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More than 6,000 nurses and activists gathered at Daley Plaza in Chicago Friday to rock out with musician Tom Morello and call for a tax on financial speculation  — a Robin Hood tax. This small sales tax on Wall Street trades could raise up to $350 billion a year in the U.S., money that American communities desperately need.

“It’s time for Wall Street to start paying what all the rest of us pay,” Karen Higgins, RN, told a cheering crowd, many wearing red nurse scrubs and green Robin Hood caps.

Higgins, who works as a registered nurse in Boston, is co-president of National Nurses United, the country’s largest registered nurses’ union, which organized the rally.

As nurses, they see how the economy is hurting families and communities across the country. They understand the suffering Americans face every day – in healthcare, foreclosure, jobs, and education.

“I’ve been a nurse for 38 years and I have never seen our communities in such disarray and in such suffering as I have in the last couple of years,” said Deborah Burger, RN, and NNU co-president. “They got us into this mess and they have the money to bail us out.”

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Indeed they do-- almost a quarter of the nation’s GDP – close to $4 trillion – sits in corporate coffers, the largest cash hoard in U.S. history.  

“We are here to protest all the people that are taking all the money out of our economy,” said Jean Ross, RN, and co-president of NNU.   “We the 99 percent know what it’s about. We set an alarm. We work for a living. We don’t sit by a swimming pool and wait for our dividends to come in.”

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More than 100 organizations of community, environmental, labor, and health groups from around the world endorsed the event.

RoseAnn DeMoro, NNU’s executive director, thanked everyone for being there and gave a special shout-out to Occupy protesters.

“To all the community groups, the political groups, the non-profit groups that came out to support us -- bless you,” DeMoro said.  “It’s your voices that are going to make a difference in this country.”

Also speaking at the rally was Tom Hayden, student activist during Chicago's 1968 protests.  

The rally ended with a performance by music legend Morello, who played with bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, and is also known for his acoustic music as The Nightwatchman.

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 “It’s an honor to be here today in my hometown of Chicago with the nurses union. I want to thank them for standing up for free speech, for standing up for economic justice, and standing up for me,” he said.  

Morello’s reference was to a standoff between the nurses and the City of Chicago over a permit to assemble in Daley Plaza. The city changed the permit last week that would move the rally away from downtown Chicago. After nurses and the community protested, the city caved and allowed the rally to go on at the plaza as planned.

Before the rally, nurses attended an international panel discussion on global austerity and ways to fight back, including the Robin Hood tax.

“It’s so important we have a strong Robin Hood tax campaign,” said Jörn Kalinski, Oxfam Germany director of lobbying and campaigns. “We need America to come around on this issue.”

In addition to Kalinski, other speakers included:

Mi Jung Han, RN, Vice President,  Korean Health and Medical Workers Union (South Korea), David Hillman, Coordinator, Stamp Out Poverty (UK), Rosa Pavanelli, President, Funzione Pubblica CGIL (Italy) and Vice President, European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU),  Linda Silas, RN, President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (Canada), and Brenda Cristina Morales, RN, Regional Coordinator, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Salud de Guatemala  (SNTSG)  (Guatemala) made presentations.

Originally posted to National Nurses Movement on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Progressive Hippie.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent job! This is so hopeful. (9+ / 0-)

    Keep up the  great work.

  •  Excellent! (6+ / 0-)

    "No, I'm being judged against the ideal. Joe Biden has a saying: 'Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." --President Barack Obama, 12/11/11

    by smoothnmellow on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:27:01 PM PDT

  •  Even better (5+ / 0-)

    was that one of the (lazy Trad-Media) local stations got it mostly right.  I was passing by a TV which was tuned to the local ABC affiliate (Channel 7) and they kept stressing how it was an orderly and peaceful assembly, exactly what the Chicago "authorities" didn't expect (and was given for their rationale for the last minute changes to the permit).

    Way to go Nurses!

