To be very rich is to have the luxury of constructing a plausible theory of morality that allows you to hold on to everything you have. It is to believe that you can sit in the shoeshine booth and drive a $300,000 McLaren and raise money for Donald Trump and lobby for a zillion-dollar tax cut paid for on the backs of the poor and still be a good American. And to never have to think twice about it.
— Hamilton Nolan
Raise your hand if you remember the “Panama Papers” scandal. Don’t feel bad if the details don’t immediately leap to mind; this particular story, after it broke, was buried at record speed with no headstone to mark the grave. The reasons for that become manifestly clear pretty quickly. I first wrote about it more than a year ago:
It was recently revealed by way of a massive document leak that the wealthiest of the global wealthy have taken trillions of dollars and, through the services of a secretive Panamanian law firm, squirrelled that money away inside virtual coffee cans in tax havens all over the world. The “Panama Papers” scandal, as it has come to be called, has ensnared a large number of world leaders, and cost Iceland’s prime minister his job. Those 11 million pages contain the names of hundreds of Americans who also used the services of that Panamanian firm to hide their money.
The grim fact of the matter is that this nation’s billionaires — a few of whom own pretty much the entirety of the corporate “news” media — have absolutely no interest whatsoever having their dirty financial laundry aired. By the time the names of some Americans listed in the Panama Papers were released, the report had been put on Ignore by virtually every major news outlet in the country. Thus, not with a bang but a whimper, one of the most important stories of the era was…