Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

This Post Paid for by: “Americans for the Bestest Darned America Ever” – Tom Rossi

Last week I spent a day with the California Clean Money Campaign on a trip to the capital of California, Sacramento. I, the group’s leadership, and more than 100 volunteers were trying to get a bill through the California Assembly designated AB 1148 – the California Disclose Act.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with how political ads work these days. At the end of some mudslinging or some glory-making, in a tiny, almost unreadable font at the bottom of the screen (maybe accompanied by a super fast voice) it says that this ad was paid for by, “Americans for a Stronger America,” or Citizens for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

I’m sure that, like me, you’ve all wondered, “Do groups of ordinary citizens really get together and decide to do things like… make it nearly impossible to form a Community Choice Aggregation program? Really? Well, no. In this particular case, California Proposition 16, it was a big, powerful energy corporation, PG&E that funded the initiative.

In this ad, PG&E actually does appear in the, “paid for by…” fine print at the end of the ad.

But it’s buried neatly between, “Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote,” and, “A Coalition of Taxpayers, Business and Labor,” (Does any of that fool anybody?). But many ads hide their major funders completely so that all you see are the names of the ad hoc organizations that have been created simply to promote or oppose a particular legislative bill.

From this,

to this.

One of the things I like about AB 1148 is that it’s rules apply equally to everyone. Corporations, labor unions, Koch brothers, George Soros, everyone. And it is certainly not a limit to free speech. It simply requires that, if you want to put a point of view out there, you should be identified with that point of view.

But AB 1148 will also serve to ferret out those who are just plain opposed to Democracy. Those who oppose AB1148 will clearly identify themselves as plutocrats or simply as profiteers in a caustically unbalanced system. Word is that the only opposition to surface, so far, are major media outlets. Natch.

Please click here and find your California Assembly member and call, write a letter, or at least email with your support for AB 1148.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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Is Nowhere Sacred?

Now I don’t shop that often at Whole Foods on account of the higher prices (even if there is a better, healthier choice). In fact, I once won a $50 voucher and took my wife there on a very memorable date. How did it go? You remember the Willy Wonka story right?

There is a Whole Foods near a building full of dental specialists where my dentist sends me when even he can’t work his magic, and I often leave there numb, sore, in pain, and fall into the warm embrace of the Whole Food isles.

So you can imagine my shock to discover that a young man, who by all accounts was considered a rising star by his employers in a Philadelphia store, found himself fired…for being a Muslim.

Apparently, Glen Mack Jnr.’s supervisor ‘discovered’ that Glen was spending his  vacation, which had been approved months beforehand, making a pilgrimage to Mecca. His boss tried to withdraw the vacation time, purportedly telling Glen: “You can choose. It’s either your job or your religion,”

Glen took his vacation and when he returned, he found himself harassed, demoted, and finally his position was terminated a couple of months later. His position was demoted to part-time and he lost his benefits, including health care.  When he complained to Human Resources, he was apparently ridiculed and harrased when he went to pray, often besides the dumpsters.

Glen Mack Jnr.

Glen did not mount a multimillion dollar law suit against Whole Foods. Apparently, he just wants his job back and this has won him the support of the effective, grassroots organization Change.org. If you click on the link, you will reach a petition calling for Glen’s reinstatement and the creation of a sensitivity training for management.

I went into the Whole Foods website  They have a page dedicated to the core values and have an impressive section entitled: We Support Team Excellence and Happiness. You can read it yourself, but it does give me hope that Whole Foods, who has unquestionable quality in its products, might just have a bad apple or two in its Philadelphia staff.

When asked why HR ignored his request for help, Glen doesn’t trash the company. He thinks that given Whole Foods’ high values, they just couldn’t conceive that such behavior could be happening in their stores.

If this is the case, Whole Foods management will take action fast and remedy the situation. If not, customers will find excellent alternative venues to buy their food. We like it organic, fresh and tolerant.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Robin Hood Tax – The Musical Post

I recently spent two posts (here and here) and possibly a couple of thousand words to explain the Robin Hood Tax.  Here is a young and talented musicianJonathan Mann – who managed to sum it up in two and a half minutes.

