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The Robin Hood tax - practical and just

Easter 2010

From triple helix - Easter 2010 - The Robin Hood tax - practical and just [p05]

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A high profile campaign was launched in February to levy a 0.05% tax on all major bank transactions (currency trading, share dealing, derivatives, etc). This would raise tens or even hundreds of billions towards international development, supporting poorer nations in reducing carbon emissions, and sustaining UK public services in health, education and social care. (1)

Endorsed by the inevitable celebrities, the 'Robin Hood Tax' campaign drew equally inevitable derision from bloggers and commentators, (2) many seeming to think, mistakenly, it was a tax on ordinary banking and currency exchange. (3) Maybe calling it a 'Robin Hood' tax played to popular sentiments on both sides of the ideological divide, and the attempt by some bankers to hijack a web poll only added fuel to the fire! (4)

But almost all the economic counterarguments (that it would increase market volatility, push costs on to the consumer, not raise as much money as suggested, and only work if every major economy instituted it) have fallen somewhat flat, (5) with Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz coming out squarely in favour. (6) Meanwhile most major economies (including the EU and the US) seem to be considering something like this, (7) and even senior economists and bankers are suggesting this, or something like it, is an idea whose time has come (8) provided we get it right. (9)

This Triple Helix concludes the series on the three health-related Millennium Development Goals. While throwing money at maternal health or HIV/AIDS won't solve all the problems, targeted financial aid can and does help. And as we look at the long term problems of caring for a growing elderly population here in the UK and funding an increasingly high-tech NHS, a new source of revenue, from the very banks and trading floors that created our current economic woes, has a strong sense not only of practicality, but also of justice. This is why CMF is supporting this campaign.

The scriptures remind us that those who have wealth and power are held accountable to God for how they use it, and are enjoined to help the poor and the vulnerable. (10)


2. West E. The Robin Hood tax would only help the Sheriff and his cronies. Daily Telegraph 12 February 2010
3. Nolan P. Fairytales like a 'Robin Hood Tax' won't help anyone. Conservative Home Centre Right Blog 10 February 2010.
4. Murad A. Did banker try to rig the vote on Robin Hood tax? The Times 12 Feb 2010.
5. Robin Hood Tax - Doubters' Questions Answered
6. Blackurst C. Joseph Stiglitz: Robin Hood who wants to tax the rich for the poor. Evening Standard 10 February 2010.
7. Hutton W. Gordon Brown backs radical plan to transform global banking system. The Observer 8 November 2009.
8. O'Grady S. Hundreds of economists call for tax on currency speculation. The Independent 15 February 2010
9. McCulloch N. Does evidence support the Robin Hood tax? Institute of Development Studies, 10 February 2010
10. Leviticus 25; Deuteronomy 15

Article written by Steve Fouch

More from triple helix: Easter 2010

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  • spiritual care standards in the NHS - England and Northern Ireland lag behind
  • funding health and social care - who pays and how?
  • Umbilical cord blood stem cells - we told you so
  • The Robin Hood tax - practical and just
  • Assisted suicide: 'compassionate' killing?
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