As the “Occupy” protests have spread across the world, their participants have proudly resisted producing any specific political demands. But at this week’s G20 conference, a Canadian magazine supportive of the Wall Street movement, Adbusters, plans to demand one particular reform — namely the introduction of a global financial-transaction levy, which the magazine has termed a “Robin Hood tax.” Two liberal congressmen have proposed the tax in the House. Adbusters presents the move as “a radical transformation of casino capitalism” and a way “to slow down fast money.” But in reality, it isn’t an effective way to steal from the rich and hardly prevents them from engaging in risky financial activity.
A financial-transaction tax would apply a percentage levy on the value of every financial trade. Adbusters’ call for applying such a tax across the entire G20 is utterly fanciful, but a tax across an area like the EU might be feasible — at least if the union’s main financial power, Britain, did not vehemently oppose it. Most likely, such a tax would have to be enacted in one country at a time.
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