Jonathan, who is apparently for both writing a song a day and having a propensity to sometimes perform in the buff,  would probably want me to point out that you can download this song and that he has also just recorded an album that can be found here.

Have a very musical weekend, everyone.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Occupy Gardens – Roger Ingalls

There’s a new movement in town and it’s a good one. Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Gardens is plotting to hit the ground planting this Spring. The goal is to create urban gardens and feed the hungry.
 
 
This is the perfect protest. It slaps Wall Street, banks, big business and their political cronies right in the face. An alternative means for people to provide for themselves or others is not what these debt creation Czars want.

Deregulation in the early 2000s now allows investors to treat food staples like crude oil and corporate stocks. Wall Street is getting their grubby little fingers around the world’s food supply and playing the speculator game by betting on the price of hunger. We’ve all felt the rise in food prices and it’s not all tied to bad weather. The wings of Wall Street greed are spreading.

Growing food in cities and suburbs will bypass the industrial food system financed by money Czars and will have a positive impact in the community. Here are a few examples:

1)      The organic garden foods will by healthier and tastier.

2)      Growing your own food creates a sense of well-being and empowerment.

3)      Home and urban gardens have a net-positive environmental impact, whereas, industrial farming is disastrous to air, water and soil.

4)      Decentralized food systems (localized) eliminate food deserts and improves security.

5)      The benefits from urban farming are numerous.

Planting season starts in a few months so prepare for a new movement. Occupy Gardens is in the planning stages but appears to be well organized; it should have good traction and big teeth.

As you start Spring cleaning this year, set aside those old gardening tools, seeds and buckets and donate them to the movement when it hits your town. Grab a few bags of new seed and spend a few hours planting with the Occupy Gardeners. You’ll feel good.

Peas be with you.

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Gaza and Facebook Pt. 2

This post follows on from Monday’s post regarding the progression of the Internet in Gaza,  a politically ravaged and poor country which has a huge proportion of its population under the age of thirty.

Dr. Saidam - the Palestinian Mr. IT.

The image that Gaza is a technologically backward country is wrong according to Dr. Sabri Saidam. Gaza has the largest number of Facebook users in the world per capita and (also per capita) the largest number of video conferencing in the world is also in the Palestinian territories. “The legislative council used to meet through video conferencing in the West Bank and Gaza,” says Saidam.

“There were medical exams conducted over the Internet. My mother, who lives in Gaza, has a heart problem. She comes to Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem for treatment. And in so many cases, she was refused permission to go back to Gaza after treatment. That’s one of the reasons I was trying to promote Internet treatment so people wouldn’t have to travel. People take it for granted because the culture of IT is so embedded in society, but there are economic hardships that prevent people from acquiring technology, even though 94 percent use cell phones.”

Saidam has worked hard to teach about social media and the Internet. He launched an initiative to encourage those who use the Internet to teach their parents, as well as stay-at-home mothers, to use the computer and to surf the Internet. He also hosts a radio program in which he advises listeners about what should not be publicized on Facebook. If they surf in other countries, he tells them, they need to bear in mind that their boss has the ability to surf their page. He also warns that the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, can monitor them as well.

This is no idol scaremongering as Saidam is keenly aware that it is Israeli companies who provide Palestinian telecommunication services. “This is a prime source of intelligence for the Shabak [Shin Bet], Mossad and whatever,” he says. “Everybody here publishes his or her beliefs and opinions and pictures and family news – everything. I tell them: You are the owner of the information. Whatever you are hesitant about – don’t release it.”

Saidam is frustrated that Palestinian politicians seem apprehensive about utilizing the Internet because they have no control over those who surf it. “But then they came to realize that it’s something that is totally out of the censorship scissors, nobody can gag anybody else, it’s a free world.”

