Monday, April 11, 2016

Who's Sorry Now?

Annamaria on Monday




In mid-2015, I posted about corruption and perceptions of corruption, a blog that included the following diatribe:

My ire about this subject began to reach continental proportions as the Northern European ire over Greece got splashed across the world media.  “We are tired,” a friend reported his Scandinavian friends complaining,  “of people wanting a handout.  Their country is rife with corruption.  We want them to pay their debts.”  No admission was given that the poor of Greece will suffer while the corrupt sail off in their yachts.  In fact, as far as I can see, the EU powerbase does not care how many people are starving, how many young lives are ruined, as long as they get “their” money back.

Just about everywhere one goes, one hears a lot of distain from the well-off for all those corrupt, darker-skinned folks south of Alps all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope.  In my hemisphere, it’s from the Alamo all the way down to Tierra Del Fuego.  I have heard a lot of this same drivel within Italy: The northerners “tired” of the meridianali, and blaming them for their poverty.

But where did this susceptibility toward corruption come from?  Is it a genetic propensity linked somehow how to skin color?




Now, for the past ten days or so, I have been giggling when listening to the news about the Panama Papers and the ensuing scandals about off-shore tax avoidance schemes.   Last year's sanctimonious condemners of the darker folks to their south have now found out that they have gazillions of goniffs of their own.

I know I shouldn't gloat, but I hate it when any group claims that "We're all good, and they are all bad."  That sentiment is usually followed by giving "us" the right to make (or at least let) "them" suffer.



If you have missed the news, I would not blame you for avoiding it.  But here is a select list of the items that caught my attention when it comes to this story:



Iceland: the Prime Minister and his wife's financial diddling is bringing him down.

Norway: On the lists of the Panamanian tax brigands, they found thirty companies owned by Norwegians

Sweden: Nordea, one of the largest financial institutions in Scandanavia has set up almost four hundred off-shore companies to help its clients avoid paying taxes.



Great Britain:  The Guardian reports that 31,000 (Yes! Thirty-one thousand) off-shore companies own property in Britain.  More than 180 million British pounds invested just in 2015 are thought to be the proceeds of corruption.  Six members of the House of Lords were on the Panamanian scandal list.

To be fair, I have to admit that no continent is free of these doers of miserable deeds.  But I have always believed in equal opportunity.  Perhaps that is why I am happy to hear that the finger-pointers of last year are on this year's mud-slinger target list.

I leave you with the words of Woody Guthrie:

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

Thanks for this final image to Carlos Dews, co-author with SJ Rozan of the
wonderful BLOOD OF THE LAMB!

18 comments:

  1. But... but... but... all of that laundered money is being reinvested, and is bound to trickle down to the rest of us. Right? Right? I'm sure I heard that somewhere...

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    1. I've heard that too, EvKa, I think we both know where and from whom. The problem is that the trickles at the speed of bitumen--about one drop every 7 or 8 years. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_drop_experiment)

      Global warming might speed that up, but air-conditioning slows it down, which the super rich tax avoiders will always be able to afford. A drop of that wealth might trickle down on you, but don't hold your breath.

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  2. Woody Guthrie always hit the nail on the head!
    What a world we live in! It's like a daily dose of Ripley's Believe it or not!

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    1. It's absurd, Kathy. But knowing that, early on, people laughed Hitler and Mussolini makes it hard for me to laugh now.

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  3. I can only quote Orwell: Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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    1. YES, Zoe, and absolute greed corrupts the MOST!

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    2. I believe another Brit gets credit for that quote...no, not Cameron...Lord Acton (John Dalberg).

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  4. We have a few of our own 'participants' here in South Africa. No one is getting too excited. We'd be shocked if we'd missed out on an opportunity like this!

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    1. It's a BIG club, Michael. And it gives equal opportunities to billionaires regardless of race, creed, color, gender, sexual preference, or national origin. It's the bank balance, not the color of the money that matters. You might even admire that openess, if the motives weren't completely heinous.

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  5. America is, of course, the land of equal opportunity so we allow virtually anyone to mask their identities behind any number of corporate/LLC names, most notably in purchases of grossly overpriced New York City real estate by those desperate to convert suspect funds into legitimate assets.

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    1. Yes. And even if the money was clean to begin with, when they sell out to the next greedy group of tax dodgers for an unconscionable profit, they will use their shadow corporations to make sure they don't have to pay even the slightest percentage of their profits to support the fire department that made sure their investment didn't burn to the ground while they were frolicking in Aspen or Mystique or visiting their money in Switzerland or the Virgin Islands.

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  6. The only ones not represented on the list are the poor. The only thing I am sure of that trickles down is sewage. Most of the world's population is grateful to "John Doe".

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    1. Right you are, Jono. We agree 100% as usual.

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  7. As scary as are the Trump bigotry, threats of torture and more war, as well as violence against protesters at his rallies, and the possibility of Cruz's candidacy (Paul Krugman said he wants to bring back the Spanish Inquisition!), I'm not seeing fascism coming.
    But I do see incredible bigotry being fanned.

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    1. Yes, Kathy, I am seeing glimmers of hope in past few weeks as far as the presidential outcome is concerned. But as you say bigotry is on the rise. And fanning the flames of internecine anger is so destructive to the fabric of our society--which has been left in shreds by the politics of division over the past fifteen, twenty years, at least.

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  8. I'm with you - I shake my head whenever someone gets holier than thou about anything...because at one point or another they come home from putting stones through other people's windows, only to find a few shattered panes in their own glass houses.

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    1. Perfect image, Susan. I can hear the shards crunching under their $4000 bespoke shoes.

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  9. How many day care centers, public schools, hospitals, affordable housing units, food programs, libraries, art and music classes, science programs for children, public parks and recreation, etc., could be funded by the tax money that is not paid, either due to corporate or personal tax loopholes or offshore banking and investments!
    There are corporations here that pay no taxes! Warren Buffet says his administrative staff pays a higher tax rate than he does!
    It's a truth is stranger than fiction society here.

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