Will Wikileaks revelations on wealthy tax dodgers motivate Americans to take action?

I’ve got two great videos that I want to share with you today. The first, from Dylan Ratigan’s show on MSNBC, pertains to the most recent chapter in the Wikileaks saga. For those of you who haven’t heard, Julian Assanage, the man behind Wikileaks, called a press conference a few days ago to say that, thanks to a former Swiss banker by the name of Rudolph M. Elmer, he would soon be announcing the names of over 2,000 high net worth individuals and companies hiding money in offshore bank accounts, in violation of American and English tax law. (The list, we’re told, among other things, contains the names of at least 40 politicians.) Joining Ratigan in the clip is Johann Hari, a reporter for the British paper The Independent. Hari, during the course of discussing this most recent Wikileaks revelation, shares the story of what’s presently going on England, where it was recently uncovered that the corporation Vodaphone was hiding revenue to the tune of several billion pounds. (It’s estimated that Vodaphone owes £6bn in taxes on these profits which they attempted to hide in offshore accounts.) Apparently, when this became known, there were mass protests, which shut down Vodaphone locations in 52 cities across Britain. Following, by way of background, is a clip from Infoshop News:

The UK has seen a wave of high-street demonstrations under the banner of the UK uncut campaign, many of which have been organised locally following call outs distributed through the internet. The protests have seen a number of stores associated with Tax-Dodging picketed, occupied and flyered in cities and towns up and down the country.

The targets of the campaign have been pretty specific. The most high-profile company to be taken on has been the UK-based telecoms giant Vodafone, which is the most profitable mobile phone operator in the world. Earlier in the year veteran investigative magazine Private Eye broke a story on Vodafone’s successful tax-dodging, which had involved setting up a subsidiary company in Luxembourg purely to route profits from the company’s acquisition of Mannesman through a country with a more agreeable tax regime. After a lengthy legal battle, which apparently was going HMRC’s way, the taxman agreed to let Vodafone pay a tax bill of £1.2 billion, rather than the full £6 billion in estimated tax. Vodafone have since dismissed the £6 billion figure as a “urban myth”, despite the fact their accountants projected for it in their own bookeeping. Understandably, the story produced a groundswell of anger, of which these demonstrations are a product…

And it’s this public uprising against Vodaphone that you’ll see in the second video.

My question is this… Assuming Assanage isn’t paid off or killed in the next few weeks, and the names of these tax-dodging individuals and companies are made public, is it likely that Americans will respond as the English have? When confronted with evidence that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, will Americans take to the streets? I’d like to think that the answer is yes, but I suspect that we won’t. Hopefully, though, I’ll be proven wrong. Hopefully, people will be able to make the connection between the fact that these high net worth individuals aren’t paying their taxes and the growing reality in America that our kids’ teachers are being laid-off and our social safety net is being slashed to shreds. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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21 Comments

  1. dragon
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    I felt the Gary Cooper sex scene to be a little forced.

    “Uhh, that was a rape scene, George.”

  2. Tommy
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Mark please – no protests will take place here. As a matter of fact most media will attack Wikileaks hard. And I think you may be right about Assanage’s life being in danger. I suspect he will be ‘suicided’ soon.

  3. Knox
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Is it that we’re stupid, or lazy? Or is it a combination of both?

  4. Edward
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I blame it on the Republicans for wrecking the American public education system. Our young people lack any critical thinking skills. And, perhaps more importantly, they’re too afraid to rock the boat. Fear is a wonderful tool.

  5. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Maybe I’ve just become too much of a cynic, but I think that, should any information like this come out here, you would have a massive outpouring of support on the right. After all, these companies have taken matters into their own hands to keep what’s theirs, and keep it out of the hands of the evil, socialist, foreign-born government, just like our fore-fathers did in Boston.

  6. John Galt
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    CEOs are gods that walk among us. We should be thankful that they allow us the opportunity to serve them. As President Kennedy once said, “Ask not what the rich can do for you, avert your eyes and offer them your children in tribute.”

