A global week of action for a Tiny Tax

• May 20, 2012
Robin Hood activists in London, UK

Creative Commons: Robin Hood Tax Week of Action, 2012

Over the past several days, activists in more than 30 countries worldwide have piled pressure on global governments to adopt a Robin Hood Tax. The popular ‘tiny tax’ would enact a small levy on bank transactions, which would then be used to offset global poverty and fund climate adaptation for developing countries.

This weeks co-ordinated actions are timed to coincide with G8 leaders meeting in Camp David (May 18-19), NATO in Chicago (May 20-21) and a meeting of European leaders (23 May) where the Financial Transaction Tax is on the agenda.

Since May 18, activists around the world have gathered in London, Mexico City, Copenhagen, Edinburgh and at Mt. Fuji in Japan to show their support for the Robin Hood Tax. See some of the photos, or read on for the latest news from the campaign.

Infographic: Robin Hood Tax explained

Have you heard about the Robin Hood Tax before, but don’t understand how it might work? Thanks to the fine folks at RobinHoodTax.org, this new infographic explains it all. Click the image below to view it full-size in a new window.

Robin Hood Tax Infographic - Infographic

Click to view full-size in a new window

UN leaders urge G8 leaders to adopt Robin Hood Tax as a human rights imperative

As European Union Finance Ministers meet on 15 May to coincide with the G-8 Summit in Camp David, a group of United Nations independent experts urged the EU to take the lead in promoting the adoption of a global financial transaction tax to offset the costs of the enduring economic, financial, fuel, climate and food crises, and to protect basic human rights.

“Where the world financial crisis has brought about the loss of millions of jobs, socialized private debt burdens and now risks causing significant human rights regressions through wide-ranging austerity packages, a financial transaction tax (FTT) is a pragmatic tool for providing the means for governments to protect and fulfill the human rights of their people,” said the rights experts on extreme poverty, food, business, foreign debt and international solidarity.

“EU countries must take bold leadership now to pave the way towards what should eventually be a global FTT,” they urged, welcoming recent EU proposals to implement the financial transaction tax across the Eurozone.

For the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda, “the opportunity should not be wasted; it would fill government deficit holes, but should be channeled to fighting poverty, reversing growing inequality, and compensating those whose lives have been devastated by the enduring global economic crisis.”

“When the financial sector fails to pay its share, the rest of society must pick up the bill,” she said. “It is high-time that governments re-examine the basic redistributive role of taxation to ensure that wealthier individuals and the financial sector contribute their fair share of the tax burden.”

“A global FTT is not a silver bullet,” warned the UN Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights, Cephas Lumina, “but it would help relieve sovereign debt load stemming from the financial crisis, shift the burden from ordinary citizens to the private sector which caused the crisis, and significantly enlarge government fiscal space for spending on desperately needed economic and social rights programmes.”

Read more: Robin Hood Tax.org >>

Following the G8, reports state that new French president Francois Hollande butted heads with British Prime Minister David Cameron on the Robin Hood Tax. According to ITN news:

David Cameron has rejected the idea outright, recognising its potential impact on the City, and sector at large.”We are not going to get growth in Europe or in Britain by introducing a new tax that would actually hit people as well as institutions,” he said. “I do not think it is a sensible measure. I will not support it.” Meanwhile, Mr Hollande could not resist a sly dig at Mr Cameron’s refusal to meet him when he visited London during the election campaign – a move interpreted as a snub to the Socialist leader. “I couldn’t meet David Cameron before the elections,” he said. “I am all the happier to meet him afterwards.”

Read more: ITN news >>

A Robin Hood Tax banner in Chicago, USA

Creative Commons: Chicago Public Media, 2012

Nurses lead large Robin Hood Tax protest in Chicago for G8 & NATO meetings

On Friday, 18 May hundreds of nurses and protestors from other professions gathered on in Chicago to call on world leaders to adopt a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street transactions. Their goal? To raise hundreds of billions of dollars every year to help heal the U.S. and world economies.

In the United States, unions, think tanks and groups that focus on the environment, international health, consumer protection and financial reform lobby for “Wall Street to give back to Main Street”, as a website in support of the Robin Hood Tax says. The idea of a financial transaction tax has existed since the 1930s, when leading economist John Maynard Keynes was a popular driver of the tax.

Nurses dance at the Robin Hood Tax rally, May 18 in Chicago, USA

Creative Commons: Nixer KG, 2012

Estimates suggest that at its lowest rate, the FTT would yield about 48 billion U.S. dollars across the group of countries known as the G20, with higher rates offering up to 250 billion U.S. dollars per year to offset the costs of the enduring economic, financial, fuel, climate and food crises.

Not only NGOs are lobbying for it, but the tax was also discussed by the heads of states at the G20 meeting in Cannes, France, in November 2011, with Germany, France, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Ethiopia and the African Union all pledging their support.

Read more: IPS News Service >>

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