His Mentionableness the Archbishop of Canterbury has signed up to the idea of the Robin Hood Tax. Writing in the Financial Times* he endorses The Vatican's three points for making the world a better place, at least in terms of financial justice:
- Routine banking business should be clearly separated from speculative transactions;
- Recapitalise banks with public money. Banks should be obliged in return to help reinvigorate the real economy; and
- A Financial Transaction Tax.
This declaration is, of course, not unrelated to the anti-corporate greed protest taking place outside St Paul's Cathedral and is no doubt aimed at getting the protestors to believe the Church is on their side, and to avoid confrontation. The last thing the Church wants is a forced eviction of the protestors (for whatever reason) so this might help persuade them to move on. Be that as it may, I am choosing to believe Mr Archbishop is sincere and that he is making a step towards separating service to 'God' (and charity towards us plebs) from obeisance to 'Mammon'.
What I would like to see next is the Anglican Church, the Vatican, the Greek Orthodox Church, and all the rest, divest themselves of their fabulous wealth and do their bit financially to make the world better place. A lot of the churches' wealth is tied up in property, works of art and golden idols etc. But it is estimated that the Greek Orthodox has sufficient assets to solve the Greek government's debts twice over (see The Guardian for more details. Typically, nobody has proper or reliable records and the church has not been publishing its accounts.) And Heaven knows (or at least we hope it does) how much booty lies in the Vatican which might usefully be redistributed - the CIA reckon there are revenues of $355 million a year - so it would be nice to see t'Pope put his money where his mouth is. The Church of England is quite poor relatively speaking, but they're not short of a bob or two when needed.
[*Sorry, but to read the FT article you will have to register, but you can do so for free.]