On Tuesday I joined National Nurses United at their protest in front of the J.P. Morgan headquarters on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The action was focused on the core issue of the damage Wall Street and big banks have done to our society without giving much back. The NNU has also begun a campaign for one possible solution to these harmful practices and the economic inequity which leaves so many struggling to survive: The Robin Hood Tax. This is a financial transaction tax which would tax less than one half of one percent of speculative financial transactions. The result would bring billions of dollars into the federal budget, ameliorate the debt crisis, and provide funds for programs like health care. This is not only an American effort. The Robin Hood Tax has support all around the world.
There were over fifty people in attendance. The nurses were joined by other groups, including VOCAL-NY; Health GAP; ACT UP; PNHP; Unite Here Local 100 (whose members work in the Morgan building cafeteria); Healthcare NOW; Healthcare for the 99%; Jewish Labor Committee; NYPIRG; CWA Local 1180 (President Arthur Cheliotes) NYSNA. I wish more occupiers could have been there, however, there was another event going on at the same time. This was a well planned and organized event with solid messaging to accompany the action. Leaflets containing information regarding the problems with big banks and an explanation of the Robin Hood Tax were handed out. A number of speakers addressed the economic injustice in our society and called for support of the tax which promises to be at least part of a solution to the current disparity that unduly favors the rich.
The NNU campaign for the Robin Hood Tax was launched with a rally in Chicago that was attended by thousands two days before the Anti-NATO march. The action in New York City on June nineteenth was only one of many taking place at J.P. Morgan offices in cities all over the United States on the same day. There was also an action at Congress last week. Jamie Dimon had to be snuck in the back door to the Senate Banking Committee’s (farcical) hearings on J.P. Morgan’s recent loss of nearly three billion dollars in order to avoid the nurses and their allies who took the hallways and made their voices heard (see link below). There have also been actions around the world; including Germany, Canada, and Australia. The coordination of these efforts, the focus on a clear issue and solution, and the commitment to stick it out, serve as a model for carrying out a global action on many fronts. Over the next few months governments will be pressured, actions will be carried out, and the message will be taken to the people. Let us hope this cause is successful. Not only will it provide much needed revenue, it could also show that victory against the 1% is possible.
In and of itself the Robin Hood Tax will not be a panacea for all our grievances, it isn’t meant to be, but its implementation could show people that change is possible. And it may actually be a step toward helping people who have been devastated by the economic collapse, as well as forty years of rampant corporate abuse. The NNU is supportive of the Occupy movement and we share common grievances. I recommend supporting this endeavor. In solidarity, I did wear one of the Robin Hood hats they hand out at events. If that’s not your thing, just being there will be a step in the right direction.
Link to Robin Hood Tax website: http://robinhoodtax.org/