Financial speculation tax gains transction as nurses rally

From the West Coast of the United States to the Mediterranean Coast of France, demonstrators rallied for a fair tax on financial speculation to be used for public investments that would put people back to work and heal some of the misery caused by the financial crash of 2008 and the subsequent recession. On the day of the rally, members of the US Congress filed a bill entitled the Targeted Wall Street Trading Tax.

“A real finance tax would generate $350 billion a year in the U.S. alone and bring relief to families out of homes, friends out of work, patients out of care, communities running out of time,” said Karen Higgins, RN and co-president of National Nurses United, the largest organization of professional nurses in the US. “The tax starts a revenue flow back to the 99 percent.  To oppose it, or even delay it, is to court disaster.” Higgins was speaking at Washington DC rally in support of the financial speculation tax.

The financial speculation tax advocated by Higgins and the NNU would tax speculative trades such as the buying and selling of derivatives and other speculative investments at a modest rate, diverting a small portion of these transactions worth trillions of dollars into national treasuries that could use the money to finance public projects and services that put people back to work.

About 2,000 people attended the NNU Washington DC event that began at Lafayette Park across from the White House and ended at the at the offices of the US Treasury. Other unions joined the march and rally as did people from Occupy Wall Street and Occupy DC.

As union members and their supporters rallied in the streets, members of the Populist Caucus in the US Congress announced that they had filed the Targeted Wall Street Trading Tax. “This trading tax would help raise necessary funds to invest in our infrastructure and the education of our children, among other priorities, and would do so without hurting job creation.  There is no question that Wall Street can easily bear this modest tax.” said Sen. Tom Harkin, one of the bill’s sponsors.

“The first step on the long path to recovery happens when we rein in the excessive speculative activity that has destabilized our financial system,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, another of the bill’s sponsors. “This legislation will curb unnecessary speculation and generate needed revenue to help our cash-strapped federal government pay down debt and invest in the real economy to benefit all Americans.”

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, the NNU rallies for a financial speculation tax were joined by members of the Occupy movement on the West Coast and other union members. Erin Carrera, a nurse for 20 years told the San Francisco Appeal that she was at the rally because she and her fellow nurses have had an up-close and personal view of the damage done by the economic downturn. “We, more than anyone, can see the effects the economy is having on our community,” Carrera said.

Carrera told the Appeal that she has seen working people who have health insurance put off having a tumor removed because they can’t afford it.

Meanwhile across the ocean, NNU held a press conference during the G-20 meeting in Cannes. The G-20 is a gathering of leaders from the world’s 20 largest national economies.

At the press conference, NNU members were joined by nurses from four continents and environmental and consumer groups in their demand for financial speculation tax.

“We have to put an end to sterile, non-productive, casino-style trading and cyberspace gambling with our economy,”  said British actor and Oxfam Global Ambassador Bill Nighy, who  attended the Cannes press conference.

In a recent report from Cannes, The Guardian, one of the United Kingdom’s leading daily newspapers said that the idea for a tax on financial speculation is gaining some traction even among conservative governments. It was a topic for discussion when the G-20 met, and it is supported by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


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