By Howard Dyckoff

Wearing green caps with feathers, a merry band of protesters marched ON Citibank and Wells Fargo in the crisp late afternoon air this Tuesday. Later they attended the City Council meeting and successfully urged the city to pass a measure in support of the “Robin Hood Tax” campaign. The measure passed the council unanimously.

Earlier in the day, these protesters and other volunteers held a Robin Hood Fair at City Hall near the State building at 1500 block of Clay Street.

The organizations in the Robin hood Tax coalition included ACCE, the California Nurses Association, EBASE and SEIU. They are advocating the support of state and local governments for HR 1579,  which imposes a  tax on financial transactions.

Jose Vargas, who help coordinate the bank march, explained that “I am here due to the injustices committed against me and my family. I got involved over 4 years ago but the fight is not over. We still have a record number of foreclosures, we still have people split apart and we still have people unemployed. We just want the banks to know that we’re here and we want to fix this problem.”


The big idea behind the Robin Hood Tax is to generate hundreds of billions of dollars from Wall Street transactions and use that as funding for jobs and to to kick start the economy.  This small tax of ½ of 1% on financial transactions can gather over a hundred billion dollars each year in the US alone.

The tag line on the web site is “It’s not a tax on the people, but a tax for the
people.” Also on the web site: “We are union members, nurses, small business owners, community organizers, faith leaders, AIDS activists, environmentalists, movie stars and musicians,” as a description of how broad supoort for the initiative is. Well-known supporters include Al Gore, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, economist Paul Volker, and David Stockman, who was President Regan’s Budget Director in the 1980s.

Citibank on Broadway was the first target of the protest and the group of over 20 Robin Hoods entered from the City Center side without incident. They began chanting to support the Robin Hood tax and also for the bank personnel to fax a demand letter to the CitiBank headquarters. Although bank security employees and officers requested that the protesters leave, they stayed, demanding that their letter be faxed and a confirmation be provided. After 15 minutes, the bank manager did exactly that and the protesters left to go to Wells Fargo, a block further down Broadway.

The protesters were less successful at Wells Fargo where only 4 or 5 gained entry while the larger group marched in a circle by the entrance. It was already after 5 pm and the Well Fargo branch was closing.

Several OPD officers engaged with the protested organizers and later offered to escort the
protesters out of the bank without restraint or arrest. After the leaving Wells Fargo, the
protesters went back to city hall and registered to speak at the City Council meeting, where the proposal passed unanimously.


City Council members Rebecca Kaplan and Dan Kalb (C) with California Nurses who spoke in favor of the national tax. Phot0 courtesy of Robin Hood Tax USA.


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One Response

  1. Rhone

    Robin Hood Tax orginization is based in Europe. They are conning the public that this is only a bank tax. They are taxing personal investments: stocks, bonds, union pensions, savings, money market, retirement accounts….. Everything and anything that had nothing to do with the financial crisis. My fund manager is not a banker. My market maker is not a banker. I’m not a banker. And bankers will not pay for banking activities, the public, businesses and economy will. European Scrutiny Committee citing EU Commission’s FTT Impact Assessment: “The Minister next discusses the Commission’s impact assessment accompanying the proposal, saying that: a 3.43 % fall in EU GDP equates to a fall in economic output worth €421 (£362) billion and a 0.34% fall in employment equates to a loss of 812,000 jobs.”

    The tax destroys its own revenue base. In the US, there would be a GDP loss of $549 billion that would have been taxed at approximately 40pc for a loss to various governments of $220 billion. The tax they are proposing is 5-10 times higher than in the proposal in Europe. Expect the damage to be 10 times greater. The US will have negative growth for decades.

    In addition to substantial losses on investment yields, the public can expect significant cost increases for insurance, mortgages, products and services. IMF’s FTT Final Report For The G-20, June 2010, “Its real burden may fall largely on final consumers rather than, as often seems to be supposed, earnings in the financial sector.”

    The rate is multiples more than the claimed 1% tax rate. IMF: “Because it is levied on every transaction, the cumulative, ‘cascading’ effects of an FTT—tax being charged on values that reflect the payment of tax at earlier stages—can be significant and non-transparent.” EFAMA Impact Analysis, “The actual effect of the tax is likely to be even more severe because the tax actually applies various times to each transaction (the so-called “cascading effect” that could give rise to multiple taxation of up to 10 times).” Each of our personal transactions would pay the cumulative results as everyone gets taxed from fund manager, broker, market maker, vendor, clearing firm, etc., and back again. Businesses conduct financial activities that produce products and services that we buy. We pay the tax through higher prices of those products.


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