Enough is Enough. Tax the Rich.

The Pandora Papers Illustrate the Urgency For the Rich to Pay Their Fair Share

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

On Sunday, the Washington Post broke what should be a story that reverberates across our society & economic systems. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) obtained 11.9 million financial records showing just how greedy the ultra-wealthy are, now known as the Pandora Papers.

Unlike the baby-eating Satan-worshiping cabal that QAnon preaches, there actually is a network of elites who manipulate laws to hide money from taxation, investigators, creditors, and in some cases their own citizens (yeah elected officials are in on this too).

This story is shocking (& frustrating for us normies) on its own, but when you put it in the context of a time of heightened inequality we havenโ€™t seen since the 1920s, the drastic underinvestment in fighting the climate crisis that is already ravaging our home planet, horrible working conditions for low wage workers, rising inflation without rising wages, and a lack of public investment that is causing our bridges to crumble and our families unable to affordably take care of their children...well, then it gets really depressing.

Pandora Papers - ICIJ

The Real Welfare Queens

Itโ€™s simple, the wealthy are using their influence to take away the money that rightfully should be going to governments to invest back into its society and people. (I donโ€™t know about you, but Iโ€™m sick of paying my taxes when the Elon Muskโ€™s of the world are paying an 8.2% average tax rate.)

The wealthy dodge $175 billion in taxes a year, which coincidentally is more than the $1.5 trillion over 10 years that Joe Manchin wants to whittle the Build Back Better plan down to. A bill that would actually solve the deep inequities between the wealthy and everyone else.

Reagan jumped off a period (thatโ€™s still going) of fearmongering of the poor. He painted a picture of anyone on public assistance as welfare queens who were scamming the system and costing taxpayers.

I donโ€™t know about you, but I think a bunch of rich people who can afford to go to space and these yachts but donโ€™t pay their fair share in taxes are the real welfare queens. Jeff Bezos didnโ€™t pay taxes from 2006 to 2018, but he still uses the roads that our government pays for.

Connecting the Dots

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, we have two Senators who donโ€™t want to pass a bill (that is fully paid for with corporate and wealth taxes!) to fight the climate crisis (that will cost us 17x more if we donโ€™t respond) and finally give families the resources to care for their children (weโ€™re the only major country without universal child care and paid leave).

Why are they opposed to the Build Back Better Bill?

Well, because corporate lobbyists are raising a fuss.

Kyrsten Sinema is opposed to the part in the bill where Medicare can negotiate drug prices, limit price increases, and cap out-of-pocket prescriptions costs to $3,000. In a world where the US pays 2.56 times more for prescription drugs and 10 times more for insulin than other nations, this proposal should be a no-brainer. But the kicker is that Senator Sinema has taken more than $466,000 contributions from the pharmaceutical industry since she was elected. She was even given the award for โ€œpharma favorite in Congressโ€ by Kaiser Health News. (I hope that award is pinned to her fridge)

And that is just one example of how corporate lobbyists are spending millions of dollars to stop popular legislation that would actually reduce the inequality that our country faces.

How Do We Solve This?

And that brings me to the solutions portion of this article.

  • Why canโ€™t we get popular legislation that would help people passed?
  • Why can the wealthy dodge their taxes so easily?
  • Why are there now 10 people worth $100 billion when there was only 1 before the pandemic?

Itโ€™s all about democracy reform.

We will never shape this country for everyday people if we donโ€™t limit the political influence of corporations and the wealthy. They will always be louder than the constituents that our elected leaders are supposed to be working for. They have the checkbooks that scream louder than a rally or a vote ever could.

Until Congress passes laws to get dark money out of politics, we will continue to be in this cycle of inequality where everyone suffers (Jeff Bezos drives on the same dilapidated roads that I do).

In the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC case, the Supreme Court allowed unlimited spending in our elections, which released hundreds of millions of campaign donations by wealthy donors, corporations, and special interest groups. Since then, corporations and the wealthy have been influencing national, state, and local elections to their advantage.

The hope on the horizon is The Freedom to Vote Act. While the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act remain in limbo because Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema do not want to get rid of the filibuster to allow the Senate to pass laws on a majority instead of 60-40, The Freedom to Vote Act is a paired down version that Mr. Manchin himself signed off on. While it doesnโ€™t do everything to fix our democracy, it hits the most important points.

  1. Reduce the influence of money in politics
  2. End partisan gerrymandering
  3. Fortify US elections against foreign interference

Did I mention that itโ€™s overwhelmingly popular?

It is hard not to overstate how important it is to pass this legislation. The GOP is taking steps now to create minority rule in this country by allowing states to overturn legitimate elections. Instead of defending a Jim Crow relic like the filibuster, Senators should be urgently passing The Freedom to Vote Act to fix the imbalance in our democracy.

Imagine the Possibilities

The hopeful side of me sees all of the incredible possibilities that our government could be providing to its citizens.

Gun reform, paid family leave, free 2-year college, universal healthcare, green energy jobs, and more.

These things are all within reach if we can convince a few stubborn Senators to do the right thing for the country.

Call your Senator today.

๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.

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