[OPE] The limp finale of the Tobin tax

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Fri Sep 03 2010 - 05:20:52 EDT

Hi Patrick,

I hope you have a productive sabbatical - as I am not an academic I don't
get any of those, I regret to say. I've got dozens of pieces to write up but
where to get the time for it I don't know yet.

I'm sure the ATTAC people are wellmeaning reformists, but I don't think
they're very aware of the overall objective effect of their own activity. If
the cutting edge of radical activity is supposed to be taxing the rich more,
then I think we're dealing with a slump in leftwing thought. I don't intend
myself to fritter my time on a kind of activism, the result of which is nil.

Capital controls have proved effective in limited areas, as I have noted on
OPE-L before. But there is only one reliable way to halt speculative
activity which harms economic life, as I mentioned before, and that is
simply to prohibit the relevant transactions, and systematically outlaw the
transactions which then substitute for it when new ways are found to get
around the law. But that is very unlikely to happen, it is contrary to the
whole way of thinking about "free markets". Effectively you would be asking
people to act against their own interests, and politically something like
that is very difficult to realize.

Maybe a transaction tax puts sand in the wheels, but it is unlikely to curb
speculative activity. I don't see how it would create more control over the
financial markets except that governments would, as a result of the tax
policy, have more information about transaction flows. The whole point is
that governments just don't have much control over the financial markets. If
they had it, the problems would not exist, or would not have been so large.

There exists no "world government", only some consensus among the world's
power brokers about what has to be done. If there was a world government,
whose government would it be? Should we be in favour of that?

Activism has a point, if you can obtain a real positive result for what you
do, if you can really make a difference. Maybe it takes a while to get
there, but you do need that result. If you aim to tackle things which are
vastly bigger than you can actually influence, you just waste time without
any result. What is the point of that, other than the emotional satisfaction
that you've brought your own moral concerns to public attention?


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Received on Fri Sep 3 05:22:22 2010

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