(UR) London, UK — Democracy is, technically, a style of government that allows the people who live within it to have some say, some tangible effect on who is running their country. That’s how most of us think of the political system we live in; unfortunately, the sad reality is we’re wrong. If there is anything the Panama Papers have confirmed, it is that we live in what’s known as a plutocracy, “a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens.”
Intricacies of how the leak of documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian corporate law firm and service provider, keeps the 1% in power is admittedly overwhelming. One of the clearest takes on the Panama Papers was summed up in a report in the Guardian last week. Basically, it explained how the wealthy, by placing their investments and money in different countries, avoid paying taxes where they live. Particularly important in this scenario is how the wealthy influence our government.
U.K. Prime Minister, David Cameron, is among the ultra-wealthy listed in the Panama Papers. The implication this has on his role as the head of government is enormous — David Cameron makes decisions every day that affect the citizens of the U.K., even while he knowingly ducks the tax laws that govern them. He isn’t alone. Former MPs, as well as numerous political donors, are revealed in the leak to be performing the same legal side-step, having their way with government while suffering none of the financial burden of governance.
Despite initially seeing few Americans listed in the Panama Papers, they are there; and it appears that things aren’t that much different for democracy in the U.S. Then again, why would there even be an assumption that American democracy — known for the power of the corporate lobby, politicians admitting to accepting bribes, and the direct influence of corporate America on how elections are won — could remain unaffected? The direct influence of the plutocracy, the wealthy elite, transcends mere tax avoidance, even if this is the most recent, most visible way in which they ignore the laws they help to create.
The long-term consequences of the Panama Papers are still hard to determine. For those who are participating in #DemocracySpring and the ongoing Nuit Debout (“Up all Night”) protests in France, there is an immediate impact in this revelation — the rich have controlled politics for too long, and many people are sick of it. For the tens of thousands taking to the streets in France, and the hundreds being arrested on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., enough is enough. It is time for those who obey and suffer under these coercive, plutocratic laws, to have direct control over our democracy.
This article (Do the Panama Papers Ultimately Prove Our Democracy Is a Joke?) is an opinion editorial (OP-ED). The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of Underground Reporter. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Chris “Kikila” Perrin and UndergroundReporter.org. If you spot a typo, please email the error and the name of the article to firstname.lastname@example.org. Image credit: Flickr/Backbone Campaign