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The Panama Papers. Duck! Here comes another moral crusade.

I’ll be doing a little extra blogging this week because I’ve been doing physical labor (drywalling) and need a break from it. Also because … Panama Papers.

I hadn’t heard of the scandal until Monday when jc2k linked to it in comments. By then it was already 24 hours old (ancient in Internet Time) and had been thoroughly clucked over by all the usual suspects.

The collective bottom line seems not only to be, “OMG, gov-o-crats are hiding ill-gotten gains offshore!” (this is a shock to anybody?) but, “Offshore privacy should be done away with!”

Um … yeah. Hasn’t offshore privacy already been curbed a time or three? And don’t gangsters and gov-o-crats and their cronies (but I repeat myself) always find some way to hide ill-gotten gains? And don’t ordinary, innocent people with assets that need to be protected from the above also take advantage of the “loopholes” that are inevitably left for the kleptocrats?

The notion that you can do away with financial hidey-holes — especially financial hidey-holes both controlled and utilized by people who are in charge of the laws and regulations governing said hidey-holes is as tidily moralistic as the notion that you can do away with drugs, guns, liquor, or whatever other bugaboo the moral moment might focus on. And just as untidy in practice.

Most people use offshore corporations for legitimate purposes — like the legitimate need to protect honest gains and assets from thieves in governments.

But that won’t do, will it? So now we’ll see yet another big moral crusade against offshore tax shelters.

Laws, regulations, treaties, and those trendy not-a-treaty-but-just-like-one-only-simpler-to-impose trade agreements will be changed. Everybody will say, “Good job! We’ve foiled the eeeevil plans of kleptocrats and organized crimesters. Decency shall now reign forevermore.” And after a few hiccups, thievery and corruption will go on as usual using some slightly different form of hidey-hole. Preserving wealth will merely become that much harder for those who lack the government connections or the will to break the latest round of laws. (Which reminds me of this study on human sacrifice and social hierarchy that came out this week.)

Bigger questions I haven’t heard anybody asking yet. How to catch and whack the kleptocrats without busting the legitimate privacy of hundreds of thousands of decent human beings (actual, old-fashioned investigation, perhaps — the following of specific suspicions, specific evidence, specific leads)? Why wasn’t Mossack Fonseca, that Panamanian law firm, doing more to protect its clients’ records, since privacy is supposed to be at the core of its business? And how many other ordinary people are at risk of disclosure from similar hacks at similar firms?

Interesting times …

21 Comments

  1. RustyGunner
    RustyGunner April 6, 2016 4:21 pm

    One solution to catching and whacking the kleptocrats while not doing ordinary folk dirty is to adopt the Pitchfork Populist’s methodology and actually, you know, catch and whack the kleptocrats. Their heirs might just take their inheritance and keep their heads down to avoid being the next meal.

  2. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty April 7, 2016 4:05 am

    Just read where Obummer “Claims Power to Make Illegal Immigrants Eligible for Social Security, Disability” http://cnsnews.com/commentary/terence-p-jeffrey/obama-claims-power-make-illegal-immigrants-eligible-social-security

    SS, etc. are already bankrupt, so that would hurry things along nicely… I do wonder how the kleptocrats fared after the fall of Rome. Of course, they had a long, long time to get their stuff into “shelters.” I suspect things will move along a bit faster this time. The current kleptocrats may well shelter their money, but the pitchforks (and ropes) may get them anyway.

  3. Psmith
    Psmith April 7, 2016 6:41 am

    O/T: is JPFO worth joining these days? I’m fairly new to guns, found a bunch of your old posts criticizing the Gottleib takeover, but as far as I can tell from their website they’re still pretty much up to business as usual–and I quite like their idea of business as usual.

  4. Mark Call
    Mark Call April 7, 2016 8:20 am

    Beg for the Tyranny:
    Beg for Speech Controls.
    Beg for Warrrantless Searches
    Beg for Gun Confiscation.
    Beg for the Wall.
    Beg for FINCEN. Beg for ZIRP, and then beg for NIRP.
    Beg for the Cashless Society.

    Beg for the One Mark to control them all.

    Beg for mercy.
    Wash, rinse, repeat.

    There really is nuthin’ new under the sun.

  5. Mark Call
    Mark Call April 7, 2016 8:53 am

    PS> Anyone remember Inslaw, the PROMIS software Bankster Backdoor, BCCI, and the Rose Law Firm? Not to mention a whole string of bodies on the Dead List? (Vince Foster, Danny Casolaro, et al.)

    ‘Privacy’ is for SOME. And that’s what backdoors are for. Just ask the NSA, Google, and MicroShaft, among others…

  6. david
    david April 7, 2016 10:25 am

    Has the ‘hacker’ been identified as yet? Could this be a new variation on ‘cyber-warfare’, committed by some government or gov agency? 11 million pages of documents will certainly out some ‘regular folks’, but for most of us plebians it will be simply a matter of paying up on the taxes we hoped to avoid. For the politicians, some may be looking at their last payday ever.

