A version of this article was first published by AlterNet
In May 2009, I profiled a nutty 71-year-old border vigilante named Glenn Spencer, who had converted his ranch on the Arizona-Mexico border into a hi-tech militarized security zone packed with infrared cameras, aerial drones and motion detectors. Spencer was all that stood between European-American liberty, and a Mexican Anschluss with its former territories. His goal was to demonstrate to the feds how easy it was to stop illegal border crossers, and he blew through his life savings to prove it. But Spencer’s reputation as a white supremacist and nativist meant no one heard his message in Washington; CNN’s Lou Dobbs was about the only mainstream media figure who took him seriously. (more…)
I was going through some of my Victorville notes and came across an amazing, untold story that I never had the chance to write up. It is about California’s Miller family, an aristocratic clan that’s been extracting rent from California taxpayers for the past 150 years, ever since their patriarch started looting land back in the 19th century.
It all began with Henry Miller, the “Cattle King of California,” who once had the honor of being the largest landowner in the United States. The man had so much land that he liked to brag about being able to drive his cattle from Los Angeles to San Francisco without ever leaving his own property.
“Henry Miller left behind him the largest area of land under a single ownership ever assembled in America, probably the world, if private individual ownership and now the feudal domains of Kings is alone considered. … Eight hundred thousand acres in California—more than 1,250 square miles—nearly as much in Oregon and half as much in Nevada, constituting the entire holdings of Miller & Lux, Inc,” gushed the New York Times in a 1921 profile of Miller’s disintegrating empire, 5 years after his death. (more…)
Do you know where your turds go after you flush them down the toilet?
Well, if you are one of the 3.9 million people who live and relieve yourself in Los Angeles, you might be interested to learn that your turds are given special treatment: they’re loaded onto trucks, taken on a scenic 2.5-hour drive to a different county, and dumped on a poor hick town. (more…)
The price of oil hit $125 today, a 33-percent increase since the start of the year, and will most likely keep going up.
For those wondering “why,” there’s a new theory that explains everything. (more…)
An investigation by eXiled Editor Yasha Levine helped The New York Press snag an award in the 2010 Better Newspaper Contest, hosted by the New York Press Association, for “Coverage of Business, Financial & Economic News.”
Levine’s article, “The Making of Manhattan’s Elite Welfare Farmers,” exposed the corruption of our $20-billion a year farm subsidy system, focusing on how wealthy Manhattanites, Wall Street traders and the Rockefellers are allowed to milk taxpayers for billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks just because they are rich and we are not. It was published almost a year ago, but it is no less relevant today. (more…)
The Kochs Give a Big Enron Fuck You to America
Last week, I wrote that Kochs Industries’ recent fight against financial regulation and aggressive defense of unregulated derivatives via the “Enron Loophole” was a clear sign that the company was using its position as a large-scale marketer of oil and other energy commodities to manipulate prices.
Well, thanks to recent reporting by Lee Fang, we now know this for a fact. Traders working for Koch Industries not only gave PowerPoint presentations outlining their plans to drive up the price of oil, but openly boasted about gaming the market in the business press. (more…)
Michael Dell: “I’m smiling because I force Lone Star peasants to pay my property taxes!”
A version of this article was first published by The Nation…
For all those feeling the pinch this Tax Day, rest assured America’s wealthiest one percent have no idea what you’re going through. Not only have they shaved over a $100 billion off their income taxes thanks to Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, but, thanks to misuse of agricultural tax breaks, many did not have to pay their property taxes, either.
Take Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers and the second-richest Texan, who qualified for an agricultural property tax break on his sprawling 1,757-acre residential ranch in suburban Austin and saved over $1 million simply because his family and friends sometimes use the land as a private hunting preserve to shoot deer. Or take billionaire publisher Steve Forbes, who got more than a 90 percent property tax reduction on hundreds of acres of his multimillion dollar estate in upscale Bedminister, New Jersey, just by putting a couple of cows out to pasture. They are not alone. All across the country, a huge number of America’s wealthiest are tapping into agricultural tax breaks—and none of them have to do any real farming to qualify. (more…)