Panama. Besides the Panama Canal, hands up who knew anything about this country before the leakage of the global tax-avoiders? The country in between the South and North America, has really received their 15 minutes of fame this week. Panama papers put Iceland’s PM out of job, shook the trust of law abiding Nordic citizens to their banks (Nordea Bank being exposed to having provided assistance for companies to avoid paying taxes) and shot the spotlight again to FIFA, etc.
Shocking. Rich people are trying to avoid paying taxes. Multinational companies wanting to optimize theirs. Politicians hiding their shareholdings.
Call me cynical but with these news I shrugged my shoulders and continued living my life. I’m a realist. Of course I dream of a perfect world but I’m not living in a bubble. I live in Asia so that might have hardened me further to tolerate corruption – what else can you do? In Southeast Asia half the newspaper coverage goes to corruption stories.
Corruption, so what. Who cares? Recent statistics from Russia revealed that 75% of the population think their government is corrupt and most said there’s nothing to do about it. That’s just the way is.
But it shouldn’t be. We should care and certainly should take action against corruption. Why? Because the world should be more like Robin Hood, take from rich to the poor. Not the other way around.
It’s always the rich who can benefit from these grey areas. An everyday Joe will never have the means to optimize his tax duties, a start-up can’t play around with its HQ locations and business models. Importantly, not only can’t the regular law-abiding people and companies not take use of “grey area” benefits, but they are also the biggest losers in the game. They need the governments to function in a fair way, providing quality education opportunities, healthcare, infrastructure.
Corruption should not be tolerated. The world is not fair but we need to fight for it anyways. I’ll try to remember my own advise next time I’m driving in Vietnam if the traffic cop pulls me over.