Greed & financial secrecy
Thomas Piketty wrote a book called Capital in the Twenty-First Century in which he outlines thatwe are heading into a future dominated by inherited wealth as capital concentrates into fewer hands, giving the very rich an ever-greater power over government, politics and society.Paul Krugman further explains thatwe are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy, a society of inherited wealth: Patrimonial Capitalism.See also the iron law of oligarchy. C. Wright Mills wrote thatWealth not only tends to perpetuate itself, but... tends also to monopolize new opportunities for getting 'great wealth.'andThe accumulation of advantages at the very top parallels the vicious cycle of poverty at the very bottom.In 2014the group of millionaires numbering less than 1% of all adults owned 44% of global wealth.In 2017the world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population.In 2016 Newsweek reported that62 people held more wealth than half the world's population combined in 2015; that number was 388 people in 2010.The facts are obvious. Charlie Munger saidShow me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome.One can not be rich unless others are relatively poor. The rich get richer while the rest suffers the consequences. So it's safe to say that poverty is not being attacked but rather maintained and expanded by those who are filthy rich. George Bernard Shaw said thatthe greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is poverty.
Materialism vs morality
A survey conducted by the University of California and the American Council on Education on 250,000 new college students found that their main reason for attending college was to gain material wealth. From the 1970s to the late 1990s, the percentage of students who stated that their main reason for going to college was to develop a meaningful life philosophy dropped from more than 80% to about 40%, while the purpose of obtaining financial gain rose from about 40% to more than 75%.
Materialism is the number one philosophy in the western world. It is contrasted by spirituality or morality. More of one thing means less of another. With the rise of materialism comes the decline of morality. Shirley Chisholm rightly said thatwhen morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses. Greed is the desire to have more of something than is necessary or fair. Especially people in the western world are extremely individualistic and egocentric. Already in 1956 C. Wright Mills wrote thatFor all of the possible values of human society, one and only one is truly sovereign, truly universal, truly sound, truly and completely acceptable goal of man in America. That goal is money.... People high on materialism are more likely to engage in unethical business behaviors and manipulate people for their own purposes. Of course poor people don't have enough money, but people with lots of money never have enough either. For poor people it is need, but for rich people it is greed.
Christmas is a good example of materialism overshadowing moral values. Many sheeple parents in the western world systematically lie to their children in the name of a tradition they don't really believe in and which is supposed to have high moral values. So instead of learning moral values these children learn how to deceive their own future children. Many parents defend their lies making themselves believe that they have good intentions. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And by keeping this corrupt tradition alive they support the material system imposed on them by the power elite who of course make profit by it. Christmas has become a feast of consumerism and a symbol of materialism.
The positive effect of both materialism as well as greed on subjective well-being might be short term. It is suggested that on long term materialistic and greedy people experience lower levels of subjective well-being or which doesn't lead to an increase in happiness.
Materialism is negatively associated with life satisfaction. There is a very robust correlation between socioeconomic status and health. High levels of inequality in wealth and income produce greater levels of unhappiness. Major depression is the number 1 psychological disorder in the western world. Materialism is extremely destructive for the planet and human well-being. It is rampant in this sick and immoral world. What a paradox.
Since the end of the Cold War, the opening years of the globalizing era have produced an explosion in the volume of illegitimate commercial and financial transactions. North American and European banking and investment institutions have been flooded with laundered and ill-gotten gains. Totaling trillions of dollars, most of these sums are generated through secret arrangements between cooperating but distant private-sector entities.
Under the Banking Law of 1934 it is a criminal act for a bank to reveal the name of an account holder. Bank secrecy is a swiss invention which quickly spread throughout the globe. Charlie Munger saidShow me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome.Financial secrecy favors criminality and in a corrupt world there is of course a need for a safe place to store criminal money. In the 1930s for example Meyer Lansky, a member of the Jewish Mafia with links to the Italian Mafia, used Swiss bank secrecy, assured by the Banking Law of 1934, to launder his criminal money. He even bought an offshore bank in Switzerland. In the world of power secrecy is linked to corruption. Niels Bohr is believed to have said thatThe best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness.This is true, so how do the power elite fit into this reality?
