What others say: Critical neglect in the Arctic

  • Monday, April 18, 2016 8:47pm
  • Opinion

Americans’ faith in their financial
system has rarely been so low. Presidential candidates in both parties, from Sen. Ted Cruz on the right to Sen. Bernie Sanders on the left, argue that our politicians are bought by Wall Street and that regulators are captured by the industries they oversee.

Eight years after the global financial crisis, politicians are tapping into deep skepticism among Americans about the way money flows here and around the world. The skepticism has had impact beyond the campaigns: It has helped stall, for instance, important trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership and stoked opposition to the Export-Import Bank.

Comes now one more blow. About 11.5 million documents taken from a single Panamanian law firm reveal the way the global elite — from world leaders to ordinary rich folks — have taken advantage on a massive scale of laws that permit secretive and often suspicious transactions to remain covert and nearly untraceable.

Already, Iceland’s prime minster has resigned. Spanish authorities are looking into possible tax violations by an offshore firm revealed to be owned by the aunt of the reigning Spanish king.

So far, Americans have not been named among the dozen or so world leaders found to have had hidden interests in off-shore companies. But USA Today has reported that the documents do reveal that the law firm in Panama has helped create more than 1,100 offshore firms in America in the past 15 years, mostly in Nevada and Wyoming. Indeed, Nevada is now one of the world’s 10 busiest tax havens, on a list that includes British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and Samoa.

We should be clear: Establishing a company in Nevada, even if its owners, employees, and primary business functions all are located in another country, isn’t usually illegal. It’s legal in the same way that major American corporations have in recent years kept profits from overseas sales parked in offshore accounts in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

But as President Barack Obama told reporters last week. “The problem is that a lot of this stuff is legal, not illegal.”

The U.S. Treasury Department is on the cusp of announcing another round of rules that will require banks to know who their customers are, and what their business is. That’s a start. A simpler tax code — with fewer incentives to shelter ownership — is another.

In the meantime, companies — and the law firms and accountants and banks that help them — that continue to use such tactics to avoid taxes and shield from scrutiny both their owners and their operations must cop to their role in furthering the mistrust ordinary Americans have for their financial system.

— The Dallas Morning News, April 11, 2016

More in Opinion

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Voices of the Peninsula: Get out there and Vote!

The League of Women Voters on the Kenai and Kenai Peninsula Votes created this voter guide for the mayoral election

Taz Tally. (Photo by Christina Whiting/courtesy)
Point of View: I stand with drag queens

I changed my perspective when I saw my first drag queen show in Montreal in 1964

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Capitol
Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

tt
Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

1
Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…