16 Apr 2011

1000 experts call for a Robin Hood Tax

I've been a bit quiet for the last couple of weeks - handling over 730 submissions for the European Conference on Visual Perception that I'm organising at the end of August. But that doesn't mean that there haven't been imporant things going on.

For example, thursday's Guardian had a thing on the front page about the fact that 1000 economists from 53 countries have written to the leaders of the G20 calling them to impose a 0.05% Robin Hood tax on financial transactions to finance third world development. 

Here's what they say:

Dear G20 Finance Ministers and Bill Gates,
We write to you as the call for a Financial Transaction Tax is now gathering global momentum, and the French government has made it a key priority for their G20 presidency.
This tax is an idea that has come of age. The financial crisis has shown us the dangers of unregulated finance, and the link between the financial sector and society has been broken. It is time to fix this link and for the financial sector to give something back to society.
Even at very low rates of 0.05% or less, this tax could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually and calm excessive speculation. The UK already levies a tax on share transactions of 0.5%, or ten times this rate, without unduly impacting on the competitiveness of the City of London.
This money is urgently needed to raise revenue for global and domestic public goods such as health, education and water, and to tackle the challenge of climate change.
Given the automation of payments, this tax is technically feasible. It is morally right.
We call on you to implement the FTT as a matter of urgency.

All good sense.

The Guardian article also points to an Oxfam poll that shows that 51% of people in the UK support the idea of a Robin Hood tax. The poll also showed that 19% of people were actually opposed to the idea. Who are these people? To me it seems demonstrates the power of the financial lobbies that there can be any sane people that would oppose the idea. All members of the public are currently being charged by the banks for every financial transaction  - 3% or more to use a credit card and often 2% or even a flat rate fee for drawing out cash from a cash dispenser. Why on earth should banks get away with charging us al transaction fees when they don't pay anything to speculate with trillions of dollars of transactions every day??

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