Sunday, April 17, 2011

Forget about Libya: Let's invade the Caymans!

If you were to look in the dictionary for a definition of the word "loot," you would find the following: "Goods usually of considerable value taken in war". But no matter how you get your hands on it, loot is still loot. According to Merriam-Webster, when nations seize loot, it is called war. However, when individuals seize loot, we call them pirates. But sometimes nations can act like pirates too.

Merriam-Webster also defines the word "loot" as "something appropriated illegally often by force or violence
." Even nations can do that! And if your nation is bound and determined to act like a pirate, then might I suggest that it follow Captain Jack Sparrow's excellent example and go off to the Caribbean to do its plundering, right?

According to journalist Nicholas Shaxson, author of "Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens," there are anywhere between ten and 20 trillion U.S. dollars sitting offshore at the moment. "Half of world trade is processed in one way or another through tax havens. It’s all around us, and it’s absolutely huge." (an absolute Must-Read if you want to understand American politics and economics today). And many of these huge "offshore" holdings are located in the Caribbean. Good to know!

Of course plundering Libya does have its good points, I'll be the first to admit. By sacking and pillaging its oil-producing cities for their loot, there is much swag to be had -- especially if you are working for BP. However, dollar for dollar, the Cayman Islands have much more loot to offer than almost anywhere else in the world -- and I'm not just talking about some eye-popping booty here either. Unlike Libya, the Cayman Islands are also offering a really first-class place to invade.

Just imagine all those billions and trillions of dollars stored in the bank vaults at Georgetown, just lying there waiting to be had. And them thar hearty treasures are easy pickings too -- because the Caymans, unlike Libya, doesn't even have an army to defend itself. No major guided missile systems, no nuclear weapons, not even very many tanks. Plus the hotels in the Caymans are much nicer than the ones in Libya, giving Anderson Cooper much more comfortable digs to report from than in the Middle East.

According to, you can get a suite at the Villa Bellagio in Georgetown for just $1,377 a night -- including five bedrooms, four baths, easy golf course access, maid service and an in-suite jacuzzi. "Directly on the beach!" reads the brochure. Let's see Gaddafi try to match that.

And, as the Caymans government itself brags on its website, "The Cayman Islands is one of the world's leading providers of institutionally focused, specialized financial services and a preferred destination for the structuring and domiciling of sophisticated financial services products." Yours for the picking! Why go to Libya for oil money when eventually all that oil money will end up coming to you anyway, here in the Caribbean.

Plus the Caymans have all kinds of cool beaches where you can bury your treasure once the plundering is over. X marks the spot.

If the United States is into the pirating game -- and it surely appears to be, after having successfully looted Iraq's oil, Afghanistan's heroin trade, Vietnam's central location and all that prime real estate in Palestine -- then I would like to suggest that it's time for America to GO BIG and loot the Cayman Islands too. Ah, the Caymans -- where all America's oligarchs' vast pirate swag always ends up eventually anyway. So let's eliminate the middleman here and go straight to the end of the booty rainbow itself.

"But America can't invade the Caymans, Jane!" you might say. Why not? "Because that's America's money down there in those vaults." Yep. My point exactly. Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. aren't the only countries that have been looted by pirates. America has been looted too. And now it's time to go and get it all back.

"Avast there, Mateys!" Hoist up the Jolly Roger. Set sail on the Black Pearl.

American taxpayers' money is no longer stored in our treasury, at our mints, or in Fort Knox. Now it's all down there in the Caymans in private senators' and lobbyists' and corporatists' secret bank accounts. So let's storm down there like Keira Knightly and get it all back. Or maybe we could spare ourselves all the bother of invading yet another sovereign country again -- and just pass a few laws that will make it illegal for corporatist pirates to pillage America and send their loot off to the Caymans. Nah. Where would be all the "Talk like a Pirate Day" fun in that?

PS: I just checked with Expedia regarding the price of a trip to the Caymans and if you are willing to live on the cheap and forgo the whole oligarch experience, you can actually score a round-trip air fare from San Francisco and a minimalist hotel room for a week for less than $1,500. I should save up, go down there and pay a visit to what used to be America's money sometime -- since it is definitely not located up here any more, and it looks like us wimpy American taxpayers ain't gonna invade the Caymans to get it back any time soon.

PPS: I'm still rather pissed off about all those sneaky illegal fees that Wells Fargo surreptitiously charges their customers -- but happy to know that the San Francisco Chronicle apparently agrees with me as well. According to an editorial they just wrote on the subject, "A new national survey by the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups quantified what too many consumers have learned the hard way: banks are gouging them with hidden fees."

Apparently U.S. banks are currently violating Congress's 1991 "Truth in Savings Act" right and left these days, forcing bank customers to close their accounts in order to avoid even more hidden fees.

Now why would banks want to alienate their own customers like that -- and go about killing the very geese that have been laying their golden eggs all these years? That's an easy question to answer. Apparently banks simply don't care what happens to their customers any more because banks apparently get most of their income from a whole new toxic soup consisting of hidden fees, illegal foreclosures, huge bailouts, overseas markets, international tax havens and.... You get the picture. American consumers don't seem to matter any more to the corporatists who no longer rely on us peons for their daily bread and butter.

American consumers used to be the center of the financial world. Now we are just small potatoes, hovering around the edges, waiting for crumbs.

Nicholas Shaxson also goes on to state that, "A lot of people focus on the tax element, but it’s much more than that. Tax havens do offer zero or low taxes to people elsewhere, but they also offer secrecy. They offer escape routes from financial regulation. They offer escape routes from criminal laws. The key theme here is escape. If you are constrained by democratic rules and curbs at home, you take your money offshore, you take it elsewhere, to a place where they’ll let you do what you’re not allowed to do at home.

"....We really need to start recognizing that this [use of offshore havens] -- this is economic conflict. When one country tries to suck tax revenue or illicit flows or whatever out of another country, that is an aggressive act." So America is even more justified in looting the Caymans right now -- because they done looted us first!