The U.S. economy in its current state offers plenty of anecdotal and empirical evidence that Wall Street lobbyists and bankers are nothing more than thoughtless, money-hungry zombies. So film director David Yates, who made the last four Harry Potter movies, decided to capture this reality in a short film released Tuesday to promote a financial transactions tax.
Actors in the three-minute film include Andrew Lincoln (star zombie-fighter on the hit AMC TV show “The Walking Dead”), Bill Nighy (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Love, Actually”), Javier Cámara (star of Pedro Almodóvar films “Talk to Her” and “Bad Education”), Clémence Poésy (“Harry Potter”), and Heike Makatsch (“Love, Actually”).
The Wall Street tax that Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Peter DeFazio have proposed would impose a tax of 0.03 percent, or just three cents on every $100, on stock, bond and derivative trades, with a tax credit offset for contributions to qualified tax-favored accounts, such as 401(k) retirement funds. That small tax could raise more than $350 billion over 10 years.
Even more laudable is the Inclusive Prosperity Act, which Rep. Keith Ellison introduced last year. Ellison’s bill would set a tax of 0.5 percent on stock trades, 0.1 percent on bond trades, and 0.005 percent on trades of derivatives and other investments. This could raise up to $350 billion per year.
What would we do with all this extra generated revenue? Spend it to get our economy working for working people. We could rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, invest in our languishing educational system, combat climate change, and feed our hungriest over subsidizing our wealthiest.
According to the film director, this all-too-realistic vision is “set 10 years in the future, with Lincoln anchoring a newscast looking back at the impact of the tax.” It depicts bankers from the European Union boasting “about how the tax has generated revenues to help fund public services in their countries and combat poverty and climate change – shaming a British banker (Nighy) over his country’s failure to implement the tax.”
Beyond the desperately needed economic stimulus, financial experts agree that such a tax would help curb dangerous short-term speculation and shed light on the infamous shadow banking system. According to a letter signed by more than 50 financial professionals, “These taxes will rebalance financial markets away from a short-term trading mentality that has contributed to instability in our financial markets.”
It widely popular among voters as well: 62 percent of Americans approved of a “small tax on all stock/bond/market trades.”
The Obama administration is not yet supportive, but he could leave a lasting positive mark during his second term if he changed his mind and rallied support for a financial transactions tax. Perhaps a bit of humor can do the trick.