Monday, 21 November 2011

OPINION: The "Tobin Tax" misses the point

Over the past year or there's been a growing call, notably from left-wing politicians, for what's been called a "Tobin Tax" on a variety of financial transactions.

This follows the various bank bailouts and the Eurozone crisis caused, on the whole, by investors gambling, skimming, betting or moving monies from one pot to another at the right time.

The financial markets are, if we were honest, out of control. Millions, billions, trillions are gambled around the world every second and,when things go wrong, banks go bust, governments struggle and the entire world goes into a crisis which could so easily be avoided.

The "Tobin Tax", suggested by Nobel Economics Laureate James Tobin as far back as 1972, would tax all spot conversions of one currency into another. In recent months the call has been to widen the scope of such a scheme into a tax on all financial transactions.

But why? Aren't the transactions, the betting and gambling, the skimming, morally unacceptable?

Instead of taxing the morally corrupt transactions of the world markets why not outlaw the activities?

Isn't taxing something that is morally corrupt just as bad as taking part in it? After all, governments would be financially benefitting.

If a school bully takes lunch money from others in his class the teacher doesn't take a percentage; the bully is punished, the theft is against the school rules.

By calling for a "Tobin Tax" the left has lost the moral high ground and buried its snout in the trough of greed and dodgy dealings it has been objecting too.

Don't tax immoral financial transactions, ban them.

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