UPDATED #occupywallstreet #occupyboston – Part Three: The Beginnings of a “Demand”

Speaking For Myself . . .

It’s not that I never intended to reach this point, because all this has been simmering within for years. The timing, however, is prompted by an short exchange on Twitter with @cspenn in response to his post on #occupyboston, noting (yet again) that the movement seems to lack focus:

  • @cspenn: #the5: 3 takeaways I learned yesterday visiting #OccupyBoston: bit.ly/uN7RdP

  • Me: @cspenn A closer look at all the items in your list tells me there’s more focus than you give the people you spoke with credit for. . . Many of those items are manifestations of crony-capitalism, for instance. Or just plain corruption . . . Note the comparative lack of cultural issues brought up, for instance. In this context, another effect of cronyism.

  • @cspenn: @papicek I totally agree there are commonalities, but saying “end corporate greed and corrupt politics” isn’t quite a solution or focus.

  • Me: @cspenn For my part, the solution is already out there: level the playing field through taxation & enforcement . . . Some effort needs to be given on the topic of legal doubt, which tax cheats depend on.

  • @cspenn: @papicek That presumes the governing authority behind taxation/enforcement is not corrupt, however.

  • Me: @cspenn See what happens? You introduced another topic which dissolves focus! It’s moot, however . . . Because once the taxes are in place, the desired effect is in process.

  • @cspenn: @papicek the better question is: what is the linchpin, the shatterpoint, that holds much of the corrupt system in place? Break THAT.

  • Me: @cspenn A systems view. You’re looking for a leverage point. But the problems permeate our society, from the Absentee landlordism of NYSE . . . to a quite demonstrable racial inequality in America. A single leverage point won’t suffice.

Poor guy. I hit him with a barrage of tweets (this recreation is pulled together to simulate the exchange as I saw it, and contains minor edits), replying to his in a somewhat random fashion. He must have thought I was as lacking in focus as he feels #Occupy Wall Street appears to him. Because his points are pertinent and well taken, I decided that now is an good time to pull together the earlier posts in this series and synthesize a program going forward.

A program, not a demand, please note.

One mustn’t take the description of the effects of wealth inequality and political corruption in America for the final demands of the #Occupy movement, but more as expressions of an underlying pathology in neoliberal capitalism. Certainly, each of us who support the #Occupy movement is motivated by considerations due to our own area of expertise, knowledge and personal experience, so the movement appears slightly differently to each of us. This is completely normal. Just take a look at the GOP and the Democrats, and tell me there’s a sharp, pointed demand which every member subscribes to. If anything, the movement is an expression of the call for a third party many of us on the left have been talking about for a few years now. A political party doesn’t put forth a demand, it proposed a program, a platform. This is probably closer to what the #occupy movement is in reality. Certainly, as I wrote in Part One of this series:

“The Tea Party on the right (the original Tea Party, not the Tea Party Express and other organizations running under the Tea Party moniker, all of which are sponsored by wealthy individuals intent on undoing existing – and poorly enforced – government regulation and lowering their tax liability) shares the feeling that Washington does not represent their views or interests, but blame the government. The Occupy protesters feel that Washington doesn’t represent their views and interests, but feel that democracy has been undermined by the wealth generated by that free market and often enough, by fraud, corruption and maintaining the ignorance of the electorate and the US consumer base.”

Let me say at the outset that I’m wholly unqualified to propose such a platform. To be qualified, I would need millions of dollars, a huge staff of researchers and time to make concrete proposals, for the issues are complex and personally, I’d like to run the numbers before settling on a program. But I would like here to outline the direction America should take and areas needed to be addressed.

90% of all Americans, that’s 270 million people, get to divy up 19% of America’s wealth.

Call it a leveling the playing field. The wealth inequality in America has negative effects in our economic life, our political life, and in our courts. Economically, radical free market supporters have succeeded in effecting an upward distribution of wealth. This is not due to individuals’ bad choices, the inherent inequalities in aptitude and ability of human beings or accidents of history. The policies which I describe in Part Two of this series made such a radical redistribution of wealth inevitable. Only those poised to invest would benefit, and as we have seen, this amounts to about 12% of America’s population. Working people, whose discretionary income has been shrinking steadily in the last thirty years, were never in a position to reap the benefits. In other worlds, those who had the wherewithal to “let their money work for them” (the rich) were going to benefit far more than anyone else. Recent history has shown this to be true. For the rest of us, our wages have increasingly been devoted to funding three things: housing, insurance and education to the exclusion of all else, including investment.

