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WEALTH PRIVACY – Project Billiard

Summary (for an in-depth analysis, see: "As if the Berlinwall had fallen the other way" at: www.solami.com/Berlinwall.htm)
see also: www.solami.com/OECD.htm | .../Orwell.htm | .../glasnost.htm | .../oecdmandate.htm | .../oecdcirc.htm
.../Berlinwall.htm | .../brad.htm | .../comments3.htm | .../brink.htm | .../impulse.htm | .../haftbefehl.htm
Geneva, 1 May 2001 (rev.4; for hyperlinked version, see:  http://www.solami.com/billiard.htm)

Situation     The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD has evolved from a pro-market institution to an anti-competition, anti-sovereignty and anti-privacy instrument in the hands of unelected bureaucrats.  Particularly the secretive OECD Fiscal Committee and its Working Party #8 on Tax Avoidance and Evasion (WP8) are the hidden forces behind the long-standing efforts at OECD and the EU in Brussels to "harmonize" - i.e. plain-levelling at the highest imposable rate - the tax regimes in the industrialized world.  This is being done by fighting such cleverly made-believe dangers as "harmful tax competition", by promoting anti-money laundering standards, and by deliberately confusing illicit activities with the very linchpin of entrepreneurial activities, i.e. tax avoidance.  For the EU machinery, it serves as both reference and pressure source for Brussels’s own "fiscal harmonization" schemes.  Absent the OECD fig-leafs, and fiscal plain-levelling efforts and other open or hidden attacks against bank client secrecy can be expected to automatically loose steam or to be successfully derailed by any one EU member (Austria, Britain, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg being Switzerland’s ally in this).

With a view to tax e-commerce, similar bureaucratic lawmaking mechanisms have already been brought into place, with similar methods expected to lead to further innocent-sounding, yet liberty-eroding, enterprise-stifling and commerce-undercutting "recommendations", "guidelines" and "OECD standards".  This is routinely intended to have less-informed incoming political leaders sign up on the dotted lines of past - even if discredited - policies, to take notably constitutional lawmakers by surprise and to steamroll the less vigilant of either of them into compliance with the latest fashionable designs of international bureaucratic lawmaking, purported globalization blessings and tutelage structures.

Thus have come about such anti-market, anti-sovereignty and anti-privacy Orwellian monsters as the G-7/OECD's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the related "Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes" (ROSCs).  These are yet to be recognized for what they really are by many who are concerned with tax reform, fiscal sovereignty and wealth privacy.  For the interested bureaucrats still get what they want, simply by avoiding the keyword OECD which, by now, is on the radar of most libertarians.  Indeed, under the sub-heading of "Action Against the Abuses of the Global Financial System" the G-7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors have found it appropriate to issue the following G-7 Statement of support for the FATF on the occasion of their recent Washington meeting.  It is less than certain that all of the signatories are fully aware that interested OECD/FATF bureaucrats had stealthily complemented the 18 pro-growth paragraphs with a ringing endorsement of what the FATF stands for and which, at least partially, exhonorates and reanimates the generally discredited objectives of the OECD/Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.  Without once mentioning the OECD, the G-7 Statement of April 28 2001 concludes in fact:
 

"19.  We reaffirm our support for all the objectives of the multilateral effort to fight against abuse of the global financial system.  We express our support for the ongoing work of FATF, and we welcome the significant progress made by most of the 15 jurisdictions listed by FATF as non-cooperative countries and territories (NCCTs) in June 2000 towards addressing the deficiencies in their anti-money laundering systems.  We encourage those jurisdictions to implement needed reforms.  We note our continued commitment to maintain a dialogue with these countries, to provide training and technical assistance, to delist those making adequate progress, and to implement coordinated measures as may be recommended by FATF against those NCCTs where dialogue has failed to generate sufficient progress.  In addition, we welcome the FATF decision to undertake a review of its 40 recommendations to strengthen the international money laundering standard.  We also welcome the IMF and World Bank Boards' recent decisions to recognize the FATF 40 Recommendations as the appropriate international standard for combating money laundering and encourage the Fund and the Bank, working in collaboration with FATF, to incorporate the relevant FATF 40 Recommendations into a ROSC module as soon as possible." No less confusingly, WP8’s official French name is: "Group de travail sur l’évasion et  la fraude fiscales". In its publications the OECD regularly translates "tax avoidance" with "évasion fiscale".  The OECD thus persistently misrepresents and undermines a key pillar of the free market.  The OECD, thereby, reveals itself as another surviving unreformed bastion of Kremlin-type ideologies and structures.

