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The Wealth Hoarders

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The Wealth Hoarders

How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions​

Polity Press,

15 min read
8 take-aways
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What's inside?

The “Wealth Defense Industry” helps the rich take advantage of everyone else.

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Chuck Collins pulls few punches in this harsh takedown of tax-dodging rich people and the experts who help them do it. Collins paints the “Wealth Defense Industry” as a villain and an enemy of economic fairness and meritocracy. He takes a whirlwind tour of the world’s tax havens – places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, but also Switzerland and the state of Delaware – to describe the siphoning of wealth away from the masses and toward the greedy. Born into inherited wealth himself, Collins offers remedies that might tilt the economic playing field in a different direction. 


The “Wealth Defense Industry” (WDI) helps the rich hang on to their money.

Isabel dos Santos is the richest woman in Africa because she stole from the people of Angola and parked her assets in offshore accounts. Florida fraudster Joseph Rensis scammed working-class victims but sheltered his wealth by placing it in trusts in the Cook Islands. The 2016 release of the Panama Papers revealed that such maneuvers are common among the wealthy; the documents detailed some 214,000 offshore companies in which the rich had stashed their money. It’s impossible to know precisely how much is hidden in tax havens, but researchers agree the sum is in the trillions of dollars – and it accounts for 10% or more of global wealth.

This stealthy system of hidden wealth is a hazard to the world’s economic health because:

  • The Wealth Defense Industry smooths the way for the plunder of struggling nations.
  • This system lets the richest avoid taxes – and thereby shifts the burden onto everyone else.
  • Tax dodgers, embezzlers and kleptocrats thrive in this shadowy world.
  • The WDI enables the concentration of wealth and growing economic inequality...

About the Author

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good.  His previous books include Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality and, with Bill Gates Sr., Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes.

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