Friday, February 22, 2013

Occupy Bowdoin? How long must we wait?

Earlier this week, we suggested that our loyal Maine Street Occupy zealots, pictured just below, should join with the justice-minded students at our local Ivory Tower to Occupy Bowdoin, because there were more than enough affronts to essential human fairness evident in the financials of the Bowdoin corporation to more than justify an extended and well-staffed occupation of the campus.

At one level, we had our editorial tongue in cheek.  Yet at another level, we have come to believe that the wealth, privilege, and elitism characteristic of Bowdoin, and all the others just like it, including Bates and Colby here in Maine, provide a perfect target for social protest from our local activists.  At least if they’re going to be true to their beliefs, and not give a pass to local SOBs just because they are Brunswick’s SOBs.

In other words, blatant hypocrisy is the crux of the issue.


In that earlier post, we focused on the extra-ordinarily high compensation of Bowdoin’s top earners, and the very generous property tax exemptions received by the college.  Some of you may argue that Bowdoin is not a ‘corporation.’  To you we say, make your case, remembering that even the Town of Brunswick is, by law, a corporation.

As we followed up on our research, we came across this item:

In the article, you’ll see Bowdoin’s IRS Form 990 for taxable year 2009.  Note that this form is for an ‘Organization Exempt From Income Tax.’

We’re not a tax attorney, or a CPA, or anything close.  But we do confess to an insatiable thirst for knowledge.  At least in those areas that attract our interest.

So we want to highlight the figures stated on this form 990.  First, Bowdoin’s gross receipts for 2009 are shown as $501,731,000.  ‘Total revenues’ for 2009 are listed as app. $159 million, and ‘total expenses’ as app. $148 million.

‘Total assets’ are shown as $1.14 billion, and ‘net assets’ are listed as $947 million, or $50 million more than the prior year.

Simple country blogger that we are, we take this to mean that this ‘non-profit’ entity, which pays no income taxes, and virtually no property taxes, is sitting on $1 billion in assets, on which it earns very sizable income.  We take this to mean cash assets, not property value.

It wasn’t too long ago we remember reading that their investment fund had made a profit of $200 million plus on a base of less than $500 million.

Did you make that kind of return on your IRA or 401(k)?  More importantly, if you had, could you exclude that gain from income taxes?

We don’t think so, Tim.

If we were to adopt the rhetoric and bluster of the capitalism despising, free market hating, we are the 99% occupiers, we’d be moved to ask:

- How many hundreds of thousands of middle class families and their children had to go without so Hedge Fund Manager and loyal alum Stanley Druckenmiller could amass his multi-billion dollar personal fortune?

- How many hundreds of thousands of working families had to be oppressed so Bowdoin College could earn a $200 million plus return on it’s endowment fund (40% plus!) in a recent year?

- Why does Bowdoin, a fortress of wealth and the wealthiest, continue to benefit from tax breaks and loopholes, while the oppressed working families of America have to carry the burden of financing our Government on their shoulders?

- Why isn’t Bowdoin, and every similar ‘Corporation’ being asked to pay their ‘fair share’ to begin with, and then ‘a little more’ so that the President doesn’t have to enact his draconian 57 step program to destroy the nation next week?

Well, there you have it.  A rant based on what we see and hear from the socially conscious multitudes here in Brunswick.

To which we say, the next time anyone affiliated with Bowdoin, in any capacity, including faculty members spending their working hours organizing Brunswick Community United, suggest that local taxpayers aren’t ready to pay their ‘fair share,’ they can stuff it where the sun don’t shine.

Or they can make their case where the sun DOES shine, which we would argue is right here.

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