30 Nov 2014

Yann Moulier-Boutang : Another person who has proposed replacing existing taxes by a financial transaction tax

My TEDx talk in French ("Vers un monde (pratiquement) sans taxes") which proposes that we could effectively scrap the existing tax system, and replace virtually all existing taxes by a single, universal, tax on financial transactions has been making a bit of progress.

It's been posted on one site called "Mr Mondialisation" and on another called "Agoravox.tv".

The first one actually generated a comment that included a link to a guy called Yann Moulier-Boutang, an economist at the Université de Compeigne, north of Paris, who it turns out has also been pushing for similar sorts of ideas to my own. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person who can see the advantages of remplacing the current tax system. Like me, he also thinks that it makes sense to link a tax on financial transactions with an Unconditional Basic Income.

There is an interview with him in French in the magazine Telerama back in 2011 called  "Taxons toutes les transactions financières!" . It takes up some ideas that he presented in his book "L'abeille et l'economiste" in which he argues that we should be encouraging non remunerated work - work that he thinks of as a sort of "pollination". Like bees, when they pollinate flowers, there are many people who do useful things, but don't get directly paid for what they do.

Here's some of what he says in the interview (my translation - with some help from Google!).

What should we do?
Tax all financial transactions! ... [The tax] would collect 2% on all transactions, from cashpoint withdrawals to the purchase of shares - and not just on transactions between countries as proposed by the Tobin tax. Imagine: 2% on 3700 billion derivatives that have made the fortune of the Stock Exchange, Soros, Exxon, pension funds! Not only will you solve the problem of debt, but you allow the normal functioning of the state by removing VAT and income tax!

But at the same time you remove the progressive nature of taxation ...
In a democratic society, everyone must contribute proportionately. You know very well that if you decide to exempt the poor from paying income tax, the rich will accuse  them of being scroungers. Second advantage: you say to the banks that, since you have been gorging yourselves on financial transactions, well you will now play a civic role and you will no longer be accused of just being speculators. And there will thus be a real budget for research, a real social budget, a real education budget ...

I think that we will end up with such a system. Just as we will have to accept a reform of social protection, which is collapsing because the number of people in paid employment is decreasing. The only way to remedy this is to consider that everyone is involved in "pollination" and so should qualify for a "basic income", not very far from the minimum wage.

You do not talk about redistribution but rather paying for "pollination ..."
Yes, it is important to value the people that we tend to treat as "cicadas", despite the fact that they are the "bees". The "basic income" would not take money from the pockets of working ants and give it to people who do nothing to help buil the anthill. Today in France, the only sort of "pollination" that  is officially recognized is the status of people in performing arts ("intermittants de spectacle"). In Brazil, Lula gave a monthly income to families with no other condition than that they send their children to school,  a move that  lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty.

Your tax system can not operate at the scale of a country ...
Europe has the world's largest market in terms of production, imports, exports, heritage, tourism ... so let's start with Europe! We'll only make progress with a federal vision [...] Set up this transaction tax, gradually decreasing the weight of internal taxes ...

Your tax sound like a utopia?

When such ideas are taken up by a lot of politicians including ministers of Economy and Finance, I tend to think that we are no longer talking about a utopia [...]. I think instead that we are talking about a short-term future that many people simply have not seen emerging. The right-wing is stuck with the idea of tinkering with the machine and will do virtually nothing that is radical; the left-wing simply proposes to use the current structure, obviously unsatisfactory, based on income tax. But what of VAT, and resources needed for the green revolution and  improvements in social protection?

You know that giving up a progressive tax levy, from the perspective of the Socialists, is not acceptable?
That's ideology. Socialists know that if we want to maintain and enhance a high level of social protection while continuing to exempt  half the households
from income tax, it is not enough to simply increase taxes on the very rich. We have the right to be on the left-wing and yet say that this will not allow us to both provide income to the poorest people and propose ambitious policies.

No comments:

Post a Comment