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Something’s very rotten in the state of Malta

Oh my beloved Malta:

An investigative journalist in Malta who exposed her island nation’s links to offshore tax havens using the leaked Panama Papers was killed in a car bombing on Monday, an attack that shocked Malta and was condemned by leaders of the European Union.

The journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, died when the car she was driving exploded in Bidnija, a hamlet in north-central Malta. Her final blog post, accusing the prime minister’s chief of staff of corruption, had been published about a half-hour earlier.

Even if, like yours truly, you don’t think that there is anything necessarily wrong with offshore tax havens (haven is a place of safety, and I am quite keen on being safe from the predations of the State), it is worth getting angry about politicians who talk a good game about compliance with taxes salting – allegedly – kickbacks in far-off locations and hoping no-one will notice. We live in a world where governments the world over, through pacts such as the Common Reporting Standard, are to all intents and purposes creating a global tax “cartel” in pursuit of high net worth individuals’ wealth. Assuming, for example, that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party wins power at the next UK general election, and imposes all manner of controls (including capital controls) then UK residents may now already be thinking of where to park their money. Global anti-tax avoidance/evasion efforts make those bolt-holes harder to reach. So on certain levels I don’t have an issue with Malta being a tax haven, or its citizens being wily about it. What I do, however, have an issue with is the double-standards, and furthermore, the tolerance of bribery and corruption that is not just a by-product of an expansive state, but part of a culture that has become too embedded in certain countries.

Malta wants to become an important financial centre; it is already pretty significant in that regard. But it is in competition with rivals such as Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Mauritius, Singapore, etc. All of these places have their faults, but the murder of a campaigning journalist by the use of a car-bomb in broad daylight in Malta represents a shock even to those wearily familiar with the nastiness of current affairs.

Final point: whatever her merits or faults, the journalist known to many as “Daphne” was rightly famed for her courage in facing up to some very dodgy people. Such persons have also paid a price in countries such as Russia.

If the Maltese were astronauts, they would be saying the equivalent of “Houston, we have a problem”.

 

 

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31 comments to Something’s very rotten in the state of Malta

  • Paul Marks

    The corruption is caused by the conflict between ideology and reality.

    The ideology of “Social Justice”(high taxes on the rich to pay for benefits and “public services” for the not rich) does not work – it is insane, barking mad and destructive. But politicians of all parties (socialist, catholic, liberal, conservative – whatever) say they believe in “Social Justice” and part of them actually does believe in “Social Justice” – but it is in contradiction (as a Marxist might say – if they were rational) with reality.

    How to resolve this contradiction? One way is via corruption – enforce “Social Justice” (high taxes on the rich in order to provide benefits and “public services”) for everyone who does not bribe you, but if they bribe you then do not enforce “Social Justice” upon them – that way some sort of society can be maintained. If Social Justice was enforced totally (with no corruption) then society would collapse and there would be mass starvation.

    But what about someone who exposes such corruption? After all everyone knows (deep down) that “Social Justice” means systematic corruption (or the collapse of society and mass starvation) – but people do not like a person whose corruption has been exposed – so people do not wish to have their corruption exposed. The logical way of this problem is to murder people who expose the corruption, in order to deter other people from exposing the corruption.

    Do I approve of the murders? Of course not – but then I do not believe in “Social Justice”.

  • Alisa

    the tolerance of bribery and corruption that is not just a by-product of an expansive state, but part of a culture that has become too embedded in certain countries.

    Such culture is usually also a byproduct of an expansive state.

  • bobby b

    I enjoyed seeing the release of these documents way back when, and was disappointed when we got such paltry mileage out of them ultimately.

    Nothing wrong with the idea of tax competition, of course, but my main enjoyment came from seeing the lengths to which the supposed liberal, big-state, redistribution-advocating wealthy types were going to keep from paying the very taxes they claimed should be higher.

    Higher for me but not for them, I guess.

    Daphne took on some very heavy targets. No one is so dangerous as a progressive exposed as a tax cheat. She should be remembered long for her good work.

  • Mr Ed

    Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II should revoke Mslta’s George Cross before breakfast, lest the award be further sullied by association with this island dump that gave us Dom Mintoff and his heirs.

  • but my main enjoyment came from seeing the lengths to which the supposed liberal, big-state, redistribution-advocating wealthy types were going to keep from paying the very taxes they claimed should be higher.