CONNIE: “You know what they say about money and politics.”

SAM “No.”

CONNIE “It’s like water on pavement”

SAM “Why is like water on pavement?”

CONNIE (caught short) “That’s a good… ”

BRUNO “It finds every crack and crevice.”

Politically, wealth inequality exacerbates the inequality of American society. Wealth removed from the Koch brothers would not affect the Koch brothers’ free speech, it would just remove the megaphone wealth enjoys. It would be reduced somewhat. Not to my level, because the Koch’s are wealthy, i.e.: demonstrably “right thinking,” “sound.” Would Charles Koch’s right to free speech diminished by being restricted to twitter and/or a blog like this one anymore than mine is? If I am supposed to be satisfied with this, why not Koch? Certainly, Citizens United needs to be repealed and/or overturned—an early “demand” addressed by the #BostonGA. Politically, wealth inequality also finds expression in the plethora of 527(c) groups airing ads at election time, as well as in the politically motivated think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute (devoted to only half of what it means to be American—free market radicalism) and the Cato Institute. Not only do they publish their “research” (whose results are pre-ordained, or else it is never published), they are a handy stopping over place where out of work conservative politicians and their staffers to burnish their resumes and/or enhance their career prospects in later election cycles. Wealth has found a variety of ways to take care of itself and ensure its privileged place in American politics. I’ve just touched on some of them here.

I won’t go into US prison demographics, or the near impossibility of an individual’s capacity to seek judicial redress against a determined wealthy or corporate opponent. Both are well known and accepted. Consider the following though:

