Monday, January 17, 2011

Swiss Humor

[Richard Milhous Nixon triumphantly being run out of Washington]

A bank executive, Rudolf Elmer, was fired by Julius Baer, the major Swiss bank he worked for. So he released 2,000 records of rich tax evaders who had accounts there to Wikileaks. The bank's response was

(From today's Times)
It accused him of using falsified documents, spreading baseless accusations and passing on “unlawfully acquired, respectively retained, documents to the media, and later also to WikiLeaks.”
But wait. If they are falsified, that means Rudolf Elmer made them up. They could only be illegally obtained if they were real and not falsified. That would qualify as an admission wouldn't it?

I think the problem here is that Swiss bankers are so used to not being called to account on their corrupt banking practices that they are not good at coming up with credible lies on short notice. No Swiss banker could come up with the Nixon masterpiece, "Mistakes were made." That takes both talent and a long career in American politics, and the Swiss bankers have neither.

The Times referred to the account holders as "high net worth individuals". Note all the expressions thereby avoided - capitalists, plutocrats, exploiters, plunderers, bourgeoisie, upper class, heirs, idle rich, social parasites, privileged little bastards, tax evaders, bloodsuckers, born on third base, trust fund motherfuckers, and so on. Calling these people "high net worth individuals" is very much the same as explaining Watergate as "mistakes were made".

This story is sure to get funnier as it unravels. I am starting to really like Wikileaks.


  1. When told something was illegal, Nixon replied that when the President of the United Sates doe it, it is not illegal. The Swiss bankers have a similar feeling that the laws of men do not apply to them. So far they have been right and will probably continue to be right as long as they take care of and, in turn, are taken care of by the richest and most powerful people in the world. I believe our main complaint about the unjustly rich is that we are not one of them.

  2. Lolita2:31 AM

    I LOVE Wikileaks, thank god we have something to laugh about. Harvey, I have been rich and I have been poor... poor is more fun, particularly when you can laugh at old associates.

  3. With all due respect to Harvey and Lolita, I think we have more to complain of the rich than our not being among them. Their hiring the Republican Party to excuse them from paying their fair share, or any share, of the tax burden, for one. And their rapacity in appropriating ever-larger shares of national income. The US now has by far the worst distribution of incomes among wealthy countries.

    And I would say to Lolita, that her experience must be remembered through a fog. I have been poor and have had the wolf a step further from the door, and poor is NOT better.

    Anyone who is rich has the choice always available to become poor whenever they like. And yet the rich consistently fail to make that choice. I think that is more than just a statistical anomaly.