How did Robin Hood fare at the G20?
At the G20 last week, a growing group of G20 countries including South Africa, Argentina and Brazil joined with France, Germany and Spain to back the Robin Hood Tax. The link between the Robin Hood Tax and fighting poverty and climate change became clearer than ever.
Momentum is building and leaves leaders who opposed the tax looking increasingly isolated and protecting the interests of a privileged few in the financial sector. Australia continues to oppose global collaboration on financial transaction taxes. Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan missed this opportunity to join international efforts to tackle market instability and ensure that essential international and domestic social services are appropriately funded.
As expected, Bill Gates presented an excellent report calling for a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on financial transactions to raise much-needed money for poor countries struggling to cope with the economic crisis and climate change. Bill Gates’s report is a game changer – it shows that a tax is both feasible and desirable but crucially that countries can no longer hide behind the excuse that financial transaction taxes needs to be global to work.
We are now part of a movement of millions. From church services in St. Paul’s to nurses on Wall Street, people everywhere are saying enough is enough. A Robin Hood Tax remains the best option on the table to start making the financial sector work for people, not just for profit.
The extraordinary actions of people around the world mean this fight can be won. Nurses had travelled all the way to Cannes from South Korea, Spain, Ireland and America with one simple message: enough is enough, and to ask governments to do what they do everyday – put people, not profit first with a Robin Hood Tax. A glimpse of their determination came in a story told away from the media spotlight. One nurse visited her progressive Congressman to ask him to support the tax, and got the response ‘you nurses, you should lower your ambition.’ She replied: ‘Would you like me to do that when you come in for heart surgery?’
Tim Noonan of the International Trade Union Congress presented at the G20 and went straight to the heart of the argument, saying “Governments should have a contract with their people, not with the banks. When you strip away the technical arguments about derivatives, high frequency trading and credit default swaps, it really is simple: a tiny tax on some of the richest people in the world that could raise billions to help the poorest.”
Ideas this good don’t come along every day. And when they do, they’re too powerful to ignore.
If you want to read the blow-by-blow details of the G20 take a look at Andrew Sparrow’s blog on the Guardian.