Wednesday, August 21, 2013

JP Morgan's Sponsoring a Tent at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Because...Wait, what?

Financial journalist and former Senior Policy Advisor to Alan Grayson Matt Stoller tweeted a link to a rather interesting press release earlier today.  As it turns out, JP Morgan---yes, that JP Morgan---and that JP Morgan--and that JP Morgan--is sponsoring a tent at the event in DC this weekend commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and MLK Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Here's the text of the press release:
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is partnering with Drum Major Institute, Inc. and
Martin L. King, III in Washington, DC for the 50th Anniversary of the March
on Washington and the I Have a Dream speech. We will have a tent with
The King Center Imaging Project on the Mall at the Martin Luther King, Jr.
Memorial from August 24 – August 25.

Please visit our tent for the following:

August 24 | 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
March on Washington
The King Center Imaging Project

August 25 | 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
The King Center Imaging Project

National Mall in DC
900 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Apparently, the King Center Imaging Project was started by JP Morgan down in Atlanta two years ago. Here's how the King Center website describes it:
The King Center Imaging Project

The King Center Imaging Project brings the works and papers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to a digital generation. JPMorgan Chase & Co. began the project in April of 2011 with the intent to preserve, digitize and make publically available some of the extensive holdings of The King Center Archive collection.

Through the JPMorgan Chase's Technology for Social Good program, a team of highly skilled individuals has been organized to help digitize more than 1 million documents. The team consists of imaging and archival experts, as well as students from Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, the King family's alma maters and US Veterans from the US Veterans Curation Program.

The digital archive is a dynamic collection. Visitors are encouraged to check back regularly, as new content is always being added to the site.
JP Morgan, remember, ranked #3 on Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)'s list of top corporate tax dodgers:
3. JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion

During the financial crisis, JP Morgan Chase received a total of more than $391 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $25 billion bailout from the Treasury Department, while Jamie Dimon served as a director of the New York Federal Reserve.

Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 83.

In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens.

Amount of federal income taxes JP Morgan Chase would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.9 billion

In 2011, JP Morgan Chase stashed $21.8 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid paying income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $4.9 billion in federal income taxes.
It is thoughtful (I would not go so far as "generous") of JP Morgan to donate a tiny portion of its record profits to such a noble project. However, JP Morgan--through the actions to which I linked above and so many others--is part of the problem, part of the obstacle to achieving MLK Jr's vision of a future of freedom and justice. JP Morgan's acts of charity deserve no praise when they are stealing from the poor and the public at large with one hand, padding their pockets, and then giving back a few pennies in the form of a branded project.

Clean up your act, first, and then--only then--will your charity mean something.

As it stands now, though, JP Morgan's involvement with the event commemorating one of the US's premier historical champions of social justice just feels like a sick joke.

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