Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cleaning House in the World

I came across an article today that gives me hope that maybe things are going to change after the fallout going on in the world today. Forever, really, the rich have done exactly what they want to do. They evade taxes, steal from the working man, build their gilded worlds on the backs of everyone else. Our elected government has helped them do it with a tax system so complicated they find loopholes, lobbyists that have the inside scoop because they worked for the government once (usually just before taking big-paying jobs for the companies they were supposed to be regulating), banks that hide their money from the IRS. The list goes on and on, and becomes ever-more complicated, when we hear how these so-called pillars of the community crumble as their sand castle businesses and lifestyles get swept away in the tide of their own greed and malice. Each day we hear about another one - Stanford Financial - with their offices in Antigua was the latest. Now why, exactly, are our senators and congress people, including Pelosi, McCain, and others receiving funds from some guy who has his offices and headquarters in Antigua? Why not here in the USA? What was he trying to avoid? Taxes maybe, or our laws? All the while having dinner with our lawmakers, giving them money, playing the part of a wheeler-dealer. There is no doubt, our entire system is broken. Completely and utterly broken. We will need a complete overhaul of all of our institutions and checks and balances, because each and every one let us down. Which brings me back to the story I read today in the NYT.

UBS, under extreme duress has capitulated into giving the US names of its American depositors, and will pay a $780 million-dollar fine for all the taxes they helped these Americans avoid. And while the money sounds kind of piddly in this day and age of payouts in the billions, what is really newsworthy is that it is the end of the "Swiss bank account" where money can be shielded from the prying eyes of the IRS. An end to an era that dates from the middle ages. So if we can break open that piggy bank for the rich, maybe, just maybe, we can ream out our own system of catering to those who have avarice as their only motivation. But it will take holding our elected officials responsible for everything they do. There is no better time to put the spot light on all the cockroaches, of which Washington has plenty. But we also have to take responsibility ourselves for letting our society become so out of control. We too, have to change how we see things. We need to keep our eye on companies that want to have off-shore headquarters - require our regulators to make sure they are not using off-shore laws and accounts to cheat the American people. But we need to look at things from a global and environmental perspective. The world is finite and it's people are vulnerable. No longer can we just view things through the American perspective. We should invite new world views, new perspectives, new ideas, as we redefine our system of governing. Synergy may be an over used term, but it may be a good one for right now.


Butternut Squash said...

I concur! "Not really my expression, I stole if from my six year old this morning. He's been reading Tin Tin."

Optimism will take us much farther than its nemesis.

susan said...

You might enjoy reading this article by David Korten if you have a little time. He wrote a book we enjoyed 10 years ago called 'When Corporations Rule The World' which provided a lot of insight for us when everything was just starting to go down the drain.

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