This is a far cry from protecting and beneficially exercising the fiscal sovereignty as an integral, even key part of each nation’s sovereignty.  Tax reform, fiscal revenues and economic growth thus suffer.  Self-servingly, many OECD and EU models, guidelines and recommendations are designed to enhance the clout of unelected - and effectively uncontrolled - bureaucrats, including the transnational snooping powers of the members of the international brotherhood of gabelous. With its entrenched tentacles and allies the world over, this secretive OECD working group has already succeeded to bring into force the orwellian INTERFIPOL (OECD/Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters) and to equip itself with an enforcement arm, the FATF. Not surprisingly, the FATF has already shed all pretense of being limited to drug-related crimesUnless checked in time, it is likely to unfold awesome transnational police powers.  This will be both on its own and through local laws, apologetes and handymen (in Bern, the local handywoman was successfully sent up the international ladder, but in Geneva, hélas, a less damaging playground has yet to be found for the local handyman). In short, if the line is not now drawn with vision, courage & determination, what future is there for the banker’s ability to live up to his traditional roles and responsibilities vis-à-vis his clients and society, i.e. to reliably and effectively act as confidant, refuge and fiduciary for the world’s increasingly harassed citizens and the fruits of their labor?

REMEDY     In order to effectively take both the power and the sting out of this OECD working group - and indeed to re-orient its activities in favor of wealth privacy, tax competition and bank client secrecy - the U.S. influence in and over WP8 can be brought to bear accordingly.  E.g. by way of a credible threat to cut off U.S. funding of OECD - unless and until the OECD Fiscal Committee is prohibited from "combating tax avoidance" (Res.C(77)149(Final)) and its working group’s terms of reference are correspondingly changed to bring it back in line with the OECD’s statute (which, nota bene, specifies the promotion of entrepreneurial liberties and activities, naturally including tax avoidance).  With a U.S. President and congressional leaders who understand the importance of tax competition, fiscal sovereignty and financial privacy, the threat to cut off funds becomes an effective instrument.  Already, a political critical mass is being formed in the U.S. Congress over the OECD's cancerous bureaucratic lawmaking (building on the group which, two years ago, forced an administrative about-face on the "Know Your Customer" rules).

VEHICLES and MEANS       The results achieved so far have become most visible in a number of critical editorial comments and some 15 letters to the U.S. Treasury, written by leading Members of the U.S. Congress.  This reflects our 15 years of involvement in OECD matters, with the last two years focused on a hands-on cooperation and networking with suitable persons and institutions notably in Washington, whose efforts have been supported by corresponding media contributions here and there.  Helpful, i.e. effectively trend-reversing, even visionary terms (financial privacy, health & wealth privacy, wealth basics, right to undisclosed private property, etc.) contine to be identified, fine-tuned and introduced in the public debate.  Close cooperation with the media, professional groups & suitable non-governmental organizations are seen to be crucial for the ultimate success of our campaign (a.o. through direct inputs, participation in debates, financial contributions, and sponsorships).  Properly handled and supported, the key objective of correspondingly changed mandates at the OECD are expected to be either attained or brought clearly into sight by the end of 2001.


WHY AND HOW U.S. LAWMAKERS MAY HELP TO RE-ESTABLISH REAL WEALTH PRIVACY

by  Anton Keller, Secretary,
Swiss Investors Protection Association
t+f:  004122-7400362    m: 004179-6047707   e: swissbit@solami.com

      BACKGROUND    Unlike Swiss and other European parliamentarians, U.S lawmakers have repeatedly proven to be willing and capable to shut down the U.S. Government: if that is what it takes to get the Government - or, by analogy, any international institution co-funded by the United States - in line with what the representatives of its sovereign-citizens want.  In a presidential election year, the willingness of the political class to test the validity of and the continued public support for any given policy is particularly noticeable.

