Panama Papers

Panama Papers Are About Government Corruption, Not 'Tax Evasion'

Governments will seek to focus on general tax evasion charges to distract from evidence of corruption by public officials.

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National Crime Agency

The "Panama Papers" are the largest leak in world history, revealing millions of documents related to the offshore accounts of politicians, former politicians, and billionaires around the world.

Despite much of the media's focus on tax evasion as the primary theme of the Panama Papers story, which embarrassed governments are happy to adopt as the primary theme as well, the question is one of official corruption.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) itself, which first published the data, says it reveals the holdings of "drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders–and wrongdoing galore."

Yet the numbers they offer tell a different story. According to ICIJ, 214,000 entities are described in the Panama Papers. They include the off-shore assets of 140 politicians and other public figures (including 12 current or former heads of state or government), as well as 33 people and companies that were "blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they'd been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran." Yet The Economist counts 33 Forbes list billionaires to the 140 politicians in the Panama Papers.

The prime minister of Iceland, for example, resigned earlier today over revelations that he owned a shell company in the British Virgin Islands. Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson insists he's paid his taxes and done nothing wrong. Yet his shell company, according to CBS News, "held interests in failed Icelandic banks that his government was responsible for overseeing."

In general, this is why politicians have off-shore accounts, to hide wrong-doing, and not just to "evade taxes." Iceland has instituted capital controls, under Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson, so the prime minister appears to have run afoul of that. But the insinuation that anyone who decided to move their money oversees is "evading" an obligation is tired and backwards. A person's money belongs to them, not the government, just as their bodies and their freedoms do.

Donald Trump recently suggested intercepting the remittances of Mexicans living in the United States and sending money to their families in Mexico as a means to force Mexico to pay for a border wall. That's little more than a capital control. It's the sender's money, and up to them what they want to do with it.

While contemporary governments have carved out for themselves significant authority in demanding citizens of their countries do specific things with their money, it doesn't change the principle of self-ownership. Were private citizens to follow their money off-shore in the wake of this, would their governments demand to control their flight as well as their capital's? It's not just theoretical. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pushed the idea of seizing the passports of citizens who have too many interests overseas. Maybe he ought to support Donald Trump building a big wall after all—at least that'd be consistent and honest. Capital controls are restrictions of free movement much like walls are.

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  1. Panama Papers Are About Government Corruption, Not ‘Tax Evasion’

    B-b-but… RICH PEEPUL NOT PAY THERE FARE SHAIR!!!1!!11!!!!!!! /progderp

    How do you know they haven’t paid their share? Because they’re still “rich.”

    1. I heard Obama instantly pivot from “Korporashuns are evading taxes and not paying their fair share! They aren’t doing anything illegal, but it’s still totally a loophole they’re exploiting!” to “Donald Trump can’t be talking about taking away the money that belongs to private immigrants! That would be evil!” within just a few increments of planck time.

    2. this will simply be used to stoke the class warfare rhetoric necessary to shield politicians from their failures.

      Politicians are the cause of wars and economic strife. But this distraction will be used quite well again to distort that fact.

      honest businessmen, who are smarter than politicians, simply act appropriately to protect their wealth. For that, Americans shall burn them at the stake.

      hold on sheep, you’re next.

  2. “Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pushed the idea of seizing the passports of citizens who have too many interests overseas.”

    You *must* be kidding me.

    1. Seriously, you’re mistaken, right? Surely?

      1. Here we are in the midst of the libertarian moment; both political parties trying to build walls, one to keep people out, the other to keep people in.

        1. No matter who comes out on top – We’re going to need more guard towers.

          1. (Takes notes: 1. Invest in barbwire futures.)

        2. Walls stop people on bot sides

      2. He’s not mistaken. And stop calling him Shirley.

      3. Naah…that’s just Chucky bein’ Chucky…

  3. A person’s money belongs to them, not the government, just as their bodies and their freedoms do.

    Crazy talk. /sarc

    1. MINE.

      /.gov

      1. Why did I have a flashback to “Finding Nemo” when I saw that?

    2. A person’s money belongs to them, not the government, just as their bodies and their freedoms do.

      AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      *has Ed’s bank account frozen, flogs him, thrown in solitary*
      /FedGov

      1. “Whose money is it now Ed?! WHOSE. MONEY. IS IT. NOW!!!1!!!1!!!!!!1111!!!” /Uncle Sam

    3. Put your money in your womb and put your fetus in your wallet.

    4. A person’s money belongs to them, not the government, just as their bodies and their freedoms do.

      Actually, the money belongs to the Fiat.

