• The term Robin Hood tax always raises a wry smile from me because it is the classic definition of an oxymoron.
Would that more politicians, journalists and bureaucrats read their Frédéric Bastiat, possibly one of the most prescient economic philosophers of the nineteenth century. Of course in the modern statist world his work is carefully and understandably suppressed. One of his most magnificent quotes is: "L'etat, c'est la grande fiction á travers laquelle tout le mond s'efforce de vivre aux dépens de tout le monde." In short, the state is an invention which enables people to live at the expense of their neighbour. It was written in 1863. What would he make of modern Europe where recipients of state largesse are more numerous than he could have even dreamed of?
Why oxymoron though? Well, the legend of Robin Hood was that he robbed the rich to give to the poor. The modern state of course, as we all know, robs the poor to give to the rich. The state is all powerful; the United Kingdom government spends 50 per cent of gross domestic product, significant amounts of which are milked from those on modest incomes to benefit those who are already wealthy. Indeed, very wealthy by world standards.
A financial transaction tax would fall on everyone, because everyone, or nearly everyone, makes financial transactions – those on modest private pensions, small savers, small businesses, big businesses with narrow margins and their customers of modest means. Some countries would be hit more than others. If this were simply a European tax it would impact at 80 per cent in the UK, as 14 per cent of GDP in the UK is financial services.
But what does the state do with its money? Massive subsidies to public service broadcasting, wind turbines for the aristocracy and landed gentry, solar panels for celebrities like Mick Jagger, Madonna and me. Chief executives of town councils, NHS trusts and quangos earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. In the little run down town of Barnsley in Yorkshire there are more than 10 staff alone earning more than £90,000 per year. I dread to think how many in the more prosperous town of Beverley, the county town of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Would this so called Robin Hood tax go to shore up index linked final salary schemes for bureaucrats and politicians? Of course it would. Would it be given away? Already the government gives £50m a day to the European Union. And £25m a day in no strings foreign aid – which is then spent by Pakistan on F16 fighter jets, by India on a space programme, and by African despots on Parisian apartments.
Should the financial transaction tax be imposed, will it drive financial services elsewhere? Of course it would. Can it be made global? Of course it can't. Will we get it? Yes probably, in Europe anyway, qualified majority voting will see to that. Will it come soon? Almost certainly, because Prime Minister David Cameron said it wouldn't – a sure sign going by the form book. Robin Hood tax, no. Sheriff of Nottingham tax? More accurate.
Godfrey Bloom is a UK Independence Party MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber