At the OWS Alternative Banking working group meeting of March 10th, 2013, those present (numbering about 30 persons) passed the following resolution by acclamation:
Endorsement of Robin Hood Tax
Occupy Wall Street – Alternative Banking Working Group endorses the initiative of a “Robin Hood Tax,” as advanced by Health Global Access Group and a coalition of other groups (see http://healthgap.org/rht-101). The initiative, also sometimes called a Tobin Tax or a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), would impose a tax of less than one-tenth of a percent on speculative financial transactions such as the trading of equities, options, currencies in bulk and derivatives. Forms of this tax already exist in other countries and the idea is currently on the G20 agenda.
In endorsing the idea of an FTT, we wish to make three points:
1) We agree with the additional idea of earmarking all revenues raised from an FTT for specific spending on global health and mitigating climate change, as specified by Health GAP.
2) We believe an FTT would help in curbing certain classes of systemically risky and non-productive speculative trades, such as High Frequency Trading.
3) While it is a good idea, in no way do we believe an FTT would be sufficient in solving the problems of the financial and monetary system, which even with an FTT will continue to pose unacceptable systemic risks, concentrate wealth in the hands of the 1%, and cause bubbles and periodic crashes such as the one we saw in 2007-2008. Much broader and further-ranging reform of the financial and monetary system remains necessary.
In other words, we think an FTT is an excellent idea whose time has come, even if it cannot suffice as a replacement for true Alternative Banking.
As far as “further-ranging reform” is concerned, it should be obvious to readers of this blog that our group is unanimously in favor of breaking up the private megabanks and re-instituting strong Glass-Steagal limits between commercial, speculative investment and insurance activities. And of course we are perhaps even more passionately in favor of enforcing all existing banking, fraud and conspiracy laws and regulations, so that the criminal behavior by the biggest players in the financial sector is actually punished – unlike the sorry reality of today, in which the regulators are captured and the government actively rewards criminals by agreeing to bogus institutional settlements that forego criminal investigations, thus guaranteeing further and even more ambitious criminal activity in the future.
But even all that would only put us back in the less-than ideal situation of the 1980s. Among us there are supporters for a wealth of more radical ideas: bank nationalization, modern monetary theory, debt-free or interest-negative money, public state development and commercial banks (like the one in North Dakota), community currencies or electronic currencies based on labor time or energy, independent non-profit ratings agencies, a cooperative Occupy Bank, a wealth tax, and of course expanding the credit union system. (Move Your Money!)
So watch this space as we discuss and debate just what kind of “different world is possible.” And join us!
Our meetings are held weekly at 3 pm on Sundays without fail, usually with pre-meeting talks and presentations starting at 2 pm. Right now we are preparing to write an OWS Alt-Banking book and planning many other actions and initiatives. For scheduling and details, please join our recently established Meetup group (bearing in mind that the RSVPs there reflect only a fraction of the actual attendance).