If you look up Robin Hood on the Internet, you might see a movie trailer. Or you might stumble upon a band of merry (and fiendishly creative) men and women who have started a popular movement in Robin Hood’s name aiming to take from the rich and give to the poor.

 

During the lead-up to the G8 and G20 summits they’ve persuaded some powerful people to pay attention.

 

Although there’s talk of a worldwide Financial Activities Tax (appropriately called FAT) to be paid and used by banks to stave off bankruptcy, the modern Robin Hooders have a better idea. It’s a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) to help fund services the rest of us need, like transit, health care and environmental protection. Since the money raised would benefit people poorer than the average banker, it’s been dubbed the Robin Hood Tax.

 

The tax would be set at five cents per $100 of investment. (This is one one-hundredth the rate of the GST.) It would generate, mostly from the wealthy, hundreds of billions of dollars annually. As a Sherwood Forester might put it, the richest lords and ladies of our realm have a lot of loot in their carriages.


The Robin Hood Tax would not apply to normal day-to-day banking transactions and would have a negligible effect on investments. It’s been endorsed by hundreds of economists, including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz (who calls it one of the great opportunities of our time) and the European Parliament.


Whenever Canadians call for better transit, health care or environmental protection, we’re told there’s no money. Well, there is money, but the government is looking in the wrong places to find it. Why can’t a guy who buys a piece of a hedge fund afford a nickel on each $100 of investment when the rest of us pay a nickel on the dollar on a piece of pizza?


The middle class shoulders the biggest tax burden, even though others can better afford to pay. You could spend your time moaning that the poor get poorer and the rich richer — or you could go to the Robin Hood Tax website (robinhoodtax.ca/), sing along with the cheeky songs, check out the celebrity skits and look at the proposal. Then join a campaign that’s our best hope for fairness in taxation — and a greener planet.