Thursday, June 23, 2011

3K nurses don't mess around on Wall Street

Alternet reports on the rock 'em, sock 'em protest the 3,000 nurses from National Nurses United held on Wall Street yesterday, along with their allies.

The nurses figure they're healers, so their prescription for what ails the economy will work. They propose a small financial transaction tax to discourage speculation and to raise money to rebuild the American middle class.

According to Alternet,
...a feisty group of 3,000 nurses, and their supporters from other unions and community groups, rallied at Federal Hall on Wall St. in New York City to confront the greedy banking industry and demand they pay tiny taxes on financial transactions to stop devastating budget cuts and finance health care for all...

"America's nurses see and feel broad declines in health and living standards for their patients and their own families that are directly tied to the collapse in jobs, housing , health care, and other basics of what used to be called the American dream," said NNU co-president Deborah Burger, RN....
And the nurses are seeing a lot that can be directly linked to the prolonged economic decline. Their message: because the economic crisis is linked to a rise in health problems, the Wall Street bankers must also pay for the ailments they have provoked. Health conditions caused by the poor economy include stress-induced heart problems in younger patients, diabetes in children due to unhealthy diets, and anxiety and depression across all age groups as parents and children alike wonder if they will be able to afford a roof over their head or food on the table...

Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Tom Harkin proposed such a tax. In 2009, DeFazio announced the proposal he and 22 colleagues sponsored in a press release: legislation ...assess(es) a miniscule tax on Wall Street securities transactions. The money it generates will be used to rebuild Main Street. The legislation, Let Wall Street Pay for the Restoration of Main Street Act, has powerful support from the economists, Wall Street investors, labor organizations, and consumer groups.
“Our nation continues to be crippled by a struggling economy which has resulted in an astronomical unemployment rate of 10.2%. The American taxpayers bailed out Wall Street during a crisis brought on by reckless speculation in the financial markets. This legislation will force Wall Street to do their part and put people displaced by that crisis back to work,” DeFazio said.
The UK has such a tax and it hasn't inhibited financial activity. Economists support it as well. Two years ago, the Center for Economic and Policy Research put out a statement saying
Over 200 economists, including James K. Galbraith and Dean Baker, have signed a letter in support of a modest set of financial transaction taxes, which could raise a substantial amount of needed revenue while having little impact on trades that have a positive economic impact.
The cost of trading financial assets has plummeted over the last three decades as a result of computerization. This has led to an enormous explosion in trading volume, with most trades having little economic or social value and redistributing disproportionate resources to the financial sector. A set of modest financial transactions taxes, which would just raise trading costs back to the level of two or three decades ago, would have very limited impact on trades that have real economic value.
Maybe it's time for another letter...