      The value *should* belong to the block chain because math says so. Once all the money is controlled by a distributed network of complete anonymity, we’ll all be free.

      All hail the blockchain!

    5. A person’s money belongs to them, not the government, just as their bodies and their freedoms do.

      Well…looks like SOMEONE is angling for a visit from Preet. That sure sounds like a threat.

      1. Preet can have my woodchipper when he prys it from my cold dead hands.

    6. Not according to Ed Krayfishy, the Dems and the Gee Oh Pee testers, Loki. All of them speak of you paying YOUR taxes or him paying HIS taxes–a lie! What is happening when I am robbed at gunpoint is that the Political State is using ITS tax laws to rob me. The money I earn is mine. The government I voted against these past 17 elections enforces ITS tax laws (amended by Nixon to exclude the LP). The DemoGOP’s taxes are not “mine” any more than their rigged secret ballot elections, bombing jihads or fanatical murderous prohibition laws are “mine.”

      Speak American, not Newspeak.

  4. Why is it that I’m more concerned about what the Government is going to do next, than I am about all these tax evaders and pedophiles who are leaving me alone?

    1. Yeah for some reason I’m thinking the Feds response won’t be to institute a flat tax with no deductions on money only earned within its jurisdiction. Nope here comes another million words added to the tax code because that will stop the tax cheats or you know people who can afford someone to manipulate the system to their advantage.

      1. Added to the… what? 50,000 pages of newspeak, including Nixon’s anti-libertarian law? What is the wordcount on that screed anyway.

  5. A person’s money belongs to them, not the government, just as their bodies and their freedoms do.

    what a novel concept.

    1. That’s why it’s in novels popular with some of the commentariat.

      1. those books are probably racist and should be burnt.

        1. Plus books can be used for tax evasion, if you cut out the middle and hide your cash there.

        2. cisheterowhitepatriarchy

      2. Yep, right there in the fiction section, where it belongs.

      3. I read starship troopers yesterday. I don’t get the movie hate. Sure the movie didn’t follow the book, but they were both great.

        1. I hated that Dina Meyer was cast as the friend-zoned chick and Denise Richards was cast as the dream girl. I mean, Denise Richards was hot and all, but DINA MEYER.

          1. Dina shows boob. All other sins forgiven.

          2. but DINA MEYER

            This is all that need be said. She’s what takes Johnny Mnemonic into the “hey this is pretty fun” zone.

        2. People I know are 50/50 on the love-the-movie or hate it.

          I thought it was a blast!

          1. I’ve got tomorrow off. I’m going to watch it again.

          2. It’s classic Verhoeven, with all the pulp that implies. How can you not enjoy it? It’s not even *trying* to bring the messages of the book across. It’s trying to be loud and violent and awesome, not thoughtful.

            Plus, Doogie Howser in an SS uniform. Hilarious.

          3. Star ship troopess is just a John wayne movie in outer space. War and guys fighting over women with a few laughs so yea its a great movie. Plus politically I think we should follow their ideas one day trials and only those who fought can be elected

        3. Starship Troopers was great despite not starring Carrot Top. /snarkasm

        4. If you’re hoping for a faithful book adaption, then it fails on that count. I kind of would like to see a more faithful adaptation. OTOH, the version we got has lots of explosions and tits, which is more than the adaptation of I, Robot got.

  6. Hmm…NEADZ MOAR TRUMP!!111!!!!!111

    1. +1. At least Schumer is a sitting member of the senate, so including his stupidity makes a bit of sense. Trump isn’t anything but a private windbag at this point.

  7. OT: The new police-state reality?

    People in Germany have been warned to stay away from their windows and to refrain from waving during Barack Obama’s visit later this month.