The now infamous Third Intifada Facebook page that was closed by Facebook because it was inciting violence, Saidam points out, was created in Lebanon – not in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. However, once the page was closed this served only to excite young Palestinians who opened several more such pages and websites.

Internet communication has led to a number of peace initiatives that are coordinated between activists from all countries in the region. Whether this leads to more peaceful initiatives or a third Intifada remains to be seen.

Whichever way it turns, the potential for information to flow strengthens the hope that people on both sides of the conflict will have the ability to make more informed choices and possibly form low-barrier connections with those on the other side.

The Internet may yet hold the key to peace. But first, we need to ensure that as many people as possible are using it.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

I Hate Obama – Tom Rossi

Republican candidate debate, January 7, 2012

Rick Perry: “I hate Obama.”

Rick Santorum: “No, I hate him more!”

Newt Gin-grinch: “I not only hate Obama, but EVERY bad thing EVER is his fault.”

Ron Paul: “I have some good ideas, some crazy ideas, and some that just show what an adorable simpleton I really am. Here’s what…”

Mitt Romney: “Let me interrupt here to point out that Ron Paul just doesn’t hate Barack Obama enough. I REALLY hate him!”

Rick Santorum: “I haven’t heard anybody up here blame Obama. It’s all his fault and I hate him.”

Newt Gin-grinch: “I’d like to contradict myself within the same sentence and then add that I blame Obama for everything and I really, really hate him.”

Jon Huntsman: “I’d like to sound intelligent and presidential while I blame Obama.”

Mitt Romney: “I’d like to insult you by calling you an Obama lover and add that I hate Obama.”

Rick Perry: “I don’t just believe in Jesus, but I’d like to point out that Obama is the devil and I really hate him.”

Newt Gin-grinch: “I think we should have a negative tax rate for the Wall Street corporations that caused this economic collapse – the government should pay them. Obama is just too stupid to see this as the obvious answer to all our problems.”

Ron Paul: “I will do exactly what Republicans say they want. But they will never elect me because they are liars and hypocrites.”

Rick Santorum: “Well, it’s clear that Dr. Paul doesn’t hate Obama nearly enough. Until he blames Obama much more, he will always be an also-ran.”

Rick Perry: “I had really hoped that people would notice my new Ronald Reagan haircut. Oh… and did I mention that I hate Obama?”

George Stephenopoulis: “I’d like to ask a thoughtful question that would illuminate your policy positions in a certain area…”

Mitt Romney: “I don’t want to insult you or anyone’s intelligence, but I’d like to ignore your question and say that none of my opponents hate Obama as much as I do and I also have a striking profile.”

Jon Huntsman: “Will everyone please stop picking on me? I speak Chinese and I’m not nearly fanatical enough for my own party to nominate me, but I don’t like Obama either.”

Newt Gin-grinch: “See?! He said, ‘Don’t like’! I told you he doesn’t hate Obama!”

Newt Gingrich - thrown in just for Roger Ingalls

Rick Santorum: “Nobody up here except me hates Obama enough. I’m the one who should be allowed to call him names in the general election in November.”

Mitt Romney: “Stop saying that! I hate Obama more than you!”

Chorus of reporters: “Mitt Romney fended off attacks by the other candidates in the 156th Republican debate. Contrary to Ron Paul’s insane ramblings, Mitt Romney will be anointed King in just a few, short months.”

Ahhhh… that was fun. Truth be told, I was stunned to hear fragments (between the Obama hating) of intelligent thoughts from the candidates. Well, all except Rick Perry. Rick Perry was like the “slow,” bratty kid that a teacher keeps in the back corner of the classroom. Every so often he’d pop up and shoot a spit-wad and the rest of the kids would laugh. I think he could be dropped off the end of the stage and the conversation might improve.

It seemed as if the candidates were preparing for the general election by sounding a little more moderate than in previous weeks. All except Rick Perry, of course. He said that, as president, he would immediately send troops back into Iraq. I pick on Rick Perry a lot. Are you getting the idea that maybe I don’t like him too much?