Prime Minister David Cameron has championed open government in the UK with a pledge to make the government "the most open and transparent in the world".
But is this true?
According to the Financial Secrecy Index:If the UK and its network of Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies were treated as a single entity, this UK spider’s web would rank first on the index.The Tax Justice Network also reported thatVarious OECD member states run satellite secrecy jurisdictions, but Britain's network is by far the largest, accounting for between a third and a half of the global market in offshore financial services.In 2013 The Guardian reported that Britain, in partnership with Her Majesty's overseas territories and crown dependencies, remainsby far the most important part of the global offshore system of tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions.A writer at CounterPunch said thatThe British government’s claim to be tackling tax avoidance is about as credible as Al Capone claiming to be leading the fight against organized crime. In fact, Britain is at the heart of the global tax haven network, and continues to lead the fight against its regulation.
Tax haven expert Nicholas Shaxson said that the City of London Corporationis an offshore island inside Britain, a tax haven in its own right.As opposed to what the power elite try to make you believe, the reality is that the United Kingdom with its financial capital the City of London is world leader in housing tax havens. Its overseas territories—Cayman Islands, Jersey, Bermuda, Guernsey, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Seychelles, Isle of Man, Turks and Caicos Islands—are tax havens or offshore financial centres which prove to be of good use to the super-rich. The Guardian reported thatCameron could act to bring UK territories into line on offshore investments but he's in thrall to powerful City players.
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
But is this true? The reality is that the U.S. with its financial capital, the Financial District in New York, is second in housing tax havens. The political elite serve as mouthpieces for the power elite. Their mouths propagate openness but they work for secrecy. Their mouths propagate democracy but they act against it with globalization. Under Obama global espionage exploded and torture was practiced. Under Obama the U.S. waged constant wars in parts of the world rich in resources or in any other way of geopolitical importance. The whole concept of war has changed under Obama. Under Obama covert drone strikes flourished. Obama's administration is now labeled the most secretive presidency in American history. He's a professional liar and this is no secret. So it is clear thatWith the help of lawyers, accountants, white-shoe professionals and complicit Western governments, the wealthy and well-connected have avoided paying trillions of dollars in taxes.Lucy Komisar said that ifthe US, the UK, the major G-7 banks will not deal with offshore bank centers that don't comply with G-7 bank regulations, these banks could not exist. They only exist because they can engage in transactions with standard banks.
Tax havens exist because the governments allow them to exist. While the power elite make sure the common taxpayers are taxed, they also make sure the super-rich are not. Just another factor that plays a role in growing inequality.
Madeline Levine - The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
Tim Kasser - The High Price of Materialism
Benjamin R. Barber - Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole
Juliet B. Schor - Born to Buy, The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture
Juliet B. Schor - The Overspent American, Why We Want What We Don't Need
Eric Schlosser - Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Winfried Fluck - "Money Is God": Materialism, Economic Individualism, and Expressive Individualism
Caroline Adams Miller, Michael B. Frisch - Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide
Suniya S. Luthar - The Problem With Rich Kids
Zan Boag interviews Tim Kasser - Living in a material world
Teresa Amabile - How to Kill Creativity
Global Issues - Children as Consumers
Activist Post - The American Dream, Brought to You by Edward Bernays
Nicholas Shaxson - Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World
Richard Brooks - The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became a Tax Haven for Fat Cats and Big Business
Heather Stewart - Wealth doesn't trickle down, it just floods offshore, research reveals
Financial Secrecy Index - The British Connection?
Tax Research UK - Tax Havens, the infographic
Michiel van Dijk, Francis Weyzig, Richard Murphy - The Netherlands: A Tax Haven?