      Hiring and firing is a characteristic of the American society and economy.  In an egocentric flat-world superpower perspective, abrogating a tax treaty (with Netherlands-Antilles) by administrative fiat is thus normal.  As is the U.S. Supreme Court-approved neglect of internationally binding obligations (1985 Aerospatiale case).  The lex americana universalis effects followed naturally.  The other side of this same coin is that not only is every alliance and policy of the U.S. Government always subject to review, but that the right set of solid, timely and properly channelled arguments can thus make a significant dent and even lead to a prompt policy reversal.

          There is no reason why all this should not also apply even to the long-festering "economic warfare" which - since at least the early eighties - has been directed mainly against what is in fact a financial superpower, i.e. Switzerland.  Of course, this war has been conducted mostly under cover by some essentially out-of-control segments of the U.S. adminstration by way of its influence at the Paris-based 29-nation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD.

        Notwithstanding the dark forces which, for some time now, seem to have hijacked in part U.S. foreign policy on Swiss-U.S. economic relations, some current trends among the U.S. voters and their representatives are seen to avail themselves for bringing about fundamental changes in favor of the traditional Swiss bank client secrecy.  Chief among these trends is a resurging awareness of the constitutionally protected personal privacy as being increasingly neglected and even violated by the Government.  This trend is seen to cut across the U.S. political spectrum, thus to be potentially supportable by both presidential candidates.  And eventually to dictate the post-2000 administrative agenda, regardless of who will succeed the current U.S. President.

      AIM    To change the mandate of the OECD Fiscal Committee and its outgrowths, notably its Working Party #8 on Tax Avoidance and Evasion (WP8), the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) and its FORUM, in order
-    to properly reflect the OECD's own Convention which is to serve "the preservation of individual liberty" as well as the prevention of arbitrary interference with the citizen's "privacy, family, home or correspondence", and to strengthen the market economy also by recognizing tax avoidance as being one of its key pillars, and
-    to promptly cease and desist in any activity whatsoever which might not be fully in line with the OECD's before-mentioned original and still conventionally binding key objectives.

      VEHICLES    A critical mass of U.S. lawmakers (both Republicans and Democrats) must be made aware of the incompatibility of some of the OECD's current mandates, programs and practices with either OECD's original objectives or the U.S. national interest (for details see: "OECD - its genesis, original purposes and secretive conversion into an Orwellian tool" at: http://solami.com/billiard2.htm).  Foreseeably, they will have no qualms to utilize their constitutional power of the purse for cutting off the U.S. co-funding of the OECD budget - until the situation will have been reversed in the sense of the above-defined aim.  At which time all successor fiscal and other aberrations - at the IRS, SEC, at the EU in Brussels and, not least, in Bern - can more realistically be adapted, if not thrown into the dust bin of history.

        In all this, our natural allies are those who, on their own, have already succeeded to force a halt to and a thorough re-appraisal of some of the Government's current anti-liberty, anti-privacy and anti-market practices - notably in the matter of the "Know Your Customer" (KYC) regulations.  These American friends are as outraged as we are at the comprehensive electronic spying conducted under the ECHELON system and at what's in the pipeline (see European Parliament hearings report at http://www.iptvreports.mcmail.com/stoa_cover.htm).  In this situation, inadequate measures on our part might even help the Government in its ill-advised unrelenting anti-privacy drive, the latest being the "International Counter-Money Laundering Act of 2000", introduced to Congress on 9 March.  As demonstrated in the case of the OECD's Orwellian INTERFIPOL, i.e. "Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters", things are all but hopeless.  And we have gained some experience which now may again be put to good use - unless, of course, our American friends try to do battle on the assumption that they have also a monopoly for good ideas.

