Mugabe and Other Leftist Heroes

unleashed a war of atrocity against his ethnic rivals in the Ndebele tribe, promising that he would pursue his enemies “until all dissidents are eliminated

.. The scale of Mugabe’s killing, estimated as high as 20,000

.. When will they stop confusing national independence with individual freedom, liberation with liberty?

.. As for the other Mugabes, Fidel Castro tyrannized Cuba for decades, yet was paid flattering tributes on his death last year, including from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 

.. Yasir Arafat’s turn on the world stage began and ended in terrorism, intermixed with corruption and human-rights abuses. Yet the rais never lacked for admirers on the left

.. Naomi Klein has any regrets about her fervent championship of the Bolivarian Revolution

.. Joseph Stiglitz has any second thoughts about his close ties to the ruinous Argentine government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

.. Western thinkers have been tempted by the prospect of influence abroad, along with the power that comes with it, particularly when both are denied to them at home.

.. The visiting economist calls for heavy deficit spending or a currency devaluation, but collects his speaking fee in dollars and doesn’t live through the eventual default.

.. Zimbabwe’s tragedy is just a fuller version of a post-colonial story of disastrous ideological experiments accompanied by foreigners who cheered those experiments and then looked the other way when they failed. There needs to be a reckoning with them, too.

Hidden assets, hidden costs

These mostly concerned the alleged smuggling of $65 million out of Argentina on behalf of its President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – hardly startling news if true, given the country and the person but the documents also included what really mattered: full corporate information on the 123 name-plate-only (“shell”) companies that were used to zig-zag the money surreptitiously around the world, all of them formed by a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca.

.. Not even the ultra-formidable billionaire Paul Singer, who had bought up heavily discounted Argentine debt .. could do anything about the $65 million sitting tantalizingly close to him in Nevada – but now all the data was revealed (too late for Singer because Argentina’s new President, Mauricio Macri, also a Mossack Fonseca client as it happens, had already decided to settle and pay him off, along with all the other hold-out claimants).

.. This was the beginning of a flood of 11.5 million documents containing the records of the formation and transactions of 214,000 nameplate companies, including full documentation of their initiators (passport data page scans, etc), all of whom are, or are serving, tax avoiders – in ways legal, but unethical and duplicitous

.. this is an extremely important book – this decade’s most important rather than this year’s

.. because it offers an entirely new perspective on the greatest question of the age: why has income distribution in the more developed economies become increasingly unequal pari passu  with the advance of globalization?

.. disregarding the overwhelming evidence that much of that consists of the transfer of income from lower-income people in higher-income countries to higher-income people in lower-income countries.

.. we now know that globalization has caused rising inequality in quite another way than the transfer of higher-paying manufacturing jobs and all other such phen­omena

.. Mossack Fonseca’s 214,000 offshore companies alone (and there are many other such shell companies, formed by many other law firms) handled not millions or billions but trillions of dollars in their totality

.. When the less affluent must pay their payroll taxes and income taxes in full, while the more affluent with offshore companies do not pay their own taxes, the total effect of the taxation system is regressive

.. Once we recognize the sheer magnitude of “offshored” income flows, and once we take into account the strongly regressive effects of supposedly progressive taxation systems, the phenomenon of rising inequality in affluent societies may not need much additional explaining – and it hardly matters if those were tax-avoidance or tax-evasion trillions.

.. Much less surprising is the abundance of Mossack Fonseca clients in the leadership of UEFA and FIFA: because football earnings are so very large it stands to reason that they should be offshored rather than wasted in paying taxes.

.. If Putin wants someone’s Moscow mega-mansion, for example, he need only let the owner know whether he wants it as it is, or cleared of furniture, and the same is true of anything else in Russia: his power is limited only by his own considerable restraint.

.. it is the outright crooks, drug-traffickers and such, who are more honest fiscally at least, because most would dearly love to pay income taxes on their earnings, if only they could do so without being arrested, thereby acquiring legal wealth they could enjoy and show off

.. the same authorities that routinely identify, track and remotely kill individual terrorists in distant countries, which they occasionally bomb for one reason or another, profess themselves impotent before the blithely meretricious officials of micro-countries that contain little else but banks that conduct no local business, whose only raison d’être is very plainly to facilitate avoidance and collude in evasion.

.. only the German tax authorities seem ready to buy it from the thieves without making a fuss, thereby recovering billions for a few million