- UN, IMF, World Bank, G20
We need a Global Wealth Tax
National governments cannot pay their debts, a billion people are living in poverty worldwide, and urgent warnings about climate change are being ignored. In all three cases, the main problem is money. But the money is available - in abundance. Economic globalization and technological developments are making the rich megarich. Worldwide, there are now over a thousand US$-billionaires. As concerned citizens across the world, we call on relevant global organizations such as the UN, IMF, World Bank, and G20 to negotiate a global agreement to tax all wealth - including all companies, funds, and wealthy individuals - at a single rate of about 1% per year, in addition to existing non-wealth taxes. Exceptions should be limited to genuine non-profit organizations and individuals whose assets are less than about US$ 1 million.
The above paragraph is the entire petition text. If you agree with it, please sign it and forward the link to others.
The proposed tax would be collected within countries using existing mechanisms, according to a global agreement. If wealth tax can work in France, Iceland, India, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland (more), it can work everywhere.
The opinions expressed in the explanatory texts below are the personal opinions of the author. Please send me suggestions for improving the texts or for publicizing the petition.
Español. ¡Necesitamos un impuesto global sobre la riqueza! Los gobiernos nacionales no pueden pagar sus deudas, en el mundo hay mil millones de personas que viven en la pobreza, y las advertencias acerca del calentamiento global se ignoran. En los tres casos el problema principal es el dinero. Pero dinero hay, y en abundancia. La globalización económica y los avances técnicos están haciendo a los riquísimos todavía más ricos. A nivel mundial existen ahora más de mil personas que son billonarios. Nosotros, como ciudadanos preocupados de todo el mundo, queremos hacer un llamamiento a los organismos globales, como la ONU, el FMI, el Banco Mundial y los G20, para negociar un acuerdo global con el fin de gravar todas las fortunas con un impuesto de aproximadamente 1% al año. Este impuesto debe alcanzar a todas las empresas comerciales, los fondos financieros y a millonarios, y se aplicará adicionalmente a los impuestos sobre la riqueza ya existentes. Las únicas excepciones serán organizaciones de utilidad pública e indivíduos cuyo patrimonio no exceda de un millón de dólares.
Français. Il nous faut une taxe mondiale sur la richesse! De nombreux gouvernements ne peuvent payer leur dette nationale; à travers le monde, un milliard de gens vivent dans la pauvreté; et les alertes urgentes par rapport aux changements climatiques sont ignorées. Dans ces trois cas, le problème principal demeure l’argent. Mais l’argent est disponible – en abondance. La globalisation économique et les développements technologiques amènent les gens riches à devenir encore plus riches. De par le monde maintenant, il y a plus d’un millier de milliardaires (en dollars US). En tant que citoyens soucieux, nous demandons aux organisations internationales - ONU, Fonds International Mondial, la Banque Mondiale, G20 - de négocier un accord global visant à taxer toutes fortunes – incluant compagnies, fonds ou individus – à un taux unique d’ 1% par année, comme taxe additionnelle aux impôts déjà perçus. Devraient être exemptés seulement les véritables organisations sans but lucratif et les individus dont les avoirs totalisent moins d’un million de dollars US.
Deutsch. Wir brauchen eine globale Vermögenssteuer! Nationalstaaten können ihre Schulden nicht zurückzahlen, eine Milliarde Menschen leben weltweit in Armut, und dringende Warnungen bezüglich Klimawandel werden ignoriert. In allen drei Fällen scheint Geld das Hauptproblem zu sein. Doch Geld steht im Überfluss zur Verfügung: Die wirtschaftliche Globalisierung und technologische Entwicklungen haben die Reichen superreich gemacht. Weltweit leben mittlerweile über tausend US-Dollar-Milliardäre. Wir unterzeichneten besorgten BürgerInnen aus verschiedenen Ländern ersuchen relevante globale Organisationen wie UNO, IMF, Weltbank und G20, globale Verhandlungen einzuleiten mit dem Ziel, ein globales Abkommen zur Besteuerung jeder Art von Reichtum mit einem einheitlichen Steuersatz von ca. 1% pro Jahr abzuschließen. Betroffen wären alle auf Gewinn gerichteten Gesellschaften und Fonds und alle vermögenden Privatpersonen. Bestehende nicht vermögensbezogene Steuern blieben dabei unberührt. Ausgenommen wären nur echte gemeinnützige Organisationen und Einzelpersonen, deren Nettovermögen ca. 1 Million US $ nicht überschreitet.
