Yonason Goldson
Ethics Ninja and Hitchhiking Rabbi

Panama Papers: The New Ashley-Madison

So now it all comes down to Costa Rica.

With the American elections devolving into the absurdity of a bad reality-show, it has become simply too embarrassing to continue living in the United States.  When Ted Cruz starts to look moderate and even-keeled in comparison to every other viable candidate, you know it’s time to find a new place to live.

Of course, Israel would be my next choice.  But I have two children living in Israel now, and the last thing twentysomethings want is for mom and dad to move in down the street while they’re trying to discover who they are and decide what they want to do when they grow up.

(The fact that I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up does not make things better.)

I could move to Canada, of course, but fleeing across the northern border is such a cliche I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.  And Mexico is too risky; after all, what happens if I decide I want to come back and Donald Trump won’t let me in?

Europe is in chaos, Asia is too crowded, Africa is too hot, and  Australia is too close to the South Pole.  Brazil and Venezuela teeter on the brink of catastrophe, threatening to pull the entire South American continent down with them.

So I found myself left with only two possibilities: Panama and Costa Rica.  But after last week’s headlines, Panama is off the table as well.

The revelations in the Panama Papers have exposed a dark side of human nature almost beyond human imagination.  Who would ever have imagined that the rich and famous might resort to hiding illicit gains in offshore accounts?  Gasp!

Especially distressing is the bombshell that Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad have embezzled millions from their own people and squirreled their money away in foreign shell corporations.  Was Putin afraid of being caught with his hand in the cookie jar?  Was that whole macho-shirtless-hunting-rifle thing just an act?  And Assad — hasn’t he been claiming that he is securely in control of Syria?  Could he really be just another dime-store dictator ready to cut-and-run?

Alas, there is nothing left to believe in.

If that weren’t enough, the president of Iceland has had to resign in disgrace.  The potential fallout is utterly unthinkable — rumors are already swirling that the aurorae borealis will be cancelled this year.

And then, the final blow, the ultimate insult added to the consummate injury:  according to investigators, American lawyers actually knew that this was going on and did nothing to alert the authorities.  Commentators were shocked — shocked!to discover that some of these lawyers may have even collaborated in the deception.

But truly, there is an even more profound cause for disillusionment in the scandal of the Panama Papers.  An elemental bond of trust has been broken.  Together with the Ashley-Madison leak before it, individuals who showed good faith by sharing their secrets with like-minded confidants have been betrayed, first for cheating on their wives and now for cheating on their taxes.  Where has honor gone when criminals cannot even trust one another to protect their common interests?

And so, with a heavy heart, I must submit to the inevitable:  never again will I be able to hear the name Panama without lamenting the demise of all that is good and just in the world.

So, Costa Rica, here I come.  Please don’t disappoint me.

About the Author
Rabbi Yonason Goldson is a TEDx speaker and award-winning podcast host. He works with leaders to create a culture of ethics that earns trust, sparks initiative, and drives productivity. His column, The Ethical Lexicon, appears weekly in Fast Company Magazine, and he has authored seven books, most recently, "The Spiral of Time: Discovering new insights and inspiration in the Jewish calendar." Visit him at
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