington "talk" about reform, watch what these frauds are doing behind the scenes. To learn more, contact the watchdog group, Democracy 21: 202/362-5151.
Flip to item number two, headlined "Chinese Company Admits It Used Forced Prison Labor." One wonders if the writer of item one has ever met the writer of item two. The same regime that was being cheered for having signed a piece of paper guaranteeing a safe workplace for its people was found guilty that very same day of having forced more than 60 of its people to do slave labor for a private company.
The company, Aimco, makes the little black binder clips that are used in offices everywhere. Aimco provides a third of all the clips sold in the USA, selling them through such national chains as Staples. Some of Aimco's clips were coming out of a prison in Nanjing, which holds women charged with such "crimes" as being prostitutes or political dissidents. Aimco paid a fee to prison officials, who then forced the women to work for Aimco for free, arduously assembling the small clips. The Times reports that they worked so many hours every day that their fingers were bloodied -- each woman was forced to make 3,600 clips a day.
As the women of Nanjing prison can tell you, signing a document is not progress ... and really not news.
The giants are out to crush them with deep-discount pricing and massive advertising. But the independents -- with names like Tattered Cover, Politics & Prose, BookPeople, Ruminator, and Midnight Express -- are a scrappy bunch, fighting back with competitive prices, a broader range of book choices, and personalized service, and their own cooperative Web site for getting any book you want: www.booksense.com.
In commerce, as in politics, independence and choice are not given to us -- rather, we the people have to insist on them. Independent bookstores will be there for us only if we use them. It's a matter of what kind of community we want to have.
Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.