Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quote of the Day - global plutocrats

To get in the mood for this next quote, read Chrystia Freeland's 2011 Atlantic Magazine article Rise of the Global Plutocrats, which says, among many other things:
"The rich of today are also different from the rich of yesterday. . . . they are becoming a transglobal community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today’s super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves."
Indeed - but that's not the quote we wanted to point to. The next quote is noted in Freeland's book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else  (which today's blogger is currently reading.)

It comes from Adam Smith, talking about a shift from wealth derived from land ownership (which tends to root you, geographically speaking) towards stock ownership, which gives you greater mobility.
"He would be apt to abandon the country in which he was exposed to a vexatious inquisition in order to be assessed to a burdensome tax, and would remove his stock to some other country where he could either carry on his business or enjoy his fortune more at ease."
And that is exactly the problem we face today. A globetrotting élite that can dip into societies, cream off the benefits they want, then get everyone else to pay their share of the costs of providing benefits. And that's part of the reason why tax havens cause poverty.

The quote was from year 1804. That's quite some foresight. Time for a vexatious inquisition into the offshore world. And the best place to start is probably here.

One more for our quotations page.


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