Robin Hood 2.0

Forget Russell Crowe. Global campaigners for financial transactions taxes have done way more to bring back Robin Hood’s spirit of equity.

Activists in 25 countries, many of them sporting green tights and feathered caps, carried out coordinated actions this week to increase pressure on governments to adopt small levies on trades of stock, currency, and other financial instruments as a way to curb speculation while raising hundreds of billions of dollars in newfound revenue for urgent needs.

Images from these actions have been mapped out to illustrate the global breadth of this campaign, from Nepal to Mexico in the global South and from Canada to Japan in the North.

  • In Germany, a merry band of Robin Hoods and Maid Marians blended in with celebrities at the Berlinale film festival, arriving in a white limousine with their own red carpet.
  • In London, pensioners, public sector workers, students, and unemployed people affected by the UK government’s spending cuts joined campaigners dressed as Robin Hood to hand a giant “final demand” notice into a number of banks.
  • In Washington, activists drummed up support for the Investing in our Future Act of 2011, a just-introduced bill by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) that would tax currency trades to raise money for U.S. deficit reduction and climate and global health programs.

    IPS joined a wide range of environmental, labor, faith and other groups in a letter to President Obama endorsing the bill and staged a photo-op in front of the White House. They also visited the French embassy, where charge d’affaires Francois Rivasseau expressed appreciation for the efforts by global civil society to “make noise” in support of financial transactions taxes. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is the current head of the G-20 and has vowed to push for action on this issue within that group of the largest economies.

    The Global Day of Action for Financial Transactions Taxes coincided with the G-20 finance ministers meeting this week in Paris. While G-20 consensus in support of financial transactions taxes would be ideal, much more likely is a “coalition of the willing approach” in which France, Germany, and other countries agree to lead the way.

    Once they begin generating significant revenue, the Obama administration may wonder why they’re missing out.