    Well that would be great of that was all the people who were in the blast zone. But sadly a great many of the people whose details were revealed were just well off people who did not see why the state gets more than half their money.

  • bobby b

    “Well that would be great of that was all the people who were in the blast zone. But sadly a great many of the people whose details were revealed were just well off people who did not see why the state gets more than half their money.”

    Too true. I had to take my pleasure very selectively at the time. It wasn’t pleasure that tax competition was presented as an evil. It was pleasure that some of the people whose details were revealed were the same people who present tax competition as evil.

    The biggest “gotcha” that progressives seem to achieve comes from exposing what they deem to be hypocrisy of conservatives – the philandering puritan syndrome – and so this had its own schadenfreude.

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa is correct – this is the logical result of the ideology of big government. And it is not confined to Malta – places such as New York and California survive because of systematic corruption.

    And I do mean “systematic” corruption – if the Federal Reserve did not pump in its funny money into these places (which is carefully left out of government subsidy figures – which would have you believe that Alabama is more subsidised than New York, and if you believe that I have a nice bridge to sell you) and TAX CODE (which allows rich leftists to deduct State and local taxes from their taxable income before they ever see Federal taxes) such places as New York and California would collapse. They could exist, economically, without corruption that has become a system.

    The alternative to the corruption of “Social Justice”?

    There is one – dramatically lower and simpler taxes and dramatically less GOVERNMENT SPENDING.

    If people wanted honest government they could have it.

    For example Ted Cruz proposed a 10% flat rate income tax (with no deductions) – and getting rid of many Federal Government departments.

    What need would there be for corruption under such a system? The wealthy people that Perry mentions would pay their 10% income tax – there would be no need to hide their income from the taxman by such tricks as “investing” in government debt (another favourite trick of the New York rich – the Trust Fund kids and so on) let alone “tax havens”.

    There it was – honest government if people wanted it.

    They did not want it.

  • Wouldn’t it be marvellous if, instead of blowing up journalists, the Maltese government just said “hell yeah, we’ll help you park your money,” and, instead of calling it a ‘bribe,’ they called it a ‘fee.’ They could even call the prime Minister a ‘broker.’

  • bobby b

    “For example Ted Cruz proposed a 10% flat rate income tax (with no deductions) – and getting rid of many Federal Government departments.”

    Cruz was my first choice in the primaries.

    But, since then, it’s become apparent that our present Congress would have been just as eager to work with Cruz as they are with Trump.

    So I’ve been left to wonder what Cruz could have accomplished. He is more of a conservative than Trump, obviously, but he lacks Trump’s brashness – his willingness to explode the system to accomplish things.

    I’m beginning to think that Trump was a better choice than Cruz, given the Congress we ended up with.

  • Chip

    My thoughts exactly. Didn’t like Trump but now think he’s indispensable.

    Why? The magnitude of corruption, spying and illegality against political opponents by the Deep State – abetted by the national media – has been astonishing. Just today The Hill reported that the FBI and DOJ sat on evidence that the Russians were bribing and extorting officials prior to buying a fifth of America’s uranium. Millions went to the Clintons. And who in the FBI withheld information of Russian involvement from Congress and the public? Mueller, the same clown heading up the witch hunt into non-existent Russian collusion with Trump.

    Only Trump can take a flamethrower to this stuff. Cruz, Sessions and the rest are too nice.

    Throw in the outstanding judicial picks, massive deregulation, rapid approval of energy projects and – hopefully – tax reform, and I think he could be one of the best presidents ever, proving that policy is far more important than personality.

  • bobby b (October 17, 2017 at 9:25 pm) and Chip (October 17, 2017 at 11:53 pm), a thought re Trump and Cruz, then and now.

    Sir Lancelot was “the mildest man that ever spoke in hall amongst ladies and the sternest knight to his foe that ever put spear in the rest.” I might welcome a leader who was “the mildest man that ever discussed policy at a Tory social and the most infuriating that ever tweeted a politically-incorrect thought to a lefty” but the combination is rare in nature and needs help from culture – help it once got but which, thanks to the left, is now lacking. Like the laws of economics, however, the ideal is not falsified by being ignored.