UBS Clients

  • Oct. 5, 2011 – Peter Schober, of Boston, Mass., was sentenced to one month in prison and six months of supervised release, of which two months will be served in home confinement. Schober was also ordered to pay $77,870 in restitution and a $777,986 civil penalty. In November 2010, Schober pleaded guilty to willfully failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) concealing over $1 million from the IRS.
  • Aug. 5, 2011 — Michael Reiss, a doctor, professor and medical researcher, pleaded guilty to willfully failing to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) with the IRS. As part of his plea agreement, Reiss has agreed to pay back taxes of at least $400,000 and to pay a civil penalty of over $1.2 million.
  • Aug. 3, 2011 — Robert E. Greeley, of San Francisco, pleaded guilty to charges of filing a false federal income tax return. Greeley concealed more than $13 million in two bank accounts he held with UBS AG.
  • July 14, 2011 – Anton Ginzburg pleaded guilty to failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). Ginzburg agreed to pay a civil penalty of over $1.5 million.
  • June 27, 2011 — Kenneth Heller, of New York, N.Y., pleaded guilty to income tax evasion. Heller admitted to hiding more than $26.4 million in a bank account at UBS AG and he has agreed to pay a civil penalty of over $9.8 million.
  • June 20, 2011 — Sean and Nadia Roberts, of Tehachapi, Calif., pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return related to an undisclosed Swiss bank account at UBS AG.
  • May 24, 2011 — Harry Abrahamsen, of Oradell, N.J., was sentenced to three years probation, including 12 months of home confinement with electronic monitoring, and ordered to pay $600,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In addition, Abrahamsen agreed to pay a civil penalty in excess of $300,000. In April 2010, Abrahamsen pleaded guilty to failure to file a (FBAR) report and admitted that he concealed over $1 million in Swiss bank accounts.
  • May 23, 2011 — Lucille Abrahamsen Jackson, of Hilldale, N.J., was sentenced to one year probation. In addition, Jackson agreed to pay a civil penalty in excess of $379,000. Jackson pleaded guilty in November 2010 to filing a false tax return and failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Account (FBAR). She admitted to concealing over $750,000 in a UBS account by transferring ownership of the account to a nominee Panamanian corporation.
  • April 21, 2011 — Ernest Vogliano, of Manhattan, N.Y., was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay a $940,000 civil penalty. He pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2010, to filing false tax returns and conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by hiding $4.9 million in an offshore bank account with UBS, AG.
  • March 14, 2011 — Jeffrey Chatfield, of San Diego, Calif., was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to pay more than $96,000 to resolve his civil liability with the IRS for failing to file the required Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Reports (FBARs). Chatfield pleaded guilty on Nov. 18, 2010, to filing a false tax return in which he failed to report a UBS account containing $900,000. Between 2000 and 2008, Chatfield transferred the $900,000 through several offshore accounts of nominee entities.
  • March 11, 2011 — Richard Werdiger, of Purchase, N.Y., pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the IRS by hiding more than $7.1 million in a bank account at UBS AG. As part of his plea agreement, Werdiger will pay a civil penalty of over $3.5 million from his failure to file Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Account (FBAR) forms.
  • March 8, 2011 — Edward Gurary, of Orange Village, Ohio, pleaded guilty to filing false income tax returns for the years 2004 through 2008. Gurary owned and controlled a financial account at UBS AG which was in the name of a Bahamian entity and failed to report interest income earned on his tax returns.
  • March 4, 2011 — Arthur Joel Eisenberg, of Seattle, Wash., was sentenced to serve three years’ probation and to pay a $2.1 million penalty for failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Account (FBAR) form. Eisenberg pleaded guilty in December 2010 to willfully filing a false tax return which failed to report over $3.1 million in various UBS bank accounts.
  • Dec. 7, 2010 — Samuel Phineas Upham, of New York, N.Y., was indicted conspiring with a family member to hide over $11 million in an offshore UBS bank account. He also assisted in establishing a sham foundation in Liechtenstein to further conceal money from the IRS.
  • Nov. 19, 2010 — Bernard Goldstein, of Carlsbad, Calif., was indicted for conspiracy to defraud the IRS, filing false tax returns, and failing to file Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Accounts (FBARs). Goldstein is alleged to have transferred over $2 million in a UBS account to a sham Panamanian corporation in an effort to conceal the account from the IRS.
  • Nov. 10, 2010 — Sybil Nancy Upham, of Manhattan, N.Y., pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the IRS and subscribing to false federal income tax returns. As part of her plea agreement, Upham has agreed to pay over $5.5 million in penalties for failure to file FBARs. On April 15, 2010, Upham was indicted with five other individuals for hiding millions of dollars in secret Swiss bank accounts.
  • Oct. 4, 2010 — Gregory Rudolph, of Brookline, Mass., pleaded guilty to failing to comply with foreign bank account reporting requirements. UBS bankers assisted Rudolph with creating a shell company registered in the British Virgin Islands and a shell corporation registered in Hong Kong in hiding in excess of $1 million. In October 2010, Rudolph was indicted with Peter Schober.
