By Priya Mullassaril
Kim Kardashian buys her next mansion as a homeless man is forced to go another day without food. Is it fair? No. But unfortunately, it is the way our world works. It’s a well-known fact that the rich-poor wealth gap remains a dark cloud looming over the world- but the release of the Pandora Papers has truly spotlighted this phenomenon. These documents revealed the dark underbelly of the rich- and how they were able to scam the system in order to get away with mass tax evasion.
While many have heard of the leakage of the Panama Papers, these are different from the Pandora Papers because of their size and content. Compared to their sister papers, the Pandora Papers contain far more records and differ in the individuals they implicate. Regardless, they both show how the rich have spun a web of lies around the government in a cleverly tied knot.
A group of dedicated journalists called the ICIJ worked tirelessly to comb through financial documents they procured from offshore providers created by the rich. After about a year of looking for discrepancies in a massive 2.94 terabytes of data, they found what they were looking for. Using advanced technology and graph databases, it was revealed that the elite 1% move their taxable assets, like cars, houses, and private planes to fake companies on paper. These “companies” then set up shop in islands without corporate tax, therefore allowing the elite to hold—and potentially resell—their assets without paying taxes.
Like in the Meryl Streep movie “The Laundromat”, many lower and middle-class citizens are disenfranchised by the actions of the wealthy. In the film, Meryl’s character, Ellen, investigates a shady insurance company situated in Panama that refuses to pay her late husband’s life insurance. She realizes the company was a scam, and in actuality was a group of men in suits profiting off of the naivety of the elderly. The movie provides social commentary about how the American tax system fails those on the lower levels of the social hierarchy, and how the rich are easily able to poke holes in this poorly constructed system.
Their antics only widen the already vast wealth disparity between them and the poor. After the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and workers were left reeling, leading to total American employment plummeting by 8.8 million. Wallets stayed closed, frowns stayed put… but the rich continued to increase in wealth. For example, while his Jordanian people were struggling to put food on the table amidst the pandemic, the Papers implicated King Abdulla for funneling millions of dollars into offshore luxury homes. The rich will only continue to benefit at the expense of those less fortunate, demonstrating the skewed nature of global commerce.
It is an undeniable fact that the United States will always face a division between rich people and poor people. Unless America undergoes a communist revolution sometime soon, this will stay true for the foreseeable future. However, it is simply unreasonable for the top 1% to own 20% of America’s wealth. If this trend continues, a few billionaires in this country will hold the majority of the wealth, while the rest of the population struggles to make ends meet. Unless we are actively trying to recreate the Hunger Games, steps need to be taken by the government to place limits on the rich. Who knows how much power they will have in the future if they are left unchecked? Will these silver spoons bulldoze over our democracy until only rubble remains? Moving forward, the only way to justly decrease the enormous wealth gap requires leaders and people to use the Pandora Papers as a wake-up call to curtail the power of the elite.
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