Several candidates made good observations about our economic situation. But these were always followed by ridiculous conclusions and plans of action. All of these candidates adhere to an archaic, false religion – corporate economics. I wish I could shake Newt Gin-grinch by the lapels and tell him that lowering capital gains taxes (even more) will NOT stimulate manufacturing! It’s exactly the opposite!

In addition, most of the candidates (especially Rick Santorum) hold onto the ridiculous idea (as do their supporters) that the president can somehow influence the social tendencies of our country. Here are a few news flashes: People are going to keep having sex. Some people are still going to be gay. Big, powerful media corporations will put sex in movies and on TV. A lot people will do drugs. And lots of people are still going to think for themselves instead of swallowing whatever propaganda is supposed to make them fall neatly into their little boxes in American society.

What I saw in Saturday night’s Republican debate was a fantasy love-in between men with admittedly decent vocabularies. It was a bunch of guys who, while they do possess raw intelligence (except Rick Perry), are out of touch with reality. They still believe in Santa Claus, even after they spotted three Santas downing whiskeys at the local bar, and two others robbing a liquor store.

Fantasy can be a lot of fun. Or it can be a nightmare. This debate was entertaining, but one of these Dungeons and Dragons wizards might end up leading our country based on a paradigm that has proven false. It’s tragically hilarious to me that it’s always Republicans who quote Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different result.” There is actually considerable doubt if Einstein even said that.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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Gaza and Facebook Part 1

When you think of Gaza, many images come to mind: poverty, Muslim fundamentalism, frustration, unemployment, Facebook. Facebook? Yes, the Palestinians in Gaza, for all their challenges, are online and connecting.

Dr. Sabri Saidam, a former member of the Palestinian Authority government began getting involved in politics at the not so young age of 34. He was immediately appointed minister of communications and information technology and became known as “Mr. Technology.”

“Coming from the IT field, I can tell you honestly that I’ve always felt as if I were carving in stone – getting computers or talking about e-government in Palestine was mission impossible,” he says in an interview with Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper. “Now all the politicians are meeting bloggers and talking to them. There was no party interested in these people until the events in Tunisia and Egypt. They were considered to be time-wasters, kids.”

Saidam now works in Washington for the Aspen Institute where he continues to promote entrepreneurship among young Palestinians. “All of a sudden, everybody wants to know and have a private session to talk about Facebook and how they can open an account,” he says.

Saidam estimates that half of Palestinian households in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have computers and about 30% are connected to the Internet. As we saw in Egypt and Tunisia, however, this does not include cell phone connectivity.

“When the demonstrations started in Tunisia, there were 600,000 Palestinian Facebook users, and 200,000 of them were posting about politics. Each one of these 200,000 Facebook users is influencing five people around him. We’re talking about over a million Palestinians over the age of 18. In terms of population size, that’s 33 percent. In Egypt, that would be 28 million Egyptians, but there it took only 2,890 bloggers and computer activists to do what was done. The moral of the story is that there is a critical mass of Palestinians waiting to see how things are going to swing.”

Saidam believes that access to a wider discussion group and opinions will broaden the political debate within Gaza and include the younger generation, who make up the majority of the population in Gaza. “But there is no Palestinian Wael Ghonim [the young Google marketing executive who became a symbol of the revolution] . . . It’s the issue of getting bored of the fact that they see leaders who existed for dozens of years. They don’t want any leaders.”

It was the younger generation of Palestinians who marched on March 15 demanding an end to the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. This prompted President Abbas to decide he would go to Gaza and flesh out the subsequent agreement.

“The young people felt they had some influence on the decision,” says Saidam. “And I am telling my peers that they should not only passively listen but allow young blood to flow into the decision making of the parties.”

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Robin Hood Politics Pt. 2

On Wednesday I discussed the Robin Hood Tax initiative where I praised those, especially the rich people who are embracing the idea.

I portrayed the Obama administration as being against, primarily out of fear that investors would go abroad with their money. The case is not so clearly defined. According to one administration official, there is actually support precisely to curb the risky activities that led the crises in the first place.

