Opinion: Mossack Fonseca and the Panama Papers

Jacob Tabler

Sunday night, more than 11.5 million documents were leaked from a law firm in Panama totaling approximately 2.6 terabytes of information. The law firm, known as Mossack Fonseca, was linked over 60 political figures, businessmen, and professional athletes around the world to tax evasion. Several of the widely known figures include the Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson, Vladimir Putin and professional soccer player Lionel Messi. However, no Americans names were linked as of yet. This is one of the biggest leaks in history and shows how the wealthy and world leaders hide their tax money.

Mossack Fonseca is a law firm that helps set up companies to shelter money offshore to prevent it from being taxed. This practice is legal but considered by many unethical and linked to corruption. The documents link 12 current and former heads of state and linked to current world leaders. This exposes leaders such as Vladimir Putin who was linked to holding up approximately $2 billion under the name of a friend. These actions by politicians put our ability to trust them into question.

Most citizens expect politicians to serve the public and to be honest. The information that has recently come to light shows that politicians do not always meet these expectations. I believe we need to hold politicians to a higher standard and expect them to make decisions that serve in the best interest of the people. If they fail to meet these two basic expectations they should face consequences for their actions. However, this problem needs to be addressed to stop possible corruption in the future. The question is will we see nations draft transparency laws for politicians? Will the politicians involved be pressured to resign, or will they be voted out of office?

I believe it is important to address a basic question in light of these events. What incentive do world leaders have to hide their income and assets? It may be due to high tax rates and a complex tax system. Not only are we taxed on income but on capital gains, property, and payroll taxes are all taken. If taxes were lowered and the tax code was simplified it could potentially take away the incentive of the rich to hide their money in such massive amounts.

Overall this scandal will continue to develop and we will learn more as new information comes to light. As of now we must as ourselves an important question. If these tax havens are often linked to money laundering and corruption, what incentive do we have to give our leaders more power? This may be a sign that power needs to be taken away from the state and put back in the hands of the individual. 

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Kent State College Republicans as an organization.