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Panama – it’s not just for the canal or the hats

What most of us would like is for the Government to spend less and leave us with more of our own money. If Messrs Cameron and Osborne now get caught up in a tidal wave of popular resentment against the avariciousness of the rich they will only have themselves to blame for playing footsie with the Left’s analysis that wealth creation is to be despised, inheritance is evil and judicious tax planning is immoral. Rather than mount a robust Tory defence of the virtues of material success backed by lower or flatter taxes and affordable public spending, they have burnished their so-called One Nation credentials to avoid being portrayed as out of touch, privileged and posh. There may well be activities exposed by the Panama Papers that will warrant criminal investigation. But this story has been hijacked by anti-capitalist campaigners who think all our earnings should be handed over to the state to be redistributed by Jeremy Corbyn and his followers. They simply cannot understand the aspirational instincts that drive most people, and they never will.

Philip Johnston, one of the many who are writing about the Panama Papers affair.

As an aside, one issue that hasn’t been directly faced in the commentaries is this: if it is appalling for journalists to hack phones and steal private, confidential data in pursuit of politicians, celebs, etc, why is it noble and good to do so when this involves leaking millions of account details, many of which are about people who haven’t committed any crimes? Ok, it is in the public interest, will be the retort. But who gets to decide this?

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28 comments to Panama – it’s not just for the canal or the hats

  • Mr Ed

    It was in Panama, but it leaked, and you canal sea what was going on.

  • If Messrs Cameron and Osborne now get caught up in a tidal wave of popular resentment against the avariciousness of the rich they will only have themselves to blame for playing footsie with the Left’s analysis that wealth creation is to be despised, inheritance is evil and judicious tax planning is immoral. Rather than mount a robust Tory defence of the virtues of material success backed by lower or flatter taxes and affordable public spending, they have burnished their so-called One Nation credentials to avoid being portrayed as out of touch, privileged and posh

    This paragraph is a superb description and indeed indictment of Cameron’s Tory Party.

  • Kevin B

    But this story has been hijacked by anti-capitalist campaigners who think all our earnings should be handed over to the state to be redistributed by Jeremy Corbyn and his followers

    AKA the BBC.

  • Fred Z

    I start to read ever more hysterical articles at the Guardian and cannot finish them because they are so repetitive and boring. The same two points over, and over, and over…

    1. rich people often use tax shelters and havens.
    2. some rich people got their money corruptly.

    Really? Who knew. The left will get no traction from this, because we all knew it.

    There are many jurisdictions with fairly tough privacy laws. I hope the non-corrupt victims of the leak sue the lefty media organs who released their private information into oblivion.

  • Mr Ed

    I await an investigation by the UK’s ‘Information Commissioner’ (yes, there is such a post) into the importation into the EEA and the transfer around it of personal data without the permission of the ‘data subjects’, but I wait not with bated breath as I do not wish to suffocate, as its ok to ‘import’ personal data into the EEA, but not to export it from it, unless there are ‘adequate safeguards’.

    But I still find it hard to see why a bunch with the pompous title of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists might think that they are entitled to ignore the law, e.g. in the UK, the rules on data protection appear to prohibit this sort of thing, per the ICO:

    “The Data Protection Act says that:

    Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless –

    (a) at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and

    (b) in the case of sensitive personal data, at least one of the conditions in Schedule 3 is also met.

    This is the first data protection principle. In practice, it means that you must:

    have legitimate grounds for collecting and using the personal data;
    not use the data in ways that have unjustified adverse effects on the individuals concerned;
    be transparent about how you intend to use the data, and give individuals appropriate privacy notices when collecting their personal data;
    handle people’s personal data only in ways they would reasonably expect; and
    make sure you do not do anything unlawful with the data.

  • Mary Contrary

    The Left is pushing hard the spin that Panama Papers is a tax avoidance scandal.

    Surely it is obvious that it is really a political corruption scandal: the gravamen isn’t that the Presidents of Russia, Syria, Argentina, Ukraine, Pakistan etc were avoiding their own taxes, it’s that the money was looted in the first place. Any so-called world leader who became a billionaire while in office is presumptively corrupt.

    But that doesn’t help expand the rapacious State, so we get the other spin.

  • Laird

    Mary is precisely correct. The real scandal is the looting of public treasuries and trading on political connections, not tax avoidance (which is not only perfectly legal but also entirely honorable).

  • Gareth

    they have burnished their so-called One Nation credentials to avoid being portrayed as out of touch, privileged and posh.

