Bernie Sanders Introduces Robin Hood Tax

bernie sanders

On May 19th presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined with National Nurses United (NNU) and the US Students Association to announce his introduction of two Senate bills, the Robin Hood Tax and the College for All Act.

The Robin Hood Tax, a type of financial transaction tax, would enact a 0.5 percent tax on most stock transactions, and a lesser tax on bond and derivative trades. The Robin Hood Tax would raise about $300 billion per year. Sanders, NNU and the Students Association propose using these funds to provide free tuition at every public college and university in the United States and to slash interest rates on existing student loans.

The College for All Act would eliminate undergraduate tuition by requiring the federal government to cover 67% of college costs ($47 billion each year) and states to cover the remaining 33% ($23 billion). Sanders and NNU propose using the remaining funds to guarantee health coverage to all US residents by expanding Medicare. See Doctors Group Hails Medicare For All Bill

As of 2014,  40 million Americans had student loan debt. According to USA Today, US student loan debt amounts to more than  $1.2 trillion. (See Student Loans are Forever)

More than forty countries, including Britain, Germany and China, already have a financial transaction tax on risky financial transactions.

Minnesota representative Keith Ellison (Democratic Farmer Labor Party) has introduced a similar Robin Hood Tax bill HR1464 in the House.

photo credit: Bernie Sanders considers his reply via photopin (license)

TV3 Tackles Income Inequality


income inequality

The American Pubic Broadcasting Service used to have fabulous, hard hitting documentaries when PBS first got going in the 1970s. Fast forward to 2013, and all the documentaries that seriously challenge the political establishment have all but vanished from free-to-air TV (except, perhaps, for Frontline and Bill Moyers’ specials).

 Although it first aired on commercial TV, the New Zealand documentary Mind the Gap reminds me a lot of the PBS documentaries I used to watch on Friday night in the late seventies. It dissects the alarming rate at which New Zealand’s wealthy elite are sucking up wealth from our working class families.

While New Zealand’s political and economic dynamics are somewhat different from those of the US, there are common factors at play. Moreover the New Zealand economy is somewhat easier to unpack. In addition to being smaller, for the most part it’s uncomplicated by taxpayer funded corporate subsidies.

Zombie Economics

Mind the Gap is highly critical of “neoliberalism” (I don’t think I’ve ever heard that word on American TV), which the program refers to as zombie economics. The presenter also briefly interviews John Quiggins, the author of the 2012 book Zombie Economics.

Neoliberalism is the technical term for Reaganomics and the New Zealand version Rogernomics. Mind the Gap describes, in gory detail, how Roger Douglas’s neoliberal reforms of the 1980s virtually destroyed New Zealand’s economy. It did so mainly by destroying this country’s manufacturing sector and offshoring the majority of our manufacturing jobs.

The documentary offers a number of potential solutions to New Zealand’s current “trickle up” economy. In my mind, all would go a long way towards ending America’s growing income divide.

Suggestions offered include a financial transaction on banks (aka the Robin Hood Tax), a fairer tax policy and a clampdown on tax evasion, an end to aggressive privatization of public resources, and more cooperatives and “social enterprises” (corporations formed for the good of society rather than profit).


*”Mind the Gap” is an expression borrowed from the British tube (subway) system.

photo credit: Stewf via photopin cc