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While billions have gone to banks and brokers in bailouts and bonuses, the main parties are competing with each other over how much needs to be lopped off public services in order to reduce national debt and keep the IMF happy.
The 'Robin Hood' micro-tax on financial transactions - an average of 0.05% or 50p in every £1000 could generate around £250 billion per annum (http://robinhoodtax.org.uk/how-it-works/) - would be a significant step in the opposite direction.
Writing recently in The Sunday Times, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and screenwriter and film director Richard Curtis (co-founder of Comic Relief, and stalwart of the Make Poverty History Campaign) spelled out the difference it would make:
"We would encourage politicians and the public to get behind this campaign. But we are also asking a few very powerful people in the financial world to stop and wonder whether this might be a moment of enormous and strange opportunity – whether circumstances might not have put them in a unique position where they could be part of a real step forward for the world – a designated, international tax to help crack some of the world's heftiest problems.
"The idea is that the money raised would then be split three ways. 50% would go to domestic governments – so that there would be a greater reservoir of resources to avoid cuts in basic services like education and health, and to fund more domestic programmes of poverty reduction and affordable housing. 25% would go towards assisting poorer countries to deal with the impact of climate change and to reduce their carbon emissions. Everyone knows there must be urgent action on the environment – but there are very few ideas how to fund it. And the last 25% would be designated for the fight against global poverty. It would give us a serious chance of meeting the Millennium Development Goals – making malaria a thing of the past, protecting the 500,000 mothers who still die in childbirth every single year, guaranteeing that every child gets an education, and much more.
"It's important to remember that the burdens created by the financial crisis will weigh most heavily on the poorest countries. They didn't create this crisis; it seems only fair that those who did should be contributing to lifting that burden. Remember too that the poverty and environmental degradation that happens elsewhere in the world isn't something that will never touch us. This is a world where political frontiers don't protect us from ecological disaster and where poverty elsewhere becomes our problem in the shape of political unrest, new cohorts of refugees and migrants, and shrinking markets.
"Of course it won't be easy to secure universal compliance among all nations. But many argue that even a country unilaterally imposing such a tax – perhaps starting with a currency tax – would generate a huge amount of fresh income and not lose its economic competitiveness. Could Britain take the lead and unilaterally champion the first steps towards a form of taxation that may radically transform the relationship between rich and poor?
"In the last decade or so, we've seen a number of campaigns that have mobilised massive support from civil society – from churches and voluntary organisations and local pressure groups – in a way that delivered large-scale change. The Jubilee 2000 Debt Campaign – the Make Poverty History campaign. This is the next challenge for this kind of politics."
The full article is here: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/2791
More on the 'Robin Hood Tax' initiative, which Ekklesia is supporting along with other NGOs and civil society organsations: http://robinhoodtax.org.uk/Tweet