    Had I been a US citizen, then, like bobby, I would have voted for Cruz. Trump has been an education to all who are willing to learn. He sets a standard for rejecting PC’s imprisoning ever-tightening manners. It is of course unsurprising that the man with most skill to demonstrate this had form in rejecting more general codes of manners. We still have more to learn from Trump, and now see some reason to be not as concerned as was perhaps rational before we saw him as president. I’ve always tried hard to cleanse my mind totally of PC and the many hidden influences of PC. That meant rejecting a ton of objections to Trump. The process does not leave zero residue, of course.

    I do not know whether Ted would have won much larger than Trump, or barely scraped a win even against Hillary, or lost to Hillary as Mitt lost to Obama, despite being far the better man for all his faults as a conservative. Trump shows some essentials for winning – stuff some ‘Tories’ over here desperately need to learn. If they could learn the essentials without taking much of the baggage, and not mistake Trump’s baggage for essentials, that will be OK by me.

  • Mr Black

    In the future, after the revolution, advocating for socialism should warrant the death penalty, applied instantly. I mean that in all seriousness. It is an evil that is so seductive and addictive that to let it take root and spread among the people as an accepted alternative is as good as a death sentence to a nation or a culture. A slow death to be sure, but death none-the-less. It should be an idea that is discussed only by those who wish to comment on its record of misery and ruin.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Bemused as to how fast the thread turns to Trump. It’s like an illness

  • ragingnick

    Wets and RINOs see Trump as uncouth, the reality is that the Sorosization of the West is so deep that only somebody like Trump, someone who is brash,’uncultured’ and immune to the pieties of the globalist politico-media complex, has any hope of saving the West. Despite throwing everything they have at him the globalists have still failed to destroy him, for that reason alone I think Trump will emerge as the greatest president in my lifetime.

  • bobby b

    Johnathan Pearce
    October 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

    “Bemused as to how fast the thread turns to Trump. It’s like an illness . . .”

    More like a recovery from an illness . . .

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Mr Black In the future, after the revolution, advocating for socialism should warrant the death penalty, applied instantly.

    Really impressed by your belief in freedom of speech. Not. Then again, I’m guessing you are trolling us.

  • Watchman

    My question for Mr Black would simply be ‘what revolution’? Isn’t that what the socialists want anyway – and quite often, when it has happened, the penalty for advocating socialism (as opposed to the dictator’s will) was indeed death.

  • smokingscot

    You want to make waves then you’d best learn to swim.

    That’s the message, delivered succinctly.

  • Mr Ed

    The penalty for practising socialism is eventually, for not a few, death by purge or starvation, except that the most culpable often flourish, at least for a while.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    The Maltese leader has also made (vehemently) clear how opposed he is to Brexit.

    This wouldn’t by any chance be related to the fact that Malta runs a ‘citizenship by investment’ program, effectively selling Maltese citizenship and passports to anyone who can afford the asking price, would it? (Google ‘malta citizenship by investment’ for further details).

    Of course, as Malta is a member of the EU, this (currently) also confers on the holder the right to live and work in London and the UK. I would not be surprised to learn that many of those interested in acquiring a Maltese passport are more interested in this than any rights they may gain in respect of a tiny Mediterranean island nation.

    With Brexit, this scheme will no longer grant such free access to London and the UK, thus presumably reducing the attractiveness and marketability of the Malta passports-for-cash program. No wonder the Malta chap doesn’t like the idea of Brexit.

    I’ve no objection in principle to Malta – or any other country – offering such a program at all. Part of being a sovereign and independent country is the ability to grant citizenship to whoever you wish on whatever terms you care to set, and if one of the terms you choose to set is simply a large cheque, that’s your right. But it seems rather sharp practice to offer a scheme in which your country effectively sells the right to live in other countries.

  • Mr Ed

    Zerren nails it, and today I heard a very soft interview on BBC Radio 4 with the Maltese PM, letting him air his concerns about the murder, and not (despite an earlier commentator raising the matter) asking him about the Panama Papers revelations and the allegations that his wife was the owner of a shell company used to funnel money from the government of Azerbaijan. The post-murder PR campaign is starting.

    Let’s face it, planting a car bomb is not a spur of the moment thing, not even in Raqqa as was, it takes time, nefarious skill and confidence. The crime scene was left for 24 hours reportedly as the Magistrate initially involved recused himself because of a conflict of interest.