    Along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the US President will be in Germany to open Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade show for industrial technology, at a ceremony on the evening of 24 April at the Hannover Congress Centrum (HCC).

    But according to the Hannoversche Allegemeine (Haz) local newspaper, residents in the Zoo area of Hannover, have been warned against waving from their home windows as the two heads of state enter and leave the venue because it could put them at risk of a police check, according to The Local.

    1. Can’t they just kneel and divert their gaze?

      1. God: What are you you doing?
        Arthur: Averting my eyes, oh Lord.
        God: Well stop it!
        Arthur: Sorry, Lord.
        God: AND DON’T APOLOGIZE!

        1. Now we see the violence inherit in the system.

      2. Ah, the good ole days: when peasants weren’t allowed to gaze upon their betters. /statist fuck

    2. The politicians are far more important than your civil liberties, Paul. If tons of people have to be checked out and investigated, and possibly hassled, for waving, well, that’s the price they all have to pay for having such wonderful, indispensable politicians ruling over them.

      1. I’m just curious… no sad? Curiousad? about how we got here. A couple of heads of state show up and people can’t wave at them without armed agents of the state knocking on the door?

        1. I’m guessing we got here one inch at a time. I was talking to some coworkers today and they openly admit that they tell their kids to just submit to police or they might get beaten or shot. No outrage, just normal parental advice. I tell them that’s the root of the problem. Accepting it. Blank stare in return.

          1. Hand them a Heinlein novel?

        2. It’s an inevitable result of the growth of government and the cult of the presidency (and by extension, cult of TEAM and powerful politicians). The politicians are already megalomaniacs and don’t want to be assassinated, and they have the resources to go FULL OVERKILL in terms of their own safety, and no one squawks because other politicians want the same for themselves, and the morons on the TEAMs want to pretend that the other TEAM will kill their guy if possible, and it all snowballs into people having no problem with a politician having more extreme security than King Joffrey. Plus there is always their general fear and hatred of the populace to ramp things up as well.

          1. For the better part of a century, we had one Presidential assassination every two decades. Yet the level of security we have now was unthinkable then. No one man is ever that important.

            1. No one man is ever that important.

              If JFK and RFK were not assassinated this world would be a better place today.

              *swoon*

              1. Your right. I wouldn’t have to hear about how they could have fixed everything. Their failures would be on full display.

            2. No one man is ever that important.

              They are now powerful enough to decide that they are. And apparently, they’re right, because they get away with this shit. Obama can disrupt entire cities more than Godzilla on a rampage, and it just…happens.

            3. The massive security overkill has the fringe benefit of keeping ordinary mortals at bay too so top pols don’t get pestered or worse, delayed.

      2. everyone should look out their windows and wave what would they do what could they do?

      3. This is Germany. Civil liberties don’t exist there.

        1. Germany invented todes-schutzen–snipers specifically ordered to murder unarmed civilians trying to flee the Socialist Paradise, and rewarded with extra benefits for every such kill. All of them know, from Immanuel Kant, the importance of orders and duty.

  8. I don’t mean to be negative, but I don’t think this promoted comment thing is exactly raking in the cash.

      1. The first time I saw that linked blogpost, I damn near wet myself from laughing. And I’m not even ashamed to admit it.

  9. Sam Taylor ?
    Mississippi State University
    Dr M so tell me just what it is you’d like to cut? Your parent’s Social Security and Medicare? Military spending?

    If the people being investigated in the Panama Papers paid their fair share of taxes, we wouldn’t have a debt problem, and the rest of us would be much better off.
    Like ? Reply ? 4 ? 23 hrs

    *giggles*

    1. I’d start with funding to Mississippi State University. We’ll see where we go from there.

      1. Are they the ones that now object to the flying of the state flag while still gladly collecting its tax dollars? I can’t keep the shitty schools in my home state straight.

    2. Are you in there monkey stomping his ass? I tried to read the comments but Adblock kept crashing.

      1. Whaaat? Sounds boring. I like my insults properly spelled.

    3. You know… I’m a corporate lawyer. Someone just mentioned to me that on NPR, they had a guest who said that all Delaware and Nevada corporations and LLCs are shell corporations that are designed for tax evasion. I wondered for a second who could be so dumb as to believe that.

