Edward Snowden called it “the biggest leak in the history of data journalism”. And given the fact that the guy revealed our governments are monitoring our sexting activities, I think he speaks with some authority on the subject.
You’ve probably been hearing a lot about the Panama Papers these last couple of days. To cut to the chase the Papers represent a leak from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca which detail offshore tax evasion transactions by world leaders, celebrities and large companies. The amount of tax evasion involved seems to number in the tens of billions and those implicated range from Lionel Messi to the inner circle of Vladimir Putin to David Cameron’s Dad. While there has been a kind of tacit acceptance for years that the world’s superrich individuals and corporations dodged as much tax as possible, to see it laid bare in such stark and horrible terms makes obvious just how widespread this repugnant thievery and greed is. The Panama Papers have already claimed their first head in the form of Iceland’s Prime Minister and his kind-of-sort-of resignation, but they are sure to cause problems for plenty of other world political leaders as well as organisations such as FIFA.
All in all this could be a very positive development. We can see clearly now how the governments and organisations that have cheerleaded the age of austerity, in which people with disabilities have their benefits slashed, children with special needs have necessary services revoked and the young face an economic future bleaker than their parents or grandparents, have in fact been utterly hypocritical. They cheered on “suffering together” even as they horded wealth for themselves and claimed that there was “simply not money to pay” for the vital services which help to build an equitable and just world. Hopefully Iceland will not be the only country to see a fallout from this leak as people wake up to the fact that global mega-corporations have become economic mercenaries with no loyalty to any country, creed or cause, but their own continuing profit.
But there’s just one little issue.
You’ll notice that the leaks and coverage of them so far seem to primarily focus on implicating non-western individuals with some token exceptions. At what could be a time for introspective and angry soul-searching about the kind of economy we have built for ourselves in the West we instead choose to focus on cannons entirely on our traditional enemies: Vladimir Putin, Iran, countries in the developing world that may be in need of some “democratic regime change”. The usage of this leak as a weapon against our established enemies by our own establishment, which virtually never questions the economic reality imposed on us by the fantasy of “austerity”, should be questioned closely. And as with any questions about media coverage, you start with funding.
The leaks have been orchestrated by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists. Sounds dandy right, probably a great bunch of fellas? But I fear this may be in line with naming your nuclear armament lobbying company “Americans for an American America”. This work was funded by a who’s-who of Big Money political swingers in the US from the Rockefeller Foundation to George Soros. As well as this it seems that USAID is involved, an organisation known only for promoting fraternal and democratic relations with developing countries of course.
We cannot risk thinking of this mass robbery, money that could be paying for our schools, hospitals and care homes, as merely some external problem engaged in by our “official enemies” while we here in the West laugh at the antics of tin-pot dictators. If we continue to do so more and more wealth will siphon through the air, into filing cabinets filled with companies that occupy a sheet of paper and nothing else, leaving our societies to suffering and indignation, while we laugh at the silly tin pot dictators.