Robin Hood Tax: Exciting Prospect to Move Money from Wall Street to Main Street

June 27, 2012
by David Bryden

It has been thrilling time for global justice efforts!  A new campaign has emerged to find a new source of funding for all the things we care about, including fighting poverty and disease in America and around the world. This campaign is called the Robin Hood Tax, which is a ver­y small tax that would be applied to the financial transactions of the major players on Wall Street.  Because the trading volume is so heavy, the proceeds of such a tax would be enormous.

The campaign got a major boost last week from a very unlikely source:  major experts in the financial industry!  52 former and current financiers have written a letter to European and world leaders calling on them to back financial transaction taxes (FTTs) to raise revenue for “people in urgent need at home and in the world’s poorest countries.”

Signatories include Arielle de Rothschild, managing director of the Rothschild Group, Dr. William Barclay, former senior vice president of the Chicago Stock Exchange, as well as eight former high-level executives from Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. 

The letter dismisses critics’ claims that FTTs would be harmful to the economy saying they would “have a negligible effect on long-term investment” and that “a modest transaction tax will actually improve the functioning of markets.”

In the U.S. the campaign was launched with rallies in 15 cities across the U.S. — along with an exciting campaign video featuring economist and RESULTS supporter Jeff Sachs, singer Chris Martin, actor Mark Ruffalo, as well as nurses, AIDS activists, and environmentalists. 

“Financier to the poor” and Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus is a strong backer of the campaign, as he stated in a brilliant piece summarizing the recent Rio conference on sustainable development.

The campaign also has some strong supporters in the U.S. Congress, though the emphasis initially is to build enthusiasm at the grassroots level and insert the idea into the national debate.

“There are huge, quick transactions that add to the churning and speculation in international markets that has helped to bring the world economy to the perilous state that it’s in right now,” said economist Jeffrey Sachs. “The time has really arrived to put a Robin Hood tax in place. Many countries around the world are doing so. It’s time for the United States to do the same.”

“By placing a tiny tax on Wall Street—less than half of 1%– we could generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. That’s money that could go towards investing in jobs, health care, housing and our schools; to end the student debt crisis and the AIDS pandemic and to halt climate change and poverty,” said Matthew Kavanagh of Health GAP (Global Access Project).

In Europe governments are starting to move forward, thanks to a creative and energetic grassroots effort.  Opposition from the UK and others had stymied progress, but now at least nine members of the European Union, led by France and Germany, are intense campaigning will be needed to ensure the tax is not all used for domestic European fiscal needs. In a very good sign, the recently-elected French President stated, “I supported for a long time, I do now as President of the French Republic, the creation of a Financial Transaction Tax. And I pledge once again that a major part of the revenues from this tax should be use for development objectives.”

You can help build the enthusiasm!  Learn about the campaign and share the info with your friends and colleagues.  To like the Robin Hood Tax on Facebook visit


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