Geneva, 6 April 2000
 
 

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PRIVACY IN THE YEAR ORWELL PLUS 16  -  part I
INDIVIDUAL PRIVACY IS ILLUSIONORY WITHOUT WEALTH  PRIVACY

by  Anton Keller, Secretary,
Swiss Investors Protection Association
t+f:  004122-7400362    m: 004179-6047707   e: swissbit@solami.com





        Geneva, 1 April 2000  -  On both sides of the Atlantic, individual privacy used to be a deeply enrooted common value.  Yet, in the last fifty years in particular, governments and office holders here and there have busily developed ever new reasons, excuses and pretexts for weakening, then braking and now all but totally abolishing real privacy as the hall mark of Western civilization and the market economy.

        Constitutional and lesser specific guarantees notwithstanding, in this upside-down world the transparent citizen as a servant of the state has largely replaced what was supposed to be the transparent state as a servant of the sovereign citizen.  But no tree grows infinitely into the sky.  And some current anti-liberty, anti-privacy and anti-market measures may actually hasten the day when even the most prestigious institutions, such as the Paris-based 29-nation Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation OECD, will have been brought back on their original track and ridden of their Orwellian outgrowths.

        Traditionally, and for historical reasons, Americans generally have cared a lot about personal privacy (house, medical records, gun ownership, etc.).  Yet - and until the recent, below-mentioned excesses of some U.S. administrations regarding bank client snoopings - on matters of their personal wealth, Americans have differed fundamentally with their European brethren who, since time immemorial, have felt the need to actively guard against confiscatory measures by whoever happened to be their ruler.  As illustrated by the Australians' long-time casual acceptance of multi-party telephone lines, pioneering societies have evolved differently from those of the Old Continent particularly in cultural and privacy matters.

        Thus, contrary to American and other non-European OECD countries' traditions, the Europeans' sense of privacy automatically covered wealth privacy.  As the French penchant for the right to anonymous gold possession illustrates, in some cases this has even been focussed on material wealth.  And that's not surprising either, given "unequaled protection" and "anonymity" going as far as an officially recognized new name each foreigner, criminal or not, can still receive upon joining the French Foreign Legion (Michael Pollak, "Foreign Legion Wants You", International Herald Tribune", 3 April 2000).  Which, incidently, may make the Foreign Legion the world's most loyal practitioner of the state principles formulated centuries ago not least by Adam Smith and Whately, namely:

the state may legitimately impose financial or blood sacrifices on its citizens and foreigners - which may seek refuge on its territory for themselves and/or for their wealth - only "in return for the protection afforded by the Sovereign." (as quoted in The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, vol. XVII, 1989, p.679)
        Not surprisingly then, in fiscal matters in particular, privacy concerns have repeatedly led to cultural clashes even among industrialized countries, with the secretive OECD serving as battleground outside the public eye.  E.g., the United States is seen as the only country which enforces its fiscal laws also on its citizens living abroad.  This practice has been widely criticized as a violation of the host countries' fiscal sovereignty and led to the unflattering term lex americana universalis.

       Today - tellingly on fool's day - another outgrowth of lex americana universalis is being put into force by the Swiss Government.  Henceforce, in the all-purpose name of fighting drug crimes, money laundering and international terrorism, all "financial intermediaries", from hotel clerks to lawyers and bankers, will cease to be able to legally act as their client's confidants.  Instead, under threat of prison terms, they will be obliged to act as government agents, reporting any suspicious financial transactions to the Swiss authorities.  Readily available complete and up-dated records will have to be kept not only on "politically exposed persons" but on each client with significant transactions.  And visitors to and residents of Switzerland, in the event, will be requested to justify the origin of the funds involved in past and proposed financial dealings.

        Over the past decades, Swiss gullibility has brought us the practically unenforceable insider law and similar lowerings of the universally appreciated Swiss banking culture to the needs of often myopic hard ball-playing foreign office holders.  So much in fact that some months ago the Wall Street Journal expressed its dismay at these developments by asking whether Swiss banking services are still needed.  For some time then, it looked as if the Journal defended individual privacy and bank client secrecy more persistently than even some Swiss bankers, trade associations and politicians.

