Leave It to the Nurses: 'Robin Hood Tax' Antidote for Global Economic Terrorism
Howie Hawkins of the NY Green Party who ran for governor in 2010 has been pushing for an FTT, financial transaction tax, for a serious time now. It has not gained traction among voters. Probably because Republican leaders are profoundly allergic to such an idea. As allergic to the idea as are President Obama and U.S. Treasury Secretary Geitner according to Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association.
So how could it -- an FTT a/k/a “Robin Hood Tax” -- even begin to make the US corporate media echo chamber and healthily interrupt the bipartisan moneyed parties’ amoral political gamesmanship that enables a rotting status quo and blocks any sane and vital national conversations? Keep talking about Steve Jobs as a single, obsessive and distracting focus, Charlie Rose, MSNBC, et al., noble as he was, as our quality of life, basic means of survival and that of our children’s, circle the bowl. As serious ideas for economic recovery get conveniently ignored (conveniently for the top 1%) by us ordinary Americans.
Nurses from at least four continents, including a U.S. delegation from National Nurses United, will deliver that message November 3 at the G-20 summit meeting November 3 in Cannes – urging enactment of a financial transaction tax that could raise hundreds of billions of dollars a year to heal global economies, promote sustainable development and environmental security, and strengthen quality public services.
Nurses will be joined by labor, environmental, non-governmental, and community activists who have made the push for a global FTT an international movement that has sparked the adoption of an FTT by more than a dozen nations, and prompted the European Commission to propose a global FTT which is expected to be a major topic at the G-20 summit.
The call for a FTT, sometimes called a “Robin Hood tax” (a form of such a tax was actually in place in the U.S. for most of the first half of the last century), has become a powerful force in Europe especially.
But a major stumbling block continues to be the opposition of the Obama administration, led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who has personally lobbied European finance ministers to oppose an FTT despite the support for the proposal from ostensibly more conservative governments in Germany and France.
DeMoro explains that this international campaign for the FTT has been “under the radar” in America. Apparently citizens of other countries are not as “learned helpless” clueless as we are. You know, those other masses of citizens who for decades have considered universal health care for EVERY citizen a basic right.
The nurses’ unions in America worked damned hard for single payer-expanded-Medicare-for-All in America while most of the rest of the citizenry, thanks to the sell-out of the OTHER money party, the Democrats, got played by the friendly-to-corporatism trojan horses of “public option” and “Obamacare” . How evilly and effectively did this U.S. generation’s only shot at coming up to health care speed with every other industrial nation in the world get lost!
Except for intrepid and serious U.S. citizens, some who at this moment are actually down in Zuccotti Park attacked by a frigid snow (and their kind in other cities enduring their own special onslaughts), the rest of America willingly embraces the corporate media's ongoing disinformation or omissions about serious economic recovery options and/or movements FOR CITIZENS. Also, except for a whole lot of empathetic and activist nurses campaigning hard to "Tax Wall Street" and who are determined to get us passive but demoralized Americans up to speed and activated. God bless them.
The NNU nurses will not only be present for the Cannes Nov. 3rd summit, but will protest concurrently Timothy Geitner office outside the Treasury Department in Washington.
NNU leaders, seeing the broadening decline in health status and living standards directly linked to the seemingly intractable economic calamity – from ailments linked to poor nutrition to patients rejecting needed medical care because of cost – reasoned that a tax on Wall Street could help raise the desperately needed revenue for such critical social needs as health care for all, jobs at living wages, full funding for quality public education, and a healthy environment.
Some major U.S. economists, and organizations including the AFL-CIO, Oxfam, Institute for Policy Studies, and Public Citizen have long supported implementation of a tax on Wall Street stocks, bonds, currencies, default swaps, and other major financial transactions that are now largely untaxed.
