Opening A Pandora’s Box of Elite Financial Trickery

money

Yesterday the Pandora Papers were released to the public by a team of investigative journalists. It exposed how 35 world leaders and 300 other public officials used complex financial arrangements to not pay taxes and avoid potential corruption charges. While the rest of us get in trouble for not paying taxes, the elite continue to eschew taxes by using offshore accounts and a constant movement of money only the wealthy can afford.

It’s important to expose this behaviour of the rich to show they aren’t above the law nor can the mooch off the rest of us by using services our taxes provide while not paying their share. What’s more, it’s the elite who contribute the most to climate change yet they hog all the money to solve the issue.

Let’s keep looking into their financial management.

Much like the Panama Papers leak in 2016 or the Paradise Papers the following year, the secret files provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how certain global elites — or in other cases, high-profile criminals — take advantage of financial wizardry or opaque corporate structures to either shield assets, wriggle out of their tax obligations, or hide wealth entirely.  

“When we published the Panama Papers a few years ago, there was a lot of outcry around the world saying that this was a system that needed to end,” said Gerard Ryle, the ICIJ’s director. “But we’re now seeing the very people who could end the system … themselves benefiting from it.” 

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NYC Delivery Workers Help Each Other

Foodora work

Delivery apps make ordering food easier and cheaper for consumers, but it costs the workers. By offloading the costs of actually delivering food onto labour the app companies like Uber have few expenses they need to cover, thus the appeal to investors. For the first wave of food delivery apps the companies used venture capital to pay delivery workers, but that money ran out and the rates workers were paid decreased.

Now, around the world, delivery workers are fighting back and organizing. In New York City there’s been a massive effort by delivery workers to help each other in more ways than campaigning against the app companies.

Workers developed the whole system — the bikes, repair networks, shelters, charging stations — because they had to. To the apps, they are independent contractors; to restaurants, they are emissaries of the apps; to customers, they represent the restaurants. In reality, the workers are on their own, often without even the minimum in government support. As contractors and, often, undocumented immigrants, they have few protections and virtually no safety net. The few times city authorities noted the delivery worker’s changing role, it was typically with confused hostility. Until recently, throttle-powered electric bikes like the Arrow were illegal to ride, though not to own. Mayor de Blasio heightened enforcement in 2017, calling the bikes “a real danger” after an Upper West Side investment banker clocked workers with a speed gun and complained to him on The Brian Lehrer Show.

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Berliners Vote to Evict MegaLandlords

Berlin

Like many cities around the world Berlin’s housing crisis is only getting worse. Instead of sitting idly by and watching their city become a place only for the landed gentry, Berliners decided to organize and do something. A referendum took place over this past weekend (as part of the federal election) asked Berliners if the city should take over the housing units owned by mega landlords who own more than 3,000 properties.

The city would acquire any unity about that number and make it social housing. 56% of voters made it clear: they want more public housing by taking it away from corporations only interested in profits. Housing is a human right.

Whatever happens next in Berlin it’s clear people are sick that something as necessary as housing is treated like any other commodity.

The referendum was able to take place after Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen took advantage of a mechanism in German law, which allows certain topics to go to a referendum if a group can collect 175,000 signatures from city residents. In June, campaigners announced they had collected 343,000 signatures on the housing referendum, which received a boost when a city-wide rent cap was overturned in April.  

“Together we moved the city and shook up politics – that’s what we’re celebrating today,” Joanna Kusiak, a spokesperson for Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen said. “Thousands have become active with us. We are anchored with our structures in each district. We faced powerful opponents: inside and won. We’re not going away anytime soon.”

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Save the Planet from Your Kitchen

cooking prep

We are what we eat, and what we eat can change the world. All of us can make tiny changes in the kitchen to help reduce the harm modern food consumption does on the planet. Over at Eater they explore some ideas that people can try in their kitchen to improve their diet while also improving the planet. The really neat thing in this article is that it promotes us to learn from lockdowns during the pandemic when we all ended up making more home cooked meals.

Do what you can keep doing

Since the pandemic began, many of us have adopted efficient shopping and cooking practices out of necessity, but maintaining those habits post-pandemic could help make our lifestyles greener (and easier) in the long run. Look for stores reintroducing self-serve bulk sections and invest in quality food containers to continue saving money on ingredients in bulk, cut down on packaging, and reduce the number of trips to the store. Even if you return to the office, continue prepping meals on weekends and remain flexible with how you use ingredients to ensure you always have a decent meal after work. Clean the kitchen faster by integrating composting into your cooking routine, and reorganize your fridge to keep perishable ingredients visible to avoid food waste in the back. And pass down all these good habits to your kids, along with family recipes, to make them great helpers in the future.

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Understanding that the Map is not the Territory

Maps are all around us and you probably use them more than you think, and maps change the way you think. Knowing that the abstracted representation of the world (the map) is not the actual place (the territory) is an important distinction that we need to make. Another, easier, way to think about this is by knowing that the menu is not the food.

With how much we rely on maps in the modern era we should consistently think about what the map is telling us – and not telling us. Over at ArchDaily they have a good article exploring how maps have been used to change how we think,

Maps aid us in navigation and help us make sense of the vast scale of our world, but they also have many limitations. The Mercator Projection is a well-known example of a map that heavily distorts reality, making Greenland, for instance, appear the same size as South America when it is only one-eighth as big. The field of urban planning has throughout its history relied on maps to aid in the layout of urban settlements and design of urban environments, but these maps have also tended to be disconnected from the myriad of experiences of those “on the ground”, as maps can fail to take into account the complex nature of an urban area.

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