quarta-feira, 19 de fevereiro de 2014
Bill Nighy: how bankers could be heroes (and even help stop the floods) / VIDEO (em BAIXO ) Future News featuring Andrew Lincoln, Bill Nighy, Clémence Poésy, Heike ...
Bill Nighy: how bankers could be heroes (and even help stop the floods)
Instead of being vilified for bonuses they could support the Tobin tax – and help the victims of financial crisis and climate change
theguardian.com, Wednesday 19 February 2014 / http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/19/bill-nighy-bankers-turn-yourselves-into-heroes-transaction-tax?CMP=fb_gu
Like most people, I sometimes feel that we live in a world where the absurd and the cruel are not only accepted but barely remarked upon. At a time when, as a result of the recent banking catastrophe, people all over the world are suffering the longest squeeze on living standards since before the second world war, when record numbers rely on food banks to survive and cuts in spending on flood defences have exacerbated the pain caused by the wettest January in 250 years, the financial sector is handing out billions in bonuses as though the economic crisis never happened.
This year the total bonus pool since the 2008 crash will break through the £80bn barrier – around three and a half times the amount banks have paid in Corporation tax and the bank levy (pdf). That's about £1,250 for every man woman and child in the UK.
These figures are alarming. Not because I have anything against bankers – who I am sure on average are no more or less agreeable than actors or biochemists – but because of the injustice that lies behind them. Having been bailed out to the tune of several trillion dollars worldwide, the current situation where huge sums of money remain untaxed is bewildering. It seems to me a fundamental question of fairness that all elements of society should be equally responsible for the protection of hospitals and the less advantaged everywhere.
Fortunately there is a simple way to ensure this happens – a tiny tax on share, bond and derivative transactions carried out by banks and hedge funds known as a financial transaction tax or Robin Hood tax.
Eleven European countries – including Germany, France, Italy and Spain – are currently negotiating such a tax, with the latest round of talks taking place this week. The UK government not only opposes such suggestions but is actually going to the European court of justice in order that the City of London be exempt.
By doing so it would be turning down, in Britain alone, the opportunity to raise up to £20bn a year which would be generated by this tiny tax on speculative banking. The Robin Hood tax, though a snappy title, slightly misdescribes the concept. The idea is not to rob anyone; nor is it punitive in spirit, however timely it obviously is. It is simply to redress an imbalance.
The huge amounts of money that would be generated by such a tax could be distributed at each country's discretion, but the suggestion is that 50% of it be directed at domestic issues, such as the fact that 3.5 million children who live beneath the poverty line in the UK; 25% towards climate change; and 25% towards people overseas who have drawn the short straw geographically speaking.
Back in 2010, when the Robin Hood tax campaign was launched, Richard Curtis and I made a short film in which I appeared as a banker struggling and failing to find reasons to oppose the tax. We have now made the sequel, Future News, in which I'm joined by Andrew Lincoln and Clémence Poésy. The film projects what the situation might be like 10 years from now.
The campaign has come a long way since the first film was released – backed by more than a thousand economists, numerous senior financiers, Bill Gates and the Vatican. Polls have shown that a Robin Hood tax has widespread support from people across the UK and Europe. France and Italy have introduced their own limited transaction taxes, with France earmarking millions in revenue to the fight against HIV and Aids. A European tax could play a major part in helping our friends across the continent emulate the UK by finally delivering on their UN aid promises (pdf) to the world's poorest.
Success in Europe is not yet assured, however. This week's discussions kicks off a crucial period leading up to the European elections in May. Despite strong backing from the German government for a broad-based tax that will be difficult to dodge and include derivatives – as well as stocks and bonds, the financial sector is fighting a rearguard action to water down the proposals.
Winning the argument on derivatives will be crucial as they will account for more than half of the estimated €34bn revenue, and exempting them would make it much easier for banks and hedge funds to dodge the tax. With a successful European FTT, it would be far harder for vested interests to claim that a tax that is less than many of the fees they charge would somehow wreak terrible economic damage.
While this government is likely to remain implacably opposed, it is worth remembering that the Liberal Democrats backed an FTT in their last manifesto. As for Labour, if Ed Miliband is serious about his producers versus predators rhetoric, then he will need to bring our out-of-control financial sector to heel.
If he wants to do this without risking a Eurosceptic backlash then he could always extend the UK's own mini-FTT, the stamp duty on shares to cover derivatives and bonds. Even a small portion of the revenue from this tiny tax could make a massive difference to the hundreds of thousands of people struggling to make ends meet. It could also, for instance, help reverse deep cuts to our public services and protect people from Berkshire to Bangladesh against the extreme weather events that climate is bringing.
It could also do something remarkable and transform the banking community from being the supposed villains to being unprecedentedly popular. I know there are a long line of salaried experts and some individuals who are philosophically opposed to the idea of aid who will declare me, not for the first time, as a well-meaning but profoundly mistaken amateur, or, I quote, "just another celebrity seeking publicity" (I obviously need publicity).
It is true I haven't suddenly become an expert on international affairs or economics, but I am briefed by expert observers I entirely trust. The reason this idea won't go away is because it is such a brilliant and simple way of institutionalising charity.