Walgreens is the pharmacy that, at least according to its website, is “just around the corner from Happy & Healthy.” However, if your managers have what they want, you will soon be near the intersection of Ziegelackerstrasse and Untermattweg in Bern, Switzerland. By acquiring a much smaller Swiss company, the American company can avoid several million US taxes.
What would that mean for the 4,200 employees who work at Walgreens headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois? Probably nothing, according to the local newspaper Deerfield (a subsidiary of the Chicago Sun-Times). “Investing,” as these maneuvers are called, doesn’t really mean that one company makes a difference. Like the Panamanian flag flying on a second-class freighter, it only means that a chartered ship has found a new, more compatible record.
We will call it “avoiding investment.” Walgreens would only become a “Swiss company” for tax evasion purposes. The new company would do a small percentage of its business there. Incidentally, he would remain fully American, live here, benefit from most of the income here, and continue to use his lobbying and campaign resources to distort the political process HERE. (Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times has more on this process.)
All this begs the question: How does it feel to be CEO of an “abandoned company”? Will these leaders be dishonored by society if they continue to cook haute cuisine and enjoy the fruits of this country that has given them so much?
Apparently not that far. But that can change. The investment leak received little public attention but was quickly noticed. Senator Dick Durbin has already written a letter suggesting Walgreens could be boycotted if he decides (“to pretend to be a better word”) to become a Swiss company.
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Until now, these movements have taken place under the public radar. But “broken CEOs” can feel the heat. They are often called cooperative (if not submissive) journalists like Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times. Sorkins’ phone must have been ringing recently because a piece of puff pastry exploded and was lifted on behalf of Heather Bresch, CEO of a pharmaceutical company called Mylan and daughter of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
Sorkin confidently reports that Bresch loves her country and has “abandoned” it with great regret (no evidence that she is physically moving), a rhetorical reversal that was received with amusement in well-informed areas. Despite Sorkin’s’ proposals, Bresch cannot build a coherent defense for her actions. We uncovered the usual group of “very high taxes,” but under pressure from Sorkin, he can’t name a tax rate that makes her the owner of the company in the United States.
The choice of policy is simple: “The investment” ends or you are doomed to an endless race for tax rates. It is a race that the American people must lose.