Thursday, 11 February 2010

For once a popular tax

The idea of imposing a tax on foreign currency bank transactions was proposed by Nobel laureate economics professor James Tobin. The tax was meant to discourage speculation and had the potential of raising a tidy sum of money. The tax has had a long history of proponents like Lawrence Summers top economic advisor to the Obama administration and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Head of the International Monetary Fund. Sadly it has never been put in practice. Current proposals under the “Robin Hood Tax" campaign suggest levying 0.05 of speculative transactions – not high street banking- to raise funds in the order to £100 billion pounds.

Now, let us think what could be done with this kind of money if the banks were taxed something like .50p for £1000 of speculative transactions? Some of the money could be used to help vulnerable countries adjust to the problems of climate change. We could improve access to health and education in some of the poorest countries in the world. We could help rebuild devastated areas in Haiti which is currently estimated to be around 12 billion dollars…. With the spare change, we might even be able to eradicate child poverty right here in Scotland.

What an outlandish thought.

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