      Then I remembered that not only are there people like that commentator you quoted, but they’re the majority.

      1. My post was a pre-emptive strike against the “But surely no one really…” we all secretly hoped ourselves knew was coming.

      2. My post was a pre-emptive strike against the “But surely no one really…” we all secretly hoped ourselves knew was coming.

      3. And many of them vote, ugh!

    4. What’s the over/under on Sam Taylor being a math major?

      1. He’s getting an MFA in puppetry.

      2. Common core math or real math?

    5. El oh El.

      Sure, there’s $20Trillion hidden in ‘fair shares’.

    6. I was gonna say something about Sam Taylor feeling the Bern, but then it occurred to me that he could just as easily be a Clinton or Trump or Kasich guy, and i got really sad.

    7. I don’t know what drives me crazy more. That these people think there’s $14 trillion sitting in offshore bank accounts, or that it would make any difference if there was.

    8. “Their” share…
      So Bradley Manning leaks papers showing These States eagerly putching prohibition and income tax AML mohammedanism on the rest of the world beginning when Bush asset-forfeiture hit the fan in 2007. Then Ed Snowden lets on that the NSA, CIA, IRS and P.I.G.S. can read your emails and tap every phone on the planet. Now suddenly everyone the kleptocracy doesn’t like is in deep doodoo with their own gubmints–the ones who accepted the AML and prohibition candy from Uncle Sam, and Uncle Sam can short their stocks and currency to repay what little Georgie junior lost for everyone by confiscating hemp houses and bank accounts.

      So, who is wiretapping the looter wiretappers?

  10. I don’t believe offshore accounts and shell companies are actually illegal. I was listening to talk radio yesterday morning and the host explained that tax avoidance and tax evasion are two different things. The former is legal and most of us do it during tax time.

    1. I don’t believe offshore accounts and shell companies are actually illegal.

      Can be illegal, but not necessarily. It depends on a lot of squishy factors like “substantial economic effect” and “non-tax business purpose.”

      1. When it comes to taxes, there’s black, there’s white, and there’s gray. Take all of the white and gray, give the IRS the black and make them fight for the gray.

  11. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pushed the idea of seizing the passports of citizens who have too many interests overseas.

    Fully expect concepts like this to continue to expand. The US government at this point essentially thinks it owns all of us and everything we own, and can therefore restrict our freedom of movement, take anything it wants, and basically call us all slaves. And it’s just going to get worse.

    1. Schumer really is what’s at the bottom of the slippery slope.

      1. Schumer is the Sarlaac? Makes sense.

        1. “In his bitchtits, you will find a new definition of pain and suffering, as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.”

      2. Schumer really is what’s at the bottom of the slippery slope.

        Shit flows downhill…

    2. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pushed the idea of seizing the passports of citizens who have too many interests overseas.

      Why does anyone *need* an interest overseas?

      1. Because we live in a developing fascist shithole and it is smart to diversify out of the country if you can.

    3. I told you guys where this shit is going to end.

      There’ll be an alliance between those opposing immigration and those opposing emigrations and we’ll end up with exit visas, internal passports, internal travel controls, etc.

      We’ve already got the 100 mile thick border, they’ve been pushing REAL ID through bit by bit – it won’t be long after its finally accomplished that it will become *mandatory* to have and present on demand.

      After that, expect the roadside ID checkpoints to spring up in every police jurisdiction.

      1. Oh, I agree. The immigration pants-shitters are going to go full bore into this, too. And this has been raised to them time and time again and they just wave it off, because apparently, even their own freedom of movement pales next to their terror of the foreign hordes.

      2. You know mate, in France where i live, ID cards are mandatory since long time and you have to present it on demand to the police… It’s normal here and no one bats an eyes… Sadly.

        1. Welcome to Vichy France 2. I’ve got $100 that says the froggies have no Second Amendment rights.

    4. but will the media call him on it it like they would when Trump says similar stupid things. we already know the answer to that.

  12. Panama Papers Are About Government Corruption, Not ‘Tax Evasion’

    Fucking right.

