Grains of Sand
by James Strauss
Imagine what life was like over the last fifty thousand years, during that part of human development that encompasses what is considered “modern”. Through most of that time, until advanced communication devices were invented, it must have been like living on a beach without a view of the ocean. The sand moves and reforms almost daily. You rise up out of your metaphorical hole every day to live among new vistas, which you can see and feel, but have no real understanding about why they change every day or in what way. Without seeing the ocean, or having an understanding of hydraulics, tides, or wave action how could you possibly predict the ever-shifting dunes of change you must deal with every day?
The building of large structures allowed for the first mass communication. Church and government structures allowed large numbers of people to hear and see certain key figures and also allowed those figures to deliver information, and more significantly; direction upon which social orders could be created and maintained. One priest, standing at a lectern inside a huge church, could reach several thousand people instead of twenty or thirty in the open air. Now we come forward to the modern era, and using radio, television and the Internet literally billions can be reached. The landscape of the ‘beach of our lives’ changes every day, but instead of being left in ignorance, humanity is informed about the veritable ‘sea of change’ sweeping back and forth to effect such changes.
The sea/beach metaphor only begins to fall apart when consideration is given to the ability of other humans to shape, skew and change the effects of all of our daily lives with these waves of what passes for information. Currently, another of the mini-scandals about offshore bank accounts is in the process of unfolding. Due to the efforts of one person, the records of a company based down in Panama are supposedly being released to the media in order to reveal just how many of the world leaders in government, finance and business are quietly sending money off to secret accounts. Several world leaders have had to step down over the results of this unfolding scandal. The Panama Papers, however, would have a more profound impact on the economic life on this planet were it not for the ability of worldwide mass media to remake, change and hide data at its whim. Already the seeming tsunami of information coming from these terabytes of data are being pruned back from a devastating wave of monumental proportions, into small eddies of limited damage. What is going to keep most of the data secret forever is that the very people who own and produce the sweeping ‘sea of information’ have created and built their own offshore accounts to hide the sources of their wealth.
History is best described as “fiction agreed upon.” That phrase has been credited to Napoleon Bonaparte and it remains at the forefront of any discussion about what has really happened over time. It is also a very important sentence to consider when talking about what are purported to be the facts about anything.
The number of offshore accounts being used to hide the sources of stolen money, or money earned by illegal efforts, are like the grains of sand on the beach of life. They are almost too numerous to count simply because they are the very substance of the economic material upon which the world wakes up to every morning and functions on. When people around this world rage at the fact that only a few of its species hold and control most of the assets and money on the planet, they are often angry at many of the wrong humans. Multi-billionaires like Bill Gates, Soros, the Koch Brothers and more do not need offshore accounts. They’ve gone beyond the need for such information blocking devices. The legality of how they built their fortunes is part of the accepted lore (if not truth) of the cultures they come from and live in. They could be compared to the occasional buttressed piers of concrete on the metaphorical beach I have created to explain mankind’s social existence.
It is the hidden money in offshore accounts, protected by the media, controlling the sweep of the sand of economic life that deserves the ire of the public. Every communication device imaginable is used to shelter the account holders because those holders have among them the very people who own the media and sit in leadership positions of almost every government. The whistleblowers, prosecutors, attorneys and former secret agents who’ve gone after such account holders have all fallen by the wayside and been left like mass media droppings. The mass media will openly discuss the rationale for the possession of such offshore accounts as being that of tax evasion, in order to continue to brush aside the truth. World leaders cannot be asked if they hold offshore accounts or corporate ownership. That all ended when Mitt Romney was asked if he had an offshore account during his presidential run. He mistakenly answered yes and the subsequent three-day investigation by ABC almost cost him the Republican nomination. He was saved because the press was told to shut up and it did. Then the universally accepted, but unspoken rule, was put in place where no world leader would ever be asked if he or she had such an account. And that’s where things stand today. The American’s who possess offshore accounts revealed by the Panama Papers will never be exposed by the media. Barack Obama will never be asked in public if he has an offshore account. None of them will. Regular citizens of every country will wake up this day and view the ever-changing beach of their life. They will rise up out of their ‘hole’ and encounter the grains of moving sand, but they will not affect the shape of the beach unless they realize that the beach is being prepared for them by other humans. To do that they must change a mindset that’s so firmly established that it might be almost as immutable as the sea encountering the beach every day.
In all things, in order to effect change one must first be able to view and understand how things really are. The miracle of mass media has seen the subtle but pervasive effect of changing the appearance of the way things really are, to a state of being where changing what is seen is not acknowledged. Think about offshore accounts and offshore account holders and let your ire be redirected.