Why The World Needs Robin

It’s simple: the financial crisis and the recession have left a massive hole in the US’s public finances. Jobs and the community services we rely on are at risk in the US while many other developed and developing countries face a similar struggle.

But there is another way. Robin Hood supporters believe that banks, hedge funds and the rest of the financial sector should pay their fair share to clear up the mess they helped create.

$300 Billion Per Year, For The Common Good

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Why We Need Robin

Innovation is a word we hear a lot these days, but what does it mean?  At it’s most basic, innovation means finding ways to do what we do better, or coming up with ways to do things we’ve only ever dreamed of.

Innovation is in our DNA, it’s what built America, and it’s what will keep this country growing. Great research and innovation has been the backbone the backbone of everything from the internet, to the latest developments in the treatment of cancer, to the first skyscrapers. Yet due to budget cuts we’re in danger of losing a key part of what makes America great.

Innovation also demands research. Yet, Federal research and development spend as a percent of GDP has been cut by more than half in the last thirty years (now at 0.7%).

That means less funding for University departments to reach new medical break throughs. Less money to  support small businesses and young entrepreneurs. And less money to put the thinking and research into discovery of solutions to tackle our social, environmental and infrastructure challenges.

But investing in innovation means more than those just products or solutions, it creates jobs. Most new jobs in the US are created in start-ups and small businesses. And that’s just the start, with the right checks in place working on exploiting our natural gas reserves will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade, as well as securing our future energy supplies.

The choice facing the US is to start to get serious about investing in research and innovation, or risk falling seriously behind. Without investment in innovation and research other countries stand to win the race to the future.

The billions generated by the Robin Hood Tax could help make sure America remains a world leader.

By raising hundreds of billions of dollars every year, the Robin Hood Tax could assist in funding key government efforts in supporting research in health, food safety, medical and infrastructure innovation.  This money could support the kind of world leading research and innovation that led to the building of the Hoover Dam and the first space station; it could create new American jobs and new American industries.

The U.S. is falling apart.

To prosper and grow, and live safely, the U.S. must start rebuilding the most basic infrastructure of the country.

You cannot leave a country of more than 310 million people unattended for 30 years without dire consequences. But that’s where we’re at. Roads crumble, bridges crack, sewers break, water pollutes. People get hurt or sick.

Problems are everywhere. For years the old ramps on the Chicago Circle Interchange have stalled close to 300,000 vehicles a day, with an estimated 25 million hours in delays per year.

The Industrial Canal Lock in New Orleans is critical to commerce, carrying 20 million tons of cargo a year. But the 87-year-old lock is undersized, and vessels wait 36 hours to navigate it.

As much as 18% of Atlanta’s drinking water was hemorrhaging through leaking pipes, as a recent drought had residents rationing. Estimates are that municipal lines running beneath U.S. streets lose massive volumes of water.

The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions every year to address America’s crumbling infrastructure. These projects could employ millions through direct hiring or as a result of increased demand of suppliers. America’s jobs crisis could be addressed at the same time we desperately play catch up on the country’s declining system of roads, waterways and bridges.

Education is key to allowing us to live the lives we want, and to fulfilling our potential. It opens the doors to jobs, and people playing a meaningful part in society and our democracy. Unfortunately, today in the US many people are not receiving the education they deserve.

The cuts to education following the economic crisis have made a bad situation worse.

And it’s hitting those from low-income backgrounds hardest. Education beats poverty and gives people a voice. It allows them to speak out and be heard, it allows them to make positive changes in their own lives and break the poverty cycle for good.

Millions of young Americans are denied education from their earliest years, as universal pre-Kindergarten does not exist and many four-year olds are simply not in school. That’s just the beginning.

For grades K through 12, conditions have detoritated. Over-crowded, under-funded public schools are the norm, where curriculums come up short. Kids are being short-changed on their future.

College tuition fees are skyrocketing, and this commercialization of education excludes many. And those that can afford are saddled with crippling debt — student debt has now topped a trillion dollars.

The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions every year to make sure all children and adults receive the education they deserve.

The banking crisis that started on Wall Street has hit the US hard. We’ve been losing jobs and public services that are vital to sustain our local economies and communities. And investment and support for retirees and seniors haven’t been spared.

The politicians have shifted the debate from how we deal with the economic crisis – to reducing the debt by cutting public spending and services. The retirements of public employees are under fierce assault. Forty-four states have recently passed laws curtailing public retirement benefits. The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,177 in 2011. Public employees  will start joining the ranks of the marginalized elderly.