    Thank you ed for saying it. I’ve been bitching since the moment that this thing popped that all the mainstream media are downplaying the fact that the principal “Perps” here are not bazillionaires doing evul bazillionaire stuff, but corrupt Public Officials and Politicians

    the WaPo and the Times and Reuters have all run headlines about “HOW THE RICH HIDE THEIR WEALTH”… which seems to me almost a conscious decision to avoid the more-uncomfortable truth which is that this story is about “HOW PEOPLE IN GOVERNMENT SELL FAVORS”

    1. Bingo.

    2. It’s an interesting example of how bone-deep the statism is in the media for the most part, and how much they are in the can for the state. Which makes sense, as they make most of their living off of the government at this point. What are the vast majority of news stories and articles about, or at least connected to? The state.

    3. the WaPo and the Times and Reuters have all run headlines about “HOW THE RICH HIDE THEIR WEALTH”.

      Well, since the pubsec are the new Rich and Powerful, this would be technically true. Which is the best kind of true.

  13. I read that as Penis papers.

    1. (taps pipe on armchair)

      “Tell us about your mother”

      1. Tell us about your mother”

        I can field this one. I’m an expert on Rufus’ mom.

        1. I’ve been Mom’d!

    2. Mightier than tha sword.

  14. Libertarian moment in Florida dries up suddenly, leaving cops scratching their heads.

    “I can’t believe this,” Tianga said.

    In just a few months, and with little attention, flakka has disappeared from South Florida.

    Experts say drug epidemics almost never burn out like this.

    […]

    Police had to change tactics. Two deputies usually responded to a “signal 57” — a drug call. But flakka users could exhibit adrenaline-fueled, superhuman strength. In Broward County, the sheriff’s office started sending at least four deputies to every flakka call. They treated it like a bank robbery, Tianga said. All hands on deck.

    Tasers didn’t always work on flakka users. And talking them down never did. Deputies had to wrestle users to the ground, punching them to gain control, Tianga said. The official protocol was to attack and attack hard. It looked brutal. And in a post-Ferguson, Mo., world, where police use-of-force is scrutinized, Tianga knew the scenes could be interpreted as his deputies going too far.

    1. The official protocol was to attack and attack hard.

      When is it ever anything else?

      Tasers didn’t always work on flakka users. And talking them down never did. Deputies had to wrestle users to the ground, punching them to gain control, Tianga said.

      Of course – if you come running up with lights, sirens and 4 dudes yeolling and throwing punches, even stoners are going to get rowdy.

      But its all due to ‘flakka’.

      1. This whole article is such bullshit. Yeah, a cop can spot someone high on Flakka from 100 yards away, so immediately begin the encounter physically by “attacking hard”.

        1. I’m pretty sure that a cop can give you a reason in any situation that justifies them “attacking hard”. Because that’s one of the things they became a cop to do.

  15. You know why governments love yo build walls? Because its easy to swivel the guns to face one side or the other at whim.

    1. Something you guys opposing ‘illegal’ immigration should keep in mind when putting forth ideas to ‘protect’ our culture.

      1. Surely you’re not suggesting there may be some kind of “unforeseen consequences?”

        1. Fences make good neighbors. And they keep your kids inside the yard. Win win.

  16. Re: alt text: “Cash is not a crime”

    I’ve been enjoying the cynical little moments re-watching the Rockford Files. Rockford asks Beth Davenport in front of some feds: “is there a statute against receiving money in the mail?” She replies “not yet”.

    That scene was depressing because of course now, in the same situation they were in they could have been disappeared to Guantanamo without even breaking a sweat.

  17. Whomever mentioned that it was interesting that Pot-Protesters were lighting up in front of the White House the other day?

    Well, Congratulations! They Fixed That

    District of Columbia lawmakers ban public pot smoking

    1. Woah! Thank God! I feel much safer now!

  18. Man! You have to sign up for another account to reply/bump the promoted comments. Utter bullshit. I so wanted to give this guy a +1 for seeing right to the core of the commentariat.

    1. Heh.

      He appears to have actually spent his own money to promote his own comment. I’m all for morons burning through their cash, so I say, “More power to ‘im.”

  19. The Giant Rabbits are Symbols of Government Power

    …they will fuck you, over and over and over and over and over again….

