Robin Hood Tax? What the hell is that? That was my first thought a couple of days ago. My second, a little later, was what a bloody good idea . My third thought on the matter was what a bloody silly name though. If you haven’t picked up on this already, Richard Curtis of Notting Hill, Comic Relief and Make Poverty History fame, has come up with another campaign which is very popular with the public. He has a real talent for that. What’s it all about, I hear you ask. Income Tax taxes your income, Vehicle Tax taxes your vehicle. Are we going to tax all the men who dress in tights? Fortunately for the cross-dressing community, we’re not! The Robin Hood Tax is all about taking from the rich to give to the poor. Hence the name. Ok, it’s not ideal to equate a sensible fiscal tax policy with robbing people, which is what the merry men did after all. Doesn’t matter that it wasn’t the hardworking saxon villagers of Worksop but the wealthy evil norman landowners. Stealing from the rich is still stealing after all. Robin Hood would have an asbo and a slot on Crimestoppers if he was about today.
Nonetheless, the tax itself is a sound idea. Basically (very basically as my economics knowledge extends no further than knowing I get better value from a multipack of crisps than I do from 12 bags), this would be a tax of 0.05% from speculative bank transactions. I know, I know. It’s technobabble isn’t it? Bloody economists. Speculative bank transactions are the trade of things like stocks, bonds and foreign exchange, bought and sold on Exchanges. So this isn’t a tax on you taking money in and out of the bank, or on retail products, which is a bit of a relief. Little John and Friar Tuck wouldn’t approve of that at all!
0.05% is just 50p for every £1000 spent so it doesn’t sound like a lot of money. That is until you realise that the foreign exchange market alone is worth $3,000 billion every day. A global tax levied at this rate will raise $400 billion a year which will then be used to avoid cuts to crucial services and to make sure agendas like climate change and fighting global poverty aren’t underfunded afterthoughts like they so often have been in the past.
Of course, it has to be a global initiative. Otherwise banks will all go to the country that isn’t taxing them. So, it’s going to be a bit of a bugger explaining to Germans and Japanese governments just who Robin Hood is. Gordon Brown and Richard Curtis need to immediately embark on a world tour telling the world the tale of a bloke who hung about in some woods just off a heath, fighting other men in bushes and dressing in tights*. Can’t wait myself.
*In actual fact, the tax is only called the Robin Hood tax in Britain. In Germany it’s the Tax Against Poverty. In the USA it’s the Financial Speculation Tax.