A solid investment?
The recent leaking of the so-called, Pandora Papers, revealed that vast troves of money are held in off shore accounts from elite corners of business, music, royalty and figure skating (Elvis Stojiko?). I can’t be alone in giving it a swift Gallic shrug. Meh, I thought to myself, of course they’re shoring up their accounts from higher taxes. I would too if I could afford to send any of it offshore and not straight into school and hockey fees. There’s a shared congratulations, isn’t there? Take that government, with your nasty taxes! Power to the people!
And yet, we know we are living in a period of greater socio-economic divide. While we are all comfortable with cutting corners here and there, collectively we cannot all turn a blind eye to those who pay no taxes at all because they have no income, and more so those who pay no taxes at all and have immeasurable wealth.
So why are we so bad at it, when other countries seem to pay their taxes with greater equity and whose social programs, infrastructure and education reap the dividends? Are we, meaning North American, more selfish? Hmm. I don’t think so. I think we care just as much as any other human beings, but we’re stuck in a poorly designed system that doesn’t serve us well, whose loopholes are big enough to drive a Mack truck through all the way to the Cayman Islands. Couple that lack of systemic checks and balances to allot a fair balance of tax payment, with a cultural drive to pursue wealth and the rights of the individual to guard that, and…. well, we’ve got a Pandora’s box alright.
I looked up the definition of Pandora’s box. (Of course I did- nerd alert!) According to its Greek origins, “Pandora was sent to earth with a clay jar or box of evils and contrary to instructions opened it, letting out all the evils to infect the earth; hope alone remained.” Interesting that the Greek Gods allowed hope to remain. Perhaps we too have hope that a better balance will result from the Pandora papers. After all, as children, weren’t we all taught that sharing is caring? If we turn to our higher taxed Scandi-other-side-of-the-Atlantic-and-then-up-a-bit-neighbours, we see their tax system is easy. Their tax forms are sent already filled out for them, (no need to hire accountants!) and all that is needed is a final signing off by the individual before they are filed by text message. Think of all the stressful arguments resolved by that alone! Sure taxes are higher, but return is greater. Parents are not granted tax deductions, rather cash deposits by month, per child. Money is spent to keep spaces open and public for community support and building. Sure, they’re not perfect (after all, the really strange, dark murder movies come from there…), but at least there is an attempt to distribute wealth more fairly, for the betterment of the commonwealth.
Perhaps there is reason for hope here. Maybe when we stop seeing life as transactional, we can become more generous. Money can pass on as a tool for good, rather than a yoke around our necks at tax season. There is hope too that money can be used to provide purposeful legacy so that we all rise together. That’s something worth investing in, don’t you think