        Now, belately, some awakening on privacy matters is taking place.  On both sides of the Atlantic, government-directed privacy violations are touching off political groundswells.  Last year, a flood of over 300.000 letters and e-mails by American citizens forced the U.S. Government to withdraw its new "Know Your Customer" (KYC) rules that would have covered all banks and depository institutions.  It became the nucleus of a legislative drive to change the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act and do away with the "Suspicious Activities Reports" (SARs) and all other Big Brother infringements on wealth privacy.

        To be sure, the Government has not given up.  And it undoubtedly will continue to pursue its policies under whatever guise may sell best, politically.  Yet, things are no longer what they used to be until recently.  At the congressional hearings held last month on the proposed "International Counter-Money Laundering Act of 2000", U.S. lawmakers showed an unprecedented receptiveness for arguments in favor of financial privacy.  And chances are that they may not like what they see, once they will have taken a closer look at what's going on at the OECD where U.S. interests, too are undermined by stealthily introduced anti-liberty, anti-privacy and anti-market policies.

        On this side of the Atlantic, last February, the European Parliament held widely-reverberating hearings on Echelon, i.e. the satellite-based global surveillance system which controls practically all telephone, fax and e-mail communications anywhere anytime [see also the European Parliament Echelon Hearings Report at http://www.iptvreports.mcmail.com/stoa_cover.htm]. Under the leadership of U.S. intelligence services, Echelon is carried out in cooperation with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  So far, the explanations a former CIA director was called upon to furnish publicly did all but calm the outrage expressed among European citizens and politicians.

        Of course, the furor over large-scale electronic spying among allies may in part be artificial and serve primarily to hide still other aspects of the electronic espionage on the economic front which has intensified in the post-cold war period, particularly among allies.  Nevertheless, the sensitivities thus revealed on privacy matters by lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic are seen to be significant.  They open up opportunities for corresponding institutional reforms in line with article 12 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights which specifies:

"No one shall be subject to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence ..."
        And they hold out the prospect for Switzerland's new self-damaging anti-privacy rules to be as quickly discarded as our American friends had thrown their own ill-considered KYC rules over board.  Unless, of course, the Swiss authorities believe in their own bad fool's day joke and blindly - and lonely at that - follow the echo of a vanishing Piper of Hamlin.
 
 

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PRIVACY IN THE YEAR ORWELL PLUS 16  -  part II

OECD - its genesis, original purposes, Statute
and secretive conversion into an Orwellian tool

by  Anton Keller, Secretary,
Swiss Investors Protection Association t+f:  004122-7400362   m: 004179-6047707
e: swissbit@solami.com - I: www.solami.com/privacyhome - www.solami.com/brad

 

"The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD,
i.e the Paris-based club composed of 29 industrialized countries (1),
may be even more obscure, dangerous and in need of a radical cleansing
than its own self-portrait unwittingly suggests.  For according to its web-site
 (http://www.oecd.org/about/general/index.htm), it has been called
a "think tank, monitoring agency, rich man's club, an unacademic university.
 It has elements of all,
but none of these characteristics captures the essence of the OECD."
 And once this essence will have seeped into the mind
of the constitutional lawmakers of Western democracies,
change will be inevitable,
lest discredited agendas undermine
the economic well-being of all OECD member states.
 That then may be the moment for action
by lawmakers who know to effectively use their power of the purse
for bringing an out-of-control self-serving international organization
back into step to genuinely serve the citizenry and the market."
Philip Wainwright, Legal Adviser


        Geneva, 2 April 2000  - The OECD's predessessor, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation OEEC (2)  was a key tool to implement the U.S.-sponsored "European recovery programme", i.e. the Marshall Plan.  In contrast to the socialist-block with its state-oriented COMECON organization, the West-European OEEC was not merely to restore and maintain "the prosperity of Europe" in line with "the purposes of the United Nations", but to achieve those ends with a focus on "the preservation of individual liberty".  As such it was to champion and apply free market principles in order
-    to make the most "effective use of American aid",
-    to provide for "the maximum possible interchange of goods and services",
-    to work towards "abolishing as soon as possible those restrictions which at present hamper ... trade and payments",
-    "to facilitate the movement of workers", and
-    to eliminate the "obstacles to the free movement of persons."

