I've said this for years. Wealth doesn't trickle down. It's built from the bottom up, and then the folks who wait around for the profits skim off as much as they can get away with--or, rather, as much as we'll let them take, without complaining too much. And what do they do with it? Do they put it back into the society that gave it to them? Of course not. Why should they? We give them no incentive to do so. And off-shore tax havens give them every incentive to send it elsewhere.
But don't take my word for it. Just take a look at this. And note what it has to say about the devastating effects of "handing it over" to the wealthy have had not just on the United States, but on countries all around the world. Trillions of dollars--I repeat, trillions of dollars--are tied up doing absolutely nothing for anyone, not even those who have invested them, except avoiding tax collectors.
That's a flagrant abuse of our money. And make no mistake. It is our money. Every single dollar bill in those accounts has "The United States of America" written on it. That money is issued by the government as a medium of exchnage for everyone in this country, as well as many people outside of it. It isn't meant to stay locked up in an overseas box, never to return for the benefit of the society whose labor and spending backs it. And, as the article in the Guardian points out, its absence is choking our society to death, and doing the same thing to other countries being victimized in the same way.
And, as described in this Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, the absence of that money is having a devastating impact on the next generation of young adults in this country. Millennials are being crushed by a combination of low wages and high student debt, while the so-called "investing class" parks its money overseas, making sure to put a tiny amount into low-paying overseas "sweatshop" jobs producing goods that Americans can't afford to buy (except, of course, with more debt).
If there's an end to this cycle in sight, I for one can't see it. And if (God forbid) we end up with a Republican President as well as a Republican Congress, it may finish the process of turning the 21st century into the 19th.
Simply put, we can't afford to let this money stay put. Repatriating it may very well be the most important thing a progressive government can do. More important that raising the minimum wage. More important than a new Glass-Steagall Act. More important even that making it easier to unionize workers.
It is time to authorize a Cayman Islands surcharge on this money, effective immediately. The 1% can have exactly three months--and no more--to repatriate their ill-hoarded gains into the United States. If they fail to do so, we start taxing them at the rate of 50% of the value of those gains. As soon as the revenue hits the 50% mark, they can keep the balance. But, at least, we'll have recaptured the people's money, so that we can use it to pay the people's bills.
Here's one little caveat.
If they want to avoid paying the tax man (or woman), they can use the 50% to pay down Federal and student debt. That might have an even more powerful effect, economically speaking.
In can case, our status can no longer remain quo. We need to address this. Right now. But I'll settle for January, 2017.