Anyone still wondering why giant corporations so infuriate average Americans need look no further than General Electric for a prime example.
GE avoids paying taxes, demands corporate welfare, lays off workers and fights efforts to make it clean up its messes. In the latter case, GE is opposed to the EPA's "Rest of River" cleanup of 10.5 miles of the Housatonic River from Pittsfield to Lenox on the dubious grounds that asking it to do anything differently than it has done before in the Berkshires is "unlawful." (Eagle, January 29.)
GE wants to dump excavated PCB-laden material into a local landfill rather than remove it from the scene, and it resists digging deeply into PCB "hot spots" like Woods Pond. The EPA is wisely open to new and possibly better ways of cleaning the river than were done in Pittsfield, while GE appears more intent on dragging its feet until the matter ends up in Circuit Court perhaps years down the road.
On Thursday, the company laid off 59 workers at GE Aviation in Lynn just weeks after it agreed to move its corporate headquarters to Boston. This doesn't exactly make GE look good, but the Baker administration's promise of about $150 million in subsidies and tax credits to GE as an incentive to come to Boston is apparently cast in stone.
GE is bailing out on Fairfield, Connecticut, because it doesn't care for the state's tax policies. On Friday, Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders reminded Iowans that GE used various dodges and loopholes to avoid paying any federal taxes from 2008 to 2013. In that period, GE made $33.9 billion in US profits alone.
Yet the hugely profitable company expects handouts from state taxpayers, including those in the Berkshires who have GE's enduring pollution to remember it by.