  • Sept. 21, 2010 — Jules Robbins, of New York, N.Y., who owned and operated watch distribution companies, was sentenced to one year probation and ordered to pay a civil FBAR penalty of $20.8 million. Robbins set up a sham Hong Kong corporation which was listed as the holder of an UBS account in an effort to conceal his income from the IRS. This account and Robbins’ other offshore accounts collectively contained almost $42 million in unreported income.
  • Sept. 17, 2010 — Federico Hernandez, of New York, N.Y., was sentenced to 12 months in prison, six months home confinement, and ordered to pay a civil FBAR penalty of $4.4 million. Hernandez used sham companies set up in the British Virgin Islands and Panama to conceal his ownership of UBS accounts totaling $8.8 million.
  • July 1, 2010 — Leonid Zaltsberg, of Milltown, N.J., pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return for 2003 and failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Accounts (FBAR). In his plea agreement, Zatlsberg admitted failing to disclose the existence of a Swiss bank account on his tax returns for the years 2000 through 2006 and concealing over $2 million in his Swiss account. On Dec. 20, 2010, Zaltsberg was sentenced to four years of probation, including one year of home confinement. In addition, he was ordered to pay civil penalties for failing to file an FBAR and a $3,000 fine.
  • April 15, 2010 — In Manhattan, N.Y., seven UBS clients were indicted for collectively hiding over $100 million in secret Swiss bank accounts. Two of these individuals, Jules Robbins and Federico Hernandez, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay civil penalties of $20.8 million and $4.4 million, respectively. The remaining indicted clients were Kenneth Heller, Sybil Nancy Upham, Richard Werdiger, Ernest Vogliano and Shmuel Sternfeld.
  • April 13, 2010 — Paul Zabczuk, of The Woodlands, Texas, pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return wherein he failed to report his interest in or signature authority over financial accounts at UBS AG. Zabczuk was sentenced on July 27, 2010, to three years of supervised release with one year served in home detention and 150 hours community service. In addition, Zabczuk was ordered to file accurate tax returns and pay all taxes, interest and penalties due and owing to the IRS.
  • Feb. 4, 2010 — Jack Barouh of Golden Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return. Barouh admitted to filing a false tax return for 2007 in which he failed to report a foreign bank account. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison and ordered to pay all taxes, interest and penalties due and owing.
  • Oct. 5, 2009 — Roberto Cittadini of Bellevue, Wash., pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and admitted to concealing nearly $2 million in Swiss bank accounts. Cittadini, a retired sales manager for Boeing, failed to file a Report Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts for 2001 through 2003. Cittadini was sentenced on Jan. 8, 2010, to six months home detention and one year supervised release and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fee and $17,985 in restitution.
  • Sept. 25, 2009 — Juergen Homann of Saddle River, N. J., pleaded guilty to failure to file a Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Accounts and accepted responsibility for concealing more than $5 million in Swiss bank accounts. Homann was sentenced on Jan. 6, 2010, to five years probation and was ordered to pay a $60,000 fine.
  • Aug. 14, 2009 — John McCarthy of Malibu, Calif., pleaded guilty to failing to inform the government of a Swiss bank account as part of a scheme to move at least $1 million from the United States into Swiss bank accounts with the goal of avoiding the payment of federal income taxes. McCarthy was sentenced on March 22, 2010, to three years of supervised release with six months served in home detention and 300 hours community service. In addition, he was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and to file tax returns for 2003 through 2008 and pay all taxes due and owing.
  • July 28, 2009 — Jeffrey P. Chernick of Stanfordville, N.Y., pleaded guilty to charges of filing a false tax return. Chernick, who owns a corporation which represents toy manufacturers in China and Hong Kong, accepted responsibility for concealing more than $8 million in Swiss bank accounts. Chernick was sentenced on Oct. 30, 2009, to three months in prison and one year of supervised release with six months served in home detention.
  • June 25, 2009 — UBS client Steven Michael Rubinstein of Boca Raton, Fla., pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return for tax year 2004. On April 1, 2009, Rubinstein was charged with filing a false tax return that intentionally failed to disclose the existence of a Swiss bank account maintained by UBS of which he was the beneficial owner and failed to report any income earned on that account. Rubinstein was sentenced on Oct. 28, 2009, to three years probation, of which 12 months will be served in home detention.
  • April 14, 2009 — Robert Moran of Lighthouse Point, Fla., pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with filing a false income tax return. Moran accepted responsibility for concealing more than $3 million in assets in a secret bank account at UBS in Switzerland. Moran was sentenced on Nov. 6, 2009, to two months in prison and one year of supervised release with five months in home confinement.