According to a 2014 Oxfam report, the world's 85 richest people own as much as the bottom half of the population (more). That this is unfair is so obvious that it seems ludicrous to say so. No-one could possibly claim that it is justified for one person to have one billion times more wealth than another. Clearly, capitalism is getting out of hand. It is equally obvious to say that this situation is undermining democracy and social peace, and that a sustainable solution is urgently necessary.
The widening gap between rich and poor and its catastrophic implications are discussed in detail by economist Thomas Piketty in his 2014 book "Capital in the 21st Century". The need for a global wealth tax is obvious, despite almost universal denial of the problem. Not many journalists are courageous enough to talk about it openly (here is an example), and when they do they tend to throw in one or more of those familiar half-true excuses for not taxing the rich.
At the previous link you can read this: "Of course these measures [different forms of wealth tax] won't return the world's top economies to sustainable levels of debt." Why not? In fact, the larger the wealth gap becomes, the easier it becomes to pay any bill by taxing the rich. It doesn't matter whether we are talking about developmental assistance, the development of alternative energy, or national debts. Bills are paid with money. The more money you have, the easier it is to pay the bill.
Arguments against wealth tax are often based on constructs such as economic growth. Such arguments are generally suspect. Economic growth has to stop for environmental reasons, at least in industrial countries, so any argument that assumes the importance of economic growth is problematic.
We need a global wealth tax for several reasons. First, to balance the slowly increasing wealth gap due to globalisation. Send, to pay national debts and stabilize national economies. Third, to finance official development assistance, given that a billion people still live in poverty. A billion! Fourth, to slow down global warming before it is too late. Let's start by looking at global warming.
"Wake up world. The time is now." (Carl Sagan) video
CO2 levels and mean temperatures are increasing steadily. There is widespread agreement that the average temperature rise due to industrialization must be limited to 2 degrees Celcius. That is possible if atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is limited to 450 parts per million and later returns to 350 ppm. That in turn is possible if about 80% of currently known remaining oil, gas and coal reserves are left in the ground (more).
Up to about 200 years ago, CO2 concentration was 275 ppm; it is now 400 and rising by 2 ppm per year. CO2 is produced by burning fossil fuels for industry, housing and transport: coal for electricity, petroleum for vehicles, gas for heating. Livestock is another major source (20-30%) of greenhouse gases CO2 and CH4 (methane) (pdf).
Unless there is a radical, globally coordinated change, hundreds of millions of people will die in coming decades of hunger or disease as a combined result of global warming, population growth, and poverty. Currently, hunger kills 2.6 million children per year, that's 7 000 per day or one every 12 seconds (more). In recent decades, the death rate has been gradually falling, but in future global warming will cause it to increase. The predicted effects of global warming include changing rainfall patterns, loss of arable land, desertification, species extinction, and ocean acidification. According to one study, global warming is already causing 300 000 deaths per year; "heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030" (more).
Sea level is currently rising by 3mm per year (more). Glaciers are melting and ocean temperature is rising causing expansion. If all the ice on Greenland and Antarctica melted, oceans could rise by 70 m (more), but current models predict much smaller rises by 2100, e.g. 1m (more more). Over 600 million people live below 10 metres above sea level (more).
Existing attempts to solve the problem are already too little, too late. If radical action is not taken, during the second half of the 21st century, our children and grandchildren will experience massive migration of people displaced by floods and famines, widespread food and water shortages, and wars over diminishing resources. more
Many people suspect that global warming is natural, unavoidable, harmless, or exaggerated. That is understandable. First, nothing like it ever happened in human history. Second, many other doomsday predictions (e.g. the Maya calendar) were incorrect. Third, other environmental predictions in the past, such as the 1980s expected demise of European forests, were exaggerated. Fourth, the multinational fossil fuel (oil, coal, gas) industry has been publicly questioning and denying global warming for two decades, for obvious financial reasons - just as the tobacco industry used to deny a link between smoking and cancer. All that doubting has influenced public opinion.