With an ageing population, this problem is only set to worsen. 10,000 reach retirement age every day—this will continue for 20 years. By 2030 about one in five people in the United States will be over 65.

For those who have retired this means less money for housing, heating, putting food on the table. All the essentials. And it’s not just the retired that are feeling the pinch – millions more are now expecting to have to continue working once they are ‘retired.’  We urgently need to invest in the system that rewards and supports senoirs.

We need to speak up – cuts are not the only way. And while the blame for the economic crisis lies largely at the door of the banks they must be part of the solution.

Credit crunch, financial crash, recession, Wall Street crash – whatever you choose to call it – the economic crisis that began in 2008 set in motion a troubling chain of events.

The banking crisis has hit people in the US hard. We’ve been losing jobs and public services that are vital to sustain our local economies and communities.  Poor people are struggling – but they’re toughing it out, fighting to drag themselves out of poverty. But the crisis is not over yet and the impact of this downturn will hit them harder and longer.

The effects of the global economic crisis have been felt around the world and we’re all tightening our belts. And the poor countries, who did nothing to cause the crisis, are feeling the effects, it left a devastating $65 billion gap in their budgets.

The politicians have shifted the debate from how we deal with the economic crisis – to reducing the debt by public spending and services. We need to speak up – cuts are not the only way. And while the blame for the economic crisis lies largely at the door of the banks they must be part of the solution. Yet while ordinary Americans struggle, the banks that got us into this mess have returned to record profits and bonuses.

For those who have lost their jobs in the recession we need to ensure the safety nets are designed to help in the best way possible. It is vital that people are always better off in work. We urgently need to invest in the system so it stops trapping people and offers support instead. We need to invest in creating new jobs, especially jobs that maintain our human infrastructure and build our crumbling infrastructure.  Investment and support for local business could help to ease the pinch we’ve all been feeling.

So what can we do about all this? Well, a clear commitment from Government to tackle the deficit, end domestic poverty, invest in jobs and protect public services would be a good start. But that, of course, will cost money.

The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions every year to help those hit hardest by the economic crisis, at home and abroad.

Visiting the doctor when you’re sick, safe and effective medicines, treatment for your children – all no brainers. Yet tens of millions of Americans go without good healthcare in the richest country in the world―it’s a disgrace.

A mix of skyrocketing costs and declining coverage in a system led by the for-profit insurance industry is doing us in. Literally.

The figures don’t add up. We spend more than $2 trillion on health care every year, topping every other wealthy country yet more than fifty million Americans still have no health coverage, another 29 million are under-insured―an 80% increase since 2003. The USA ranks 50th in the world in terms of life expectancy and 174th for infant mortality. The system is broken.

An astounding 42% of us are skipping doctor visits, foregoing recommended care or not filling prescriptions. Critical cancer screenings have slowed. Once health-care-of-last-resort, the emergency room is now charging up front for non-urgent care.

And for all of that regular Americans are paying more and more―tens of thousands a year for coverage only to risk bankruptcy at the wrong illness or being denied treatment due to incomprehensible insurance policies.

The problems with our nation’s health are hitting the poorest hardest. In short, poverty is both a cause and a consequence of poor health. When you’re poor, it’s harder to live healthily. And if you’re not able to live healthily, the spiral of poverty can rapidly overwhelm you.

The worse news? The financial crisis caused by Wall Street speculators crashed our economy. Yet, now all our politicians can talk about is slashing budgets―laying off nurses and EMTs; forcing us to pay more out of each paycheck; and closing public clinics.

But there is another option: Wall Street could start paying its fair share.

We could have a system that guarantees every American gets the healthcare they need.  We could ensure preventive healthcare, hospitals that don’t have to charge us to death, and prescription drugs when we need them not just when we can afford them. Nobody ever needs to face bankruptcy from getting sick again. We know it’s possible: every Member of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President expects just this. Don’t we deserve the same?

Better health means a stronger economy, and we only get there by ensuring everyone is covered. Instead of cuts, we expect investment in the healthcare system we deserve.

The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions very year to help ensure that every American has high quality healthcare.

Breakthroughs in the science of AIDS this year have shown us an incredible thing: we can end the AIDS crisis. Getting AIDS drugs to those with HIV who needs them not only keeps them alive and healthy, but can reduce risk of infection by 96%.  The news is amazing – no one needs to die of AIDS – no one needs to become HIV positive.

