Google: Just another corporation …

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Part of Google's appeal has been the way its executives have been able to portray the Internet giant as not a typical corporateering behemoth simply focused on fattening the bottom line.

It's mission is to "organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful."  Its often-cited motto is "Don't Be Evil."

I've argued that despite the self-serving attempt to portray their company as something different, Google is in fact like the rest. Google executives' acts and words this week show I'm right.

Faced with a Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation, Google acted by bringing in reinforcements from Gucci Gulch to spin its story to Washington policymakers.  Google said it had hired an additional 12 lobbying firms. Disclosure forms filed Wednesday showed its spending on lobbying in the 2nd quarter soared 54 percent to $2.06 million from the comparable period in 2010. Typical corporate action: Faced with a problem, bring on the spinmeisters.

But the words from Google's Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette were even more telling.  Under his guidance Google has used dodgy — though legal — tax strategies dubbed the "Double Irish" and "Dutch Sandwich" to cut its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent.  It's effective U.S. tax rate is 6 percent.

Appearing at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Co., he was asked if it's "evil" to pay only a 6 percent federal tax.

"Basically, you know, I'm just like every other corporation," responded Pichette.

Shucks; another motto bites the dust.

John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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