Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

The Laughing Bankers

Ireland: Financial Playground for Global Elites

by CAOIMHGHIN Ó CROIDHEÁIN

“So, so…[the €7 billion] is bridged until we can pay you back..which is never. [Loud laughter]”

(Telephone conversation between Anglo Irish Bank executives in September 2008)

Current ongoing revelations in the form of recorded telephone conversations between top Anglo Irish Bank executives in September 2008, added to the revelations of Google’s use of Ireland’s corporate tax regulations to reduce its tax bill in Britain, and Apple’s 2 per cent tax rate in Ireland show clearly that global elites regard Ireland as a country where they can pretty much do as they like with scant regard for the Irish people.

The daily telephone revelations have caused shock and outrage in the Irish media as the contrast between the life of the laughing bank executives and the current distress of Irish people, weighed down with huge mortgages, wage cuts and the introduction of new taxes, adds fuel to the simmering anger being felt across the country.

While many Irish people, who have taken the cuts and new taxes on the chin, work hard to ‘get us out of austerity’ and exiting the bailout programme, the latest revelations show once again that the elites can abuse the system with impunity.  The distress being felt can be heard on radio talk shows with people breaking down on air as they describe their personal financial situations.

Google this

The rot really seemed to set in when the  “UK parliament’s Public Accounts Committee accused internet search engine Google of “devious” use of Ireland’s corporate tax regulations to reduce its tax bill in Britain” in May of this year. [1] Google “paid £6 million in corporation tax in 2011 though its sales in the UK, mostly processed through Dublin, are worth around £3.2 billion.” [2] It must be remembered that Google, who have 300 staff in Ireland, are on the low Irish 12.5% rate of corporation tax.

Apple and the Holy Grail of Taxation

Two weeks later, Apple was accused of using Ireland as a tax haven by a US Senate Subcommittee.  According to Democrat Carl Levin and Republican John McCain, “Apple negotiated a special two per cent tax rate in Ireland – far less than the State’s 12.5 per cent rate for companies.” [3] This agreement allowed Apple to avoid “paying $44 (€34) billion in US taxes over the past four years by operating off-shore companies based in Hollyhill Industrial Estate in County Cork.” [4] Apple employs around 4,000 people in Ireland, and there is no doubt the Irish Government yielded to the power of large multinational corporations when it agreed to a special tax deal with the Irish Revenue Commissioner in the early nineties. [5]

According to McCain: “A company that found remarkable success by harnessing American ingenuity and the opportunities afforded by the US economy should not be shifting its profits overseas to avoid the payment of US tax, purposefully depriving the American people of revenue.”  [6] It is important to note here that the low rates of corporation tax in Ireland similarly deprives  the Irish people of revenue, the loss of which the Irish government is trying to replace with new taxes on Irish workers.

 Laughing banksters

The effects of austerity on Irish society with a return to high levels of suicide, emigration, and unemployment have resulted in a quiet desperation as people try to make sense of the current articles in a prominent Irish newspaper where Paul Williams (generally known for his investigations into gangland goings-on) revealed how Anglo Irish Bank executives minimized their financial problems to drag the Central Bank (and the taxpayer ) into a continuous bailout [7] while Anglo Irish Bank boss David Drumm “laughed about “abusing” the bank guarantee.” [8] In one quoted transcript, John Bowe, who was Anglo’s head of capital markets in 2008 says:

“That number is seven [billion] but the reality is we need more than that. But you know, the strategy here is you pull them [the Central Bank] in, you get them to write a big cheque and they have to keep, they have to support their money, you know.” [9]

The difficult background scenario shows the seriousness of the crisis at the time:

“At the time, European leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel and UK chancellor Alistair Darling were alarmed at how the guarantee could affect their banking systems. But Mr Bowe sang a “comedy” version of the anthem ‘Deutschland Uber Alles’ and talked about giving “two fingers” to British concern. Mr Drumm and Mr Bowe are heard laughing at the concerns that the movement of money was causing a rift between Ireland and its EU partners. Drumm declares to his colleague: “So f***in’ what. Just take it anyway . . . stick the fingers up.”” [10]

By 30 September 2010, the Irish Government announced a total estimate of the eventual cost of the Anglo Irish bailout as at least €29.3 billion and by 31 March 2011 Anglo Irish Bank announced a €17.7 billion loss for the year 2010, breaking its own record for the highest corporate loss in Irish history. [11]

National debt

The effect of government bailouts and borrowing can be seen clearly in the huge rise of the National Debt from 44.3 €bn in 2005 to 192.5 €bn in 2012. [12] According to one commentator:

“There is no point having high nominal taxes which the wealthy and big multinationals can avoid paying. The reality is now that the major part of the deficit, the difference between what the government takes in and pays out, is made up of the interest payments on the national debt. €64 billion of the debt was incurred bailing out the banks.” [13]

The continuing situation of high levels of borrowing, interest repayments on the growing National Debt and government planning more cutbacks does not augur well for those struggling to survive and looking for some alleviation of their financial hardships in the near future.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is a prominent Irish artist who has exhibited widely around Ireland. His work consists of paintings based on cityscapes of Dublin, Irish history and geopolitical themes (http://gaelart.net/). His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.

Notes

[1] http://businessetc.thejournal.ie/google-exec-grilled-by-uk-politicians-over-devious-use-of-ireland-to-reduce-tax-bill-911503-May2013/

[2] http://businessetc.thejournal.ie/google-exec-grilled-by-uk-politicians-over-devious-use-of-ireland-to-reduce-tax-bill-911503-May2013/

[3] http://www.thejournal.ie/ireland-is-apples-holy-grail-of-tax-avoidance-918345-May2013/

[4] http://www.thejournal.ie/ireland-is-apples-holy-grail-of-tax-avoidance-918345-May2013/

[5] http://www.thejournal.ie/ireland-is-apples-holy-grail-of-tax-avoidance-918345-May2013/

[6] http://www.thejournal.ie/ireland-is-apples-holy-grail-of-tax-avoidance-918345-May2013/

[7] http://www.thejournal.ie/the-anglo-tapes-9-jaw-dropping-quotes-from-before-the-bailout-964097-Jun2013/

[8] http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/abuse-the-bank-guarantee-dont-get-caught-david-drumm-29369275.html

[9] http://www.thejournal.ie/the-anglo-tapes-9-jaw-dropping-quotes-from-before-the-bailout-964097-Jun2013/

[10] http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/abuse-the-bank-guarantee-dont-get-caught-david-drumm-29369275.html

[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo_Irish_Bank

[12] http://www.ntma.ie/business-areas/funding-and-debt-management/debt-profile/historical-information/

[13] http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/ireland-poster-child-austerity-joan-collins-899403-May2013/