Yet still millions have and millions still are. Since the beginning of the epidemic, nearly 30 million people have died from AIDS-related causes worldwide. A half million of those people have been in the U.S., the equivalent of the entire population of Las Vegas. We’ve made some incredible progress, getting effective medicines to those in need and reaching out to more and more communities to stop the spread.

But since Wall Street crashed our economy the incredible progress on AIDS has veered far off course. This very minute, thousands of people are on waiting lists for AIDS medicines in the United States. Instead of expanding what works into every community, we’re talking about budget cuts -laying off the nurses and the teachers we need to end AIDS in America.

And globally, just as medicines have begun to reach those most in need and prevention efforts have started to bring down HIV rates, a funding crisis threatens to derail the whole effort.  This year nearly 2 million people will die and over 2 million more will become HIV positive needlessly.

Most people living with HIV do not receive life-saving medicine, schools are losing their teachers due to illness and death, and children affected by HIV and AIDS are often deprived of their right to be a child. The world can’t afford the economic and security instability this leads to.

The science is simply not getting to the people fast enough.

The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions to get us the tools we need to literally end the AIDS crisis. Shouldn’t the next generation be AIDS-free?

Home is where the heart is.  It’s where we share meals with our families and friends, where we come home to, and where we watch our kids grow up. But for over 20 million Americans home is a hardship.

Since the banks crashed the economy we’ve seen the number of people at risk of losing their home, or living in insecure, overpriced, rental homes skyrocket.

Home is a hardship for the 9.4 million families in this country that have to spend more than 50% of their incomes on housing costs.  And for the 11.1 million families who are underwater on their mortgage. And the cruelest twist? That means they are paying the same banks that crashed the economy and drove down the value of their houses more for their mortgage than their home is currently worth.

We all deserve a place to call home. Especially now. Congress continues to slash housing assistance, the jobless rate remains staggeringly high and we’re facing the worst foreclosure crisis in a generation combined with higher rents.  American families are struggling to find and keep an affordable roof over their heads.

We know what having a stable place to call home means: it means better lives for our children, it means better health for the entire family, and it means an increase in neighborhood safety.

The Robin Hood tax could raise billions every year to ensure everyone in this country has a safe, dignified, place to call home.

We’ve all seen the headlines. Famine. Water shortages. Conflict. Natural disasters. Millions going without health or education. Being born in an impoverished country should not mean giving birth is a risk to your life, choosing between carrying water and going to school, or deciding between a place to live or food for your family.

Yet we know, too, that we’re making significant progress : millions out of poverty; thanks to development efforts millions more children are in school, millions are receiving access to life saving medicines, more mothers are living through child birth and lives are being transformed.

There’s a real chance that these positive trends are being reversed, and the poorest are being left behind all together. The effects of the global economic crisis have been felt around the world and the poor countries, who did nothing to cause the crisis, are feeling the effects.

Financial crisis, recession, global downturn – whatever you choose to call it – the economic mess caused by risky investors in rich countries in 2008 set in motion a troubling chain of events.

As global markets collapsed, billions of dollars disappeared over night and with it millions of people saw their livelihoods disappear, food prices rocket, and services collapse. All through no fault of their own.

Imagine for a minute that you’ve already spend 80% of your income on food – even the slightest price increase or drop in your income could mean you go without food for a few days. What would you do?

The crisis created a financial ‘hole’ for the 56 poorest countries, mostly in Africa. Zambia has slashed its health spending, while Niger and Mali have taken the axe to their schools budget. The World Bank estimates that two million children will die as a direct impact of the crisis.

Following the crisis we have seen a drop in the level of aid rich countries are giving, with many countries failing to live up to their promises on aid, and debt relief efforts are faltering. While the banks are returning to record profits and bonuses it is people in the world’s poorest countries, who did nothing to cause the crash, who are paying the price.

Communities are struggling and people in poverty are fighting to drag themselves back from the effects of the crisis. But is not over yet and the impact of this downturn will hit them harder and longer.

The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions every year to ensure rich countries meet their aid commitments for health and development and relieve poor countries’ debt.

Is it hot in here? Um, yeah. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) the last year (June 2011 to May 2012) has been the warmest since they started keeping records in 1985.

Remember those soda bottle terrariums from elementary school? Well, you’re in one. When the planet heats up it means more water evaporates and piles up in clouds until comes crashing back down to earth.

In the US that warming trend looks like heat waves, droughts and wildfires in some parts of the country – and floods, Snomaggedon and record-breaking storms in others. The hit to American wallets from extreme weather was more than $14 billion in 2011 alone. Of course the real costs were in lives lost and property destroyed.