    I disagree. There are posh, privileged and very out of touch people in Labour and hardly anyone seems to care. What the Conservatives have been desperate to avoid is the term ‘nasty’. Hence Dave’s hug a husky, continuation of green levies, caring, sharing, foreign aid money for everyone! stance. It isn’t working though, not least because at the top tier you can hardly swing a cat without hitting a Bullingdon bully type well versed in spending other people’s money in order to get out of trouble.

  • Fred Z

    Laird, the left actually sees the real scandal as people other than lefties looting public treasuries and trading on political connections.

    The left hates competition from plain ordinary thieves.

  • Sigivald

    Ok, it is in the public interest, will be the retort. But who gets to decide this?

    Why, journalists, of course!

  • nemesis

    “But this story has been hijacked by anti-capitalist campaigners”

    From what I have read, it looks more planned than hijacked;

    http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2016/04/george-soros-funded-organization-behind.html
    and
    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/04/04/panama-papers-mainstream-media-focuses-putin-link-leak-group-funded-pro-open-borders-george-soros/
    One comment I saw claims that they have had this info for a year – plenty of time for some unintended victims to get out.
    I hope this is not straying into conspiracy theory but it did looked very suspect in the way it was presented in the media.

  • Thailover

    I have always found it, let’s say ‘entertaining’ when leftist statists complain that “the rich” are using IRS laws and allowances to keep the amount of money the IRS says they’re due.
    The bottom line behind this and the indigestion over inheritence is that they think it (private property) really and truly belongs to them. (i.e. everyone else but you).

    Where there is no fraud, there is no “loophole”. You are either allowed to make that deduction ACCORDING TO THE IRS, or you are not. For said Leftists to suggest that this is unscrupulous is self-damning.

  • Thailover

    I wrote,
    “complain that “the rich” are using IRS laws and allowances to keep the amount of money the IRS says they’re due”

    That’s misleadingly convoluded, sorry. I mean the rich are using the IRS laws and allowances to keep the money the IRS says they SHOULD keep. The “they’re” in the above sentence is referring to the rich, not the IRS.

  • Gene

    The other day I was at a department store and gathered about 6 clothing items I wanted to buy. Before getting to the register I decided that 2 items were too expensive so I put them back before checking out.

    TAX AVOIDANCE!!!!

    Every human I’ve ever known (including a few small children) have committed this horrible crime with impunity. We’re all such bastards.

  • thefrollickingmole

    As Mary above syys they are deliberately mixing 2 issues,.

    1: Criminal activity hwere the loot is then stashed in a legal entity overseas
    2: Legal activity where people protect assets and income which has already been taxed from the loving barbed cock of government rule changes.

    I was just reminded the UK still has death taxes, where people who save all their lives are charged a fee by the government because they have been irresponsible enough to die.Thats a foul, disgusting and immoral tax and Im pretty sure quite a few of these “tax havens” will have been set up to avoid that.

  • Chester Draws

    I’m pretty sure quite a few of these “tax havens” will have been set up to avoid that.

    It will be a prominent reason.

    Also avoiding thieving relatives from knowing how much you own (and the related working around pre-nuptials and local divorce laws). Also stashing money in a bolt-hole in case of collapse of your own economy or political system (for the politicians, this is probably the main reason — the chasing of former leaders in recent years will make them very careful).

    There’s plenty of legitimate reasons, as well as semi-legitimate, to go with the outright crooked.

  • lucklucky

    Panama is one more sign of Totalitarian Democracies.

  • Mr Ed

    What is a ‘haven’? A refuge, often a safe harbour for a ship from a storm.

    What is a tax? Theft.

    These people using tax havens are simply refugees, fleeing from tax, but sending their assets rather than themselves to the havens. The sincerity of the Left in their concern for refugees is evident from the reaction to tax refugees, and also tax exiles.

    Were the tax burden not so vast in so many countries, e.g. 40% inheritance tax in the UK after allowances, then tax havens would barely exist. The way to end them us to lower taxes to Sark levels. The Seigneur said in an intervew with the Daily Telegraph many years ago that their taxes were so low no one bothered to cheat, they need only look over the water, as it were, to Guernsey groaning under its wartime income tax rate of 20%.

  • Paul Marks

    The moral confusion between tax evasion (breaking the law) and tax avoidance (not breaking the law) has been deliberately ENCOURAGED by Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne.

    Both Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne has used the language of “Social Justice” (that all income and wealth rightly belong to the collective and are “distributed” according to “fairness” by mother government cutting up the cake) and “fair share of tax”.