Imagine you are a scientist. You need reliable information about complex current research that lies outside your main area. You don't have the expertise to evaluate that research. To solve this problem you don't read a newspaper, a popular book or an internet blog. You go straight to the best scientific literature - the frequently cited, peer-reviewed articles in the best international journals (more). Even in that literature, there are diverse opinions, approaches and hypotheses about global warming (more). But there is also widespread agreement and convergent evidence that CO2 produced by human activity is the main cause of the gradual increase in global mean atmospheric temperature over recent decades (followed by CH4 and other trace gases; more).
Leading climate researchers are unlikely to be biased. Consider their motivation. Like all genuine scientists, they are curious and competitive. They like a difficult problem and want to be the first to solve it. They also want to see their research published in the best journals so they can get good academic positions. They are well qualified, but they are not rich or powerful. What they lack in money, they make up for in expertise, independence, and freedom of speech.
According to the precautionary principle (more), EVEN IF the predictions of leading scientists were biased or exaggerated and the probability of future climate-based catastropes was much lower than predicted, it would still be unacceptable to gamble with the quality of life of our grandchildren. We have no right to do that.
Many climate deniers are aware of and understand these arguments. The continuing denial can be explained by general psychological theory of denial (more) and general political theory of denialism (more).
The costs and the stakes
Thousands of people have developed creative ideas and promising projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (more). If these projects were adequately financed, the problem could be solved in a decade. The global rate of emission would be reduced to equal the global rate of absorption. Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations would stabilize. One or two decades later, the global average temperature would peak. Later in the century, it would fall gradually toward pre-industrial levels.
How much are our children worth to us? To stop global warming would cost at least 1 trillion US$ per year (more). That is much less than the global cost of bailing out banks after the 2008 financial crisis. Projects to stop global warming could be financed immediately by governments and in the same way: buy now, pay later. But national debts must urgently be reduced, not increased. The money could instead be raised globally through a combination of taxes on financial transactions (e.g. Tobin tax), environmental use and damage (e.g. fuel taxes), and/or wealth.
Global taxation and global democracy
This petition focuses on wealth tax, because it would address another big problem at the same time. The gap between rich and poor (the “wealth gap”) is growing due to globalization, which is threatening democracy. The richer the rich become, the more power they have, and the less power others have. Today, the best way to promote democracy is to reduce the wealth gap, and one way to do that is to increase progressive taxes and reduce regressive taxes. Environment, transaction, corporate, and wealth taxes are usually progressive, because the rich usually pay a higher proportion of their income than the poor. Consumption taxes such as VAT (and including so-called "FairTax") are usually regressive, because the poor usually pay a higher proportion of their income than the rich. more more
The total market value of all privately owned (taxable) assets in the world is at least 200 trillion US$ (details below). About one half of that is owned by less than 1% of the global population. Let's call them "the rich". The rich could collectively stop global warming by investing 1% of their assets every year. That's less than the interest on a low-risk bank account, even after adjusting for inflation. Moreover, the rich would be acting in their own interest. They want their heirs to inherit their wealth. They also want their heirs to have a world in which to enjoy that wealth.
Binding global agreements are possible. The universal declaration of human rights in 1948 is an example. Sometimes, big progress happens fast. Think of the Berlin wall: no-one expected it to fall in 1989. In 1789, no-one expected the French revolution to succeed. Today, hundreds of international environmental agreements are in force, thanks to "people power". The secret to success is the right mixture of anger, indignation, optimism, ideas, communication, and political pressure.
Future generations have rights. If we don't represent their interests, who will? Young people are already paying off (national) debts indirectly via unemployment, welfare cuts, tuition fees, consumption taxes. Should future generations have to pay our debts? Should they have to pay for global warming? Should they have to witness chaos, death and destruction on a massive scale? What will future history books say about our generation?
