Originally published April 10, 2012 at 11:30 a.m., updated April 10, 2012 at 4:15 p.m.
A report out from a coalition of community members, students, union members and activists claims California's 1% are hurting the state's economic recovery.
David Lagstein, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
Dan Seiver, SDSU School of Business, Finance
Meet California's 1%
A group has released a new report called "Meet California's 1%" that targets 12 corporations and their CEOs who the group says are stopping economic recovery through their business practices and lobbying efforts.
David Lagstein, a spokesman for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, one of the croups behind the report, spoke to KPBS. He said the report calls out companies like Walmart, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chevron for not paying “their fair share of taxes,” foreclosing on homes and trying to “block through their lobbying efforts sensible consumer protections.”
Lagstein said the report also singles out those companies’ CEOs and includes details like the prices of their homes because “CEOs have a responsibility to the community.”
“They tend to be shielded from the decisions that they’re making and the impact that those decisions have on their communities,” he said.
By shining a light on CEOs, he said his organization hopes to change their minds.
“The top one percent have a lot of power and can do things to benefit Californians,” he said.
Dan Seiver, who teaches in the finance department at San Diego State University, also talked to KPBS about the report. He said its claim that the one percent are to blame for blocking California’s economic recovery is a “gross exaggeration.”
“The economic recovery continues, and I don't think that any particular large firms are attempting to derail it,” he said. “I think if the economy grows, large firms will make larger profits. I don't think they object to that in and of itself.”
Seiver said U.S. tax code is “filled with loopholes, exceptions and so on.”
“It's not designed for ordinary people,” he said. “It's designed for people who can hire lobbyists. And I think that's a shame. So we really need serious tax reform. There's no doubt about it.
“But I don't see asking somebody to voluntarily pay a lot more. We have to get rid of all the loopholes and exceptions, and then we could have lower tax rates as part of that.”
Lagstein said he hopes the report will spur people to action to call out legislators who are influenced by campaign contributions, as in, for example, the upcoming votes on the “Homeowner Protection Act.”
“Believe me, these same folks we highlighted in the report, they’re knocking at their door, and they need to make a decision, are they going to vote for weak legislation that’s going to allow the foreclosure crisis to continue, or are they going to vote for protections that’s going to stop people from losing their homes and get rid of irresponsible loans,” Lagstein said.