    Just my opinion – cuz I have zero ‘wealth’ – but I don’t think I’d bother with off-shore banks. It would seem to be more practical to just convert it all to physical goods – metals, gems, even bearer bonds – and then bury it somewhere. It’s still readily available, and unless you bury it in your back yard, not likely to be found. Maybe if I had ‘billions’ to hide, then it would make sense – but I don’t have faith in paper currency and a floating exchange rate. Nor do I have faith in ‘credit’ investments. If the account paperwork can be hacked, so can the account data, and my ‘wealth’ could be moved to someone else’s account in the blink of an eye, leaving me poorer than I am now.

  7. capn
    capn April 7, 2016 6:21 pm

    ” Psmith Says:
    April 7th, 2016

    O/T: is JPFO worth joining these days? I’m fairly new to guns, found a bunch of your old posts criticizing the Gottleib takeover, but as far as I can tell from their website they’re still pretty much up to business as usual–and I quite like their idea of business as usual.”

    This is on the search page:
    (www.jpfo.org/articles-2015/prohibited-persons-expansi…

    Aug 5, 2015 … Check them out, and then make your decision – one, the other, or both. Many of the ‘old’ JPFO writers left and went with The Zelman Partizans.)

    and this is the actual spelling and link:
    http://zelmanpartisans.com/

    Your decision to make.
    I’ve made mine and Mr Gottlieb is not someone I, personally, trust.

    YMMV

  8. LarryA
    LarryA April 7, 2016 9:04 pm

    Bearer bonds are a better investment than offshore accounts once the countries the accounts are in go belly-up, and after the U.S. economy tanks. The dollars you can exchange them for will be useless either way, but you can use the bearer bonds for toilet paper.

    If civilization fails, precious metals and jewels might be valuable long-term’

    “Long-term” meaning you last long enough for agriculture and civilization to recover to the point where food is plentiful enough to swap for pretty things, and the glut on such, available in the aftermath when everybody else is selling their diamonds, has been absorbed in a much smaller market.

    [/gloom & doom]

    It’s been a long week.

    JPFO links to a lot of good articles, a week or so after they’re published elsewhere. Writers like Claire, who provided their original content, have gone elsewhere.

  9. Matt
    Matt April 8, 2016 6:00 am

    My thought when I heard about the PAnama Papers was a yawn. No kidding? Kleptocrats stealing and hiding money? Wake me when something new happens. They should do nothing to reform this. Why mKe everyone go to the trouble? I would be more concerned if they were fining caches of gold, jewels, artwork etc.

  10. Shel
    Shel April 8, 2016 6:01 am

    Question: gmail has just disabled an email account of mine for reasons I don’t understand. I’ve sent in a query, and have the reply “Thanks for contacting our Google Accounts team. We’ll review your report, and will contact you only if we have additional information to share.”

    Didn’t much like them anyway. I live in FL, if that matters. Does anyone have any suggestions for a switch? Thanks.

  11. Shel
    Shel April 8, 2016 6:24 am

    I get the email that says my account has been suspended, so I send the query. 11 minutes after the suspension notice I get another that says my account is active. I just checked it and it works. I’m still fed up with them, though. Any suggestions would be appreciated. While I realize there’s no privacy on the ‘net, Google seems to take intruding to extremes. Thanks.

  12. R.L. Wurdack
    R.L. Wurdack April 8, 2016 6:42 am

    OT, Mike Vanderboegh’s Sipsey Street site hasn’t been updated in two weeks, Mar 24. Has anyone got a report?

  13. Pat
    Pat April 8, 2016 7:46 am

    Shel – Try Thunderbird.

    Or look into StartMail.com for privacy-oriented email; it’s out of the Netherlands – but it’s not free, and it’s via the internet, so needs a backup email address through your ISP.

  14. Claire
    Claire April 8, 2016 12:30 pm

    Psmith — I’m glad capn and LarryA stepped in when I wasn’t available.

    Yes, there’s a lot of good OLDER content on JPFO, but since the takeover, the only two writers who stayed with them have left and not been replaced. They publish “alerts” that are mostly just week-old articles from other sources, and they’ve done very little else in the last year and a half.

    Last activity I saw from them was their statement condemning Ted Nugent for being anti-Semitic — a statement they then rapidly withdrew after Nicki from The Zelman Partisans actually talked with Nugent and found out what was really going on with him.

    I wouldn’t say not to join JPFO. But I’d surely say check out The Zelman Partisans first. TZP has a membership program, too, and has much more going on (as well as having an uncompromising viewpoint).

  15. Claire
    Claire April 11, 2016 8:33 pm

    RLW — I don’t know. But I assume the news is bad. I’ve got an email in to David Codrea, who’ll probably know if anyone does what’s going on with Mike — and if there’s anything others can do to help.

    Being offline so much, I’d failed to notice Sipsey Street wasn’t being updated. Thank you for the heads up, even if it portends the worst.

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