EDITORIAL: Rich, powerful are still chasing paper
Prominent inviduals are putting money in offshore tax havens
As busy college students, many of you are wandering from class to clubs to libraries, and you may not be paying attention to what’s happening in the headlines. But as students in an institution of higher learning, it’s an integral component of a college education to be aware of what’s going on in the world, and right now one of the most important (if not the most) current events topic is regarding the controversial Panama Papers.
We all knew the rich and powerful were corrupt, and unsurprisingly, the Panama Papers is mere tangible evidence to prove it.
What we didn’t know before was the extent to which the rich and wealthy were corrupt or who exactly was corrupt, and this is what the Panama Papers reveal, causing commotion just days after its leak and leading ordinary citizens to demand accountability.
The Panama Papers is the unprecedented leak of 2.6 terabytes or 11.5 million files from the world’s fourth-largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca, which resulted from an investigation by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Data disclosed shows connections to prominent public figures, including CEO’s, prime ministers and presidents to offshore tax havens.
Siphoning money into offshore bank accounts isn’t illegal in and of itself, but the accounts could be used for illegal actions, such as laundering money or hiding incriminating connections. The team of journalists who were given the Panama Papers and are sifting through the mass of information said it would release a complete list of people and corporations involved in the coming weeks. So far the Prime Minister of Iceland resigned, and other presidents, prime ministers and public officials around the world are backed to a corner as they’re frantically attempting to explain why they put such large amounts of money away in offshore accounts.
Some people involved have been hiding their money to evade taxes, stealing what could’ve been invested in their native country’s schools, hospitals and infrastructure, all in a greedy plot to amass their own wealth. For the 200 countries — including the United States — that make up Mossack Fonseca’s clients this is a big deal.
Moreover, how there hasn’t been a single high-profile American involved in the Panama Papers is dubious. More than 200 Americans have been identified, which is scant relative to the number of people who have been identified around the world. Since insider information was given to corporate media and leaked, the possibility persists that corporate media is censoring information about American politicians and American corporations.
In an era when the wealth of 62 people are equal to the wealth of half of the world’s population (3.6 billion people), this fiasco shows that trickle down economics doesn’t work. The fabulously rich are not buying more products or investing in more businesses to expand employment. Rather, a significant number are hoarding as much money as they can stow away in offshore havens to avoid paying their dues. The current political system allows greed to foster more greed when there are still loopholes that allow tax evasion.
College students are a few years away from graduating into the job market, if they aren’t in it already. You may cringe when those taxes are taken from your paycheck, but the relief comes from knowing that it’ll be invested back in society and that you will eventually benefit from it. The pain afflicted from having to pay taxes is exacerbated when you know the uber-rich don’t pay their fair share and — as the Panama Papers show — when they don’t pay taxes at all, and the burden is shifted on to the already-struggling layperson.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 148th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.