Dear RN list, Feb. 7 Another "front" for us to think about is the idea of instituting some kind of financial transaction tax (or Tobin tax). In Canada support is being organized for a private Member's Bill (Motion M-239) to support the Tobin Tax idea. (See second message below.) And Roberto Magellan in Brazil sends us news of the French-based ATTAC initiative along the same lines. As he points out, a Tobin tax will not SOLVE the underlying problem, but it deserves our attention for it can contribute to reaching our goal. all the best, Jan ***************************************************************** Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 23:30:09 -0200 From: •••@••.••• (R. Magellan) Subject: Tobin tax discussion draft The French-based organization Attac has sent through the Net a draft for discussion purposes about the Tobin Tax proposal (see it below). Among its authors is the leading French Marxist economist François Chesnais. He seems to be little known in the English-speaking world, but he is one of the most cited authors both in Latin Europe and Latin America about globalization issues. ATTAC has changed its full denomination while keeping its shorth name: now it means Association for a Taxation on financial transactions to Help Citizens (Association pour une Taxation des Transactions financières pour l'Aide aux Citoyens), so quitting its former mention to the Tobin tax. Attac also means "attack" when pronounced in French (attaque) and keeps this meaning in other languages too, as "ataque" in both Spanish and Portuguese and "attaco" in Italian. Nowadays, Attac has two national sections in those countries most vulnerable to heavy speculative attacks ---Brazil (including her main partner, Argentina) and Canada (links in its home page <http://attac.org/> )--- but intends to become a worldwide movement, what it will surely be! In my view, these countries are the most likely to spread a domino effect into the US economy. For several reasons I'm skeptical about the Tobin tax proposition as a means to "tame" the international flows of so called speculative capital and risk hedging currency transfers (mainly short term ones, as the tax is focused on). By the way, I think that the distinction between "speculative" and "productive" capital (or industrial and finance capital) is a delusive and rather ideological one, though it is often deeply rooted in the lefties' minds. At the best, it only makes sense in a certain span of time, since industrial capital must be realized and its fruits (dividends etc.) are to be periodically compared with the prevailing ratio of return, that is ultimately set up by finance capital. By its own economic nature, capital IS speculative. Nevertheless, the Tobin tax, as well as regulatory practices alike, shows that the international economy is manageable someway, what runs against the conventional wisdom shaped by the conservative midia. The authors of the draft proposal are aware of the objections set against the Tobin tax on the grounds of its workability and they refer to some of them, including both tax evasion and tax avoidance (or "tax planning"). Even so, they argue that the difficulties to enact it are political rather than economic ones. They mention the financial quarantines imposed by Chile and Colombia on speculative inflows as an example of successful political will (other countries, including Switzerland, could be added to this list). Let's make a sketch of the draft propositions: a) The Tobin tax is rather symbolic: "its symbolic effect would bear an important political impact." According to the authors, the Tobin tax would cast doubts on the present fatalism about the correlation of forces, that is detrimental to labor. "It would stress once more the needing to make a workable international public regulation to face the instability of capital markets." This tax "would address a strong political admonishment to the main economic agents" [sic! "un avertissement politique fort"]. It does not intend to avoid the great crises, but it could have a pre-emptive effect in moderating the vulnerability to them, not in abolishing them. b) The Tobin tax must be introduced worldwide. A punitive tax should be imposed on the flows coming from and going to tax havens. c) "Today a transaction (un ordre de change) bears up to eight derivate operations (opérations induites), what opens a large and hazardous (inutile) room to speculation. The Tobin tax will reduce the dimension of the markets without paralyzing them. It will work on a pre-emptive basis for rendering certain operations unprofitable and so will avoid the start up of unstabilizing attacks against currencies." d) It is an embryo of international control over financial speculation. "Even if the exchange market is the only concerned, this market is at the core of every financial international operations with all kinds of assets, including long term investments. As long as Tobin tax intends to give back more autonomy to domestic economic policies in relation to the financial speculation with currencies, it will help these former ones" (...) e) The Tobin tax is an initial step towards an international regulation of the financial system and of the present exchange markets, according to the authors. In solidarity, Roberto Magellan Paix entre nous, guerre aux tyrans (....) Ouvriers, paysans, nous sommes Le grand PARTI DES TRAVAILLEURS. (L' Internationale) ################################################################# Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 11:15:26 +0100 To: "Attac" <•••@••.•••> From: •••@••.••• (CS - ATTAC) Subject: Pourquoi soutenir la taxe Tobin ? <snip> Cordialement, Christophe et Emmanuel •••@••.••• <snip> of text in French ******************************************************************** Date: Sat, 06 Feb 1999 00:19:22 -0800 From: Aaron Koleszar <•••@••.•••> Subject: UPDATE - Tobin Tax From: Laura <•••@••.•••> Laura C. Coletta The Council of Canadians •••@••.••• TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE TOBIN TAX NETWORK : Citizen's Declarations are pouring in - thanks for sending and sharing them! Note that the Halifax Intiative site (www. sierraclub.ca/national/halifax) now has an automatic email sendback for those wishing to sign the Citizen's Declaration on line. I have included text of two letters recently sent to MPs in this mailout and urge you to use them (if you wish) in your letterwriting to your MP. The Canadian Labour Congress has just posted its "Put the Brakes on Currency Speculation" campaign on its homepage and from it you can fax your MP directly. Visit the Canadian Labour Congress site at www.clc-ctc.ca/eng.index.html and clicking the FAX YOUR MP icon. Select the "Put the Brakes on Currency Speculation" campaign, type in your name and postal code, and a draft letter(which you can edit) to your MP will appear on your screen. Edit and send! You can also send a letter from the Internet activist 'FAX THE FEDS' site at ww.net-efx.com/faxfeds . Good luck with your letterwriting. Please let us know whether your MP will support the motion. Thanks, Robin Round Regional Coordinator Halifax Initiative PS: M-239 DEBATE Hour 2 of the debate on Motion M-239 will be held on Wednesday, Feb 3rd at 5:30pm. I urge all those in Ottawa that can, to 'head for the Hill' <snip> of sample letters. Please contact Jan <•••@••.•••> or Aaron Koleszar <•••@••.•••> for the full text.