15 March 2018   Leave a comment

Katie LaRoque is a Mount Holyoke alumna who served in Ukraine for the Peace Corps.  She has spent a great deal of time in Ukraine after her Peace Corps service and has become a distinguished analyst of the country.  She has written an article for The Hill which argues that corruption in Ukraine hampers the struggle against Russian attacks on Ukrainian sovereignty.  Her conclusion is straightforward:

“Until Ukraine wins its internal war on corruption, it will be more difficult to make the case to residents of occupied Crimea and the Donbass that their reintegration would bring about a full and equal partnership in Ukraine’s political development. A well-governed Ukraine reduces the vulnerability of these already vulnerable regions to Russian influence, and gives citizens a stake in Ukraine’s future as a united democratic country.”

She also stresses the need for the US and the European Union to offer support for the anti-corruption efforts.  Such efforts must be coordinated carefully with local authorities to avoid the appearance of outside interference.  An important article for a conflict that has largely been forgotten in the US.

 

In 2004 a movie entitled “The Day After Tomorrow” was released which posited a change in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) because of climate change.  The ocean currents carry warm, salty water to the north, and cold, freshwater then circulates back down to the tropics.  It is a relatively stable and accounts for the stability of the Gulf Stream which keeps northwestern Europe fairly warm in the winter.  The movie overdramatized the possibilities of such a change and the consequences from such a change.  But there is no question that such a change is possible and we are beginning to see evidence that the AMOC is changing.   The Washington Post summarizes the research and articulates the tentativeness of the findings:

“Again, it’s important to underscore that there are no predictions in this study about when these processes would reach such a threshold or cause a major switch to a new regime. Climate change simulations have generally found that while global warming should indeed weaken the Atlantic overturning circulation, that should play out gradually — but scientists acknowledge that these simulations are not necessarily complete.”

The evidence suggests that the process has been going on since 2008 but there is no way to determine at this time whether the process is unusually rapid nor is there any way to determine the threshold at which dramatic changes could be expected.

 

The Tax Justice Network has published its annual Financial Secrecy Index which”ranks jurisdictions according to their secrecy and the scale of their offshore financial activities. A politically neutral ranking, it is a tool for understanding global financial secrecy, tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions, and illicit financial flows or capital flight.”  People use these jurisdictions in order to hide their money from tax authorities, creditors, or disgruntled relatives.  According to the report:

“An estimated $21 to $32 trillion of private financial wealth is located, untaxed or lightly taxed, in secrecy jurisdictions around the world. Secrecy jurisdictions – a term we often use as an alternative to the more widely used term tax havens – use secrecy to attract illicit and illegitimate or abusive financial flows.

“Illicit cross-border financial flows have been estimated at $1-1.6 trillion per year: dwarfing the US$135 billion or so in global foreign aid. Since the 1970s African countries alone have lost over $1 trillion in capital flight, while combined external debts are less than $200 billion. So Africa is a major net creditor to the world – but its assets are in the hands of a wealthy élite, protected by offshore secrecy; while the debts are shouldered by broad African populations.”

Switzerland leads the list and the US is in second place (for a full list of the jurisdictions, click here).  Political institutions create the laws that provide the secrecy and thus deprives the states from collecting taxes.  Government revenues would be substantially greater if those political institutions took away the ability to hide such great wealth. The laws provide a grotesque way for the poor to subsidize the rich.

Posted March 15, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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