It’s said that there’s nothing more vicious than a wild animal that’s cornered, but I’d add that there’s nothing more devious than a top corporate or political official caught in a scandalous hypocrisy.
Witness the huge menagerie of political critters who’ve recently been backed into a corner by the “Panama Papers.” This is a trove of thousands of internet documents leaked to global media outlets, revealing that assorted billionaires, rich celebrities, corporate chieftains, and – yes – pious public officials have been hiding their wealth and dodging the taxes they owe by stashing their cash in foreign tax havens. Of course, we’ve known for a while that tax dodging is a common plutocratic scam, but the details from the leaked files of an obscure Panamanian law firm named Mossack Fonseca now gives us names to shame.
One is David Cameron, the ardently conservative prime minister of Britain, who has loudly declaimed tax sneaks in public. But –oops! – now we learn that his own super-wealthy father was a Mossack Fonseca client, and that David himself has profited from the stealth wealth he inherited from the elder Cameron’s secret stash.
Trapped by the facts, the snarling, privileged prime minister used middle-class commoners as his shield, asserting that critics of his secluded wealth are trying to “tax anyone who [wants] to pass on their home… to their children.” Uh-uh, David – we merely want to tax those who try to pass-off tax frauds on the public.
One of Cameron’s partisans even claimed that critics “hate anybody who has a hint of wealth in them.” No, it’s the gross, self-serving hypocrisy of the elites that people hate. Yet now, doubling down on their hypocrisy, Cameron & Company have announced that they’ll host an anticorruption summit meeting to address the problem of offshore tax evaders! As Lily Tomlin says: “No matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up.”
“Mud is Slung in a Debate On Overseas Tax Havens,” The New York Times, April 12, 2016.