First it was the “99 percent” slogan that captured the imagination of liberals, including New York Times journalists. Now it’s the “Robin Hood tax, which is “beginning to capture the public’s imagination.” The liberal public, at least. Times reporters Steven Greenhouse and Graham Bowley promoted “The Robin Hood Tax -- Support Grows for a Levy on Stock Trades to Help the World’s Poor” on the front of Monday’s Business section, while emphasizing it would be “tiny” and was driven by “populist,” not left-wing or liberal, anger.
They call it the Robin Hood tax -- a tiny levy on trades in the financial markets that would take money from the banks and give it to the world’s poor.
And like the mythical hero of Sherwood Forest, it is beginning to capture the public’s imagination. Driven by populist anger at bankers as well as government needs for more revenue, the idea of a tax on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments has attracted an array of influential champions, including the leaders of France and Germany, the billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and George Soros, former Vice President Al Gore, the consumer activist Ralph Nader, Pope Benedict XVI and the archbishop of Canterbury.
The Robin Hood tax has also become a rallying point for labor unions, nongovernmental organizations and the Occupy Wall Street movement, which view it as a way to claw back money from the top 1 percent to help the other 99 percent. Last month, thousands of demonstrators, including hundreds in Robin Hood outfits with bright green caps and bows and arrows, flooded into southern France to urge the leaders of the Group of 20 nations to do more to help the poor, including passing a financial transactions tax.
After noting that the Obama administration is “lukewarm” to the idea, the Times went to a union representative for some unvarnished leftism.
Still, support is growing for the idea, which has been largely dormant since the 1970s, when a version was first proposed by the economist James Tobin, later a Nobel Prize winner.
“The tax is a good idea because banks are where the money is. It’s the same reason Jesse James robbed banks,” said Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, which recently held demonstrations at the offices of 60 members of Congress in support of the levy. “The thing about the financial transactions tax is it’s stunning how quickly people get it and how fast they embrace it.”
Labor groups like the nurses’ union and the A.F.L.-C.I.O. see the tax as a way to finance job creation programs to fight high unemployment in the United States and Europe.
The Times wedged in opposing views in paragraphs 22-26 before concluding with the words of a true economic expert, a British actor:
The British actor Bill Nighy, who has made online videos promoting the tax, calls it a beautiful idea. “It would raise enough money to solve problems at home and overseas, and it could do it without hurting ordinary people,” he said.