  20. Interesting how stories about politicians engaging in corruption and not obeying the tax laws they write turns into evidence for giving politicians more power and more tax money.

    1. well they do know their way around those laws so should know where the holes are. of course that doesn’t mean they won’t make new holes. like the fox guarding the hen house ain’t it.

    2. like gun control, one day they’ll make the right law to stop all this

  21. had to get your Trump bashing in didn’t you even though it has no relevance to the story.

  22. Repellent sociopaths spend their lives at Reason.com, the Reason Foundation’s gossip and propaganda headquarters, sharing their daily frustrations with angry, impotent and paranoid fellow crackpots, bitterly railing against a world that refuses to take them seriously, repeating the same stale memes, juvenile obscenities and violence fantasies over and over again — creating a cynical, sarcastic and nihilistic echo chamber of emotionally stunted, misanthropic, comically ineffectual narcissists.

    Nice. Now that’s a good insult. Do you see the way he picked a theme and really went for it? Fucking passion. The possible quibble would be the hint of overacting. Frankly, I see reason to think he could have corrected himself after a few moments to revise and can’t justify docking points. And I hear you, he wasn’t funny, and to that I say – I laughed like hell.

    Awesome. 10/10, would read and lol again, and we shall watch your career with great interest. .

  23. This is a classic psyop. Why weren’t the papers released on mass? Why no revelationsrevelations about US clients? Who are the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists?

    “It must be noted that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists was launched by the Center for Public integrity ? a group heavily funded by Putin arch-nemesis George Soros.”

    http://thefreethoughtproject.c…..dia-fails/

  24. Max . true that Gregory `s st0rry is impossible… on wednesday I bought Aston Martin DB5 since I been bringin in $9774 this last five weeks and more than ten/k this past-month . it’s by-far the best-job Ive ever had . I began this 4 months ago and practically straight away was bringin home minimum $81, per hour
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  25. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, illegal aliens send home an estimated $50 billion annually. That’s $50 billion removed from our economy every year by people who have no legal right to be living and working in the US. I don’t have a problem with having their ability to do this curtailed.

    1. Assuming they got the money by earning it, that means they also added over $50 billion to our economy in the form of the work they performed. The only way that’s not a net plus is if the work they did would have been done by someone else who was here legally and was otherwise unemployed.

    2. That is the slippery slope argument that most people do not understand. You have to think about the consequences, not the intension. It leads to greater control, less freedom, and eventually limits on trade and commerce.
      Capital controls, just like monetary controls, bailouts, QE, and interest rate manipulation leads to misallocation of capital and distortions in prices.
      While these are two different animals now, the basic premise remains the same. When governments interfere with free trade and free allocation of capital, things go south. Remember that collapse is not an event, it is a process. These type of scaremongering proposals are what contributes to the process.

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  28. ” It’s the sender’s money, and up to them what they want to do with it.”
    Not if you made the money as an illegal alien. If that is the case, all bets are off.
    After all, you are not a US citizen, and the money was earned illegally. If Libertarians want to split hairs, let’s split ALL of them!

    1. Granted they should have to obey the law. That’s what rule of law is all about and is a core tenant of a functioning capitalist system.

      The process to do this is what should be under suspicion. How on earth is our dysfunctional, massive government going to police these transactions without screwing the legitimate people here on worker visas or temporary status?

      The whole notion is just bluster from a BS artist.

      That said, I think a there is an argument that I should be able to hire whomever I want to work for me at whatever wage we agree to and thus he should be able to send his money wherever he wants. And, his production was and is a net benefit to the economy. He should have to pay taxes too. The confiscatory tax system is a different argument.

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  30. Comrade Bernie had it right when he said = “…we gotta get rid of the government corruption by making the government bigger with more regulations so it can’t be corrupted.

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  33. RE: Panama Papers Are About Government Corruption, Not ‘Tax Evasion’

    We simply cannot have financial privacy in the world.
    Otherwise the socialist slavers in this country will not be able to embezzle our hard earned tax dollars and re-distribute the wealth to their cronies.
    What would the world think of us if we had economic and financial freedom to place our money as we see fit?
    I weep softly on my pillow at that thought.

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