In recent decades, national debts have increasingly undermined democracy, and here is why: If you owe money to someone, you are also beholden to them. That is not freedom. You are not free until the debt is paid. The same applies to governments who owe money to private sources. They are not free to implement the will of the people. Example: The "land of the free and the home of the brave" will not be truly free until its citizens are brave enough to demand that their government pay back the national debt (or that part of it which cannot legally be canceled). If governments need money for a project, they should raise it through taxes - not by passing the burden of repayment to the next generation. "Austerity" is no solution - it is ridiculous doublespeak for forcing the poor to eat the crumbs left over by the rich. Globally, the number of US$-billionaires is over 1400 and increasing by some 20% per year (more).
The emergence of a new global owning class is a result of economic globalisation. It is also an unprecedented opportunity to solve global problems. Together, the global rich are in a position to pay national debts AND gradually solve the problems of global poverty and global warming, while still remaining rich. But governments must have the courage to force them to pay by fair democratic and legal means. First, by enforcing the payment of existing taxes (more). Second, by strengthening laws that implement the basic tax principle: "the more you have, the more you pay" (to balance the free market principle "the more you pay, the more you get").
Globalisation is causing a shift away from democracy (rule by the people) and toward plutocracy (rule by the rich). The problem can be solved if voters elect courageous, caring representatives who (i) talk about this shift, declare their opposition to it, and present plausible long-term strategies to reverse it; and at the same time (ii) improve and enforce laws governing capital flows including taxation. That's not a revolution - it's a return to our political roots. It's a return to the classical separation and independence of three democratic powers: a legislature (parlament or congress) that makes laws, an executive (government) that runs the country within the law, and a judiciary (courts) that interpretes, applies and enforces the law. Example: The legislature is not independent if the US congress is dominated by millionaires and is then asked to vote on wealth tax! It is time to put an end to the Wild West of modern global capitalism in which "one person one vote" has been replaced by "one dollar one vote", by developing and enforcing international law. These demands and values are both conservative and progressive, so all political parties in all countries can support them.
Is it naive to sign a petition for global wealth tax? Perhaps. But it is more naive to pretend that global warming is non-existent, unimportant, unstoppable, or purely natural; that current approaches are sufficient to stop it; that those currently blocking progress are innocent; or that future generations will forgive us. It is also naive to suppose that democracy is unaffected by the growing wealth gap, or that the wealth gap problem will solve itself.
Climate change is not the only urgent problem that needs to be financed. If you are unhappy about "austerity measures", reduced aid for developing countries, education cuts, or lack of public finance in any area, it is not enough to protest. You must also explain where the extra money will come from. Wealth tax is an obvious source of finance.
A globally harmonised wealth tax would contribute to a solution of several problems simultaneously: global warming, the wealth gap, global poverty, capital flight, national debt crises, and the illegal off-shore economy (further details below). If you want to solve these problems, sign the petition!
We only have a few years left to turn global warming around. To do that, we need a fast, practical approach. We cannot wait for a global socialist revolution; besides, wars over diminishing resources are more likely to produce military dictatorships. We cannot wait for a new, more healthy attitude toward capitalism - as a means of creating wealth, but not an end in itself. We cannot wait for the end of tax havens (although there are currently promising moves in that direction). We cannot wait for global trade regulations and practices to conform to the universal declaration of human rights, or for global organisations to make social security, sustainable development, protection of the environment, and promotion of cultural diversity (for the 99%) more important than economic freedom (for the 1%). We cannot wait for fundamental social and environmental standards to become prerequisites for participation in global markets. These are crucially important projects, but they may take a long time. Work on such projects must proceed in parallel with work to stop global warming. Global warming can and must be stopped within the current financial system.
What is wealth tax?
"The meaning of life: something that no one really knows. Besides, there's not much point in being the richest man in the cemetery" (Peter Ustinov)
A wealth tax (see wikipedia) is a tax on static resources (stock) - not mobile resources (flow), which include income, consumption, transactions, inheritance, gifts and capital gains. Wealth taxes are predominantly carried by the upper class, income taxes by the middle class. In the long term, the proposed wealth tax would reduce the tax burden on the middle class. If the revenue was used to tackle poverty, the wealth gap would be reduced.
