It’s said that there’s nothing more vicious than a wild animal that’s cornered. I’d add that there’s nothing more devious than a top corporate or political official caught in a hypocritical scandal.
Witness the huge menagerie of political critters who’ve recently been backed into a corner by the Panama Papers — a trove of leaked documents revealing billionaires, rich celebrities, corporate chieftains, and seemingly pious public officials who’ve hidden their wealth and dodged their taxes by stashing their cash in foreign tax havens.
Of course, we’ve known for a while that tax dodging is a common plutocratic scam. But the details from the leaked files of an obscure Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca now gives us names to shame.
One is David Cameron, the prime minister of Britain. He’s loudly declaimed tax sneaks in public, but — oops — it turns out that his own super-rich father was a Mossack Fonseca client. The Conservative Party leader himself has profited from the stealth wealth he inherited from his dad’s secret stash.Trapped by the facts, the snarling, privileged politician used middle-class commoners as his shield. “If you want to pass your home to your children,” he said of critics of his secluded wealth, “they will tax it.” No, mister prime minister — the rest of us merely want to tax those who try to pass off tax frauds on the public.
One of Cameron’s partisans even claimed that critics “hate anybody who has even got a hint of wealth in their life.” Again, no — it’s the self-serving hypocrisy of the elites that we the people hate.
Doubling down on their hypocrisy, Cameron & Co. have announced that they’ll host an anti-corruption summit to address the problem of offshore tax evaders.
As Lily Tomlin says: “No matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up.”
*OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.