    -8.88, -7.77 Social Security as is will be solvent until 2037, and the measures required to extend solvency beyond that are minor. -- Joe Conanson

    by wordene on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:32:54 PM PDT

  •  Thank you. (10+ / 0-)

    Though your brother's bound and gagged
     And they've chained him to a chair
     Won't you please come to Chicago
     Just to sing

    In a land that's known as freedom
     How can such a thing be fair?
     Won't you please come to Chicago
     For the help that we can bring

    We can change the world
     Re-arrange the world
     It's dying ... to get better

    Politicians sit yourself down
     There's nothing for you here
     Won't you please come to Chicago
     For a ride

    Don't ask Jack to help you
     'Cause he'll turn the other ear
     Won't you please come to Chicago
     Or else join the other side

    We can change the world
     Re-arrange the world
     Is dying ... if you believe in justice
     Is dying ... and if you believe in freedom
     Is dying ... let a man live his own life
     Is dying ... rules and regulations, who needs them?
     Open up the door

    Somehow people must be free
     I hope the day comes soon
     Won't you please come to Chicago
     Show your face

    From the bottom of the ocean
     To the mountains on the moon
     Won't you please come to Chicago
     No one else can take your place

    ~ Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young

    One in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder, or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum. ~ Chris Hedges

    by Saint Jimmy on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:58:20 PM PDT

  •  All those nurses should get a job. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tonyahky, mrsgoo, tardis10

    just kidding. Nurses are on the front lines, they see what's going on and they obviously care. It's great to see them speak out.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson

    by Karl Rover on Fri May 18, 2012 at 06:00:19 PM PDT

  •  One of the nurses was interviewed on the radio (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrsgoo, FarWestGirl, MJ via Chicago

    about the Robin HOod tax, she said it was 1/2 cent per $100 transaction. Then the official news report came on and said it was 50 cents per $100 transaction. gotta love the news.

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Fri May 18, 2012 at 06:42:29 PM PDT

    •  Nurses have to know where to put the decimals, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MJ via Chicago, eXtina

      0.5mg and 50mg is one hell of a difference. Wonder if the journos got sloppy or were just trying to stir things up, $.005 and $.50 really aren't the same.  ;-)

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

      by FarWestGirl on Fri May 18, 2012 at 07:27:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You'd be surprised (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FarWestGirl

        at the level of math ineptitude among allegedly intelligent, professional people.  My days are all spent reviewing documents prepared by lawyers, and it is obvious beyod quetion that there are a large number of lawyers, my guess is close to half, that don't really grasp what a "percentage" actually is.  Hard to believe I know, but true, nonetheless.  

        The level of institutionalized ignorance is astonishing.  There was a bank that changed its name.  On the new printed mortgage discharge forms it had prepared after the name change, in the heading it said, (and I remind you this is a printed form, this had to be reviewed and proofread several times) "Bank A, NA" formally known as "Bank A, FSB".  "Formally".  Printed form.  Money laid out.  "Formally".  SMDH

        The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges. ~ Anatole France

        by ActivistGuy on Sat May 19, 2012 at 08:36:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOLOL, yup, see that kind of crap all over. I read (0+ / 0-)

          papers for a professor friend of mine at a state college for a while. Freshman Art History. Terrifying to see how illiterate 18 year olds were. Most wrote at about a 4th or 5th grade level, if that. Some of the ESL,(foreign), students had a better grasp of the language than our graduates did. And they're going to have to keep the lights on when we're gone. ::shudder::

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

          by FarWestGirl on Sat May 19, 2012 at 09:03:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It was great! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, tardis10

    Thanks to NNU for such a great event.  I really enjoyed it.  Hopefully Obama and all of America will listen to this message so we can see fairness restored.

  •  The Transaction Tax is a horrible idea. (0+ / 0-)

    It is good to see the 99% organized and getting a message out. It is sad to see such a misguided message.

    Transaction Taxes are a very bad idea.

    One reason why is that it will force trading to move overseas, where we cannot regulate it. If JPMorgan had been based in Dubai, Jamie Dimon would not be in the hot seat today. The SEC has no authority in Dubai. We also lose the income taxes we collect on trader's salaries.

    Another is that the people pushing it don't seem to understand Finance, which is scary. For example: The "$350 billion/year" number is highly suspect. How can a transaction tax raise that much? Total profits for all Wall Street firms were only $61.4 billion in 2009.  How can you cut a $350 billion steak from a $61 billion cow?

    The biggest reason is that it takes us off message. We need to raise high-bracket income taxes and we need to raise Capital Gains taxes. That's the message.

    Don't tax the trade -- tax the trader.

    I hate big banks as much as anybody. I hope they die. But this is not the way to do it. Even if we can pass it, it will hurt more than it helps.

    There are two types of people who support this tax:

    1) People who don't know how much it will hurt the US but assume that anything banks hate must be good.

    2) Foreigners (like Oxfam) who don't care that it will wreck the US financial industry because they aren't Americans.

