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Thursday, May 30
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion editorial

EDITORIAL: Panama Papers are a bigger deal than you think

If you haven’t heard of the Panama Papers or don’t know what they mean, then this is your chance for a brief insight into the thousand of pages of documents leaked last week.

As it turns out, the stereotypical trope of rich people hiding all of their money in a Swiss bank account is actually true, except the accounts happen to be in Panama.

The world’s richest and most powerful people invest their money in fake business in order to avoid taxation. 

This results in $21 to $32 trillion in untaxed income globally, according to the Tax Justice Network.

It’s easy to skim over that figure without a second glance, but try to appreciate just how much money that is. 

The lowest estimate, for instance, is well above our entire national debt.

One writer from Forbes estimates if the share of money belonging to the United States had been taxed, we would have received $100 billion annually — an amount that covers Bernie Sanders’ plan to provide tuition-free college to everyone without raising taxes.

This is the importance of the Panama Papers. It reveals just how much the rich, by using loopholes in the system, are cheating their fellow countrymen out of better lives across the globe.

Income equality and tax evasion are important issues for anyone. Social justice, though principally a matter of the heart, might be advanced by economic prosperity.

And the prosperity of the 99 percent is being squandered by the few at the top.

While the Panama Papers are tearing through the political sphere in many countries, the United States has avoided most of the shockwaves.

But don’t be surprised if that changes.

For one, this scandal may shift the tone of the presidential race by giving credibility to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

The Vermont senator’s quest for the Democratic nomination has a laser-like focus on how the wealth and corruption of the billionaire class hurts most Americans.

The Panama Papers force voters to consider Sanders might be on to something.

Even more eye-opening is the fact that, during his fight against a Panama-U.S. free trade agreement in 2011, Sanders took to the Senate floor and issued an eerie warning about how the tax-haven status of Panama could be abused by the ultra-rich.

A new YouTube clip of Sanders’ speech, which sounded like bland political speak at the time, has quickly earned hundreds of thousands of views. Among other things, the senator prophetically singled out Panama as a “world leader” at harboring tax avoidance and evasion.

Sanders, who hasn’t lost a state to Clinton in more than three weeks, will likely gain traction as Americans notice his stance against the sleaze.

Clinton’s support for the Panama-U.S. trade agreement that Sanders opposed won’t make it easier for her.

She may also be scarred by news that her campaign chairman, John Podesta, may have indirect connections to Russian banks and shell companies listed in the Panama Papers. 

Still, although the Panama Papers may give the Sanders campaign a shot of adrenaline, this scandal alone likely won’t be enough to shatter Clinton’s near-insurmountable delegate advantage.

If Sanders doesn’t pull off the upset, expect the Panama Papers to continue weighing down Clinton’s image all the way to the general election.

Once again, FIFA has found itself in hot water with the gradual release of the Panama papers. 

But this time it’s not former president Sepp Blatter, but recently inaugurated president Gianni Infantino.

Arguably the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, is implicated. 

Messi, who’s currently on trial for tax evasion in Spain, is no stranger to the limelight, and his personal finances are certainly
suspect.

It’s not surprising, considering how corrupt
FIFA is.

After the recent scandal surrounding Blatter and the rest of FIFA had been, for lack of a better word, resolved, there was hope that the organization was past its shadowy past.

Once again, its found itself in hot water, and nobody can truly be surprised by this development. 

This time, the documents in question are dealing with the sale of TV rights to a third party company, which then sold the rights again for three times the price. 

Naturally, Infantino, the former secretary general of Union of European Football Associations, has denied any wrongdoing.

There were millions of documents released in the leak, but FIFA’s inclusion cannot be overlooked. 

The organization can’t seem to rid itself of corruption, even if it occurred several years in the past. 

The organization has bit off more than it can chew, and its quest to reform itself into a clean organization has hit another snag.

Who knows what other documents will be released concerning FIFA from the Panama Papers. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait
and see. 

Although world football can be quite lucrative, it’s so important for the beautiful game to return to its purest form, without the corruption and scandal its governing body can’t seem to shake.

British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted his involvement in the Panama Papers and said he held shares from his mother and late father’s investment fund from a firm based in the Bahamas. 

The Panama Papers leak from the Mossack Fonseca firm revealed Cameron received £200,000, or $280,000, from his mother and £300,000, or $400,000, from his late father.

These benefits came from a company that went untaxed for 30 years, and, with the current moral issues the Conservative Party faces, the prime minister faces backlash and calls for resignation in addition to Edward Snowden’s call for an uprising.

The Conservative Party, also known as the Tories, is facing increasing pressure to reveal information about the tax returns and end all loopholes in tax evasion. 

Cameron defended the investments as “entirely standard practice,” the Independent reported. 

He should respond
quickly to criticisms and admit his wrongdoings, similar to his advocacy for financial transparency.  

Iceland’s Primate Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has stepped down after widespread protests of his family’s involvement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also been implicated as having links with the wealth of secret offshore companies. 

While there hasn’t been much evidence to show Putin is directly involved in the leaks, investigators are looking into the details to determine how involved, if at all, Putin is.

Putin has rejected any sort of involvement in the deals of the leaks as he said, “There is no subject to discuss,” reported the BBC.

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s family has stepped up censorship of the news after his brother-in-law was implicated in the papers.

Jinping fears political opposition, as do those in power around the world. 

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