Wealth taxes already exist in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, and India. Wealth taxes were recently abandoned in several other countries due to the capital flight problem, which this proposal solves. A rate of 1% is typical. If wealth tax can work in some countries, it can work in all countries.
Every national government has the legal right to levy wealth taxes, and will do so if voters push hard enough. That is a realistic scenario, given that almost everyone agrees the wealth gap is too wide. Even the US constitution permits wealth tax provided the revenue is distributed to the states in proportion to their population; the present proposal goes a step further by proposing global distribution.
Like income tax, wealth tax can be either flat or progressive. A flat tax has a constant rate, while progressive tax rates increase for higher incomes or, in this case, higher assets. This petition proposes a single flat rate of wealth tax, but combines it with a threshold of 1 million US$. There are several reasons. First, this combination is progressive, so it can reduce the wealth gap. Second, the proposal is simple and clear, which is necessary to achieve global agreement. Third, only people above the threshold would declare their assets, which would reduce administrative costs for taxation offices. Fourth, the threshold means that small business - the backbone of thriving capitalist democracies - would not be affected. Fifth, a flat rate combined with a threshold is politically moderate: a more left-wing solution would be progressive (the tax rate would increase for higher total assets), whereas a more right-wing solution would have no threshold. Sixth, the proposal is flexible: signatories to a 1% global wealth tax agreement would be free to levy higher taxes within their countries, e.g. a progressive wealth tax that begins at 1% and increases for higher assets.
How is wealth tax applied?
According to this proposal, all private possessions with significant monetary value (minus debts, and minus the proposed threshold of 1m US$ for individuals) would be subject to wealth tax. All companies (corporations, firms, trusts, agencies, partnerships etc.) and all funds (investment, hedge, trading, stock, equity, bond, venture capital etc.) would be subject to wealth tax.
The proposed tax would be applied equally to wealth of all kinds. Wealth may include cash, bank accounts, gold, land/housing (real estate), and businesses (sale value, goodwill). Strictly, the market value of an item is only established when it is bought or sold, and the amount depends on the current relationship between supply and demand; but taxation inspectors can also ask experts for independent valuations (e.g. of real estate).
Like income, some wealth would never be declared. But the proportion would be relatively small. Tax offices would develop standard criteria and procedures for investigation of suspicious declarations. Before taking action, they would estimate the anticipated cost of investigation, the additional tax revenue if successful, and the probability of success. The higher the expected net revenue, the higher the priority. Undeclared wealth, when discovered, would be taxed at a much higher rate (e.g. 10%).
The fairest solution is to tax all wealth equally, but is that also a practical solution? It is easier to tax wealth that is already declared as real estate or stock-market shares. But money in bank accounts (especially in tax havens) makes up at least 1/3 of the assets of the top 1%. As tax havens and trusts become more transparent, those funds should be taxed directly. If bank accounts and trusts were exempted from wealth tax, the rich could avoid tax by shifting their assets. That is exactly what a global tax should prevent.
How can wealth tax be globalized?
A global wealth tax would be collected independently by national governments using existing national mechanisms. Rich individuals would declare their assets just as they currently declare income, subtract US$ 1 million, and pay 1% of the remainder. Multinational individuals and corporations would assign their assets to different countries and tax would be distributed accordingly.
A proportion of the proceeds (say 10%) might flow to a new global fund that is strictly independent of private and national interests. The fund would be democratically controlled by elected representatives of diverse countries (balancing rich and poor) in collaboration with internationally recognized experts on global environment, poverty and security.
The first step would be a global meeting. It could be convened by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which has been working to stop money laundering and tax evation since 2000. Initially, some countries would refuse to comply or even participate. These countries would be placed on a blacklist - similar to the list of non-cooperative countries and territories (tax havens) targeted by the Financial Action Task Force in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing (FATF blacklist). Black-listed countries would then be put under economic and political pressure. A global media campaign would inform their citizens about the urgency of the problem and the consequences of non-compliance.
