Can the Robin Hood Tax Forge a Fairer World?
I had just begun the post below when I paused to eat dinner and watch TV. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation current affairs program 7.30 moved from a local political scandal allegedly involving prostitutes to a report from Africa. The images of Niger in West Africa faces food crisis were too familiar: sick and dying children as a consequence of a food crisis; another famine; another late and slow response from the global community.
From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s transcript:
CHRIS UHLMANN, REPORTER: A food crisis is about to turn into a famine in the land-locked West Africa country of Niger unless the world acts. But as each crisis shows, help usually arrives late, after the world’s been shocked by pictures of starving children. Aid agencies have been pleading for early intervention in the region for six months, and as Africa correspondent Ginny Stein reports, they fear mass starvation is now inevitable.
Back to the post:
The campaign for the Robin Hood Tax, a financial transactions tax (FTT) to tackle poverty and climate change, has hotted up in recent months. Robin Hood was a mythical outlaw in England during the middle ages, best known for robbing from the rich and giving to the poor
In Chicago nurses led a protest aimed at the G8 summit and NATO conference on Afganistan:
Thousands of nurses and other protesters gathered Friday at a downtown Chicago plaza for a noisy but largely peaceful demonstration demanding a “Robin Hood” tax on banks’ financial transactions, before a smaller but more raucous crowd broke away and began marching through city streets.
Protesters in Chicago call for ‘Robin Hood’ tax
The European Union Parliament has voted in favour of the tax, against a background of tension between new French President Hollande and British Prime Minister Cameron. The thread of Robin Hood’s legend that portrays him as fighting for the poor Saxons against the evil Prince John and the Norman overlords has been turned on its head:
David Cameron has warned French President Francois Hollande that it is not an appropriate time to push for a Europe-wide financial transaction tax, and that Britain would not accept the measure.
Cameron must thrive on conflict. Early in May Keith O’Brien, the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Scotland, “accused David Cameron of immoral behaviour and of favouring rich City financiers over those struggling on lower incomes” by opposing the tax.
What hope is there that we will get a FFT in the near future? Will the old adage about the golden rule apply, namely that those that have the gold make the rules? Will the big-end-of-town make sure that none of their ample booty goes to the other side of the tracks? Is it the City of London and Wall Street versus the rest of us? Is Rupert Murdoch the new Prince John? Can the Robin Hood tax deliver us a modern version of England’s Magna Carta but with the robber barons/bankers as the losers?
There is a long way to go to achieving global acceptance. At home, the Australian government is opposed to introducing the tax. That is no surprise given the backlash against its carbon pricing legislation.
Anglicord, an Australian Anglican international relief and development agency, is siding with the Catholics. They see the tax as a means to ‘provide for vital investment in much needed and underfunded public services like health and education, resource efforts to conserve our environment, aid the fight against global poverty and climate change. This money can help shape the future of our world.’
Perhaps a few viewings of this video The Banker might change enough minds. What about yours?
A final word from Oxfam’s Ian Sullivan:
If Gandhi’s chronology of ‘first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win’ is anything to go by, the Robin Hood Tax campaign is getting close to its goal. When the campaign launched two years ago, the idea of taxing the banks was unimaginable; now its taken giant leaps towards reality. It’s been an amazing two years – and 2012 is full of opportunity.