Saturday, April 22, 2017

Life-Affirming Financial Services Sales Tax

The Aquarius zodiac glyph included in the LAST logo above is a stylized rendition created by Swedish astrologer, author and historian Stefan Stenudd.* Why Aquarius? Because LAST represents a new, life-affirming approach to capitalism, the dawning of a new era of hope..."peace and understanding". 

In the past, many, including myself, have called one economic reform effort the Robin Hood Tax.
But today, that name misdirects attention away from our current wealth-gap, economic crises and unnecessarily conjures up the Merry Men and Robin Hood of English folklore. You know, the guys who went about "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor".

In the U.S. "robbing from the rich to give to the poor" brings a terrible taste to the mouth of most Americans, especially the R-people, who label it “wealth redistribution”. For them, it’s a bad thing. It’s a philosophy which most Americans have found offensive since the days the Puritan ancestors placed their feet on a rock near Plymouth, Massachusetts.

So, I’ve arrived at a new name. One I hope will please my compatriots. Please consider calling it the Robin Hood Tax the "Life-Affirming financial transaction sales tax". Or, simply adopt the acronym, “LAST”, for “Life-Affirming Sales Tax”.

Regardless, what we call it, the funds raised via this modern financial services sales tax could be used to solve a plethora of terrible problems created under our current wealth-gap, capitalist system, including: equalizing pay for underpaid homecare workers, eldercare workers, nurses, and nursing assistants, etc.

It also could fund life-sustaining medications, physical therapy, lost income due to surgical recovery, at-home meals, childcare, tutoring, job training and on-line education, among a billion other currently neglected issues which we must address in life-affirming ways.

The financial transaction tax is simply a sales tax on a trade of stocks, bonds, or derivatives. In fact, it’s just like the sales tax which most of us pay every time we purchase something, only we pay a lot more... like .06% on the things we purchase here in Michigan.

The financial services tax legislation already proposed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT ) would be in the order of 0.5 percent on stocks, 0.1 percent on bonds, and 0.005 percent on derivatives or other investments.

Financial sales taxes are not new. In fact, they are currently law in the United Kingdom and 20 other nations, including France, China, and Italy. Indeed, a financial sales tax was formerly the law in the United States, too, from 1914-1966.

How much money are we talking about here?

According to Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, such a tax could raise as much as $340 billion a year over the next decade. Others, such as the Tax Policy Center have said the potential revenue would be less than one-tenth of that.*

Still, that’s a good amount to help get us moving down the life-affirming road.

* Stefan Stenudd’s website:

** How Bernie Sanders' Wall Street Tax Would Work, Jim Zarroli, NPR, 12 Feb 2016. 

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