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The Panama Papers Show it’s Time for ‘No Representation Without Taxation’

The Founding Fathers weren’t opposed to taxation. They just didn’t like being taxes without being represented. Of course, Parliament had other ideas about what constituted representation, but that’s all water under the bridge and the American Revolution settled the issue once and for all.

Or did it?

The 1 Percent have shown how much they object to being taxed, while perfectly willing to levy taxes on people they deny representation by obstructing their voting rights. All the while, they accuse these people of shirking their obligation to pay taxes. That’s a little counter to the Founding Fathers’ expressed goals, isn’t it?

The BBC, reporting on the release of the Panama Papers, points to the problem:

In one case, the company offered an American millionaire fake ownership records to hide money from the authorities. This is in direct breach of international regulations designed to stop money laundering and tax evasion.

If you look at what The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reveals about the Panama Papers, you will see that perhaps it’s time for a new cry: “No representation without taxation!”

If you don’t pay, you don’t say. You dig, 1 Percent? You try to deny us our Constitutional voice, our right to vote, even to destroy the value of our vote with your corporate dollars. But why should you get any say at all if you don’t pay your fair share of taxes?

How little Republicans care or understand about how our country works is appallingly obvious. Trump wants to get rid of the national debt, but maybe he should read himself some Alexander Hamilton to understand why national debt is important and useful: “if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.”

And he was right. American greatness was built on the broad shoulders of our national debt as much as the intrepid spirit of pioneers, farmers, and industrialists.

Thomas Jefferson, as conservative financial and business author John Steele Gordon admits, thought the whole scheme, which included the creation of a national bank along with the creation of the national debt, was “nothing but a scheme to enrich the rich.”

The joke was on Jefferson. The rich found other ways to enrich themselves, including not paying taxes. And that’s what Gordon proposes, because based on the false preposition that American corporate taxes are the highest in the world, he thinks somehow that corporations not paying taxes will be better for – you got it: corporations.

Gordon ignores some facts. Forget for a moment the evidence of the Panama Papers; as Americans for Tax Fairness point out,

  • Corporate share of federal tax revenue has dropped by two-thirds in 60 years — from 32% in 1952 to 10% in 2013.
  • General Electric, Boeing, Verizon and 23 other profitable Fortune 500 firms paid no federal income taxes from 2008 to 2012.

But for Gordon, removing corporate taxes would also have the benefit of “removing a perennial tool of leftist demagoguery.”

According to Gordon, if corporations didn’t pay taxes (and by and large, they don’t even now) “corporations would increase both dividends and investment in plant and equipment, with very positive effects for the economy as a whole and increased revenue to the government through the personal income tax.”

Not true, as the Panama Papers have revealed. The dirty secret is out. As Frederik Deboer writes at Foreign Policy, “The Panama Papers confirm that the world’s elite cheat, lie, and steal.” The question is, he says, “Will the masses finally do something about it?”

We can do something about it. There are more of us, for example, than there are of them – 99 percent to 1 percent. We have, at least theoretically, more power. We can, again theoretically, enact laws which put an end to such sordid conduct that is entirely detrimental to the common weal.

As Deboer points out,

You and I pay our taxes; the wealthy find ways to avoid them. For some, reading about the Panama Papers will feel like being told by your parents that Santa isn’t real: merely the final confirmation of a suspicion that you have harbored for a very long time. The game is rigged, and unless you are part of the global one percent, it isn’t rigged to help you.

So, far from facilitating corporate tax evasion, the 99 percent of us ought to be telling them: “no representation without taxation.” Let’s not only reverse Citizens United. Let’s tell these corporations that if they are people, they are going to be treated like people, and people pay taxes.

At least, those of us who are outside the top 1 Percent.

As I said yesterday, the Panama Papers have confirmed our worst fears about the 1 Percent. And if our cry should not be “off with their heads!” it should at least be “off to the IRS!”

Today, Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson is out. The 1 Percent and their economic policies ran the world’s economy into the ground in 2008 and they escaped largely unscathed by placing their debt on our shoulders. We bailed them out.

Let’s not stop at Gunnlaugsson. It is not too late to right the wrongs of the great crash of 2008.


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