“The president is sympathetic to the goals that a financial transactions tax is trying to achieve and he is pushing for a financial crisis responsibility fee and closing other Wall Street loopholes as the best and most feasible way to achieve those goals,” the administration official said.

Labor unions and groups are supportive and organizing demonstrations in favor, They envisage the taxes levied to help finance job creation programs.

“The tax is a good idea because banks are where the money is. It’s the same reason Jesse James robbed banks,” said Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, which recently held demonstrations at the offices of 60 members of Congress in support of the levy. “The thing about the financial transactions tax is it’s stunning how quickly people get it and how fast they embrace it.”

I got the impression that Bill Gates and President Sarkozy envisaged using the money to help development in the worst areas of poverty, which I assume mean in Africa and Asia. Other political leaders are probably imagining using this as revenue to help plug government deficits.

We should not forget that this is a tiny tax for the individual. The EEC proposed a tax of $10 for $10,000 worth of transactions throughout the European Union which could raise $77 billion a year just in Europe.

An American version of this bill (imposing a $3 tax  per $10,000 of transactions) might raise $350 billion over the next decade. Kudos for some rare bi-partisan cooperation to Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, and Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat.

Mr. DeFazio envisaged the tax could “raise money to invest in the real economy,” but even he and his partner are skeptical the Republican caucus in Washington would accept any form of new taxes.

The opposition is already gathering, citing a fear that people will slow their investment rates. Kenneth E. Bentsen Jr., executive vice president for public policy at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, released a statement saying:

“At a time when we face a slow economic recovery, such a tax will impede the efficiency of markets and impair depth and liquidity as well as raise costs to the issuers, pensions and investors who help drive economic growth,”

The British Chancellor of the Exchequers, George Osborne, called the proposed tax “economic suicide.” In this time of economic crisis, he said, the European Union “should be coming forward with new ideas to promote growth, not undermine it.”

Opposition on this side of the pond comes from Glenn Hubbard, past chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. He described the Robin Hood tax is a “monstrously bad idea.”

“Such a tax isn’t really going to get at the banks,” added Hubbard. “It’s going to hit the people who own the assets that are traded,” like investors.

If you think Hubbard is just crying from the political bleachers, think again. He is currently an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Ironically Britain, Hong Kong and Singapore (the latter two can be proud of the growth of their financial markets) all have such a tax in place.  In fact, and please don’t tell the Republicans, the US had imposed a tiny tax on stock trades between the years1914 – 1966. Socialists!

Finally, let’s remember why this tax is being proposed in the first place. There are too many people in this world who are starving, denied medicine and clean water, suffering from diseases that can be cured. And, as the British actor Bill Nighy, has described it, this is “a beautiful idea.”

“It would raise enough money to solve problems at home and overseas, and it could do it without hurting ordinary people,” Mr. Nighy said.

So simple. So true. So possible.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Political Progress – Roger Ingalls

It’s a new year! Time to start anew…out with the bad and in with the good. Last year, 2011, was bad for many of us and we couldn’t be happier that 2012 is finally here.

I usually blog about politicians and government policies that are stupid or wrong and occasionally explain what I would do if I were king. This typically involves focusing on the negative. Since it is a new year, I resolve to focus on the positive. Instead of pointing out badness, my goal is to highlight goodness for the sake of happiness or bring attention to things that are working well and give my opinion on how we can expand on them.

This is my first post of the year and there is a positive to discuss. It’s no secret that I lean to the political left but yesterday’s Republican Iowa caucus was very interesting. The folks in Iowa stunned me; they made me proud to be an American.

The last time the voting public made me proud was the day a black man, Barack Obama, was elected president. I thought it would never happen in my lifetime; that was truly a great day.

What was so positive about the Iowa caucus? Mitt Romney, a Mormon, won! This may be more amazing than the 2008 presidential election. When was the last time a non-Christian or modified Christian (depending on how the Mormon faith is defined) won a presidential primary or caucus? In today’s fanatically Christian American, this is shocking.