  7. Andy C
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Leave the investment class income earners alone! If you make them pay taxes, they’ll leave the country and our economy will collapse!

  8. Eel
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I say we make ourselves a 2,000 segment long human centipede. Who’s with me?

  9. Posted January 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I hope Assanage is in hiding somewhere – and I hope that all 2,000 names are released sooner rather than later. Uprising or not, at least the percentage of us in America who operate in reality will have something to say in reaction.

  10. Posted January 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if the Wikileaks stuff will change anything. You would think that it would, but the stuff that’s already been released is damning and yet no one is marching demanding an end to the wars.

    I have hope but we’ve been pretty dumbed down as a whole in the government schools. It will take a lot to get people mad enough now.

  11. Nodular
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Most British citizens have little or no idea of the Vodaphone scandal. Even if they did, ordinary people are finding it so hard to make ends meet that they have little time for political demonstration. They would rather bury their heads in the sand and wish it would all go away (which it won’t). The Unions have proved themselves ambivalent and inneffective. There is a lack of motivation, of self-worth and such a huge fear of the state that the chance of any real revolt is small. So long as they have their satellite TV, football and less than cost price alcohol they’re happy.

  12. Edward
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    That may be true, but a hell of a lot of them turned out to shut down Vodaphone stores, and that’s a hell of a lot more than we Americans would have done. (Maybe our TV is better.)

  13. Kim
    Posted January 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    By football, I believe he means soccer.

  14. Kim
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    One more reason for people to hate Vodaphone.

    Egyptian authorities forced Vodafone to broadcast pro-government text messages during the protests that have rocked the country, the U.K.-based mobile company said Thursday. The micro-blogging site Twitter has been buzzing with screen grabs from Vodafone’s Egyptian customers showing text messages sent over the course of the demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-old regime.

  15. TaterSalad
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Public Sector Unions to the American Taxpayers:

    Sorry you have to pay out of your own wages each week for your “own retirement” (401k), but brother, could you dig a little deeper in your wallet and keep funding my pension also. I have a second home that needs some work done on it before I retire at 55 years of age! Keep up the good fight and support your local Public Union Worker…..and his benefits!

    How can a Union member get his Union dues refund?

    http://www.unionrefund.org/

    Right to Work states statistics:
    http://www.nrtw.org/en/blog/wall-street-journal-more-states-consider-02032111

  16. John Galt
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Damn, you’re smart, Taters. It never occurred to me to cut and paste the same comments in lots of different threads. Hold on while go and get the other ones I wrote today and post them here. You’re the best, by the way. Do you drink Miller Light? If so, we should go to Applebee’s sometime.

  17. John Galt
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank GOD, I felt so alone here since EOS and Dedicate Republican peed their pants and went running into the woods screaming. Welcome, Taters. Now let’s start showing them what real patriots are made of. You fight the Islamofascist lovers school teachers, and I’ll take the queers and the vegetarians. Are you ready?

  18. John Galt
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Taters. That’s what I’m talkin’ about, folks. The 4th of July should be for white people ONLY! You got that? The last thing we need is people of other cultures joining us in our celebration of freedom, independence and equality under the rule of law.

  19. John Galt
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Wow. This feels great. Thank you, Taters. If you’re not doing anything later, I’ll be having dinner at the Blue Sky Deli. I’ll be the one in the Thayrone windbreaker.

  20. Wim Derksen
    Posted April 6, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Can someone tell me what happened with publishing those names?
    It’s April and have not heard anything.

  21. Searching the Archives
    Posted October 7, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I decided to go digging back through the archives, seeing how many times in the past we’ve wondered, “Is now the time that Americans will get their fat asses off the couch?”

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  1. […] beginning to take notice. Now, we just have to wait and see if the movement here takes hold here like it has in Britain, where, it would appear, people are beginning to connect the […]

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