The Panama Papers? Why Not The Delaware Papers?

While the Panama Papers exposed thousands of politicians and billionaires who have used off-shore tax havens to hide trillions of dollars from taxes, the leaked papers will likely have little effect on Americans. It’s not that American corporations, billionaires and politicians are any more trustworthy than their foreign counterparts. It’s just that they don’t need to hide their money in the Cayman Islands when they can hide it in a much safer and less transparent refuge…the United States.

That’s right, the US is quickly becoming the world’s capital for money-laundering and tax shelters. Outside of Kenya, the US is now the easiest country in the world to open an anonymous shell corporation. No need to move your money off shore; no need to hire a Panamanian law firm; no need to place your trust in the economy of a third world country. Instead, you can open a shell company in Delaware, Nevada or South Dakota that will allow you to invest your money anonymously.

A recent article in the Washington Post noted that, if it weren’t for such schemes, the US Treasury would annually collect an additional $36 billion from wealthy individuals and an additional $88 billion from multinational corporations. That’s $124 billion a year that could be used to pay for public schools, to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and to improve public transportation!

And US citizens are not the only ones who are taking advantage of our lax tax laws.

According to, the US has become the world’s largest tax haven for wealthy non-residents. You see, Congress, in an attempt to encourage more investment in US securities, made it easier for non-residents to invest through “pass through” or “disregarded” tax entities. These are the same vehicles the Koch brothers and their wealthy rightwing friends are using to influence elections without disclosing the source of their funding.

Through these LLCs, non-residents can easily open US financial accounts and make investments in securities without paying US taxes on the income they earn. They can avoid US capital gains taxes. Further, the investors in these entities can operate businesses outside the US while taking advantage of US corporate tax write-offs and incentives. Thanks to a variety of treaties, non-resident investors can reduce their tax liabilities in other countries, as well. They can transfer income to other, lower tax nations. All the while their investments are protected by the full faith and credit of the US. Their US bank accounts are even protected by the FDIC! Best of all, the investors in these entities can all remain anonymous.

So if you’re expecting the Panama Papers to reveal names like Charles Koch, David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, Mitt Romney, or Donald Trump alongside such people as David Cameron, Vladimir Putin and the House of Saud, don’t hold your breath. Like me, you’re probably going to be sorely disappointed.

Falling Behind Russia.

For those Americans who still consider Russia a rival of the US, I have bad news. We have fallen behind the Great Russian Bear in one important economic category: Russia is one of the few nations on the planet with more economic disparity than ours.

In the US, the top one percent own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 80 percent own just 7 percent. But in Russia, just 110 people own 35 percent of the nation’s wealth! According to a report by Credit Suisse, “Russia has the highest level of wealth inequality in the world, apart from small Caribbean nations with resident billionaires.”

Damn those Russians! We used to be number one!

Of course, this means our greedy billionaires will need to step up their game. We know they’re trying. The Koch brothers funded the government shutdown over “Obamacare” in order to maintain the status quo. Wall Street, the health care industry, and defense contractors have increased their lobbying groups in Washington. And the US Supreme Court is currently hearing a court case that may allow the obscenely wealthy to better purchase politicians and political favors under the guise of free speech.

But even that may not be enough. So the bought-and-paid-for Teapublicans are working overtime to privatize Social Security, Medicare, our military, prisons, schools and every other institution in the US. The claim is that this will make the institutions run more efficiently and more cheaply. But, in reality, privatization merely makes these institutions less responsive while adding to their costs and the corporations’ bottom lines.

But who are the poor and the middle class to complain? This is about national pride. We’re exceptional!  We have to be number one. USA! USA! USA!