This special feature is produced by Democracy at Work for Worker Independent News. This is Richard Wolff from Democracy at Work.
This last week has been a bombshell. Something called the Panama Papers is all over the news. What’s it about? A law firm exists in Panama that basically creates phony companies called shell companies that enable rich corporations around the world and wealthy individuals to hide their wealth to make sure other people don’t know about it, to make sure governments don’t know about it, to make sure they don’t have to pay taxes on it. For lots of reasons, legal and illegal, it’s a place to hide money.
How big is it? Well, the answer is, its worth trillions of dollars. Let me say that again, trillions of dollars. And here is the point. A professor at the University of California, in Berkley, Named Gabriel Zucman, has calculated 7-8 trillion dollars of money being hidden by the wealthy so they don’t have to pay taxes.
And why is it important? Because we are being told by politicians across the United States and around the world that they have to impose an austerity on us, raise taxes on our jobs and incomes, lower the services they can provide to us, lay off public employees that provide those services. Why? Because there isn’t the money, the taxes aren’t being paid, the government doesn’t have the wealth.
But of course it does. It always did. And the revelations around the Panama Papers prove it all, as if we really needed it. The money is there, it’s hidden, but we know where it’s hidden. That’s what these revelations enable us to see. It’s long past due that the politicians stop with the fake excuses that they can’t provide the services and the public sector jobs that this country needs. Go after the people we know are hiding it and evading the taxes. Do what you should have been doing for the mass of people all along.
This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work and for Worker Independent News.
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I can’t wrap my head around that kind of money, as it’s far more than our national debt. To pretend that so much as one person who is a part of this isn’t a criminal is just disingenuous. I also find it strange that our president, with all the executive power he has in ordering the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians abroad by drones and other nefarious decisions, can’t use this same power to get these American criminals brought to justice and loot their bank accounts for the sake of the people who have paid far too much for far too long.