09.24.10

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Microsoft Bribes and Tax Avoidance

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Enron Microsoft

Summary: Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer are bribing for laws that exempt themselves from tax, bribing to promote their products (while labelling that “charity”), and bribing publications to cover important matters in a way that suits them (portraying investments as “philanthropy”)

MICROSOFT, the company which quietly raises debt, has certainly produced some rich people. But it’s clear based on history that it’s not unusual for a company to be left bankrupt whilst its founders become filthy rich. The two sides — people and business — are most certainly correlated, but they need not move in harmony. There are stories of companies that collapse while paying the management obscenely high wages (SCO is one example).

As Microsoft said a couple of years ago, “Human Greed Has No Bounds” (it was also the title of an article). Steve Ballmer’s lobbying regarding tax (lobbying is just corruption under a nicer name) has just gotten some attention from PubliCola, which calls Ballmer “biggest hypocrite” of the day:

After yesterday’s news that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has given $100,000 to the Defeat I-1098 campaign, Seattle news site PubliCola declared him “biggest hypocrite” of the day. Why? Because Ballmer has spoken time and time again about the need for more education funding in Washington state.

Initiative 1098 would establish an income tax on individuals who make more than $200,000 a year (and couples who make $400,000 a year) and use most of the money to fund … wait for it … education. Washington is one of just seven states without a tax on income.

In this post from Microsoft Nick he adds the following:

One of the richest men in the world, Gates Jr. has so far been silent on the income-tax issue. But odds are he’d side with his father, don’t you think?

What Nick and the rest of the Seattle bloggers neglect to point out is that he is exempted from tax [1, 2, 3, 4] because of the Gates Foundation. So of course he wants everyone but himself to pay a lot more tax to make up for his absence from duty. The biggest mistake people in Washington make is assume that Gates Jr. and Gates Sr. are pushing for themselves to be taxed more heavily.

“The biggest mistake people in Washington make is assume that Gates Jr. and Gates Sr. are pushing for themselves to be taxed more heavily.”All that “lobbying” is essentially a form of bribery. These people spend millions which percolate through the system and find their way in one form or another into the pockets of decision makers (or those whose full-time job is to brainwash/charm and thus effectively replace them, sometimes by offering future favours). Let’s face it, it’s corruption and to pretend otherwise it to be a victim of euphemisms. Bluntly enough, Chips B. Malroy told us last night that “[i]t would see[m] that the only way MS can increase marginally the share of Bing in the USA, is to bribe users or pay OEM’s to make it the default search.” Microsoft already does that with Verizon for example [1, 2, 3, 4].

There is a new and familiar scheme right now. Yes, “Microsoft has another go at Bing bribes,” says the new headline from The Inquirer (“bribe” is the correct, straight term, which was used by some other publications like CNET [1, 2, 3, 4]).

SOFTWARE GIANT Microsoft is having another crack at bribing people to use its Bing search engine.

As we pointed out before (back in July), they are trying to PR-wash it as “charity” so that people won’t slam it for being a bribe. They dress it up as a charity perk.

It’s a credit card or airline-style loyalty program that offers users credits that can be redeemed for products, gift cards or charitable donations.

This is another case of sentimental blackmail, which Microsoft used some months ago in order to convince people to ditch its rivals' Web browsers. It’s utterly shameful what goes on here, namely painting Bing/Internet Explorer as a good cause, just like Gates’ business as an investor, global monopolist, and patents pusher (labelled “philanthropy” owing to intense PR effort).

“The Gates Foundation has funded many news organizations to cover its work…”
      –Richard Stallman
RMS (Richard Stallman) has just caught up with the news that one of his favourite newspapers, The Guardian, sold out to Bill Gates. Yes, the Gates Foundation/Fund is already controlling coverage of itself by paying this publication (and there was evidence to show it just days after the announcement). “The Gates Foundation has funded many news organizations to cover its work,” Richard Stallman wrote in his blog earlier today (after I had mailed him many pointers about it).

Techrights will continue to cautiously cite The Guardian. Whenever it advertises for the Gates Foundation in the designated new site, we will certainly point this out and pressure the The Guardian to report straight news and abolish a PR function (which it carries out in exchange for undisclosed payments from Gates).

Incidentally, speaking of companies misbehaving and then covering their tracks, check out this new article from Michael Arrington.

Collusion and price fixing, that’s what. It is absolutely unlawful for competitors to act together to keep other competitors out of the market, or to discuss ways to keep prices under control. And that appears to be exactly what this group is doing.

This isn’t minor league stuff. We’re talking about federal crimes and civil prosecutions if in fact that’s what they’re doing. I had a quick call with an attorney this morning, and he confirmed that these types of meetings are exactly what these laws were designed to prevent.

I’m not going to say who was at the meeting since at least a couple of the attendees are saying they were extremely uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was going. But like I said, it included just about every major angel investor in Silicon Valley.

On a side note, this is a difficult post to write, because I call nearly every person in that room a friend. But these actions are so completely inappropriate it has to be called out.

Oracle and Apple too are a noteworthy pair. We’ll write about them later.

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