Superheroes, mere mortals and corporations

Planes, trains and automobiles

Bruce Fisher has an interesting read this week in Artvoice regard U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins’ call for $1.25 trillion in spending to repair the nation’s infrastructure.

With luck, Higgins and his buildup plan could become the national counter to Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

The proposal is bound to encounter resistance, but Higgins will gain some nature stature if it gains traction. Stay tuned.

Money to ply politicians, but not to pay taxes

More than two-dozen major U.S. corporations paid no net federal income taxes from 2009-11 despite posting billions upon billions of dollars in profits.

Prominent on the list is Verizon, based in New York City, which posted profits over the four years of $19.8 billion and had an effective rate of negative 3.8 percent.

Verizon, you may recall, wanted mega subsidies to build a data center in Niagara County until a lawsuit and other fiscal realities sidetracked the project.

Mother Jones has linked the corporations and the politicians they’ve contributed to. Well, the federal politicians, anyway. Here they are for 2011-12:

  • President Barack Obama: $51,493
  • Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.): $24,450
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $23,700
  • Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio): $22,500
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): $15,000

Verizon spreads the wealth to state pols, as well. Consider state Sen. George Maziarz, the Newfane Republican who heads the Senate’s Energy and Telecommunications Committee. From 2007-12, he received $18,500 from Verizon’s PAC.

Rock star mayor

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has had a pretty good week. Fitting that he has his own hashtag. A pretty funny one, at that.

Singing the blues in Buffalo

Certain musicians function as the town criers of their time. That could be said of Bob Dylan in the mid-1960s, John Lennon in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and Bruce Springsteen for, oh, quite some time. That was driven home during his concert Friday in Buffalo.

The show drew heavily on his current album, “Wrecking Ball,” which functions as Springsteen’s monologue on America circa 2012. Strong stuff, particularly “Death to my Hometown,” a song that rang especially true here in Buffalo.

Sang the Boss:

Now get yourself a song to sing and sing it ’til you’re done
Yeah, sing it hard and sing it well
Send the robber baron’s straight to hell
The greedy thieves that came around
And ate the flesh of everything they’ve found
Whose crimes have gone unpunished now
Walk the streets as free men now
And they brought death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown

Which brings to mind something John Lennon said about Springsteen shortly before he died.

“God help Bruce Springsteen when they decide he’s no longer God … They’ll turn on him, and I hope he survives it.”

Springsteen seems to have survived quite nicely. In fact, you could argue he’s become a Working Class Hero.

Come back Monday.