|Franco-German Alliance Pushes Global Tax Against America|
By Cliff Kincaid
President, America's Survival, Inc.
A closed-door meeting of left-wing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) was held on January 16, 2003, in Washington, D.C. to consider how to apply international financial pressure through a global tax on the U.S. Bruno Jetin, a representative of ATTAC France, spoke to the gathering and acknowledged in private conversation that his group works hand-in-glove with the French Communist Party and the "Socialist parties on the Left." A representative of the embassy of France in the U.S. was listed as a participant.
ATTAC stands for the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens. The International ATTAC Movement was created at an international meeting in Paris on December 11-12, 1998. It claims 80,000 members worldwide and an international network of independent national and local groups in 33 countries. It claims 20,000 members in France alone.
Their goal is implementation of the Tobin Tax, named after the late Yale University economist James Tobin. His proposal was for a tax on international currency transactions in the foreign currency markets. The global tax effort is a key facet of an international campaign to isolate, resist and ultimately overcome the U.S. position of dominance in the world.
The foreign currency markets are considered the world's largest -- between $1.2 trillion and $2 trillion a day is exchanged. Proponents call the Tobin tax the "Robin Hood tax" because it supposedly taxes the rich to benefit the poor. But it would affect ordinary Americans' savings accounts, IRAs, Mutual Funds and pensions - any vehicle with money that is invested abroad. Possible revenues from such a tax have been estimated in the billions or even trillions of dollars a year.
The January 16 meeting was followed by a January 18 "anti-war" demonstration in Washington, D.C. organized by the communist Workers World Party that dew about 150,000. Then, opponents of the war claimed a "mobilization" of 10 million people in at least 700 cities on February 15, 2003.
ATTAC sees this anti-U.S. sentiment as "clear proof" that the movement against globalization "is for the first time affirmed as a global issue capable of inspiring mobilization at a planetary level in historically unprecedented quantitative and qualitative dimensions." It appears that many of the anti-globalization groups are participating in "direct action" against the war.
ATTAC highlighted a Washington Post article noting that more than 120 activists from 28 countries emerged from an all-day
strategy session in London over the March 2 weekend "with plans not just to protest a prospective U.S.-led war against Iraq but to prevent it from
happening." The organizers included Larry Holmes of the Workers World Party.
San Francisco anarchists plan to immobilize downtown San Francisco when the war against Iraq starts, and a British newspaper reports there are analogous plans to "shut Britain down" when the war begins. There is a possibility of large-scale civil disorder in the U.S. and the UK if war begins, and there may be international coordination for these disorders.
The Rise of Anti-American Forces
ATTAC has distributed an article by Walden Bello, professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines and executive director of Focus on the Global South, a Bangkok-based analysis and advocacy institute, which contends that
- The "burgeoning global movement against corporate- driven
globalization" has "fused with the anti-war movement to form a powerful anti-US front at the level of international civil society" [i.e. NGOs]
- The opposition by France and Germany to a U.S. war on Iraq has "accelerated the decline of the Atlantic Alliance of the Cold War era."
- There is a rebirth of "balance of power politics, with the lesser powers moved into active cooperation to contain" U.S. influence.
- China and Russia have joined France and Germany against the U.S.
- Developing countries like Brazil and perhaps even South Korea are eventually joining the anti-U.S. coalition.
- Other "movements of global resistance" to the U.S. emerging, including "the Islamic fundamentalists, have made tremendous gains among the Arab and Muslim masses owing to the U.S. mailed-fist response to September 11 events and its alliance with Israel."
- The coming war on Iraq will weaken "the so-called moderate regimes in the Arab and Muslim world" and force their replacement by "governments uncompromising in their resistance to US interventionism."
- There will be a possible emergence of "Radical Islamic regimes in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia."
- Elements of this movement will be assuming "state power in a number of countries in the coming years," having already done so in Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
- Islamic fundamentalism and the anti-corporate globalization movement are providing "diplomatic and material weight to the
containment of the US" and eroding "the legitimacy of the American enterprise" and exposing it "for what it is: a naked bid for hegemony."
Bruno Jetin of France said ATTAC doesn't have a formal U.S. affiliate but that his group works with Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research. CEPR reports that it receives 85 percent of its funds from the Ford Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Baker stated at the forum that proposals for a global tax might gather support in the U.S. if politicians said that the proceeds would go for health care, education and other such matters.
A variation of such a proposal was offered by Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) at the request of Democratic leader Tom Daschle in 1996. Entitled, "Scrambling to Pay the Bills: Building Allies for America's Working Families," the Bingaman report called for a securities transfer excise tax (STET) that would extend to transactions by individuals, corporations, and tax-exempt pension funds and would apply to stocks, bonds, options, futures, swaps of currency, interest rates and other assets.
