By Evan Feeley
We are living in an era of corruption. In no more than a month, the largest corruption ring ever has been exposed in UNAOIL, the largest data leak ever has come to pass in The Panama Papers, and very obvious (for those of us internet lurkers lurky enough to notice) voter fraud has occurred right here in the heart of democratic beacon, America.
I am talking about the Democratic Primary, the instance in question, though there are many were Polk and Buffalo counties of Wisconsin somehow handing the very round number of 650 votes to Hillary Clinton, giving her much needed wins in both those counties. Let’s not forget Arizona, where hundreds of thousands of voters were disenfranchised.
Not only were the number of voting stations reduced to less than a third of prior amounts from 200 in 2008 to 60 in 2016, but those who recently switched registration from Independent to Democrat had their registrations hacked and were unable to vote entirely.
This has become a common theme in this primary. We are seeing this continue as some New Yorkers who’ve switched from Independent to Democrat recently have checked their voter status only to find it tampered with. Yes, we are still in America. We haven’t somehow been transported to some third world dictatorship. We are simply living in an age of corruption typified by the Department of Justice’s relative silence on this issue.
This tragically degrades the health of our democratic symbol, the vote. And even if the system eventually corrects the issues that have sprung up, by allowing the perception that voting is corrupt poisons the entire process and suppresses the vote. This perpetuates itself like a bad dream on a rat wheel.
But we’ve woken up right? Americans have woken up to this corruption haven’t we? We’re trying to do something about it now, in the eleventh hour, since this disease is beginning to spread into our own American lives. But really we’re in this position because we have been sleepwalking and haven’t been helping our brothers and sisters worldwide. This sleepwalking got us here.
Where? The Panama Free Trade Agreement was a NAFTA like deal hungover from the Bush Administration that Obama reluctantly passed on to Congress. All it did was help to make the worldwide tax evasion hub of Panama an even greater threat to government tax agencies desperately trying to collect from corporations making billions of dollars in their countries without giving back a dime to those that made them wealthy.
Four years later we have the Panama Papers, the largest data leak in the history of data leaks. Over 214,000 shell companies from all over the world hiding trillions of dollars for Saudi Kings and Princes, current and former heads of states, famous footballers, even drug traffickers, all coming together in the name of greed to further their interests in whatever plots to rule the world or simply to buy another yacht with untaxed cash. Every one of them clients Mossack Fonseco of Panama.
The first head to roll was Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, Iceland’s Prime Minister who offered to resign only a day after the release of the Panama Papers. He made his offshore holdings and conflict of interest in dealing with the 2008 global market crash. I suppose there is some dignity in that. Realizing wrongs and doing your best to right them or at least stepping aside and letting the country heal as opposed to clinging to old twisted, power grabs and political tactics.
Last week the Swiss police also raided a footballer’s home who who’d also been implicated. It will be interesting to see what other heads roll because of these Panama Papers, but one thing is clear, tax evasion and corruption is rampant throughout the world among those with enough cash to hire a law firm to hide it and you have to wonder how they got that money in the first place.
Insert UNAOIL, a subcontracting firm out of Monaco that acts as a liaison to big western businesses seeking to do business in often corrupt places like Africa and the Middle East. The emails leaked exposed a system of bribing of local officials that grant contracts to multinational corporations to create infrastructure to do business, such as oil and natural gas pipelines, and oil refineries. Go figure, the Ahsani Family who own UNAOIL used Mossack Fonseco to hide millions of dollars in offshore tax havens.
I would like to think that we in America are somehow above all this, that somehow our political figures are not corrupt. Then I look at who our trade agreements favor most. I look at how many pieces of legislation are being written by corporations and handed to lawmakers in Congress to pass. I look at how our politicians spend more time sucking at the teats of lobbyists and Wall Street in order to get elected than they do talking to normal people about the issues in their lives.
Then I look at the list of speaking fees Hillary Clinton has been paid and by whom and I wonder if America is really the center of all this corruption in the world. When I look at how desperate candidates like Hillary Clinton are to become President that she, or her subsidiaries, would bastardize our Democracy by cheating voters like so many ousted dictators, I wonder if the richest country in the history of the world is also the most corrupt. Something tells me the two go hand in hand.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license
Evan Feeley has been a traveler who is now putting down roots, and not just metaphorically. When he's not writing he's practicing yoga and the martial arts, growing medical marijuana, surfing, and just generally being a self deprecating cliche. He received his B.A. in Creative Writing and Spanish from Knox College.