Secrets of the Three Martini Lunch

Back in my days in journalism and corporate public relations, I was both a recipient and a giver in the Three Martini Lunch world.

When I was a journalist, I was treated grandly to lunches and dinners paid for with corporate dollars that were neatly recorded on expense sheets. These were turned in to be reviewed by managers before being sent to accounting, where their numbers were added up to pass on to the tax department to be deducted on the company’s tax filings every March.

I was a cheap date then. I rarely drank, so my “Martinis” were Diet Cokes. At 110 pounds, I wasn’t putting away 16 Oz porterhouse steaks, either.

When I became a member of the corporate public relations world myself, I had a $500 monthly expense account of my very own.

That’s right. All by myself in the mid-1980’s, I had an extra $6,000 per year to spend in nice restaurants on lunches or dinners, or a hotel room in San Francisco when I had to go for a corporate meeting.

Now multiply that number by dozens and dozens of corporate executives with larger expense accounts of their own and see how quickly that $6,000 of mine morphs into hundreds of thousands of dollars that are written off that company’s tax return each year.

Then multiply that by the thousands of businesses – big and small – that will be deducting what will become in aggregate hundreds of millions of dollars or more.

What you will see is that Mitch McConnell got another corporate tax giveaway while you are getting a one time payment of $600 in the middle of a pandemic.

It is a pandemic that has raged across this nation for nearly a year and infected more than 20 million people, killing over 336,000 of them, per the COVID Tracking Project.

Meanwhile those new hundreds of millions in tax breaks in food, drink and hotel reimbursement will be the reason for the even bigger potholes in your roads, the overcrowding of your child’s classrooms, and the lack of an adequate health care system for those who can’t afford it on their own.

And what do these corporations get on top of these huge write-offs while the world around you daily crumbles?

Influence.

Whether it be better press when their name is questioned, or a piece of legislation that provides a way for them to write off even more of their corporate taxes, they get – influence.

They also get access to government that you and I will never have as average citizens in this country.

When the head of a Fortune 500 company calls and asks to make a lunch date with his or her Senator, it is booked. They won’t be going to Waffle House for the hash browns, either.

That House Representative that never has time to hold a town hall or a day of meeting with constituents? He or she will have plenty of time to putter on the golf course with the representatives of corporations and large regional businesses. Lasting friendships will be built.

But please don’t think that largesse is spent on just one political party. It is spread generously around, because corporations hedge their bets. They want a return on that investment that they get to use to magically reduce their share of the tax burden.

They aren’t schmucks. They know better than to place all their eggs in one basket.

And you?

You get to stand in a food bank line for the first time in your life.

Hail to the Three Martini lunch…and all of America’s pot holes that will never be properly fixed.

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