This article was originally written for socialistworld.net, the website of the Committee for a Workers’ International.
Take the wealth off the 1%!
A sum of money the size of the US and Japanese Gross Domestic Product (GDP) together is being held in offshore tax havens. This enormous hoard could immediately pay off most of the deficits and debt that are being used to justify austerity, and create millions of jobs. Instead it sits in places like the Cayman Islands, making the tax dodgers that put it there even richer.
The report by James Henry for the Tax Justice Network, shows that between £13 trillion and £20 trillion has been looted from national economies so that the super-rich can avoid paying tax.
It’s no exaggeration to say that we are ruled by the very people that are dodging tax. In Britain ’Lord’ Ashcroft, who was treasurer of the Tory party for years and has donated more than £10 million to its coffers, has most of his wealth offshore so he won’t pay UK tax. The fortune David Cameron inherited comes partly from his father’s use of tax havens.
One rule for us…
Far from too much money being spent on public services, it is the banksters, speculators, profiteers and tax dodgers who are the cause of the massive debt burden being used to enforce austerity on the 99%.
But when Barclays and Bob Diamond are caught fiddling millions, or HSBC seems to be using their massive finances to help gun-running, money laundering and terrorism, they hardly receive a rap over the knuckles.
Henry points out that with the sums looted from sub-Saharan Africa, many of the countries there could have paid off their debts entirely.
However in this respect the report misses the point – most “highly indebted poor countries” have already paid off their “debts” many times over. But because of the economic power of imperialism and the legalised robbery of the finance industry, the interest alone has now ballooned to sums that would make a loan shark proud. Not a penny more should go to pay for these fake debts.
We have always been told that capitalism may be unfair, but it is the best system available because it creates jobs and wealth. This report exposes the big lie that private profits will be ploughed into creating more wealth. The money sitting in tax havens dwarfs even figures like the £750 billion currently sitting un-invested in the banks of big business in the UK.
Capitalism is not only creating misery for billions, it is a bankrupt system, incapable of maintaining current living standards let alone taking society forwards.
As long as the banking and finance industries remain under the control of the looters, we have no chance of even enforcing the existing puny laws on the super-rich.
The banks must be taken into public ownership, and run under democratic workers’ control, in the interests of the 99%. Free personal banking, with cheap loans for small businesses and cheap mortgages. The banking system, like health and education, should be run in the benefits of society as a whole, not a minority of super-rich speculators.