By his calculations, the tax could generate anywhere from $27 billion to $62 billion a year that the federal government could spend on education, work force training and other liberal programs. He said its implementation would have to be coordinated with other G-7 countries (U.S, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain) and would, therefore, be the beginning of the Tobin Tax on a global scale.
A U.S. Congress Concurrent Resolution on "Taxing Cross-border Currency Transactions to Deter Excessive Speculation"
(H.Con.Res.301) was introduced on April 11, 2000, by Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and the late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN).
Another U.S.-based group supporting these efforts is the Center for Environmental Economic Development, which acts "in solidarity with our international partners," including ATTAC France.
Other U.S. groups endorsing the Tobin Tax include:
Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment
National Lawyers Guild
50 years is Enough National Network
RAN (Rainforest Action Network)
Seventh Generation Fund
New Financial Rules Mean a Global Tax
The January 16 meeting, organized by an ad hoc group called the "New Rules for Global Finance Coalition," included several representatives of the International Monetary Fund. It constitutes another manifestation of the international campaign led by the governments of France and Germany to press for adoption of a global tax to redistribute the world's wealth away from the U.S. The "New Rules for Global Finance Coalition" includes Emira Woods of Interaction, the foreign aid lobby; and Jamie Baker and Jo Marie Griesgraber of OXFAM America.
The event was underwritten by the U.S. Mott and the German-based Boell Foundations and held at the Carnegie Conference Center, 1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. The Boell Foundation is named after the German author who won the 1972 Nobel Prize for Literature. It was a major funder of the global forum of non-governmental organizations that preceded the U.N. "Financing for Development" conference in Mexico. This forum, which featured several officials from Communist Cuba, urged adoption of a global tax on currency transactions. Fidel Castro endorsed the measure at the U.N. summit.
The German Green Party rules Germany in collaboration with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Gerhard Schroeder. The SPD is an affiliate of the Socialist International.
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, a Green Party member, has come under criminal investigation for his association with members of terrorist organizations such as Hans-Joachim Klein, an accomplice of the pro-Palestinian terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal. Fischer himself was reported to have participated in Palestine Liberation Organization camps in Jordan and to have attended a 1969 PLO meeting that called for "final victory" over Israel.
At the January 16 conference, the Boell Foundation representative made a point at the gathering of saying that the German government had endorsed the Tobin Tax. The German Ministry for Development, which dispenses foreign aid, has commissioned a study, "On the Feasibility of a Currency Transaction Tax," which was published on February 20. It urges Europe to impose a currency transaction tax (CTT) as a first step toward global implementation of the measure. Fischer's party is officially on record in support of the CTT.
In Germany, ATTAC Deutschland, DGB (the German
Federation of Trade Unions), and VENRO (the Association of German Development NGOs) have issued a declaration, Making Globalization Equitable, which demands that the new German Government and the newly elected Bundestag take on "greater commitment for a socially and ecologically more equitable world order with a democratic countenance."
This includes a global tax on Americans. The declaration calls for a "debate on innovative funding sources on an international
level." It specifically cites the "Tobin Tax or use fees for global common goods" and urges that it "be actively pushed ahead."
The Role of George Soros
Billionaire George Soros has joined the campaign, having declared last October at the London School of Economics that the Tobin Tax is a "valid suggestion" for raising international revenue and that opposition to implementing the tax can be overcome.
AFL-CIO former assistant director of public policy, Thomas Palley, was a featured speaker at the January 16 event. Palley wrote an article for the May-June 2001 issue of Challenge that made "the Case for an International Currency Transactions Tax." He is now the director of the Globalization Reform Project at Soros' Open Society Institute, which claims operations in 50 countries. The Open Society Institute's office in Washington, D.C. is headed by Morton H. Halperin, a former associate of CIA defector Philip Agee who served as the "Senior Director for Democracy" at the National Security Council under President Clinton.
The January 16 meeting was followed by a "Tobin Tax Meeting for Organizers & NGOs" on January 17 at the headquarters of Dean Baker's Center for Economic Policy Research. The CEPR identifies itself as a not-for-profit research and educational institution in Washington, DC, which "together with the Halifax Initiative in Vancouver, Canada, is conducting a program of research and education on the benefits of a small tax on financial transactions -- often called a 'Tobin Tax' after one of its earliest advocates, Nobel Laureate economist James Tobin. Such a tax would discourage speculation, increase the efficiency of financial markets and the tax system, raise revenues, and shift the burden of taxation away from the bottom of the income distribution."
