Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Backsliding from Transparency International

Just as we predicted in our blog yesterday, Transparency International has brought out its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2008, and Singapore, one of the world's most toxic tax havens, is ranked as the fourth "cleanest". Right behind it, in fifth place, is another singularly unpleasant receptacle for dirty money, Switzerland.

Worse still, the accompanying press release appears to have lost touch with reality. Whereas at least the 2007 blurb accompaning the CPI's release recognised the centrality of these kinds of dirty money centres faciliting flows of dirty money, this one simply quotes a Professor, Johann Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Passau, who compiles the index, who says nothing that we didn't know already. In terms of the responsibility of western countries for corruption, the blurb then goes on to focus on bribery, which as Raymond Baker has shown, only accounts for an estimated three percent of the problem, in terms of cross-border financial flows.

Anyone involved in analysing corruption -- and that, we hear, includes many people inside TI (and, if you read German, see here), should be aware by now that there is a new game in town. It's been out there for some time now, and nobody has ever told us that (or how) we are wrong. It's called Phase Two in the corruption debate. Plenty of people inside Transparency International are with us. Switzerland and Singapore, along with all the others up there in this wrong-headed table, are simply not clean states. It is time for real change.

We will end with a quote from John Christensen's speech which he has just given in Norway.

We must reconsider what constitutes corruption. It is right to be concerned by bribery and embezzlement of public assets, but tax evasion is generally overlooked even though it represents theft of public assets and, in terms of orders of magnitude, has far greater impact on public revenues than bribery and embezzlement.

Tax evasion involves abusive behaviour at the intersection between private activity and the public interest. It involves minorities bypassing accepted social norms, and provides one set of rules for the rich and well-connected, and another set of rules for the poor and weak. More insidiously, it involves privileged elites, who use secrecy jurisdictions to undermine the will of elected parliaments. It is time that secrecy jurisdictions are recognised for what they really are: a full-on assault on the sovereignty of nation states, a direct attack on democracy, and a cancer running through the veins of contemporary capitalism.


Anonymous FungusFitzJuggler said...

Google, the new spy machine on the block, gives this blog due prominence...

Well said.

Laws exist to diminish my rights and one of these is my right to property.

By establishing a leaky system of taxation, legislators act to steal from me if I pay my fair share. These legislators can be bought. They are bought. I am not buying them. All they get from me is my vote, sometimes and my tax funded lawful remuneration.

It even becomes overt: why are the US gangs, sorry, banksters and corporates, willing to buy compromised 18 year olds, groom them for 20+ years and then as if they were racehorses, run them off against one another in "elections"? Why do they spend vast multiples of money in gang owned media to secure public posts paying peanuts?

Why do these posts pay peanuts? To keep the incumbents honest? The opposite of course!

Try an index of how much is spent on elections and the known payoff.....That might be one measure of corruption in wealthy "democracies".

In Athens, the legislator, there was no enthusiasm for this job, would stand alone, but surrounded by those who voted on his, sorry gels, they all had testicular appendages, oration. If he failed to persuade, then his bill failed but so did he: as he was attempting to damage their rights, the successful majority got to strangle him!

Hank Paulson is right to be nervous.... a most unconvincing advocate.

7:21 am  

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