The Closet Moderate: Barack Town

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Barack Town

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, the President and his allies in Congress are purporting to crack down on offshore banking havens, used by the rich to hide income and avoid U.S. taxes. Here, Senator Levin's bill is broken down (the full bill is here, but it's a PDF, so don't say I didn't warn you.)

I understand the point of these bills, and the reason for their popularity: it seems wrong, to any reasonable person, that some people should avoid taxes while other equally situated people pay them. But the failure will be one of execution. We already have tons of complicated laws on foreign income, and yet Americans' money still finds its way to the Caymans, Liechtenstein, the Channel Islands, and various other odd places around the globe. The bankers and lawyers have always managed to stay at least one step ahead of the Congress, because they are clever and their livelihood depends on it.

These countries have all turned to shady banking because they have no other industry, excepting possibly tourism. Everything is more expensive to do on an island, except those things that don't require any transport of actual goods. Thus banking, in this age of electronic money, is a good fit, while manufacturing is not. So no law America or the EU passes and no diplomatic effort we essay will convince them that it's not in their interest to use their nations as banking havens.

Where diplomacy fails, and where the problem is a threat to the national interest, nations must resort to force. We don't have to take over every banking haven; after the first few, the rest might get the idea that we're serious. And we don't need to seek out the far-off ones; we should probably just convince Britain to assert better authority over its Crown Colonies that are nearby to it, like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. But there must be some force, and the best target for it is the best-known banking haven in the world: the Cayman Islands.

In an age of long and somewhat-unpopular wars, this plea may fall on deaf ears, but I say (like all agitators) that this plan is different. Remember Grenada? That took about two days. And Grenada is bigger than the Caymans. Also, they don't have an army. Seriously, even the French could take these guys down. Plus, look at the upside: in addition to all the foreign policy beneifts detailed above, we'd also gain some lovely tropical beaches.

To close: let us protect our national revenue, restore confidence in our military, and have a jolly adventure in the Caribbean. Onward to George Town!*

*To be renamed "Barack Town."


Fake Steve Hawking said...

I like the idea: when gas is expensive, we go invade Iraq, when we are a little short on banks we go invade the Caymans. I'm getting a hankering for lithium - watch out Bolivia!

Silent Cal said...

Worked for the Vikings. At least during the Medieval Warm Period, after that they were fucked.