Baker's Web site features a link to ATTAC France and a call by "world economists" for a global Tobin Tax. His presentation at the January 16 conference was on how the collection of Tobin Taxes could be enforced.
The "Halifax Initiative" in Canada is led by Robin Round, who told an NGO conference in Montreal last October that "one of the major obstacles is the U.S." but that the global tax proposal is still "feasible." She declared, "It is easy to track these [financial] transactions and it is easy to tax them." She said the proposal for a global tax had "come a long way" in just several years and that its adoption on a worldwide basis was within their grasp. She expressed the hope that international taxes could be sold to the public at large in the name of stabilizing the financial situation. Round said most of these transactions "go through U.S. dollars" and U.S. banks. She said many groups sympathetic to the U.N. "are encouraged by the prospect of the revenue generated by the tax" - amounting to tens of billions of dollars.
The coordinators of the January 17 follow-up meeting were Ruthanne Cecil of the Tobin Tax Initiative-USA, and Aaron Lehmer and James Phelan of the Grassroots Globalization Network. Cecil spoke at the January 16 meeting, warning participants to avoid use of the phrase "global tax" in pushing the proposal.
Activists from Germany, the U.S. and other countries were present at a Washington conference in 2002, urging international pressure on the Bush administration to support global taxes, the creation of more global agencies, and cuts in American living standards in the name of "sustainable development" for the world.
Hilary French, who runs the "Global Governance Project" of U.S.-based Worldwatch Institute, suggested that Americans had to get over "the sovereignty thing" and embrace global taxes. She endorsed an international currency tax to generate as much as $300 billion a year for global agencies.
"A lot of these ideas are more accepted in Europe," where people are "more accepting of government and taxation" and a European Union has emerged to eclipse the power of national governments, she said. However, she insisted that the U.S. government could be pressured to go along with a global tax scheme if Europe and the rest of the world "shame the United States" and depict us as out of step with the international consensus.
French spoke to an audience that included representatives of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the British and South African embassies.
The U.N. Role
France, under its then-Socialist Prime Minister Francois Mitterand, was a big booster of global taxes at the 1995 U.N.-sponsored World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen, Denmark.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan commissioned a 2001 report that called for "new sources of multilateral finance" - global taxes. The report was produced by a panel that included Bill Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin.
In a March 2002 report entitled "Global Taxes for Global Priorities," a powerful U.N.-backed non-governmental organization (NGO), the Global Policy Forum, declared:
The time for concerted action has come…Like-minded governments and citizen groups must advance together towards the goal of global taxes. The U.N. has the authority and capacity to address this agenda, and so to pave the way for a just and sustainable global future.
In addition to the Tobin Tax on financial transactions, the Global Policy Forum suggested global taxes on fossil fuels, aviation fuel, emails and the Internet, world trade, the arms trade, deep-sea fishing and "parking" satellites in space.
A German U.N. official, Dr. Inge Kaul of the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), has directed the push for a global tax. An official UNDP report, "Global Public Goods Financing: New Tools for New Challenges," includes a Harvard professor's call for an international tax to finance U.N. environmental programs, "peacekeeping" operations, and to "provide transfers to poor countries" from the U.S.
The same report includes another article calling for the creation of "international tax systems" with an "international authority" that amounts to a global IRS.
Kaul, a 20-year veteran of the U.N., was an editor of an official 1999 U.N. book, Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century, which says that "a world tax organization [must be] contemplated" and that, "with respect to tax policy, perhaps the most prominent idea is that of economist James Tobin for a tax on all cross-border financial transactions, in the hope of decreasing such flows and making them more manageable."
Kaul was the same U.N. official who presided over a 1994 edition of the U.N.'s Human Development Report that featured an article endorsing world government. She was an editor of a 318-page book, The Tobin Tax, published in 1996, completely devoted to this particular global tax scheme.
Equally alarming, an official document from the U.N. Division for Sustainable Development, "Finance for Sustainable Development: The Road Ahead," calmly discussed a "form of international taxation" consisting of "a tax imposed by a sovereign international government under sovereignty surrendered or relinquished to it by national governments."
The document goes on to say that a "world government" might co-exist alongside national governments and be able to tax their citizens on its own.
The same division also published "Finance for Sustainable Development: The Road Ahead," containing the proceedings of the Fourth Expert Group Meeting on Financial Issues of Agenda 21, which met in Santiago, Chile, back in January 1997. One section of the book, "Innovative financial mechanisms for sustainable development," emphasizes how "political obstacles to international taxation" can be overcome. This book laid the groundwork for the U.N.'s World Summit on Sustainable Development, which was a follow-up to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.
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