        Reflecting the economic recovery and progress thus achieved and the establishment of the Common Market under the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and, parallel to it, the European Free Trade Association EFTA, the OEEC, under U.S. leadership, was re-organized 1960 into the current OECD.   The organization's initial focus on "the preservation of idividual liberty" was retained in the preamble of the OECD Convention.  And its auhors' intent regarding this organization's exclusively market-economic orientation has remained unmistakable in that OECD membership has been reserved to those states subscribing to the principles of the market economy.

        According to article 1 of its Convention, the OECD shall promote corresponding policies designed "to contribute to the expansion of world trade on a multilateral, non-discriminatory basis in accordance with international obligations". Importantly, its article 2 explicitly provides for Member countries "to reduce or abolish obstacles to the exchange of goods and services and current payments and maintain and extend the liberalisation of capital movements".

        Thus, of course, neither the OEEC nor the OECD Convention contain any provision authorizing this Organization to engage in activities harmful to the maintenance and exercise of individual liberties as the key pillar of the market economy.  Also Adam Smith's First Canon on Taxation of 1776, i.e. the state's obligation to protect its taxpayers (3), still fully applies - as doesWhately's by now classical 1827 definition of taxes to be "the revenue levied from the subject in return for the protection afforded by the Sovereign." (4)  Indeed, a state's rights to tax can legimately exist only in the presence of properly heeded corresponding obligations, chief among them the obligation to protect its taxpayers' assets and fiscal privacy, particularly against foreign tentacles.

         Accordingly, state representatives and lawmakers were, are and remain here to make the best use of their national fiscal sovereignty and related traditions to attract foreign investments with competitive conditions and to effectively protect their investors and taxpayers - wherever they may come from.  And bankers worth their salt are expected to remain an investor's trustworthy confidant - not allowing themselves to be made into police auxiliaries - and to be in the vanguard to effectively oppose any infringement on their national sovereignty, including foreign snoopings, extorsions and double-taxations.

        To be sure fiscal matters were not even on the OEEC agenda until 1956, when the forerunner of the OECD's influencial Committee on Fiscal Affairs was set up.  Its initial main purpose was to seek ways and means to avoid commerce-hampering and movement-inhibiting double-taxations among Member states.   At that time avoiding double-taxation still - and exclusively - meant tax avoidance from the taxpayer's point of view which, in a genuine market economy, takes precedent over state concerns.  Of course, already then some were not overly concerned about what happens to one's taxpayers; instead, they gave preference to state-focussed socialist ideas and institutions.

        Already then - and most often behind the back of both their constitutional lawmakers and superiors at home - some innovative fiscalists found at the OECD, of all places, a fertile virgin terrain for various crusades for undermining the very foundations of Western civilization, i.e. individual liberties and privacy the U.S. Constitution and other fundamental texts unmistakably provide for.  Judging by their effects to date, they may be described as the international brotherhood of colour-blind tax professionals who always have and always will recklessly push ahead their myopic anti-market, anti-citizen and anti-privacy agendas, while instinctively opposing citizen-friendly tax proposals like President Reagan's successful supply-side tax revolution.

        Not surprisingly then, the OECD and its fiscal bodies have evolved accordingly.  And the stage has been set for an overwhelming flow of model agreements, guidelines and recommendations - nota bene: none ever examined by any constitutional lawmaker group anywhere - to lead the industrialized world into a globalized Orwellian era which will be characterized by administrative lawmakings by unelected bureaucrats increasingly taking the lead over constitutional lawmakings by elected representatives.

