I don't know how to improve upon this headline and sub-head...
Wealth doesn't trickle down – it just floods offshore, new research reveals
A far-reaching new study suggests a staggering $21tn in assets has been lost to global tax havens. If taxed, that could have been enough to put parts of Africa back on its feet – and even solve the euro crisis
for the rest. Samples:
The world's super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy.
And yet most of the Republican candidates during primary season went around the country proclaiming that we need to raise taxes on the poor.
"These estimates reveal a staggering failure," says John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. "Inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people.
"This new data shows the exact opposite has happened: for three decades extraordinary wealth has been cascading into the offshore accounts of a tiny number of super-rich."
In total, 10 million individuals around the world hold assets offshore, according to Henry's analysis; but almost half of the minimum estimate of $21tn – $9.8tn – is owned by just 92,000 people. And that does not include the non-financial assets – art, yachts, mansions in Kensington – that many of the world's movers and shakers like to use as homes for their immense riches.
In fact, some experts believe the amount of assets being held offshore is so large that accounting for it fully would radically alter the balance of financial power between countries.
Libertarians will argue that the wealthy won't create jobs unless they can hide their trillions. As always, their argument depends upon an ignorance of history. This country worked better when companies were run by people who received less money and paid full taxes on what they earned.
To illustrate the point, consider the life of Mitt Romney's father, George Romney. When he ran American Motors -- and produced the Rambler, the car that went beep beep beep
-- he earned $200,000 a year, the equivalent of $1.5 million in today's money. He paid at least a third of that amount in taxes. The rest of the money circulated within our borders, increasing general prosperity.
That was in the '50s and the early 1960s. We made good cars. We made good everything
. Everyone had good jobs. We built highways. We had an amazing power grid. We had the most powerful military ever seen. Things were great.
I have seen the past, and it works.