New Push for Global Taxes: A Renewed Drive for Global Taxation Threatens to Accomplish the UN's Goal of an International Revenue Service That Would Collect Taxes from Every Person on the Planet. (Cover Story: United Nations)
Bonta, Steve, The New American
Perhaps it was an unintended irony, but the subject of global taxation -- one of the main attractions at the UN's Monterrey summit -- came at the worst possible time for those of us staring April 15th in the face. Americans and most other people these days are already taxed up to their eyeballs, yet the architects of the new world order are pushing more and more aggressively for a global taxation regime. To be sure, the idea of global taxes isn't new, but over the last four years or so, several global tax proposals have acquired dangerous new political momentum, thanks to the coordinated efforts of the internationalist establishment and the relentless "pressure from below" being applied by a phalanx of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The granddaddy of all global tax proposals, the currency transaction tax (CTT) or "Tobin tax," was first proposed by Yale economist James Tobin in the 1970s. Tobin suggested using an international levy on currency "speculation" to "throw some sand in the wheels of our excessively efficient international markets." Extreme instabilities in currency exchange rates, resulting in frequent "currency crises," were brought about in the first place by the worldwide abandonment of precious metal standards. The Tobin tax, therefore, is a remedy being offered by the same folks who created the problem in the first place. But it's fashionable to blame currency traders and other private sources of international capital, rather than irresponsible inflationary policies, for the havoc wrought by market forces that punish the purveyors of fiat currency.
The many currency crises of the 1990s gave the Tobin tax new political momentum. German economist and IMF advisor Paul-Bernd Spahn, heir-apparent to the recently deceased James Tobin, began promoting an updated, two-tiered version of the currency transaction tax. The Spahn version would be applied at a much higher rate during episodes of currency instability, thereby supposedly discouraging so-called speculative attacks.
1998 was a banner year for the Tobin tax, and is regarded by many of its proponents as the beginning of a successful worldwide campaign to bring the CTT to fruition. In that year, Global Policy Forum, an influential think tank headquartered on UN grounds in New York, initiated its Internet information program on the Tobin tax. As if on cue, two influential NGOs, the U.S.-based Tobin Tax Initiative and France's Association for Transaction Taxes to Aid Citizens (ATTAC), sprang up and started a carefully coordinated international campaign to promote the Tobin tax. On April 1st of that same year, AFL-CIO leader John Sweeney, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, expressed support for the Tobin tax as a tool to "slow short-term speculation."
The new campaign bore almost immediate results. The Tobin Tax Initiative and ATTAC burgeoned in numbers (ATTAC now has tens of thousands of members worldwide, and is always a prominent participant in high-profile protests against globalization, such as the recent demonstrations in Barcelona, Spain). Other influential NGOs jumped on the Tobin tax bandwagon, including England's War On Want, Canada's Halifax Initiative, and Belgium's International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE). On March 23, 1999, the Canadian House of Commons passed a motion recommending that the government should "enact a tax on financial transactions in concert with the international community." On April 11, 2000, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) introduced a resolution in the U.S. Congress recommending that "the United States should show leadership by enacting, in concert with the international community, transaction taxes on short-term, cross-border foreign exchange transactions to deter speculation. The adoption of such Tobin-style taxes should be done in coordination with a large number of nations . …