        To date, the perhaps most flagrant illustration of an international organization to have been hi-jacked by anti-citizen and anti-market forces can be seen in the Orwellian OECD/Council of Europe "Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters"  (http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/127.htm) which was allowed to come into force in 1995.  It calls a.o. for even spontaneous international fiscal data exchanges, for operating a global fiscal data bank, and for tax collection abroad.  Providing for international enforcement of national tax laws, it entails at least the embryo of an international fiscal police force and has given rise to unchecked abuses of criminal laws for what are essentially fiscal purposes.  And it not only undermines the active defense against but favors economic espionage.

        All this has been introduced in claimed-to-be harmless homeopatic doses.  It all begun with that laudable objective, namely to favor international commerce and the movement of persons by way of lifting the burden of double-taxation from the shoulders of enterprising citizens.  Yet, after years of closed-door deliberations in the world's fiscal ivory tower, the OECD has published an upside-down model double-taxation agreement.  For it blatantly suggests the pro-taxpayer exclusionary method for avoiding double-taxation to be equal to the credit method which allows the states concerned to split the higher tax take while depriving the taxpayer of the tax advantages with which he was attracted and burdening him with additional administrative obligations.

        As such, this myopic bureaucratic lawmaking trick is seen to pervert the OECD governments' initial pro-taxpayer objective into the direct opposite purportedly in favor of the treasuries of the states concerned. As if the OECD's Convention did not exist and were replaced by some remnant latter-day Kremlin regulations.  As if the Reagan tax revolution had never taken place and were not at the source of the unprecedented prosperity of the American economy.  And as if the next U.S President - whoever it may be - would not want to continue this prosperity by making the United States again the biggest tax haven on earth - with seemingly only the OECD bureaucracy blindlessly hell-bent to attack tax havens, thus foremost depriving the U.S. economy of the fruits of its re-invigorated supply-side tax policy.

        A similar - and no less objectionable, damaging and far-reaching - deviation from the OECD's fundamental objectives and norms is seen in the recommendation the OECD Council issued in 1977 to Member governments [C(77)149(Final)].  It explicitly calls for "legal, regulatory or administrative provisions" serving to enhance their powers "for the detection and prevention of tax avoidance" and to cooperate with other national tax authorities for "combating tax avoidance".

       The 1995 OXFORD DICTIONARY defines tax avoidance as "the arrangement of one's financial affairs so that one only pays the minimum amount of tax required by law." (5)  And the 1971 WEBSTER'S mentions "the use of merger agreements as a means of tax avoidance" (6).

         Moreover, the German translation of tax avoidance is given by the 1999 DUDEN OXFORD as "Steuerminderung", meaning tax reduction (7), by the 1978 CASSELL'S as "Steuerabschreibung", meaning tax deduction (8), and by the 1999 PONS COLLINS, as "Steuerumgehung", meaning tax evasion (9).  In all of the OECD's related publications, the French word for tax avoidance is always "évasion fiscale" (10).  And in the 1961 GRAND LAROUSSE, évasion fiscale is described as a "way for a taxpayer with legal means to avoid to pay what he ought to pay" (11).

        It is thus noteworthy that none of the consulted authorities consider tax avoidance as being in the least illegal - at least not those who remember the works if not of Adam Smith and Whately, so at least of Ronald Reagan.  In fact, there is - still - an impressive body of opinion sharing the time-tested view that tax avoidance is nothing more and nothing less than the individual's natural reaction when he/she doesn't get his/her taxes' worth in return.  Indeed, if the freedom to move to wherever conditions are seen to suit oneself better is to remain real, tax avoidance is and will remain the businessman's way to vote with his feet.  Just as it will remain each citizen's inherent right to freely seek greener pastures in order to escape confiscatory taxations, excessive bureaucratic burdens and/or other conditions hampering the full development of one's potentials.

        Tax avoidance is thus not only not illegal but an inherent natural right.  And it is not only a right worth fighting for but a key obligation for every homo oeconomicus.  In a free society worth its name it is thus the business of no official or institution anywhere to interfere in the free exercise of this right and obligation.  Any call for combating tax avoidance is thus ill-considered and ill-founded.  For it is a call to undermine a - if not indeed the - key function of the market economy, in as much as the market depends on entrepreneurial forces.  And these fertile forces are made sterile if legally offered conditions cannot be freely choosen from and applied without the risk of state interference and betrayal.