In a globalised economy, individual countries are reluctant to introduce or raise taxes, because wealthy individuals and companies can avoid them by shifting their activities to another country or hiding their money in tax havens. This process has been pushing taxes down worldwide (“the race to the bottom”), and is one of the causes of the global financial crisis. The obvious solution is to globalize tax, so tax evaders have nowhere to run. A globalised economy needs globalised taxation.
A global wealth tax can only be administered fairly if all tax havens are closed. The OECD is already combating bank secrecy by promoting the automatic confidential exchange of financial information between countries and banks (more). But much remains to be done, and more public awareness and support is needed. Both national governments and global organizations are dragging their feet. The process needs new impetus. Introducing a global wealth tax before that process is complete will accelerate progress toward eliminating the illegal off-shore economy and returning financial control to sovereign democracies.
Laws are ineffective unless enforced. One possibility is to make the benefits of citizenship conditional on the full disclosure of all global assets and payment of corresponding taxes. But it is not the purpose of this text to solve the enforcement problem, or other such problems. They can be addressed by experts and democratic processes in different countries. Instead, the petition aims to promote global democracy by providing ordinary people with an opportunity to express a widely held view, namely that solutions to major world problems should be financed by the rich.
How would global wealth tax be applied to multinational companies and individuals with offshore wealth or wealth in different countries? Taxation offices would work together to distribute the wealth of such companies and individuals across the countries with whom they have the strongest financial links. In this process, individuals would be free to give up their original citizenship and become a citizen of a tax haven. But this strategy could backfire as tax havens are increasingly sanctioned by (i) governments whose citizens are using tax havens to avoid or evade tax and (ii) global financial and legal organizations.
The USA has contributed perhaps more than any other country to global warming, to denying its existence, and to impeding progress toward a global solution. The USA is also a global centre of resistance to wealth tax. This is an enormous problem, but it can and must be solved. Many Americans regard theirs as a Christian country that is saving the world by spreading democracy. Today, this idea is increasingly hypocritical. In fact, the USA is a tax haven alongside Singapore, Cayman Islands, and Switzerland; together, tax havens are a major cause of world poverty and the global financial crisis (more), and they are preventing the introduction of wealth taxes in other countries by giving the rich opportunities to avoid or evade them. If the USA wants to recover its global reputation for democracy and moral leadership, its democratic systems must respond to the will of the people, and it must cooperate constructively with other nations and with the UN. Increasing income tax for the rich is urgently necessary, but it is not enough. The USA must also start to tax wealth directly.
Approximate financial plan
(1 billion = 1 bn = 1000 million; 1 trillion = 1 tn = 1000 bn)
According to this proposal, global assets equivalent to roughly US$ 100 tn would be subject to wealth tax. Most of this wealth is openly declared in markets: the total value of all shares in all public companies (total world market capitalization) is currently about US$ 60 tn. According to Tax Justice Network, as much as US$ 30 tn may be hiding in offshore accounts (tax havens).
The proposed tax would increase national revenues by a total of roughly US$ 1 tn per year, which could be spent as follows:
- $300 bn/yr to help developing countries achieve economic independence and eliminate acute poverty over 20 years (as calculated by Jeffrey Sachs in "The End of Poverty"). Developmental collaboration addresses issues such as food and water, health, education, governance, human rights, infrastructure and business.
- $500 to 1000 bn/yr to limit the global temperature increase to 2°C, of which $200-400 bn/yr to limit emissions and develop alternative technologies in industrialised countries, $200-400 bn/yr to limit rapidly growing emissions in newly industrialised countries (e.g. China, India, Brazil), and $100-200 bn/yr to help developing countries cut emissions (Copenhagen Green Climate Fund). These projected costs are increasing rapidly, and will continue to increase as long as relatively little is done.
- $100 bn/yr to finance recovery after increasingly frequent climate disasters. (For example hurricane Sandy cost about $20bn.)
