Patagonia gave $10m from 'irresponsible tax cut' to eco causes

patagonia
© Photo: Dmitry Pichugin / Shutterstock.com / Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile

'Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet. Our home planet needs it more than we do.'

Somehow I missed this in November, but hey, even if it is not brand new news, it's still impressive six months later. The better-late-than-never story goes like this: The outdoor clothing company, Patagonia, donated its $10 million dollar tax-cut windfall into "groups committed to protecting air, land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis." While President Trump said that the corporate tax breaks – the most sweeping U.S. corporate tax cut ever enacted – would boost the economy when corporations invested those tax breaks in executive bonuses and new yachts their workers, Patagonia had another idea altogether.

The announcement was made in a letter by Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, published on November 28, 2018 in LinkedIn. I am including the letter in its entirety here:

"Our Urgent Gift to the Planet

Based on last year’s irresponsible tax cut, Patagonia will owe less in taxes this year—$10 million less, in fact. Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet. Our home planet needs it more than we do.

Our home planet is facing its greatest crisis because of human-caused climate disruption. All the extra heat we’ve trapped in the earth’s atmosphere is not only melting the poles and raising sea levels, it’s intensifying drought and accelerating the extinction of species. The most recent Climate Assessment report puts it in stark terms: the U.S. economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars, and the climate crisis is already affecting all of us. Mega-fires. Toxic algae blooms. Deadly heat waves and deadly hurricanes. Far too many have suffered the consequences of global warming in recent months, and the political response has so far been woefully inadequate—and the denial is just evil.

We have always paid our fair share of federal and state taxes. Being a responsible company means paying your taxes in proportion to your success and supporting your state and federal governments, which in turn contribute to the health and well-being of civil society. Taxes fund our important public services, our first responders and our democratic institutions. Taxes protect the most vulnerable in our society, our public lands and other life-giving resources. In spite of this, the Trump administration initiated a corporate tax cut, threatening these services at the expense of our planet.

We recognize that our planet is in peril. We are committing all $10 million to groups committed to protecting air, land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis. We have always funded grassroots activism, and this $10 million will be on top of our ongoing 1% for the Planet giving. It will go a long way toward funding grassroots groups; including those dedicated to regenerative organic agriculture, which may be our greatest hope for reversing the damage done to our overheated planet.

In this season of giving, we are giving away this tax cut to the planet, our only home, which needs it now more than ever."

According to Forbes, most of the money saved from corporate tax cuts went "first, to companies’ bottom lines and second to stock buybacks, which were recently at a record high." Not the workers or investing in the business? Hmm. Forbes continues, "Buybacks are attractive because most CEO pay is directly linked to stock values and not to productive capital expansion."

Some may kvetch that Patagonia should have given the windfall back to its workers, but to be fair, the company is already known for being especially generous to its employees. After all, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard titled his memoir, “Let My People Go Surfing.” And even Glassdoor, which is usually a catalog of complaints, has few gripes by former and current workers. And really, what good is a pay raise when biodiversity is crashing and the planet is cooking?

So I say bravo to Patagonia, even if it's a little late. Here's to owning the Republicans, one saved planet at a time.

Patagonia gave $10m from 'irresponsible tax cut' to eco causes
'Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet. Our home planet needs it more than we do.'

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