        In this light, the OECD's call for combating tax avoidance is seen to be fundamentally incompatible with the basic tenets of this key institution of the industrialized world.   If the OECD is to remain a useful tool for its member states, this aberrant and generally damaging call must not be allowed to stand.  Foreseeably, this and other OECD anti-taxpayer, anti-market, anti-liberty and anti-privacy recommendations and rules may be sought to be excused by the fact that they have no binding character.  Yet, seemingly reflecting the collective wisdom on the subjects concerned, and given the stamp of approval by a reputable international organization, they are seen to continuously cause damage to national economies by way of being hardly ever examined, questioned and opposed by the formal national lawmakers when invited to turn these purportedly "higher wisdoms" into national law.

        Accordingly, and, as a matter of urgency, the OECD's ill-based call for combating tax avoidance is to be corrected, reversed and brought in line with the OECD Convention and other applicable texts - as is every resolution, recommendation, guideline and rule which ever emmanated from this Holy Grail of the market economy.  This applies notably to the mandate and all products of the OECD "Working Party #8 on Tax Avoidance and Evasion" (12) and of such similar outgrowth of international bureaucratic lawmaking as the OECD/Council of Europe "Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters" (13) and the"Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering FATF".

        Reminiscent of the Prohibition era, these and such other misdirected OECD bodies as its Forum make a mockery of individual liberty and privacy.  At taxpayers' expense, they constitute Orwellian instruments combating self-serving phantoms chasing newly-found and artificially trumped-up "crimes", such as tax avoidance, "treaty shopping" and "harmful tax competition".  The citizens and the market will be better off without self-appointed, self-serving and out-of-control committes and working parties which have grown beyond the OECD's original purpose and have even been turned against whom they are purpurted to serve.  We will soon find out whether either Congress or the next President has what it takes to bring about the necessary changes - if need be by turning off the spigot which keeps such cancers alive.
 

NOTES

(1)    Germany, Spain, Finland, Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and, more recently, Mexico and former COMECON members, joined the OEEC countries to become full OECD members ("Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development", Paris 14 December 1960, on the Internet at:  http://www.oecd.org/about/origins/convention/conventn.htm)

(2)     put into operation on 16 April 1948 upon signature by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany (French, U.K. and U.S. Occupation Zones), Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, U.K., U.S.  ("Convention for European Economic Co-operation", UN Treaty Series, vol. 886, United Nations New York 1982, p.141)

(3)  "The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the governments ... in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state." in: Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter II, as quoted in The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th edition, vol. 17, Chicago 1976, p.1078, and in The Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition, vol. 26, Americana Corporation New York 1974, p.318.

(4)     as quoted in The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, vol. XVII, 1989, p.679.

(5)  Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, A.S.Hornby, Fifth Edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1995, p.1224

(6)  Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Philip Babcock Gove, vol. 1, Merriam Company, Springfield 1971, p.151

(7)  DUDEN OXFORD Grosswörterbuch English, Dudenverlag, Mannheim 1999

(8)  CASSELL'S Germman-English English-German Dictionary, Macmillan, New York 1978, p.178

(9)   PONS COLLINS Grosswörterbuch für Experten und Universität, Klett Verlag München 1999, p.1889

(10)    see also:  www.solami.com/billiard

(11) GRAND LAROUSSE encyclopédique, Paris 1961, p.825: "Evasion fiscale, fait d'un contribuable qui parvient - par des moyens légaux - à ne pas payer l'impôt qu'il devrait payer, sans en rejeter directement la charge sur une autre personne."

(12)    for a more detailed analysis, see: www.solami.com/billiard

(13)    on the Internet at:  http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/127.htm
 

Geneva, 2 April 2000

         see also: http://www.solami.com/OECD.htm  and http://www.solami.com/Orwell.htm
 
 

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