Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tales of Sherwood

Bring on the Robin Hood Tax!

Of wider scope than the Tobin Tax, but with a far lesser rate than Tobin suggested, this is a financial transaction levy, the proceeds of which would be used to offset any future world financial crises. You know, the ones caused by the folks whom it is proposed should pay this (rhymes with "Goldman Sachs").

Think of it as a kind of insurance premium, to be paid if your latest sub-prime mortgage investments, currency speculation and exotic derivatives don't pan out. It's called taking responsibility, and, because corporations are considered "persons" under the law, we might even refer to this as "individual responsibility," held out to be a bedrock conservative principle.

Why, after all, should you expect other people to pay for your own messes--especially those whose life savings you've already destroyed? Why should we ordinary taxpayers front up for your bailouts?

But stealing from the poor to give to the rich is the real conservative value at play, as we well know.
The people who got us into the current recession, one that has devastated millions of ordinary working people around the globe, are high and dry. And in the US, working people have been taxed to bail these reprobates out, as the government--their executive committee, if you like--administers the second part of the double whammy.

Time to turn that around. Hence the Robin Hood Tax.

Our High Sheriff of Nottingham--no surprise--is not amused.
And the evil barons, girding themselves for battle, may have already scored a victory. There is strong support for the notion around the world--even the US has been warming to it--but finance ministers don't like it, and our own Jim Flaherty has been leading the charge against it.

After all, hasn't Canada weathered the recession pretty well, thanks to a regulatory regime
put in place by the (shh!) Liberals ?

But Canada does not have a self-contained economy. We are not an island, entire of ourselves, immune to international shocks. The transglobal, multinational world of finance capital knows no borders. It has done well, and it continues to do well. Meanwhile, thanks to the "casino economy" it has created and the crisis that it caused, one hundred million more people around the globe are hungry today.

There is an odd rapprochement here between elements of the Left and the Right. Tobin, a free trader, had no time for the so-called "anti-globalization movement," and complained that all the cheering for his idea was "coming from the wrong side." As an economist, he was after world currency stabilization, and was remarkably prescient about the catastrophic effects of unrestricted currency speculation. For much the same reason, the IMF currently supports a version of the Robin Hood Tax.

As all the pomp and pageantry of that global Town Fair known as the G-20 approaches, it's surely time to join the Merry Men (and Women) and take on the sheriff's men. If we can't make the rich pay, surely the very least we can ask is that we don't have to pay them.

Turnabout is fair play. Pass the venison.

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