If anything is likely to push people into the arms of the Democratic Party, it is the revelations contained in the already infamous Panama Papers, a leak from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that is so consequential it makes 2010’s Wikileaks look like child’s play. And that is forgetting for a moment about the sheer volume of information released – 11.5 million documents and 2.6 terabytes of data, or 1,500 times the size of the Wikileaks trove. These records cover a 40-year span.
So yes. This is a big deal. And today a lot of rich and powerful people are feeling very exposed, if not sufficiently ashamed. After all, as Business Insider put it in their analysis of the documents,
While anonymous company structures hidden in offshore holdings are not illegal, the leaks reveal the extent to which many high-level political figures have relied on shell companies to conceal their wealth, launder money, or evade taxes.
It turns out that the 1 percent are every bit as vile as the rest of us thought they were. And that’s saying something. They might even actually be worse. An actual memorandum from the law firm admits, “Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.”
And here Republicans have been telling us it is poor people and immigrants who are failing to pay taxes. All those shirkers!
And people are outraged. In Iceland, real democracy has reared its head and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who, of course, has refused to resign, though The Financial Times is now reporting that he will do just that. Because he has a right to be filthy rich at the expense of others.
As The Guardian explains,
The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.
And the trail leads all the way to Republican hero Vladimir Putin. And now, perhaps, we truly understand why Republicans like this guy so much. He’s a good old fashioned capitalist like they are. Communism? Forget that, Comrade!
By no means are all the people involved in these activities crooks, but some of them are. Much of it is the sorts of things we’ve come to expect from politicians. For example, ABC News reports that,
Financial records published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed that Mr Gunnlaugsson, 41, and his wife Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir bought the offshore company Wintris in the British Virgin Islands in December 2007.
The company was intended to manage Ms Palsdottir’s inheritance from her businessman father, the amount of which has not been disclosed.
Mr Gunnlaugsson transferred his 50 per cent stake to his wife at the end of 2009, for the symbolic sum of one dollar.
But when he was elected a member of parliament for the first time in April 2009 as a member of the centre-right Progressive Party, he neglected to mention the stake in his declaration of shareholdings.
Ooops? Hardly. These are the sorts of shenanigans we see again and again. And now Gunnlaugsson says he is the victim of a witch hunt. Also par for the course. The rich and powerful are such victims. As Oxfam International pointed out in a tweet:
— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) April 5, 2016
Donald Trump wants his followers to believe the federal government, and Muslims and Mexicans are the problem – and those ‘nasty’ Chinese who make his clothes. It turns out the Chinese have something in common with Republicans: “The families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore,” reveals The Guardian.
The #PanamaPapers make it obvious that Bernie Sanders is after the right people after all. The 1 percent are not our friends, Corporations are not your friends. They have only their own interests at heart.
The government is something you can at least vote out of office and get new people in who might or might not do better. With corporations, you lack even the possibility of influencing their actions. Republican voters, feeling oppressed and poor in their Red State hovels, might want to look long and hard at what these documents reveal about their would-be saviors.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.