We haven’t hit the primaries in the Bible Belt and once we do, I’m sure Mr. Romney will lose a few. But today I’m proud of the Iowa voters for seeing past religion to make a selection based on other criteria.

It’s a small progressive step.

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Robin Hood Politics Pt. 1

I grew up in England’s green and somewhat socialist land hearing stories and watching movies about one Robin Hood, who lived in Sherwood Forest and robbed from the despotic rich to give to the poor. When King Richard the Lionheart came home from the Crusades having either liberated or massacred everyone in the name of freedom (freedom to be a Christian), and forgave Robin, restoring him as a member of the English aristocracy and letting him marry the king’s niece. Trust me, the movies tell it much better.

Oh Kevin - your aim if not your accent was true!

However, Robin of Loxley’s name is now being associated with a new tax idea: a seemingly insignificant levy on trades in the financial markets which would take money from the banks (the despotic rich) and give to the world’s poor. This would apparently be a tax on trades of stocks, bonds, and similar financial tools of investment.

The reality is that most of this support stems from our anger and frustration at how the world economy collapsed without the rich taking a significant hit. Right now we would happily hang the bank and monetary institutions heads in the village square, or at least stick them in the stockades and throw rotten dividends and pink slips at them.

Sir Robin (who was originally a member of the landed class – the top 1%) has attracted an exciting band of merry men (and women): the leaders of France and Germany, the billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and George Soros, former Vice President Al Gore, the consumer activist Ralph Nader, Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Now personally I am suspicious that the Pope would associate with Robin Hood, given the latter’s allegiance to the Church of England, but perhaps the Pope is being more strategic than his predecessors.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who I began to trust when she got annoyed at President Bush trying to give her a public massage, told the German Parliament that “We all agree that a financial transaction tax would be the right signal to show that we have understood that financial markets have to contribute their share to the recovery of economies.”

The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, has jumped enthusiastically into the foray by announcing his plans to impose such a tax as one part of a broad plan to fix his country’s ailing economy. He further invited other European countries to endorse the initiative.

Other European leaders seem are not so enthusiastic which seems a shame given that a number of analysts believe a broad agreement could create such a tax while keeping the financial markets (or rather those who are making tons of money from it) relatively calm. 

Simon Tilford, chief economist of the Center for European Reform in London claims that “There is some momentum behind this…If they keep the show on the road, they probably will attempt to run with this.”

As the Occupy Wall Street movement seems to wind down, I believe this can be a rallying cry with a practical, measurable outcome. I have written previously about my desire for the Occupy movement to become more strategic (see here and here). Members of the Occupy movement were already sporting bows and arrows, along with green and brown Robin Hood outfits (I used to have one, but would never wear the tights – part of my repressed British childhood, I guess) at the G20 Nations summit last month.

Frederic Nebinger/Getty Images -Demonstrators in Nice, France, last month urged the leaders of the Group of 20 nations to do more to help the poor.

At the summit, Bill Gates, who as we know is quite well off actually presented a plan similar to the goals of the Robin Hood movement, including a modest tax on trades of financial instruments that could generate $48 billion or more annually from the G-20 countries. I want to take this moment and, with the greatest respect, doff my green cap and feather to Mr. Gates. He is a member of the 1% who really cares.

Charles Dharapak/Associated Press – Bill Gates talked with Nicolas Sarkozy about a tax on trades of financial instruments.

His proposal garnered support from Ms. Merkel and France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, There are, of course, those who oppose the tax initiative, not surprisingly from the rich and their minions in the seats of power of the UK and USA. Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, expressed serious reservations, saying “Britain would embrace it only if it were adopted globally.” This stems from a fear that if England was to adopt such a tax, investors would simply take their business from the London Stock Exchange and head elsewhere to countries who have not adopted this tax initiative.

This sentiment is supported here in the US by the Obama administration who fear that unless it is global, driving trading overseas would hurt pension funds and individual investors as well as financial institutions.

More on this on Friday.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

 

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