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Robin Hood hits home -- Let's give him a warm welcome!

Posted Jun. 22, 2012 / Posted by: Karen Orenstein

Why is the Incredible Hulk smoothly whistling on YouTube as he takes a dollar and draws a Robin Hood mask on George Washington’s mug?

Because Mark Ruffalo -- who plays the green superhero in the movie The Avengers -- stars in a video to kick off the U.S. Robin Hood Tax campaign. The video also features Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Chris Martin of Cold Play, nurses, clergy, AIDS activists, students, urban farmers and, yes, yours truly, a climate activist. (Please help us spread it far and wide!)

Indeed, Robin Hood has been making appearances across the country. In 15 cities this week, nurses wearing red scrubs and sporting green felt hats held signs that read: It’s not a tax on the people. It’s a tax for the people. They even made an appearance in Congress, chanting, “Jamie Dimon, you're no good. The people need a Robin Hood," forcing  the CEO of JP Morgan Chase to re-route his entrance into the building, as he headed to the House Financial Services Committee to testify about the bank’s multi-billion dollar trading loss (whoopsie!). As the Robin Hood Tax campaign got underway, even statues in New York City joined the fun -- with green felt hats and masks decorating the likes of Andy Warhol, Benito Juarez and Gandhi throughout Manhattan.

So what’s a Robin Hood Tax? It’s a micro-tax on Wall Street trading that would curb harmful speculation and raise hundreds of billions of dollars of new revenue to pay for urgently-needed public goods and services, like helping the poor cope with the threats to public health and food shortages caused by our changing climate. It would simply levy a teeny tiny fee on financial transactions -- most of which are traded not by people, but by computers in a matter of micro-seconds -- involving stocks, bonds, currency exchanges and derivatives. The slogan of the Robin Hood Tax campaign -- small change for the banks; big change for the people -- rings true. 

Nurses support Robin Hood Tax, San Francisco.
Credit: Robin Hood Tax USA

The U.S. desperately needs Robin Hood’s help in re-balancing the terribly lopsided concentration of wealth in this country. In the aftermath of the Wall Street-driven economic crisis, the 1% have not just pulled the rug out from under the feet of the 99%, they’ve ripped up the floor boards and are trying to burn down the house. (This is true even in a literal sense; housing foreclosures are actually on the rise.)

Today, the U.S. is the most unequal advanced industrial country in the world. Even as poverty rates go up, the House of Representatives, under Congressman Paul Ryan’s anti-poor budget zealotry, is taking an axe to programs that help children, people who go hungry and our environment, while continuing to dole out corporate welfare. The wealthiest fossil fuel companies on the planet? They’d keep getting tax handouts. Environmental protection programs that make our air breathable and water drinkable? They’d see budgets slashed.

By making Wall Street start paying its fair share, the Robin Hood Tax can help shore up funding for services that keep people and our communities healthy and whole at home -- and around the world.

Needless to say, the U.S. -- the world’s biggest historical climate polluter -- is nowhere near fulfilling our moral and legal obligations to help developing countries address climate change. Global warming is already causing droughts, floods and food insecurity across the globe. Though least responsible and least able to cope with the climate crisis, the world’s poor are the hardest hit. With a Robin Hood Tax, we can start to pay the debt we owe to poor countries so they can prepare for climate impacts and invest in cleaner development paths.

Of course, Wall Street and its political protectors (like U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner) will fight the Robin Hood Tax tooth and nail. They’ve already propagated all sorts of myths against it. That’s why Friends of the Earth has joined with a broad coalition of folks -- groups and people who want good things for people and the planet -- to make the Robin Hood Tax a reality.

And that reality is closer than you might think. Many European governments today stand on the cusp of establishing a Robin Hood Tax. That campaign is succeeding across the Atlantic because of people power.

We need that people power here at home to make the Robin Hood dream a reality in the United States! Help us spread the word by sharing the Robin Hood Tax video -- on Facebook, with tweets and by email. You can also follow the example set in the video by drawing a green Robin Hood mask on a dollar bill, writing www.robinhoodtax.org, signing it, and putting the dollar into circulation. And, be on the look-out for a petition to President Obama.

As that great, old union song says, “Drops of water turn a mill, singly none, singly none.”

P.S. More than 50 financiers from Wall Street, the City of London and other financial institutions from across Europe came out this week in favor of a Robin Hood Tax too.

Credit for top photo: Robin Hood Tax USA


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