By Bob Bauman, Offshore and Asset Protection Editor
Have you ever met a hoarder?
When I was 8 years old, a hoarder was my friend. Her name was Elizabeth Hatcher Sadler.
In 1945, my mother died and my father sent me to the Fork Union
Military Academy, where I was befriended by the sweet, elderly Ms.
She sensed my homesickness and invited me to visit her at her
ancestral home in the nearby village of Fork Union. Her huge,
ramshackle, 1898 Victorian mansion had piles of old newspapers,
magazines, hundreds of books and a half century of accumulated dirt
Poor Ms. Sadler lived alone in the one room that had electricity, eating off a hot plate with a sink piled with dishes.
I grew close to Ms. Sadler but never had the nerve to ask her: “Why do you collect and keep all of this junk?”
And it’s my memories of Ms. Sadler that have me now thinking
about the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The question that I never posed to Ms. Sadler is the very same question that needs to be asked of and answered by the NSA today. But this time, the stakes are far more serious. The constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of 316 million Americans are in the balance.Thanks to the courageous Edward Snowden, America now knows the NSA has, for seven years, collected data on many millions of our phone calls, emails and other communications, even when its top officials have testified that it had not.
It is now abundantly clear that privacy in the United States is dead and gone, thanks to pandering politicians and the constitutionally questionable PATRIOT Act.
And things look like they are going to get even worse.
It’s Not Just the NSA After YouHot on the heels of the NSA revelations, now the habitually anti-tax haven and pro-tax Organization for Economic and Community Development (OECD) wants in on the action, by forcing all countries into useless data-hoarding of private information in a very big way.
The Paris-based OECD is financed by the high-tax, deficit-spending, welfare-state governments such as France and Germany, with the U.S. taxpayer footing a large part of its budget. The OECD provides a dignified veneer to the desperate struggle of its debt-ridden sponsors for ever more tax revenues.
As a deceitful public relations tactic, the OECD purposely conflates illegal tax evasion with legal tax avoidance. The OECD view is that all financial privacy and bank secrecy laws are a cover for tax evasion, so they demand abolition of all privacy.
The OECD goes well beyond its achieved demand for the automatic exchange of tax information. They also want to end privacy for “beneficial owners” of corporations, trusts and financial accounts. Erika Nolan has eloquently described the real physical harm such a policy would inflict.
In a well thought out article, Paul Byles, the director of First Regents Bank & Trust, on behalf of Cayman Finance, exposes the fallacy of forcing governments to create huge public mega-data systems listing all owners of every legal entity.
Such costly systems, he suggests, are unlikely to produce “any material benefit to anyone other than those who are in the business of creating new systems and procedures and serving as tax compliance officials.” What such information dumps do is cause worldwide suffering, especially to Americans, as evidenced by the damage done by the imperial IRS and its odious Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
The irony is that such information is available now through executive and judicial procedures in all offshore financial centers and in other countries, but only when due cause is shown by requesting governments.
All is not lost, however, because there are still countries where statutory law protects the financial privacy of law abiding persons, where only after notice and hearings is a court order issued to waive that valuable privacy.
In spite of some recent law changes, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg all still offer strong privacy protection, as do the Cayman Islands, Uruguay, Singapore and Panama. The Sovereign Society assists its members in opening bank and financial accounts in these reliable venues. As Chairman of the Freedom Alliance, I regularly keep my members informed about privacy matters and where and how to find the best protection.
A Dangerous ObsessionLast week, the Northern Ireland two-day talkfest of leaders of the G-8 countries was followed by the issuance of an inane statement that demanded that tax authorities automatically share information (already being done), and that multinational companies tell tax authorities what tax they pay and where they pay it (also being done).
President Obama and U.K. Prime Minister Cameron know this, but they, like the OECD and the NSA, continue their intentional destruction of our privacy, cloaked in hollow slogans about fighting terrorism and tax evasion.
The compulsive need of Big Brother government to collect mega-mountains of data is approaching nothing less than an official obsession that endangers all of our freedoms.
I’m sure old Ms. Sadler had her own benign reasons for hoarding her stuff. I wish our government’s hoarding of our private information was as innocent.
Bob Bauman, J.D.
Chairman, Freedom Alliance