Legal Actions to Date

  • Aug. 4, 2011 — Gian Gisler, a former UBS AG banker, was charged with conspiring to hide more than $215 million offshore at various Swiss banks. Gisler had more than 38 U.S. taxpayer clients and allegedly opened and/or managed more than 60 hidden accounts on their behalf.
  • Aug. 2, 2011 — Martin Lack, a former UBS AG banker who is currently an independent asset manager, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Lack assisted U.S. customers to open and maintain secret bank accounts at a Swiss cantonal bank headquartered in Basel, Switzerland.
  • July 21, 2011 — Beda Singenberger, a Swiss financial advisor, was indicted for conspiring with U.S. taxpayers and others to hide more than $184 million in offshore Swiss bank accounts.
  • Dec. 22, 2010 — Renzo Gadola, a citizen and resident of Switzerland, pleaded guilty to assisting an American client in concealing an offshore bank account from the United States government. From 1995 through August 2008, Gadola was employed as a private banker by UBS AG.
  • Aug. 21, 2009 — Former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld was sentenced to 40 months in prison. Birkenfeld worked as a private banker for UBS AG and assisted an American billionaire real estate developer evade paying $7.2 million in taxes.
  • Aug. 20, 2009 — Hansruedi Schumacher and Matthias Rickenbach were indicted for conspiring to assist wealthy American clients conceal their assets by establishing sham offshore entities. Schumacher was an executive manager at Neue Zuercher Bank (NZB), a private Swiss bank. Rickenbach was a Swiss attorney who advised U.S. clients.
  • Aug. 19, 2009 — The Justice Department and the IRS today announced that an agreement has been reached with the Swiss government regarding the John Doe summons filed against UBS on June 30, 2008.
  • Feb. 18, 2009 — UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States by impeding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Nov. 12, 2008 — Raoul Weil, a senior executive of a large Swiss bank, was charged with conspiring with other executives, managers, private bankers and clients of the banking firm to defraud the United States.
  • June 30, 2008 — The Justice Department filed papers seeking an order from a federal court in Miami, Fla., authorizing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to use a John Doe summons to request information from Zurich, Switzerland-based UBS AG about U.S. taxpayers who may be using Swiss bank accounts to evade federal income taxes.
  • May 13, 2008 — Banker Mario Staggl was indicted for conspiring with banker Bradley Birkenfeld to assist an American billionaire real estate developer evade paying $7.2 million in taxes by assisting in concealing $200 million of assets in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
  • Dec. 12, 2007 — Igor Olenicoff, president and owner of Olen Properties Corporation, pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return for tax year 2002 related to foreign bank accounts he failed to disclose to the IRS. As part of his plea agreement, Olenicoff paid $52 million to the IRS for six years of back taxes, penalties and interest. Olenicoff was sentenced in April 2008, in Santa Ana, Calif., to two years probation and 120 hours of community service.

Source: IRS.gov, last accessed 31 October 2011.

Though I could pivot here to a larger discussion of tax avoidance/evasion, for now I’ll restrict myself to noting the sentencing, where they’ve been handed down. Note the fines (some quite substantial, I admit), as well as the tendency to impose probation and house arrest over prison. All else being equal, these are arguably just sentences for nonviolent offenders. However equality is a condition which is absent here—they are also sentences handed down to people who own the means to effectively buy their way out of a harsher sentence, and always, a very comfortable margin of wealth remains untouched. Another perk of wealth in America.

So where do we go from here? As I said earlier, I am only offering suggestions here for further discussion. I am not addressing the larger question of property rights nor freedom of contract. The founders settled the question on property rights when they granted Congress the power to levy taxes and freedom of contract, like freedom of speech, has never, ever been absolute. We were granted permission to order our society within the framework of the constitution by the founders, and that’s all #Occupy advocates. To that end, I propose that #Occupy consider the following:

  1. A national redistribution of wealth conducted by the federal and state governments through taxation and domestic reinvestment in infrastructure, education, safety net programs, and research and development. For at least five years, perhaps ten, this should be conducted fairly aggressively, then relaxed somewhat (this is one of those moments when I’d have to see the numbers first in order to go forward with this). Opponents to this will say that it will stifle domestic investment, but I would counter that at present, there isn’t enough private sector investment in the US anyways. They might also say that it is taxes which make the US uncompetitive, but I would counter that tax competition worldwide has been driven by corporate profiteering and management looting, and that lowering the US corporate tax rate would only drive other nations to do the same. Corporations would, in fact, demand tax concessions there as well. They already do. Unable to innovate or boost production, corporations have resorted to rent seeking behavior, of which tax relief is only one manifestation.
  2. A return to some form of capital controls, the least of which involve granular transparency in capital flows across borders. This would help determine when transfer pricing abuse takes place, as well as make it much harder for criminal transfers of wealth. The OECD count of tax haven countries (pdf) put the number at 41. These countries should be dealt with harshly, perhaps to the extent that trade, telcom and commercial air services be cut off or severely curtailed. Furthermore, laws should be enacted to state that the country in which the decision to agree to a financial or business transaction takes place or is structured falls under the tax code of that country. This should end the practice of booking a transaction in the tax-free Cayman Islands, when in fact that decision was taken on Wall Street or in Chicago. It should also involve lax regulation in incorporation havens like the British Virgin Islands, where activity goes completely unmonitored. If we can propose legislation to punish China for currency manipulation, surely we can enact measures against countries facilitating this and other kinds of criminal behavior.
  3. A series of measures and disincentives to prohibit algorithm trading in equities (estimates put as much as 60% of all stock trades as algo trades). Make every trader enter a “Captcha” for every trade in order to force the stock markets to be real markets and reflect real purchase and sell decisions of individuals, for a computer at Goldman Sachs trading a block of shares to another computer at JP Morgan Chase serves only to keep security prices at inflated levels. The current S&P PE Ratio (I just checked) stands at 21.16, which means that someone buying into Vanguard’s Vanguard 500 Index Fund Investor Shares would need to wait over two decades for earnings to justify what an investor paid for those shares today—with the risk of 20 years attentuated and all else being equal. This is hardly rational investing and only points out that the stock market has been running solely on Greater Fool Theory. Think George Hull’s dictum, “there’s a sucker born every minute,” and you’ve got the idea. I look at the stock market and call it “aggregate stupidity.”

