Monday, February 9, 2015

Youth Unemployment: The world needs a new Civilian Conservation Corps, not politically-backed tax evasion.

(In addition to working for the nation, CCC boys also learned skills. These CCC enrollees are learning about auto repair in Menominie, Wisconsin. Undated photograph, provided courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.)

The Problem of Youth Unemployment

In a new report from the International Labor Organization, we learn that there are about 74 million unemployed teens & young adults across the world. William Reese, CEO of the International Youth Foundation, says that the 74 million figure probably doesn't even come close capturing the full amount. ("Youth Unemployment, Inequality Keeps Rising," Inter Press Service, Common Dreams, February 8, 2015)

Youth unemployment is also a problem in the United States. For example, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics information, the unemployment rate for young American men, ages 20-24, is 11.5%.

Massive Illegal Tax Evasion

In other recent news, investigative journalism has "has opened a crack of sunlight into the exclusive and highly-secretive world of Swiss banking and the manner in which the world's criminal elite hide their vast wealth, launder their profits, and avoid tax payments from governments around the globe. ("'Biggest Banking Leak in History' Details Nefarious Tactics of Global Tax-Dodgers," Common Dreams, February 9, 2015)

This isn't a new type of revelation of course. For example, we know that 22,000 wealthy Americans, with the aid of Credit Suisse Bank in Switzerland, illegally evaded taxes and "cost US taxpayers $337.3bn in potential revenue." Republican Senator John McCain called it the "the largest amount of tax revenue lost due to evasion in the world" ("Credit Suisse 'cloak-and-dagger' tactics cost US taxpayers billions – senators," The Guardian, February 25, 2014).

In another recent case, some wealthy Americans sued Swiss bank UBS because the bank helped them evade taxes. In deciding against the wealthy Americans (in an appeal) the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, "The plaintiffs are tax cheats, and it is very odd, to say the least, for tax cheats to seek to recover their penalties ... from the source, in this case UBS, of the income concealed from the IRS. This lawsuit, including the appeal, is a travesty" ("Judge Slams UBS Clients' 'Travesty' Of A Lawsuit, Calling Them 'Tax Cheats'," Reuters, Huffington Post, February 7, 2013).

A Political Protection Racket for Tax Evasion

Senator McCain's concern about these illegal tax evasion activities is a rare concern among Republican leaders and politicians. For example, in 2014 the Republican National Committee (RNC) "called for the repeal of a U.S. anti-tax-evasion law, siding with big banks, libertarians and American expatriates that have criticized the Obama administration statute." The RNC and other critics feel that pursuing tax evaders is "unfair government overreach and invasion of financial privacy." This led one financial expert to state, "It is mind-boggling that a major political party would even consider endorsing a resolution to facilitate tax evasion" ("Republicans bash U.S. law targeting offshore tax dodgers," Reuters, January 24, 2014).

Republicans have also repeatedly sought to restrict or reduce funding for the Internal Revenue Service, thereby hampering that agency's efforts to investigate criminal activity by wealthy Americans. (See, e.g., "Policing Tax Evasion Could Save Billions, But Republicans Won't Fund Enforcement," Huffington Post, April 29, 2011.)

Why are so many Republican politicians & leaders promoting crime? Well, it's likely that even though this promotion of crime won't "resonate with average U.S. voters," it will "help the party raise campaign funds" from the very people whose tax evasion they're protecting.  

Money Lost from Illegal Tax Evasion Could Fund a New Civilian Conservation Corps 

(Instead of promoting tax evasion, political organizations, like the Republican National Committee, should be promoting opportunities for "work, play, study, and health," for the untold millions of unemployed & impoverished youth around the world. WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)
The amount of money lost through illegal tax evasion, let alone corporate tax avoidance & sketchy tax shelters, could fund Civilian Conservation Corp-type programs around the world, putting many of these tens of millions (more likely hundreds of millions) of unemployed youth to work. And, considering the environmental challenges facing the planet today, it would be a perfect time to do so. During the New Deal, the CCC planted about three billion trees and also worked to prevent & fight wildfires. One can easily see how these types of activities could help us today.

Let's not sugarcoat things here: Many super-wealthy Americans, and many super-wealthy people around the globe, are hiding untold trillions of dollars of money in secret places and in secret accounts, to sate their bottomless greed. And these hideously selfish activities are contributing to mass youth unemployment and environmental degradation. Further, as long as we continue to vote for politicians who turn a blind eye towards tax evasion, collect campaign money from tax evasion, and even promote tax evasion, we are aiding and abetting the crime.

The world needs a new Civilian Conservation Corps, not politically-backed tax evasion.

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