We should all be giving thanks for the brave souls at Occupy Toronto and all the others around the world. They aren't just freezing their butts off and facing down all the demons of our time; they're turning the tide on the global conversation.
Listen for them at the G20 meeting in Cannes this week. Big players are echoing the Occupy demand for a new financial transaction tax because it's the most hopeful and holistic option on the table.
The simple truth is that we live in taxing times. Literally.
To keep the global economy moving, people have to spend money. That isn't going to happen, because, to understate the problem, our incomes aren't there and debt is tapped out. That leaves government spending.
But bad politics has played a big hand. We all know the downward spiral. Unemployment gets worse as governments cut taxes -- especially for the wealthy. Then social spending triggers debt crisis. Welcome to a world economy on the brink of another credit meltdown and global recession.
We remember from the last financial crisis that public spending is the only way out. Even Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has mumbled about the need for stimulus if global recession takes hold, all the while claiming that Canada is all good. Yeah, right.
The Occupy movement has put it all on the table. We need government to step up and meet the needs of our human family instead of leading us further into the clutches of the masters of commerce who have utterly failed us.
We need meaningful work to address this profound mess through major social investments in green infrastructure, education, health and more.
It's tax innovation time.
The voices in favour of a financial transaction (or Robin Hood) tax are piling up. The 27-member European Union is considering the tax, with German leader Angela Merkel's and French president Nicolas Sarkozy's strong endorsement. Bill Gates has added his support. Hundreds of esteemed economists and lawmakers have publicly signed on. But thank you, Occupy movement, for giving legs and heart to this heady demand. And only this ongoing grassroots mobilization can make sure that whatever positive tax changes we win aren't hijacked once again by that wily 1 per cent.
This article was first published in Now Magazine.
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