11A019 Tax Data Leaks by Jim Davies, 1/19/2011    

They may be coming shortly via Wikileaks, says the London Daily Telegraph.

Information on a couple of thousand very wealthy individuals who have squirreled money away in Swiss banks to protect it from the ravages of taxation has been given to Julian Assange by a former employee of the Julius Baer Bank, Mr Rudolph Elmer. This whistleblower is under indictment in Switzerland for stealing the information. He is quoted as saying "I am against the system. I know how the system works and I know the day to day business. From that point of view, I wanted to let society know what I know. It is damaging our society."

From the not-so-subtle placing of the picture behind Mr Elmer's shoulder I presume that this is Assange's threatened "nuclear option", to be used if he is hounded to prison by the US and other governments. If so, it may mean he's given up hope of escaping their clutches. I hope not, but it's possible.

If this release is made, it will be one of the most interesting yet, for it will concern private information, protected by contracts between real people: depositors and banking companies. As we saw here on December 10th, real individuals have a right to privacy, while governments do not: there's a difference, but it seems Elmer and Assange may have missed that ZGBlog. I'm at a loss to understand how.

The hypocrites who help make laws to lay on people taxes hard to avoid, while finding and using (and possibly even creating) offshore loopholes to their personal advantage, will find no sympathy here. I hope Assange skewers them and leaves them twisting over the fire of public indignation. But among this set of names are probably many of people who have earned their wealth by voluntary exchange (ie, honestly) and who have found these techniques to preserve it, and whose privacy would be violated by such a release - possibly even exposing them to the wrath of a vengeful government. So I also hope that he will distinguish between the two types, and conceal the latter group; for the two are radically different.

In a zero government society anyone whose contract with a banker was broken, for example by an employee such as Mr Elmer, will be able to sue both the bank and the employee for any damage suffered by the loss of privacy; but in such a ZGS there will not be any taxation, and hence no need to shelter wealth offshore. One might use a Swiss bank for business convenience, but not otherwise.

Meanwhile, I look forward to some sport if the names of Pols, who grew wealthy at our expense, are released. I did hear, for example, that a few years ago Hillary Clinton had a fortune secured in the Bahamas. That was doubly curious, because while she once enjoyed astounding success in a cattle-futures deal, she was until recently merely the wife of a Governor and President, without salary; so how did she come by this fortune? Inquiring minds would like to know. And if she held any in the Mr Elmer's bank, Julian Assange may tell us.

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