    •  BS. This is a (0+ / 0-)

      GLOBAL campaign. Not aimed at US transactions only. And it is hardly the idea of financial naifs or scary furriners who hate US like,gulp,OXFAM!

      http://robinhoodtax.org/...

      The Robin Hood Tax campaign is coming to America.
      We're committed to rebuilding America by introducing a small tax on Wall Street transactions.
      We believe it's time to rewrite the contract between banks and society.
      We are charities, green groups, trade unions, community organisations, celebrities, religious leaders and politicians.
      We are businesspeople – Microsoft founder Bill Gates, financier George Soros, entrepreneur extraordinaire Warren Buffet
      We are economists – Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs and 1,000 other economists from across the world.
      We are thought leaders - the Vatican, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson and Ban Ki-Moon.
      We are world leaders – President Hollande of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, among others.

      We are part of a global movement representing over 220 million people in 25 countries.
      We are a force to be reckoned with, and we're demanding justice.
      Are you?

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Sat May 19, 2012 at 01:08:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The "international" nature of... (0+ / 0-)

        ...the T-Tax is part of the problem.

        There are two countries that earn a significant amount of foreign exchange (aka "money") from being trading centers. One is the USA. The other is London.

        A lot of jobs, tax revenue, and international influence depend on the fact that we are a financial center. It is one of the reasons why the Dollar is a reserve currency and why our government pays such low interest rates on our debt.

        The countries scheming for the T-Tax don't have big stock, bond, and currency exchanges. They don't care if the T-Tax destroys ours.

        •  Scheming against the reserve currency (0+ / 0-)

          or Wall St. or London has nothing to do with this campaign and you know it ;)
          Look,your post that only finance dumbos & OXFAM!!!! are on board with this was way off the mark. No point trying to defend it or move into CT land.
          Your other point,that we need to ALSO craft better individual tax policies is right on. Although I am not seeing much of a pathway to achieve that.

          "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

          by tardis10 on Sat May 19, 2012 at 07:01:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am not accusing... (0+ / 0-)

            ...the Robin Hood guys of hating the US.

            I'm just saying that they don't care about the US. We have a financial industry that provides jobs, taxes, and national power. France and Germany don't.

            My statement that these guys don't know much about finance is based on the nonsense idea that they will raise "$350 billion/year in the US". Do the freakin' math!.  That is $1,000 per person, kids and pets included! Where do they get these numbers???

            We already have a growing consensus in the US that we need to tax the rich more. We have a growing consensus that we need to raise capital gains taxes. Now is not the time to get distracted with this Internationalist Kum-Bye-Yah stuff.

            •  Yeah,that growing concensus is working so (0+ / 0-)

              well re: tax policy these days. Why the wildly popular http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/... Buffet Rule just...............failed.
              Don't know where the number comes from. I do know that last year approx. $38 billion (€29bn) was raised by FTTs in the 40 countries that have them.
              So I'll keep singing for the Tobin (err,Robin Hood) tax and much more.
              How goes your landlording these days? We are doing fine with ours but I think the kumbayyahyahyah of how I run it would amuse you no end.

              "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

              by tardis10 on Sat May 19, 2012 at 09:09:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  What do you think of... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan

    separating the commercial banks from the investment banks (gambling houses)?

    Resistance Is Fertile - Occupy

    by Sean X on Sat May 19, 2012 at 01:18:04 AM PDT

  •  Wonderfully simple idea,perfectly tweetable! (0+ / 0-)

    Makes it have a chance of happening..

     I am going to print this page and leave it about town. Maybe with certain parts highlighted. Also great idea for LTEs.
    http://robinhoodtax.org/...

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sat May 19, 2012 at 01:48:10 AM PDT

  •  GO nurses! (0+ / 0-)

    You all are my hero"s.  You seem to be always on the front lines here in California as well as Chicago Washington DC New York.You make me proud.

  •  I just saw the RobinHood tax commercial (0+ / 0-)

    I'm all for making class warfare a topic, because it is going on and the 99% is on the losing side of it, BUT

    I found that ad to be very weird and unfocused. If anything, the banker ended up looking like the victim of an angry group of cranks.  

    Who was that ad supposed to aimed at? What emotion was it supposed to arouse? Why did it paint the real victims so grotesquely with anger distorted faces, etc?

    Whoever designed that ad should be fired pronto. Almost anyone could have come up with a better ad of how Wall Street predators damage the quality of life for others - lost pensions, etc, without making a mini version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers where we're the body snatchers and not the other way around.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sun May 20, 2012 at 12:29:49 PM PDT

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