    This incident has put an end to my plans to visit Malta, I thought that the black days of Mintoff were, if not long gone, a bit of a dodgy past.

    Malta’s glorious days are long gone.

  • Mr Black

    I am not in favor of free speech when the speaker is gathering support to enslave me. They mean to do me great evil, along with all the other victims they will create. The moment a person declares themselves as the enemy of humanity, they forfeit all rights to safety and due process. That is the ONLY way to protect a free society, those who seek to overthrow it must be destroyed.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I am in favour of free speech, since the evil people usually have massive egos, and will therefore want to talk, and we will be able to identify who our enemies are.

  • Johnnydub

    “Why? The magnitude of corruption, spying and illegality against political opponents by the Deep State – abetted by the national media – has been astonishing. Just today The Hill reported that the FBI and DOJ sat on evidence that the Russians were bribing and extorting officials prior to buying a fifth of America’s uranium. Millions went to the Clintons. And who in the FBI withheld information of Russian involvement from Congress and the public? Mueller, the same clown heading up the witch hunt into non-existent Russian collusion with Trump.”

    What an astounding defence being built by the Deep State of whataboutery.

    I mean do they really think that by shouting Russia at Trump, and hanging Paul Manafort by his balls till he makes something up, can obscure the seeming fact that at least the FBI, DOJ and the Dept of State was hopelessly and utterly corrupted by the Clinton crime family during Obama’s term?

  • bobby b

    “It is an evil that is so seductive and addictive that to let it take root and spread among the people as an accepted alternative is as good as a death sentence to a nation or a culture.”

    In the western USA, forest management science has figured out that complete suppression of forest fires is a bad idea. The longer a forest is kept from burning, the more fuel builds up on the forest floor, with the result that the fire that (always) eventually comes is much hotter and more destructive.

    Similarly, I suspect that we need to always be able to watch as societies dip their toes into communism and get burned. Your alternative would result in multiple societies eventually jumping completely and enthusiastically into the communist pool with little knowledge of what to expect beyond the pretty picture presented by the advocates.

    We need the Venezuelas of the world to keep the rest of us informed.

  • Chip

    “We need the Venezuelas of the world to keep the rest of us informed.”

    And yet here we are with cheerleaders for the revolution Corbyn, Sanders and others with growing support in the west.

    Sadly, I think far too many people cannot be taught that fire is hot. They need to be burned.

  • Mr Black

    bobby b, I agree with that whole-heartedly. People allow themselves to forget pain far too quickly and without an example to point to, they would quickly sink into the delusion that it will be different next time. But let the examples of ruin be elsewhere, within the borders of free nations, those proposing to enact slavery and openly seeking the support of A and B to enslave C should be given the harshest possible punishment for there is no virtue in what they propose and no possible compromise or value to be gained from it. Tolerating evil among us does not make us better people.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b.

    I still think Ted Cruz would have been the better choice.

    Donald Trump gets bored quickly – and he gets side tracked into Twitter arguments and so on.

    Ted is more a pitbull – he gets hold of a policy matter and keeps hold of it day-after-day.

  • Mr Black

    But Ted is unlikable, and so would have lost.

  • Watchman

    Mr Black,

    Trump is likable? And Hilary Clinton is likable? I don’t think there were many likable candidates (maybe Sanders, who for a socialist is not irritating enough that I would rule out having a drink with him… and that is scraping the barrel) involved in the last US election.

    As to your strange idea that enemies of freedom deserve death, just remember that rules like this are a bad thing since the definition of these enemies can change. See the purges under any dictatorship for examples of this.

  • Mr Black

    Watchman, the enemies of freedom will act in whatever way pleases them, including torture and executions. Suggesting that good mens hands be tied so that a hypothetical future evil mans are tied as well, as if the evil man will follow the rules, is nonsense. Libertarians are the conscientious objectors of political philosophy. Their world can only exist in a perfect, unchanging utopia because a refusal to fight back to take any protective action is built into the philosophy. Other men have to do the fighting and the heavy lifting of securing freedom so that libertarians can pontificate without fear of being killed out of hand.

    Freedom and liberty are noble goals and probably the best way to build a great civilisation, but they are to be granted only to those people who abide by the principles set down. Those who wish to over-throw that freedom have to be destroyed if that freedom is to last.

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