    For people of inherited wealth to play this game was incredibly foolish – and it has turned round and savaged them. They are stuck up a their own big pointy stick.

    Instead they could have tried to actually reduce government spending – starting by ending money to the European Union (discredited by Christopher Booker and many others) and “overseas aid” (discredited by Peter Bauer decades ago).

    But no – the government has chosen to pretend to cut government spending, rather than actually cutting it. And chosen to use the language of the left (“Social Justice” and “fair shares”).

    It is very unfortunate.

  • Stonyground

    Why would a left wing government not use the language of the left?

  • Mr Ed

    Why would a left wing government not use the language of the left?

    🙂 Because in our hearts, despite constant betrayals, we nurse a flicker of hope, like a birthday cake candle warming an igloo at the South Pole mid-July, that the buffoons in power might just notice that they are defeating themselves and wake up and make a start at doing, or at least saying, something sensible and decent?

  • CaptDMO

    As ANOTHER aside, I’ve seen nothing that backs up the “expose” (to my personal satisfaction) as anything more than an anonymous monkey jerking off and throwing sh1t at whoever is passing by the cages at the time.
    I have no doubt as to hidden ill-gotten-booty via. shady dealings, I do have doubts as to the named players, and the extent-plus or minus.
    I HAVE seen some sturdy “Coincidence? I think not!” circumstantial stuff, onsidering the sources however, I have no option to be mindful that- Even The National Inquirer trips over an abandon cache of nuts occasionally.

  • Edward MJ

    Thats a foul, disgusting and immoral tax

    As opposed to which moral tax?

    Paul is right, ‘tax avoidance’ is now being deliberately conflated with ‘tax evasion’. You can see this trend on Google, from around 2012: https://www.google.co.uk/trends/explore#cmpt=q&q=tax+evasion,+tax+avoidance&geo=GB

    The moral confusion comes from both sides though, as evidenced in this piece of obliviousness from Labour MP Jess Phillips: “People who don’t pay their taxes are robbing from us all.”

    No Jess, it’s the people who demand the taxes who are robbing from us all, that’s what tax is.

  • CaptDMO

    Mr Ed:
    ” Because in our hearts…”
    At what point does “Take them at their word…”, evolve into…um…”temporary” self-denial, and ultimately into full blown irreperable insanity?
    IOW, Why is it that SOME folks simply suffer failure-to-launch, and never “outgrow” youthful “reasoning”,
    by some age deemed “Expected to know better” (13/16/18/21/25 depending on who one believes)?
    Is the PROMISE of “free stuff” simply to be added to the list of “tenaciously addictive” substances
    by the “science” of psychiatry, and it’s red headed, “special needs” step child, psychology?
    I’ve never exactly got the “red headed” bit of that.)

  • Mr Ed

    CaptDMO,

    The point is usually some point after the first minute in office.

  • llamas

    Again, these journalists and leaders of the chatterati are gleefully exposing and exploiting the financial records of others, almost-certainly illegally obtained and published – would these be the same journalists and leaders of the chatterati who cried so long and loud when trivial and banal details of the lives of meaningless ‘celebrities’ were exposed by illegal ‘phone hacking’?

    Apparently, publishing illegally-obtained private material is just fine when it appears to show in a poor light people whose politics or wealth we dislike.

    To this point, I have yet to read about anyone who has manifestly committed any crime whatever. We may well speculate that the vast sums apparently squirrelled away by politicians and their family members, which appear to be in no conceivable proportion to their legitimate incomes, speak to widespread corruption by politicians – but that’s not really the point, is it? The fact that they used lawful means to store their unlawfully-obtained booty, does not make those means unlawful. If we find a thief has deposited his ill-gotten gains at Barclays Bank, we do not impugn the bank as a criminal.

    Call me when the Inland Revenue indicts someone for an actual breach of the actual law. Until then, it’s all just political vaporing.

    llater,

    llamas

  • thefrollickingmole

    As opposed to which moral tax?

    Point taken, but on a personal level this is pulling the gold fillings out of corpses mouths or grinding their bones for fertilizer level of foulness.

    A person works, pays taxes, buys, pays taxes, has a house, pays taxes, then at the end of their life the government wants to tax the remained they failed to grab while they were alive?

    In Australia it was a hated and despised tax, particularly by farming families, because a father dying at the wrong time meant penury for the remainder of the family. We were lucky enough the death duties were removed in a brief fit of sanity, but they keep being brought up again in the name of ‘fairness”, the rallying cry of the thief and scoundrel since Adam was a boy.

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