Climate change is showing up in other parts of the world, too. It turns out that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster that scientist for thought it would. The Himalayan glaciers that are the source of drinking water for more than a billion people in Asia are disappearing. And the leaders of some island nations are already making plans about where to relocate their countries’ citizens.

But we can stave off the worst of climate chaos if globally we cut greenhouse gas pollution way back right away – starting here at home.

The people who make decisions in Washington are dragging their feet partly because they say there’s no money to act. And the leaders of other countries say there’s no reason for them to act if the US – the biggest climate polluter in history – doesn’t take the first step.

Luckily we have a solution to raise billions of dollars that can be spent on all of the good ideas that already exist to lower greenhouse gas pollution, and on making our communities and families more resilient to the extreme weather events that are already on our doorstep.

A Robin Hood Tax could raise billions every year to jumpstart an economy that works for people and the planet – both at home and abroad.

Computers trading billions everyday – sounds like a bad sci movie, right? Unfortunately this is now how some of Wall Street is operating. Gone are the days of men making deals over lunch, trades are increasingly performed in accordance with computer algorithms.

This is casino capitalism cyborg-style. In pursuit of a quick buck, humans are ceding control of financial markets to machines and are unable to intervene fast enough if things go wrong.

An explosion of high speed, high frequency trading carried out by computers is causing an increasing number of ‘flash crashes’ and undermining markets’ role in efficiently allocating resources.

In particular a Robin Hood Tax would target High Frequency Trading, where computers trade thousands of times a second, buying and selling according to pre-programmed algorithms, deceiving and preying on other machines. Sound unbelievable?  It exist right now, is known as High Frequency Trading (HFT) and accounts for more than 70% of all trades in US equities.

High frequency trading has the potential to cause havoc in markets for commodities like wheat and gasoline which are central to our economies and the lives and well-being of hundreds of millions of people.

The most dramatic flash crash occurred on 6 May 2010, when the Dow Jones fell by 9 per cent, with more than half of the fall occurring in just seven minutes. Shares in Accenture plunged from $40 per share to just $0.01. The Dow Jones fall was more than twice that on the day that Lehman Brothers collapsed.

The search for a quick profit has seen high frequency trading spread to bond, currency and commodity markets. On 3 February 2010 an employee at traders ‘Infinitum’ accidentally hit the wrong button and switched on a new oil markets HFT algorithm for just five seconds. In that time they lost more than $1 million and rocked the global oil price which spiked before losing 5 per cent of its value. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

In Hong Kong they were so concerned about the rise of this type of fast money trading that they introduced a Financial Transaction Tax (the mechanism of the Robin Hood Tax) as Charles Li, Chief Exectutive of Hong Kong’s stock exchange,  says it, “effectively limits high frequency trading, just like a highway with many toll booths discourages speeding.” Our Governments should follow the lead of Hong Kong and impose a Financial Transaction Tax to limit high frequency trading.

At the Robin Hood Tax campaign we are principally supportive of a Robin Hood Tax because of the revenue it could raise. However, if it also acts to reduce risky gambling and make the world economy safer that can only be a good thing.

Markets should work in the interests of society – not the other way around. A Robin Hood Tax would be a big step towards a world in which finance behaves responsibly and pays its fair share.

Lost your job? Know someone who has? Or are you, or your family being paid less money for the same work? Well, you’re with millions of others as stories like these become all too familiar across the US.

It’s because we’re in the middle of the longest jobs crisis our country has seen in  more than sixty years.  And, the picture is even more grim for some of us.  For young adults, African-American and Latino communities the picture looks even worse.

And it isn’t like there is no work to be done.  Look around – our nation is worse for the wear.  We have pushed back and pushed back making the investment to maintain our physical infrastructure.  Now, we need at least $2 trillion just to preserve what we already have and invest in keeping our country on the cutting edge.

We’re also watching the destruction of our human infrastructure with teachers, social workers, fire fighters and police all losing their jobs due to budget cuts brought about by the banking crisis.

We’re told we can’t afford safe bridges and roads, or to educate our children and grandchildren. We’re told we can’t afford to care for those who are aging or disabled or need it most.  We’re told the solution to our jobs crisis is somehow to fire more people. We don’t buy it.

There is a solution, one that puts us back to work and rebuilds America.  By investing in our infrastructure we will create and save thousands of jobs while making a healthier and more sustainable nation. We can have a country with full employment, schools that work, safe bridges, roads and parks.

A Robin Hood Tax could raise billions every year to invest back in our nation, good jobs, and getting America back to work.


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