The leak of the so-called eleven and a half million ‘Panama papers’ reveals just how far and deep the rot at the core of the planet’s taxation systems has gone. The information proves, once and for all, that there’s one rule for the wealthy and another for the rest of us. And it highlights the sheer, obscene greed of those in power, the people who wield significant financial influence over the way the world works.
“Not my fault”… really?
Some say the wholesale, planetary-scale tax evasion being uncovered isn’t their ‘fault’. And to an extent that’s true. The tax systems under question are the real issue. Or are they? At the end of the day these complex financial vehicles have been created by humans, and chosen by humans.
Much like the Edwards Snowden scandal, the Panama papers are predicted to keep on giving. Whistleblowing and leakage on this industrial scale has been slammed by some, but many more people seem glad it’s happened. After all, the fewer secrets people are allowed to keep, the less they can get away with and the less badly behaved they’re likely to be.
A world rigged in favour of the rich
The information leaked about the activities of the ‘Panamanian law firm’ (there’s an oxymoron for you!) Mossack Fonseca has already caused international PR heartache for Putin, Cameron and the PM of Iceland. But the biggest shock – maybe naively – has been that their activities weren’t actually illegal. Just amoral. It’s clear the game is rigged in favour of the rich, and the result is a world where people like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump hold real and frightening amounts of power over ordinary people’s destiny.
If you’re an individual or business owner who’s been pursued by HMRC for any reason, whether it’s for tax or VAT, you will probably feel justifiably furious with the people who invented these vehicles designed for tax evasion. You will probably feel even crosser with the individual human beings who actively chose to participate in them.
Is information anarchy set to change things forever?
Some say that thanks to the internet, this kind of mass ‘information anarchy’ is set to change the way the world works. As an article in the New York Time says, “This is changing the course of world history, fast. It is also changing the rules for mainstream journalists in the fierce business of unearthing secrets, and for the government and corporate officials in the fiercer business of keeping them.”
The nature of greed
Some of the people and organisations and individuals named and shamed couldn’t possibly spend all the money they’ve accrued and not paid taxes on. Which brings us on to the nature of greed. Why do people and the businesses they run need to generate such a lot of money? Why do they object to paying fair tax on the unbelievably vast amounts of money they generate?
On the home front, the Labour Party has urged a probe into the ‘frankly repulsive’ offshore tax haven allegations. Maybe we’ll see a socialist backlash, a state of affairs that traditionally conservative nations like the USA have never seen before. Whatever the future holds for those on the muddy end of the moral scale, they’re out in the open now and – with a bit of luck – the writing will soon be on the wall for the lot of them.