Sunday, January 19, 2020

Lev Parnas, International Man Of Mystery

Is he a hybrid of Zelig and Forrest Gump? Is he a grifter trying to make his mark on the American psyche? Is he, as suggested by Trump's impeachment defence lawyer Patricia Bondi, simply a publicity seeker?

Or is Rudi Guiliani associate Lev (Trump: I-don't-know-the-man) Parnas telling the truth when he says he was intimately involved in the Ukrainian scandal, facilitating the search for dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter?

You decide, but pay special attention to the pictorial evidence of his associations included in the following report:

Friday, January 17, 2020

Not So Fast, Capitalism

The triumphalism of capitalism can sometimes be hard to take. Platitudes such as "A rising tide lifts all boats" abound, rarely questioned except by the most astute among us, thereby excluding much of the MSM.

Fortunately, there are still people like Linda McQuaig to set the record straight on a recent claim in the NYT that life just keeps getting better today:
Amid growing criticism of extreme inequality, expect to hear lots more about how today’s capitalism is benefiting the world — especially next week when the global elite meets for their annual self-celebration in Davos, Switzerland.

It’s a powerful narrative. If capitalism is working wonders for humanity, maybe it doesn’t matter that a small number of billionaires have an increasing share of the world’s wealth.

But is the narrative true?
McQuaig suggests something other than capitalism is at work that has improved people's lives:
Life expectancy only began to improve towards the end of the 1800s — and only because of the public health movement, which pushed for separating sewage from drinking water. This extremely good idea was vigorously opposed by capitalists, who raged against paying taxes to fund it.

So sanitation, not capitalism, may be humanity’s true elixir.

Indeed, things only truly got better, says British historian Simon Szreter, after ordinary people won the right to vote and to join unions that pushed for higher wages and helped secure public access to health care, education and housing — again over the fierce objections of capitalists.

This suggests that it’s not capitalism but rather the forces fighting to curb capitalism’s worst excesses — unions and progressive political movements — that have improved people’s lives.
This is not to imply, however, that advocates of unfettered capitalism are helpless against such onslaughts of insight. While public polling suggests widespread, growing support for greater taxation of the wealthy, they have a potent threat in their arsenal:
Don’t even think of taxing us, because we’ll just move our money offshore.
The antidote to such extortionate tactics is suggested by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, economists at the University of California, Berkeley, in their book, The Triumph of Injustice:
... they argue that advanced nations could effectively clamp down on tax havens if they co-ordinated their efforts, just as they do in other areas, like trade policy.

Saez and Zucman point out there’s nothing to prevent advanced nations from simply collecting the corporate taxes that the tax havens don’t.

Recent reporting requirements make this possible. “It has never been easier for big countries to police their own multinationals,” they argue. “Should the G20 countries tomorrow impose a 25 per cent minimum tax on their multinationals, more than 90 per cent of the world’s profits would immediately become effectively taxed at 25 per cent or more.”
As always, there are solutions to the ills that plague us. What is in short supply, however, are politicians with the vision, integrity and backbone to implement them.

Thought For The Day

This resonates on oh so many levels.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Increasingly Transparent

The thuggish illegalities of Donald Trump are obvious for everyone to see. Everyone, that is, except for those inexplicable sludge marks on human rationality known as Trump devotees.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wash And Dry?

As I have written in the past on this blog, I have long suspected that Canada is soft on white-collar crime, including money laundering. The fact that the Panama Papers has yielded almost no recovery by the CRA of hidden tax money speaks volumes.

It would appear that laissez-faire attitude is now working its way through other federal bodies. Marco Chown Oved writes:
Despite multiple recent reports that identified Toronto’s vulnerability to money laundering, the RCMP has decided to disband its Ontario financial crimes unit, the Star has learned.

Announced internally on December 10 in a series of meetings held in detachments across the province, the decision will see 129 officers and eight civilian staff re-assigned to other units, including organized crime, anti-terrorism and drugs, according to an internal email obtained by the Star.

Breaking up a stand-alone unit devoted to investigating complex and difficult cases has financial crime experts worrying that fraud and money laundering activity will increase.
The many people currently working in the division will be redeployed to others dealing with terrorism, drugs and organized crime - a very bad idea:
“It just won’t work,” said Garry Clement, former director of the RCMP proceeds of crime unit. “The RCMP, in my view, has sort of lost sight of the fact that taking on financial crime requires a very high degree of expertise.”

A similar reorganization happened in B.C. several years ago, said Clement, where there has since been an explosion of money laundering in casinos, real estate and luxury cars.

“It amazes me that they tried this approach of dissolving the (financial crime) units and putting them together with other units and we know the results,” he said.
Says former deputy commissioner of the RCMP, Peter German,
“Eliminating economic crime as a national priority for the RCMP is a mistake. It was recognized years ago that protection of our economy is a critical issue for the national police. Furthermore, following the money trail is accepted around the world as likely the most effective way to attack organized crime where it hurts most,” German said.
It is difficult to draw any positive inferences from this egregiously bone-headed move, a reminder once more that when one scratches beneath the surface, all sorts of unpleasant implications are exposed.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Corporate Integrity: No Longer An Oxymoron

While he will undoubtedly come under under intense criticism, all I can say is, Bravo, Michael McCain.