“We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.*…
In a seminar room in Oxford, one of the reporters who worked on the Panama Papers is describing the main conclusion he drew from his months of delving into millions of leaked documents about tax evasion. “Basically, we’re the dupes in this story,” he says. “Previously, we thought that the offshore world was a shadowy, but minor, part of our economic system. What we learned from the Panama Papers is that it is the economic system.”
Luke Harding, a former Moscow correspondent for The Guardian, was in Oxford to talk about his work as one of four hundred–odd journalists around the world who had access to the 2.6 terabytes of information about tax havens—the so-called Panama Papers—that were revealed to the world in simultaneous publication in eighty countries this spring. “The economic system is, basically, that the rich and the powerful exited long ago from the messy business of paying tax,” Harding told an audience of academics and research students. “They don’t pay tax anymore, and they haven’t paid tax for quite a long time. We pay tax, but they don’t pay tax. The burden of taxation has moved inexorably away from multinational companies and rich people to ordinary people.”…
More from Alan Rusbridger (former editor of The Guardian, now Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and Chair of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism) in The New York Review of Books: “Panama: The Hidden Trillions” (the first of two parts).
* Leona Helmsley, New York property heiress
As we fulminate on fairness, we might recall that it was on this date in 1792 that a group of 12 Freemasons laid the cornerstone of The White House. Eight years later, John and Abigail Adams moved in.
The White House was designed by James Hoban, an Irish immigrant architect living in Charleston, South Carolina, who won a competition for the commission (and a $500 prize) with a design modeled after Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland. He beat out a future resident, Thomas Jefferson, whose Monticello/UVa-like design was among the many losers.
It’s not known whether there was anything contained within the cornerstone. In fact, though the building stills stands (albeit rebuilt and expanded after being burned down during the War of 1812), the whereabouts the stone itself are a bit of a mystery.