This past spring, NNU, with the support of labor and consumer allies, began a highly visible public campaign for the tax as a major way to make Wall Street begin to pay for reviving an economy that it crashed. They did so through reckless gambling with family mortgages, worker pensions and other misdeeds that were the prime cause of the 2008 crash and resulting crumbling conditions in Main Street communities with devastating consequences for the health and welfare of American families.
In June, NNU brought thousands of nurses and friends to the Washington headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street’s main lobbying arm, and to the New York Stock Exchange to sound the call for an FTT.
From July through mid-September, NNU members held multiple actions from coast to coast, including soup kitchens, health clinics, sit-ins, and street theater, culminating in a national day of action on September 1 with thousands of nurses calling on 60 Congressional offices in 21 states. NNU signs, urging “Tax Wall Street” become a highly visible banner throughout the nation.
DeMoro cites Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Man about the Obama White House. Suskind reveals that Obama was inclined to an FTT at one point but his former top economic adviser, Larry Summers, BFF to Wall Street (and so fabulously financially rewarded for it) “dissuaded” him. Geitner, mentored by Summers, has his own tight ties to Wall Street and maintains the same stance. He is, as revealed above, doing all he can right now to lobby world ministers against the FTT!
Jeff Bachman in “President Obama’s Unforced Errors” has a lot to say about how the will of the Obama administration is anti-citizen as it hides behind the claims that the Obama administration really, really, really, wants to save average Americans if only it weren't blocked by those meanie Republican obstructionists. Hypocritical bullshit. The entire article is worth a read, but specifically about Obama’s continuing economic philosophy Bachman has this to say:
It has been thoroughly documented that the President is a Constitutional scholar. Yet, President Obama has declared the innocence of those responsible for the national and global financial collapse, despite ongoing investigations, stating, “One of the biggest problems…is that a lot of this stuff wasn’t necessarily illegal, it was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless.” In an attempt to comfort those who suffered the consequences of the perfectly legal misrepresentation and fraud perpetrated by the financial sector, the President reminds us that the members of the financial sector were simply doing their job. Can we really blame them for “looking for ways to make money”? Meanwhile, President Obama has been pressuring U.S. attorneys general to accept a settlement that includes blanket immunity from future prosecution, which is confusing considering the lack of illegal behavior. But the confusion lifts once one sees the revolving door at the White House.
President Obama promised change. Yet, he reserved many of the most important and influential positions for former Clinton officials, the same officials candidate Obama criticized for their role in creating the conditions that would be exploited by all those innocent bankers. The appointment of Larry Summers as Director of the National Economic Council, a position free of the need for Senate confirmation, is incomprehensible. It was Summers, along with Robert Rubin, who encouraged Congress to pass the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, effectively overturning Glass-Steagall. Lawrence Summers, as published in the Wall Street Journal in April 2009, “received about $5.2 million over the past year in compensation from hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from major financial institutions.” Those major financial institutions included J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. Nothing to see here; no conflict of interests.
DeMoro believes that if enough Americans WAKE UP and CALL FOR the international FTT, global economic recovery will seriously begin to happen. She writes:
We need your voice as well. Join us on November 3 in Cannes or Washington D.C. Call the White House, 202-456-1111 and tell them to tax Wall Street financial transactions and get on the side of Main Street not Wall Street. Learn more about our campaign at www.mainstreetcontract.org
Maybe we are not risking hypothermia or pneumonia at the moment down in Zuccotti Park, but we can at least pick up the phone and tell the President we know about the “Robin Hood Tax”, the FTT, AND WE WANT IT AND WANT HIM TO DO ALL HE CAN TO HELP IMPLEMENT, NOT BLOCK, IT!!!! November 3rd is almost upon us. Get involved in promoting the "Robin Hood Tax." Politicians handed over $10 trillion plus of our tax dollars to rescue the fraudsters who tanked our economy. Time to do something proactive about it!
[FWIW, I just tried to call the White House but there was no voicemail. A recording told me to call back M-F, 9am-5pm. I will call back during work hours on Monday. Now I intend to explore the mainstreet contract website for more actions.]