Why the world needs Robin: Advocates launch Robin Hood Tax Global Week of Action

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Robin Hood Tax supporters protest in Spain.

A hodgepodge group of charities, green groups, trade unions, community organizations, celebrities, religious leaders and politicians are rallying this week to  bring global attention to a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) meant to “reform Main Street” with a small tax on bank profits.

The idea is to implement a tax of less than half of one percent on the purchase/sale or transfer of the four main financial asset classes (equities, bonds, foreign exchange or other derivatives) and use that money, which the campaign estimates to be in the hundreds of billions, to fund a variety of initiatives, including jobs to kick-start the economy, saving the social safety net here and around the world, and dealing with the world’s “climate challenges.”

“We want a new smart tax on bank speculation. Every time the banks trade currency or shares they give back a tiny microtax to do good. Nothing to them, everything to people in desperate need,” said Dr. Paul Zeitz, vice president of Policy at ACT V: The End of AIDS, one of the initiators of the Robin Hood Tax USA Campaign.  “Ordinary people should not pay the price of bank’s mistakes.  The reckless behavior of the financial sector helped push millions of people into poverty, led to huge job losses and cut backs to essential services.” 

Launched in February 2010, the campaign has grown into a global movement with more than half a million active campaigners in 45 countries. The coalition is ramping up to push a group of nine European countries – led by Germany and France – to implement an FTT this year, with other European Union member states expected to take on the issue at meetings in the coming months.

Robin Hood Tax supporters rally in Rwanda.

“Robin Hood supporters believe that banks, hedge funds and the rest of the financial sector should pay their fair share to clear up the mess they helped create,” the U.S. campaign website reads, referring to the financial crisis and subsequent recession that shook the world in 2008. This week’s launch of the U.S. Robin Hood Tax campaign at a Chicago rally of unions and civil society organizations was timed to coincide with the annual G8 Summit (May 18 – 19), where leaders of the world’s eight largest economies will gather in Camp David, MD. Supporters hope the rally will bring attention to the cause.

Specifically, the U.S. site states that there will be enough money generated to protect American schools, housing, local governments and hospitals, and enough to pay for lifesaving AIDS medicines. All the while, it won’t affect the personal savings or everyday consumer activities of ordinary Americans.

Zeitz, who calls the tax doable and desirable, said the Robin Hood Tax can help respond to global emergencies, including global health priorities like ending AIDS and combatting tuberculosis (TB), for instance by ensuring that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria can expand programs to end these diseases of mass destruction.

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