Marketplace Scratch Pad

The Robin Hood Tax

Scott Jagow Feb 12, 2010

Just when you thought the story of bankers vs the people couldn’t get any more surreal, there’s this. A UK coalition launched a campaign this week to support a 0.05% tax on every trade in the global financial markets. The group says the tax could raise $700 billion for the world’s poor and help address climate change. The campaign features a slick video with a famous British actor, plus an online poll. There are also allegations that somebody at Goldman Sachs tampered with the poll’s results.

A coalition including the anti-poverty charity War on Want is behind the call for “The Robin Hood Tax.” War on Want actually proposed this almost a decade ago but is seizing on the public’s current mood to try again. The charity thinks the money should go to fighting poverty, protecting public services and addressing climate change.

At the Robin Hood tax website, the tagline is: Turning a crisis for the banks into an opportunity for the world:

John Hilary, the charity’s executive director, said: “British people have been appalled by bankers’ abuse of public money to pay themselves large bonuses. The Robin Hood tax is a direct way for the banks to repay their debt to society. It is truly an idea whose time has come.”

Here’s the campaign’s video, starring British actor Bill Nighy:

Here’s Nighy discussing the concept on a BBC talk show.

As of writing this post, the poll results were: YES: 30441 votes NO: 3631 votes. But there were a lot more NO votes when the poll first launched. The Robin Hood Tax supporters reportedly looked into it and discovered…

…the unlikely backlash against the rob-the-rich plan – almost 5,000 no votes against the Robin Hood tax within 20 minutes – turned out to emanate from just two computer servers, one of which was registered to the investment bank Goldman Sachs…

More than 1,700 came from a Goldman-registered server, with the rest from what appeared to be a personal address. It was unclear whether the stunt involved an individual or a number of people. Goldman said: “We have just received this information, and we are investigating the matter fully.”

May you live in interesting times.

How would you vote?

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