May 14, 2010
Today “Robin Hood” the movie — starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott — opens in theaters nationwide. With Wall Street turning profits and paying big bonuses again, less than 2 years after getting bailed out by Main Street taxpayers, this is a good time to remember what Robin Hood was all about — taking from the rich and giving to the poor, in the interest of economic and social justice.
In that spirit, there are campaigns in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries for a Robin Hood Tax — what we in the United States call a financial speculation (or transaction) tax — a tiny fee (0.25 %) on the financial sector to raise literally tens or hundreds of billions of dollars per year to help the rest of us.
Who supports a tax on financial speculation? Over 200 prominent economists, including Nobel Laureates, such as Paul Krugman. The New York Times named it a top idea — giving credit to CEPR co-director Dean Baker as a leading proponent of it — and respected business leaders, including Warren Buffett, have called for such a tax to “discourage excessive share trading” and encourage longer-term investment strategies.
Who’s against it? You guessed it: big banks and Wall Street. The Robin Hood Tax campaign even put together a fun video (directed by Richard Curtis, director of “Four Weddings and a Funeral”) with the pirate actor Bill Nighy playing a big banker — and showing how their arguments don’t hold water.
In the United States, campaigns for a tax on financial speculation are just getting started. There’s a “Wall Street Tax” facebook page and a “Tiny Tax” web page. And CEPR has detailed research and resources about it.
So as you and your friends and family go to see “Robin Hood” at the movies, remember — and remind folks — that we could use a little more Robin Hood in the world today.