Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor
image

Last week’s shenanigans from Donald Trump reminded us of a particularly florid episode of House of Cards. This week, with the leak of 11.5 million documents suggesting elite tax avoidance and evasion on an heroic scale, we’re in John Le Carre territory – if not the Night Manager (currently playing out on BBC First, and highly recommended), then maybe The Tailor of Panama.

No-one is surprised that Vladimir Putin’s buddies are stashing away millions of the Russian people’s roubles offshore, or that the Chinese communist leaders have been sending trillions of dollars to tax havens in places like the British Virgin Islands. But these documents make the usual denials and cover ups hard to sustain, especially for leaders who claim legitimacy by pretending to be socialists, working selflessly for the people.

China has sought to block all coverage of the Panama papers, and Putin has dismissed it all as an anti-Russian conspiracy, a bit like the shooting down of MH17 or the assassination of Boris Nemtsov in front of the Kremlin gates. Poor Vlad is the victim, here!

The cat’s truly out of the bag this time, though. The Icelandic prime minister is the first casualty, but he won’t be the last. David Cameron in the UK may well stand to benefit from money stashed in the Caribbean, courtesy of his late father’s creative accounting.

Sports stars, the Rolling Stones, Bollywood actors, politicians past and present – the names keep coming. Again, none of this morally dubious, if not necessarily illegal avoidance of the taxes that we lesser mortals have to pay, surprises us. But the sheer quantity of hard evidence pouring out makes denial look simply duplicitious, and compounds the crime.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have been doing this for years, embarrassing the legacy media with their capacity to break agenda-leading stories of diplomatic, military and financial shady dealings. It’s good to see that this time it’s professional journalists leading the way, through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The ICIJ, like the hackers and maybe-journalists of WikiLeaks, has demonstrated the power of digital technology to investigate and then break stories that in the analogue era would have been too difficult, if not impossible to pursue.

This is network journalism at its most potent, practised at the global level, involving collaboration, sharing, and a professional readiness to sacrifice the individual scoop for the much more impactful collective hit.

Putin could shut down one journalist burrowing into his private affairs – and has done – but all the Polonium 210 in the world can’t intimidate a network like the ICIJ.

The Chinese leadership can seek to wrap their US$10 billion great firewall around the unfolding online evidence of how they plunder the country for their personal enrichment, but they can’t stop the globalised public sphere from spreading the news.

This is cultural chaos at its most progressive and democratising. What these kleptocratic elites still don’t get is that the very act of attempted censorship becomes further, highly transparent, damning evidence of their corruption.

Who knows if the Panama papers will have any impact on how our political and financial elites do business. The global public’s capacity to be hoodwinked by elite rip-off merchants is considerable.

But I choose to believe that we are, on balance, empowered by the knowledge of what is in those documents. We don’t need the ICIJ to tell us that power corrupts, but we surely benefit by being able to attach names and numbers to that broad understanding.

How we respond as global citizens remains to be seen. A first step, perhaps, is to support investigative journalism with our wallets. There are plenty of free news media outlets around, and I enjoy many of them. But Buzzfeed listicles and native advertising on Gawker won’t pay for those brave men and women who even now put their lives and reputations on the line to blow the whistle on global gangsters like Putin.

So today, if you care about this stuff, go out and buy a subscription to a worthy publication, become a friend or supporter of journalism that matters. Don’t leave it to someone else to defend the globalised public sphere the ICIJ exemplifies.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/the-leakers-of-panama-57334

Writers Wanted

No Barnaby, 2050 isn't far away. Next week's intergenerational report deals with 2061

arrow_forward

Tips For Good SEO In The Law Sector

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister interview with Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon

Karl Stefanovic: PM, good morning to you. Do you have blood on your hands?   PRIME MINISTER: No, it's obviously absurd. What we're doing here is we've got a temporary pause in place because we'v...

Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon - avatar Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered Keynote Address at AFR Business Summit

Well, thank you all for the opportunity to come and be with you here today. Can I also acknowledge the Gadigal people, the Eora Nation, the elders past and present and future. Can I also acknowled...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Morrison Government commits record $9B to social security safety net

The Morrison Government is enhancing our social security safety net by increasing support for unemployed Australians while strengthening their obligations to search for work.   From March the ...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Victorian businesses can claim a rebate on COVID-19 deep cleans until 30 June - but many remain unaware

With exposure sites on the rise and financial stresses already on most Victorian businesses, the recent Business Victoria announcement of a substantial 80% COVIDSafe Deep cleaning rebate is a time...

Article by Damien Smith, CEO of Prime Group - avatar Article by Damien Smith, CEO of Prime Group

Six Tips to Get your Business Known on Social Media

Social media is one of the most effective ways to market your brand to the masses. With the meteoric rise in popularity of various social media platforms over the past decade, millions of brands h...

NewsServices.com - avatar NewsServices.com

Boom in Aussies buying up restaurants, pubs, hotels and bars in regional centres

With international borders closed, regional Australia is seeing a dramatic surge in popularity as people move out of the cities and into their quaint communities. City slickers are looking for new...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus