Robin Hood Tax

I reckon this is such a no-brainer which is why of course it will never happen. Basically a variation on the Tobin tax idea but specifically aimed to be revenue positive for governments, the term was apparently coined by a Italian finance minister who said “it was aimed at the wealthy with revenue to be used for the benefit of poorer citizens”.

Interestingly, in Europe the map of supporting/not-supporting countries shows the UK to in the opposing camp. Perhaps it’s because it was an European who suggested it or perhaps the UK is committed to the concept of taxation of the people for the benefit of the rich. My guess is a bit of both.

But it is a very interesting question, should taxation be used as a specific mechanism to redistribute wealth to the less well off? Given the extraordinary levels of wealth inequality we are currently witnessing perhaps something like the Robin Hood Tax is what we need. I’m sure if it was put a popular vote it would be law tomorrow. Instead of talking about reducing the tax burden on business and the rich, supposedly to incentivise economy activity, lets talk about using taxation to achieve a social outcome. Oooh that sounds like socialism…

The battle lines are pretty obvious eh?

Also obvious is the utterly self serving nature of neoliberalism. All the bullshit about how less taxes and regulations would free economies would lead us to nirvana are palpably just a smokescreen to enable the .1% to garner as much wealth as they can get their greedy hands on. All the state owned assets now in private hands are busy making their owners very rich while simultaneously depriving governments of market based mechanisms that protect the interests of the common people. Instead governments have been reduced to regulatory controls which have systematically been made increasingly worthless by successive attacks on government red tape.

The problems posed by government debt (real or imagined) can be offset if governments can plug the holes in the leaking taxation system but at the heart of the matter is an argument about the purpose of taxation. If you think taxes are just to pay for essential government services, and usually this is taken to mean thinks like defense and police, then you probably end up in the camp of wanting to tax the poor just like governments or feudal monarchies have always done. On the other hand if you see the role of government as a mechanism that enables the advancement of society for the benefit of all then a form of progressive wealth distribution is part of the mix.

The alternatives are pretty stark.


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