    Which is subsidized by the federal income tax deferral for retirement account contributions, please note.

  4. Campaign finance reform. It gets thorny, but the cacophony of a national debate taking place in an open square should be the ideal aspired to. Perhaps every household should be required to have broadband internet access installed just to facilitate the process. Perhaps the telcom companies, which were given tax breaks just for this, should be compelled to come through and actually deliver on their part of the bargain to get this done. Or else, can we have our money back? One thing is absolutely essential: the false equivalence that money equals speech needs to be denounced. Decisively.
  5. Recognition that some, but not all, aspects of society need to be treated as utilities. These should be cooperative investments paid for by all. We already do so with the Department of Defense to the extent that the US pays as much for our armed services as the rest of the world combined, so it is not such a stretch of imagination to think we can do so in other areas as well. Education, legal representation, a sustainable energy infrastructure, transportation and healthcare should all be considered in this light.
  6. A progressive tax code. Those who reap the most benefit should reward the system which made it possible.
  7. Break up the too-big-to-fail banks. According to Simon Johnson, efficiencies in banking top out at about $30 billion. I’ve no trouble believing this as I’ve seen businesses top out myself. Anything more than their seemingly “natural” maximum size (for a custom membrane switch manufacturer offering complete in-house fabrication, this seems to lie somewhere between five and six million in gross sales), and the ability to manage the business degrades fairly quickly.
  8. Break up financial services companies. The government should not be insuring deposits in institutions whose real profit center is in risky investment banking. Yet we do. Neither should any bank be allowed to accept the risks inherent in being an insurer as well. The market should have spoken up on this long ago, for each of these industries requires a separate skill set and expertise not necessarily available elsewhere. Or does the market only care about packaging? And finding the next greater fool? Are investors’ interests really aligned with the businesses they have an (another convenient legal fiction) ownership stake in? 

I could go on, but as I say, this is beyond my resources to propose more completely and more concretely. And there are other voices. I have not touched on areas, one being racial inequality, for other good reasons, I’m white and will not presume. I might suggest that as measures are enacted to reduce inequality, the boats of non-white Americans should rise as well, but we shouldn’t hope for this. We should rather make it real. Restraining markets from plaguing society with boom and bust cycles is another goal Everything I’ve proposed here though is the only direction we can take to preserve both a free, open and fair market (ours is one whose reputational risk has only begun to come back to haunt Wall Street) and our democracy.

We could take on more and more the look and feel of China’s authoritarianism, but just ask yourself if you believe Americans would take this in stride.

Dr. Jeffrey Sachs evidently sees the situation in the same way. You ask why we occupy? Here you go: Obama, the G20, and the 99 Percent.

UPDATE: A little more information on one of the convicted tax dodgers listed above. The Bloomberg story I just came across fleshes the episode out with more detail:

Prosecutors said Reiss used the services of Beda Singenberger, a Swiss financial adviser who was charged last month with conspiring with more than 60 U.S. taxpayers to hide more than $184 million in offshore accounts.

The Floranova account held assets valued at about $2.6 million as of March 2008, prosecutors said. In November 2008, Reiss transferred the Floranova assets into another undeclared account, prosecutors said.
UBS in 2009 paid $780 million to avoid prosecution on charges that it helped Americans evade taxes and turned over data on 250 secret accounts. It later handed over information on 4,450 more accounts.
The U.S. dropped its criminal case against UBS in October.



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