The Panama Papers : How the rich rob us

The Panama Papers include the President of Argentina, the former prime minister of Georgia, Iceland's prime minister, the ex-prime minister of Iraq, the former prime minister of Jordan, the former prime minister of Qatar, the former Emir of Qatar, the King of Saudi Arabia, the former president of Sudan, UAE President, Abu Dhabi emir, the former Ukraine prime minister, the President of Ukraine, Azerbaijan's first family, the brother-in-law of the Chinese President, the daughter of a former Chinese Premier, childhood friends of Russian President Putin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, cousins of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the father of British prime minister, the son of former Egyptian President Mubarak, the personal secretary to the King of Morocco, children of Pakistan's prime minister, the son of Ghana's former president, the son of Malaysia's prime minister, the "favorite contractor" of Mexico's president, the former king of Spain's sister, an associate of Cote d'Ivoire's former president, a nephew of the South African President, the widow of Lansana Conté, the former dictator and president of Guinea

Socialist Worker 389

The Panama Papers : How the rich rob us

Oxfam says 1% of population own half of world’s wealth. According to a report published in January 2016 by Oxfam International, the world’s 62 wealthiest individuals now own the same as the poorest half of the global population.

Global refugee numbers have doubled to 60 million over the past 15 years.

Nearly half of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.

According to UNICEF, more than 20,000 children die each day due to poverty.

More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. In Ireland our water is sold to us to finance the bank bailout program.

Big corporations, like Apple in Ireland use every trick in the book to resist paying back taxes for the billions of profits they make.

In Dublin, 292 families, including up to 600 children have become homeless in the first 3 months of 2016 alone.

Politicians continue to insist that there is no money for wages, pensions, benefits or public services.

Evidence

In a world like that, what the Panama Papers have revealed is even more evidence of how the global elite, including corporations, banks and powerful politicians operate to protect their wealth at the expense of billions of people. The Panama Papers show  not a simple case of corruption by a small minority but a widespread and systematic operation by the global rich.

From Britain to South Africa, the files reveal the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world. More than 214,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. Major banks have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havens.

Panama off-shore accounts are not a result of lack regulation or laws but precisely because of how the capitalist system organises itself and enables the rich to operate. For them, when it comes to shifting their wealth around the globe there are no borders. They can seek refuge anywhere they like.

London-based campaign group, the Tax Justice Network, estimates that worldwide there is a total of $21-$32 trillion [that is $21-$32 thousand billion!] deposited in shell companies that have been set up in offshore tax havens like the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Cayman Islands etc.

With every scandal or crisis the politicians speak of regulating the financial markets. But in practice, the states act as protectors of the super rich.

Before the banking crisis of 2008 in Ireland, how many ‘reform’ packages were implemented ? How many costly tribunals were held? What have these really changed?

British Chancellor George Osborne has described tax avoidance as ‘morally repugnant’ but over half of all the tax havens used by Mossack Fonseca are in British-administered territories.

Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron is holding an international summit in May 2016 supposedly to tackle tax-evasion and corruption. This is the same man whose family has been named in the Panama Papers but the British Parliamentary Commission for Standards refuses to explain the reason for the decision not to investigate his financial affairs.

Britain’s David Cameron and the law firm Mossack Fonseca say that they have done nothing illegal.  But avoiding tax payment is only ‘legal’ because governments have written the rules that way. These rules are necessary for the capitalist rich. That is the problem. The Panama Papers confirm that the system of capitalism cannot be tamed or reformed.

Even the massive scale of the Panama leaks does not give the full picture. Mossack Fonseca is just one company that is part of a massive industry helping the 1% to hide their fortunes from the tax man.

The Panama Papers are evidence of how the powerful of the world are united in protecting their wealth. The only solution to this is to put the wealth under true democratic control of the working classes. The capitalist system may pretend to give us political democracy where we have free elections etc. but what we need is a true economic democracy where the economy is run for the benefit of the ordinary working class people.

To achieve this we need to build a strong internationalist socialist alternative to this rotten system  that kills children; creates wars, forces millions of people into poverty and creates refugees.

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