Then write your congressman!
Oh, boy. Not again...
Those of us who pay attention to the doings of our ostensive servants above the Potomac are constantly urged to contact them on matters of urgency. Those of us who actually do so quickly tire of the futility.
How many "Thank you for supporting my position" responses to your letters opposing their positions does it take before you decide rolling rocks uphill is more productive?
This time, though, I'm asking you to give it another go.
See, last month, Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sens. Tom Harkin and Sheldon Whitehouse introduced the umpty-umpth attempt at imposing a per-trade financial transaction tax.
Yawn. Again? Seems like the idea gets floated every session and nothing ever happens, right? This time, however, the prospects are looking better. The idea is getting a lot of support, and not just from the usual suspects like Krugman and Stiglitz, but from actual, known Very Important and Way Rich Guys like Bill Gates. Even John Bogle, founder of the 800-pound gorilla mutual fund outfit Vanguard Group.
See, Very Important and Way Rich Guys understand that, to keep growing a company or fund group (or country), nothing beats steady, dependable investment. The kind of 10,000-trades-an-hour bullshit that has swamped the markets over the last decades is terribly destabilizing to companies that depend on long-term investment.
Another factor making the future of a transaction tax look brighter is, wackily enough, the constant budget chicken games being played out in Congress. Even those screaming "Cuts Cuts Cuts!" know that the deficit isn't going to be erased solely by starving the beast and that some sort of revenue increases are going to be needed.
But raise individual rates? Eliminate deductions on corporate jets and electric dog polishers? Heaven forbid! (Along with Tea Party primariers).
The proposed FTT, set at three cents on 100 basis points (roughly $100), may be just the side door they're looking to slip through. Because, unless you're a speed trading house, the damn thing's virtually painless.
Let's say you're a hard-working, non-Galting job creator looking to invest in the stock market. For whatever reason, you decide you're going to go big on Microsoft this year. Really big. Say, 3 mil or so. The Harkin/DeFazio FTT will mean that, instead of 100,000 shares, your 3 mil drop will only get you... 99,999 shares.
For the smaller investor, the results will be damn near negligible. A 401(k) with a balance of $60,000 would take an average hit of about $18 a year, less than the cost of a hardback book or a decent Rioja.
With individual costs that small, how effective a revenue-raiser would the tax be? Not too shabby, actually. Current estimates have the fee bringing in $352 billion-with-a-B over the next decade. Not a bad chunk of change.
The idea is gaining more (and more surprising) adherents every day, but it stands almost no chance of getting to the floor without a big push from congresscritters' constituents.
So, please consider climbing on your stallion and tilting at that windmill once more. Who knows, if enough of us put it in writing, we could at least give the post office a shot in the arm.
Some links of interest:
Oh, and P.S.:
Maybe Kenyan-European Socialism isn't such a bad thing?