culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Monday, April 25, 2005
The case of the missing $11,500,000,000,000. Where will all that money, saved by idle Paris Hiltons if the US estate tax is attacked, end up?

Although they have only 1 percent of the world's inhabitants, they hold a quarter of United States stocks and nearly a third of all the globe's assets.

They're tax havens: 70 mostly tiny nations that offer no-tax or low-tax status to the wealthy so they can stash their money. Usually, the process is so secret that it draws little attention. But the sums - and lost tax revenues - are growing so large that the havens are getting new and unaccustomed scrutiny.

For example: When London's Tax Justice Network (TJN) reported a month ago that rich individuals worldwide had stashed $11.5 trillion of their assets in tax havens, it caused a fuss in Europe. "Super-rich hide trillions offshore," blazed a British newspaper headline.

Although that report received little notice outside Europe, there are rumblings of concern in the United States. That's not surprising. Nations lose an estimated $255 billion in tax revenues a year because of the havens, according to TJN. The US alone probably loses $60 billion a year, a tax expert estimates.

The loss hits not only prosperous industrial countries, but also developing nations. As a result, dozens of church groups* and other nongovernmental organizations concerned with world poverty are joining tax reformers in what will probably become a major political battle. They aim to stem the outflow of money from poor nations into tax havens - an outpouring that may exceed today's global foreign aid of some $60 billion a year.

"If we are serious about reducing poverty, one of the first things we need to tackle is an international financial system run by the rich, for the rich, at the expense of the poor," states David Woodward, director of the New Economics Foundation, a London think tank.

Corrupt officials in poor nations, illegally, and multinational corporations, mostly legally, siphon huge amounts of money into bank accounts and shell companies in 70 tax havens, such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Jersey.

"It's going to be the next major issue," forecasts Lucy Komisar, a New York journalist writing a book on offshore banking. She compares the drive against tax havens with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, in which she participated, and the feminist and environmental movements of more recent decades.
*Internationally, there still appear to be religious groups that are interested in alleviating poverty. This is in direct contrast to the United States, where many church groups are preoccupied with outlawing consensual adult sex, protecting a clerical class of pedophiles, and creating poverty and disease through a wide variety of political mechanisms.

Meanwhile, can we sic Eliot Spitzer on this tax haven thing?

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

. . .