- $300 bn/yr for remaining urgent global projects including poverty reduction in rich countries, long-term cultural and economic projects to prevent armed conflict, global reduction of chemical pollution, maintenance of natural habitats to combat species extinction, long-term maintenance of water supplies in endangered areas, and research to understand and control possible future threats to the earth and its inhabitants.
All of these projected costs could be met by combining a globally harmonised wealth tax (1%/year) with similarly harmonised transaction, environmental and corporate taxes, and by reallocating existing subsidies for oil, coal and gas. Those subsidies should instead be financing hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, wave and tide energy.
Within countries, the new tax could be kept separate from other revenue and reserved for two purposes only: support for developing countries and strategies to reduce global warming. A maximum of transparency in this regard would increase public support and reduce political resistance. Release from these costs would help governments to reduce their deficits by existing means.
How much would the new tax cost to administer? If new positions were created in tax departments for this purpose, their total cost (wages plus overheads) should be much less than the revenue generated by the tax (say at least 10 times less - preferably more than 100). Incidentally, the costs of administering income tax and welfare could simultaneously be drastically reduced by implementing an unconditional basic income in conjunction with a flat income tax; the combination is continuously progressive (more).
The bottom line
A global wealth tax would be a simple and fair implemention of global opinion. Imagine asking all adults in the world: "Should the richest people in the world give some of their money to the poorest people in the world?" The answer would overwhelmingly be yes. Any genuine democrat should support this proposal.
Global poverty really exists, global climate change is really happening, and global economic reform is really necessary. Politicians can help solve these problems, but they will only do so if public pressure is strong and persistent. Parents and their children who are worried about the future can choose to hide their head in the sand, merely talk about it, or take action.
Signing this petition is safe, easy, and promising. The global wealth tax concept is transparent, fair, realistic, and politically moderate. Relatively speaking, the rich will lose a little and the poor will gain a lot. Everyone will gain a future.
Staunch opponents to new taxes (wealth, transaction, environment) have some questions to answer. How else can massive life-and-death projects be financed? Why pretend to defend the rich when they can fend for themselves? What, in real terms, have the rich (or the markets) got to lose when everyone is treated equally?
The signatories of this petition respectfully ask the leaders of relevant global organizations to work together to make global wealth tax a reality. We ask you to demonstrate your strength and benevolence by promoting long-term global public interests above short-term private interests, including your own.
The Guardian: Wealth doesn't trickle down
Democracy now: James Henry on global tax avoidance (video)
Leading research articles on global warming
Here are the most frequently cited academic papers about "global warming" since 2000, according to Google Scholar. Summaries (abstracts) are easy to find in the internet and you don’t have to be an expert to read them. Leading current literature can be found in the journal "nature climate change". Popular articles, books and webpages on this topic are often biased; reasons include indirect links to the fossil fuel industry, the author's lack of expertise, or the publisher's lack of expert anonymous content control procedures. For that reason the popular literature should generally be avoided.
Cox, P. M. et al. (2000). Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model. Nature, 408. 184-187.
Hughes, Lesley (2000). Biological consequences of global warming: Is the signal already apparent? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 15, 56-61.
Meinshausen, Malte et al. (2009). Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2 °C. Nature, 458, 1158-1162.
Peng, Shaobing (2004). Rice yields decline with higher night temperature from global warming. PNAS, 101 (27), 9971–9975.
Pounds, J. Alan et al. (2006). Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature, 439, 161-167.
Root, Terry L. et al. (2002). Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants. Nature, 421, 57-60.
- UN, IMF, World Bank, G20
To leaders of the UN, IMF, World Bank, and G20:
National governments cannot pay their debts, a billion people are living in poverty worldwide, and urgent warnings about climate change are being ignored. In all three cases, the main problem is money. But the money is available - in abundance. Economic globalisation and technological developments are making the rich megarich. Worldwide, there are now over a thousand US$-billionaires.
As concerned citizens across the world, we call on relevant global organisations such as the UN, IMF, World Bank, and G20 to negotiate a global agreement to tax all wealth - including all companies, funds, and wealthy individuals - at about 1% per year, in addition to existing non-wealth taxes. Exceptions should be limited to genuine non-profit organisations and individuals whose assets are less than about US$ 1 million.
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