Terrorizing the Economy

by LAURA FLANDERS

Two acts of cruelty claimed lives this tax day.  One was criminal, bloody and shocked a nation. The other was routine, legal and potentially way more deadly. They both rely on secrecy.

The bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon were planted by we don’t know whom. The tax haven: a killer at the heart of our world economy, was planted by the planet’s richest people, businesses and banks with the complicity of their governments.

Compare tax evasion to terrorism? That’s going a bit far, I hear some of you say. Possibly, but think about it:

There’s a lot of wealth in the world. Right? You and I keep reading about it. The stock market is soaring and the world’s biggest companies are only getting richer. There was another report about that in the NY Times this week.

The profits for the 100 largest companies in the Standard & Poor’s stock index are up and in the world of finance, the top hedge fund managers are back in the pre-crash world of mega-big big earnings.  David Tepper, who oversees $15 billion of assets at Appaloosa Management, came in tops last year with a $2.2 billion payday.

So why are we in austerity, sequester, you name it; why are our public coffers so badly strapped? Income tax was supposed to fix all that, wasn’t it, guaranteeing that as the rich got richer they paid a fair share back to the society wherein grew their riches?

As historian Sam Pizzigati told GRITtv last week, “Between 1900 and the 1950s, average Americans beat down plutocrats every bit as dominant as ours.” A century that began with huge private fortunes and most Americans living in poverty came to see a mass middle class and social reforms thanks to organizers pushing Congress to pass a progressive income tax.

And then what happened? America’s rich figured out how to evade paying tax.

Today of course it’s not only Americans.  The Tax Justice Network estimates that at least $3.1 trillion of the world’s Gross Domestic Product is hidden away in low or no -tax tax havens, far from the tax man or woman in the place where that money was made.

What’s the price of that? In developing countries it amounts to the mass theft of mineral wealth and resources, extracted without paying a fair fee back. Here at home, it’s a theft from our public coffers, and it explains why, while, Wall Street is beyond booming, our public services strapped for cash. Public healthcare, education, lights and roads: when those making the most money are hiding it, who pays? Who hurts?

We’re not talking about a marginal phenomenon here. Today, tax evasion, loopholes and the off-shoring of assets in places like the Cayman Islands or the British Virgin Islands, is central to the global economy, especially to David Tepper’s world of finance.

Artist and activist Paolo Cirio told me this week that 85 percent of all hedge funds use offshore shell companies to hide from taxation. Their governments facilitate it.

Cirio has a solution – democratize evasion for all. He’s hacked into the Cayman Islands corporate registry and he’s giving away shell company identities to anyone who wants one.  Why not? It’s basically what the registrars do, he says.

Empowering everyone to evade taxes, hide money and debt, is one way to go.  Another is transparency. If wealthy taxpayers knew their tax returns would be open to public inspection, they would be far less audacious with their evading. Disclosure would also help lawmakers identify the tax loopholes that most needed plugging.

In 1934, progressives actually added a disclosure provision to the tax code, says Pizzigati. But the super rich counterattacked and killed it.

It’s time to try it again. Unveil the evaders. JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Intel, Del Monte, Seagate, Oracle, Pfizer and American Airlines, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Cargill, Ford, General Electric, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Vodafone, Starbucks…

As it should be, there’s an all-points, all the time, everywhere effort to identify and stop the shady killer or killers responsible for the murder and mayhem in Boston. Isn’t it time we got just as serious about the people who are terrorizing our economy?

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of The Laura Flanders Show coming to public television stations later this year. She was the host and founder of GRITtv.org. Follow her on Twitter: @GRITlaura. 

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
David Yearsley
A Rising Star Over a Dark Forest
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman