I’m sure Mitt Romney wonders why anyone would question his Swiss bank account and the millions he stashed in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. As he reiterates: It’s all quite legal.
And in his world, it’s all quite moral.
In Romney’s world, there are no countries, no communities, just the very rich and those who want to prey on the fruits of their hard work and good fortune. In Romney’s world, the paramount obligation is to protect the wealth that is theirs by Divine Right. In other words, if God hadn’t wanted them to be rich, they would be poor. So it would be an obstruction of God’s will to let others take their money.
In some cases, God says they should give 10 percent of their income to their church – the Mormon Church in Romney’s case. But God didn’t specify another penny. Not in their faith. Certainly God didn’t tell them to let the government get any of it to help their fellow-citizens.
You and I, as Christians, believe that we enrich ourselves by sharing our money with the poor. Our religion tells us we are laying up treasures in Heaven, “where rust and moths do not corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
But that’s just us.
The Romneys of the world believe it is God’s will that they should have five or six houses (make that mansions), enjoy $500 (and more) haircuts and travel in private jets. They believe it is entirely appropriate to take whatever they can and give only what they absolutely have to. If the tax code allows them to exempt hundreds of thousands for such pursuits as breeding and training Olympic-level horses, they take the exemptions.
So I am not surprised when I read that the super-rich keep $21 trillion to$32 trillion in overseas bank accounts to avoid paying taxes.
Carl Gibson of Reader Supported News points out in an article today:
$32 trillion is a hell of a lot of money. In fact, it’s more than double the United States’ total accumulated debt. In fact, $32 trillion would be enough to settle both the debt of the United States and the European Union combined. Visualized in cash, the amount of money stashed overseas by the 0.001% would be almost as high as the Statue of Liberty and wider than two football fields. And thanks to the numerous loopholes, gimmicks and special deductions written into the tax code at the request of corporate lobbyists who have the ear of the chairmen of tax-writing committees worldwide, public debts and corporate profits are skyrocketing, while tax revenues and the standard of living for the other 99% of us is plummeting.
Gibson reports that:
The Sundance 2012 documentary “We’re Not Broke” (full disclosure: I’m in it) explains the numerous dodges that multinational corporations use to avoid taxation, like transfer-pricing and gimmicks they’re still pushing for to avoid even more tax, like repatriation and territorial tax systems. Nicholas Shaxson’s book “Treasure Islands” explains the history of tax dodging, going all the way back to the Vestey family’s intricate financial ploys, and delves into the shady business of blind trusts. Through these underhanded means, the secret offshore economy is actually greater than the combined GDP of both the United States and Japanese economies combined. To illustrate further, the money hidden offshore by a tiny fraction of the global elite is worth more than what over 200,000,000 employed Americans and Japanese add to their economies.
Nations from the USA to Greece to Spain to Ireland are all hemorrhaging tax dollars by the billions every year into these offshore accounts. The money padding the pockets of the immensely rich could instead be used to insure that workers have a pension when they retire, that police officers and firefighters in Scranton, Pennsylvania, could be paid more than minimum wage, that public school students could have books in the classroom. Instead, these powerful corporations spend millions lobbying Congress to cut their taxes even more, which causes Congress to force austerity on the rest of us, which means the 99% has to make do with even less while the richest 0.001% makes off like bandits.
To this, the super-rich might respond: Why should we let the government take our money to ensure that strangers have pensions or that other people’s children have books? What do we care about police officers and firefighters in Scranton, Pennsylvania? If God wanted them to have pensions and schoolbooks and pay raises, He would give it to them.
But it is supremely ironic (and quite shameless) for Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, to blame President Obama for America’s 15 trillion-dollar national debt while at the same time proposing policies that would inevitably siphon even more trillions into those offshore tax havens.