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The ostensible intent of the anti-“greed” mob may be to reduce volatility in the market by punishing rapacious “banksters.” But the ultimate outcome would be less economic growth, bigger government and more punitive costs imposed on the decidedly non-rich. A European Union commission report on the impact of such a tax shows that it would reduce GDP by 0.5 percent. U.S. economist Kenneth Rogoff explained further in a recent analysis that “the declining volume of trades would shrink the tax base precipitously. As a result, the ultimate revenue gains are likely to prove disappointing, as Sweden discovered when it attempted to tax financial transactions two decades ago.”
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe found that 60 percent of trading volume in Sweden escaped to London after Sweden temporarily raised equity tax rates in the 1980s, and that the country experienced an 85 percent drop in bond trading volume, according to Financial News. The outcome was not simply less volatile trading. It was less trading, period.
The demon millionaires and billionaires whom the Occupiers seek to punish would not be the only ones to bear the costs. Over time, the burden of the Robin Hood tax would shift. Rogoff observed: “Higher transactions taxes increase the cost of capital, ultimately lowering investment. With a lower capital stock, output would trend downward, reducing government revenues and substantially offsetting the direct gain from the tax. In the long run, wages would fall, and ordinary workers would end up bearing a significant share of the cost.”
The original Robin Hood tales of the Middle Ages celebrated a renegade who rose up against property rights violations and taxation abuses. His archenemies were not private traders or bankers, but the local government tax collector, the Sheriff of Nottingham and the power-grabbing ruler, Prince John. Robin Hood, in other words, was far more tea party than flea party.
In any case, if the Occupiers insist on celebrating outright theft from the haves in the name of the have-nots, perhaps they should stop complaining about the pickpockets and looters infesting their camps. Live by “social justice” nursery rhymes. Die by “social justice” crimes.
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