John Block Reports: Ransomware

By Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, John R. Block.

Two weeks ago, Colonial Pipeline was shut down.  On the East Coast we lost 45% of our gas and oil.  Cars and trucks without fuel.  Ransomware thieves were given $4.4 million to turn the oil faucet back on.  I said in my program 2 weeks ago – “Ransom thieves are likely to be a big problem in the years ahead.” 

Well, it didn’t take long.  Last week there was an attack on JBS, the world’s biggest meat company.  They shut down briefly until paid.  This problem has been around for a while, but we didn’t see much press on it, and I don’t think the federal government paid much attention.  Well, that’s starting to change.  We need to prioritize cyber security.  We can’t have thousands of crooked people stealing from all the hard working and important companies. One positive bit of news – we were able to steal back more than $2 million from the Colonial Pipeline thieves.  There are some things that will get our attention.  It becomes personal when you can’t fuel up your car or you may not be able to get a hamburger. 

Related to the ransomware attack is the realization that corruption is running rampant in so many countries around the world.  President Biden said last week “combating corruption is a core U.S. National Security interest.”  Corrupt oligarchs around the world use shell companies to hide their dollars.  Fighting this will not be easy.  Nations must work together. 

Last week 7 industrialized nations including the U.S. agreed to work to reform the global tax system.  This is a world problem.  Fifty of our largest corporations pay no taxes.  The group of 7 agreed to levy a minimum tax of 15% on multinational corporations.  British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said, “we have reached a historic agreement to reform the global tax system to make it fit for the global digital age.”  I say, let’s close the door on those tax havens.  They just keep getting richer, and they pay no taxes.

John Block served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill. John hosts a weekly radio show going back more than 20 years. The commentary and opinions shared are a summary of the discussion from the broadcast and not a reflection of the opinions of the firm at large. For more from John Block Reports from Washington visit


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