Nurses Push for “Robin Hood” Tax on Wall Street

Nurses have long been seen as the overworked, exhausted workers of the healthcare industry. They often face exhausting hours under tense and demanding circumstances. In recent years they have also been threatened with severe cuts to resources throughout the country. Now many nurses have joined in the rallying cries of the Occupy Wall Street movement and have begun to chime into debates not only about working conditions but also about taxing Wall Street.

National Nurses United, a group devoted to speaking out for nurses’ rights, medical care reform, and on taxing the wealthy, planned a massive rally at the center of Chicago on May 18. The rally was intended to coincide with the beginning of the G8 summit, which is now taking place at Camp David in Maryland after the location was changed from its original Chicago location.

The rally involved performances by Tom Morello and skits depicting the G8 leaders who have converged for the G8 summit. The central piece of news from the NNU-organized rally is the call for the “Robin Hood” or “sin” tax aimed at Wall Street. MSNBC News reports that this tax on Wall Street would place a tax of 50 cents on every $100 exchanged in any type of financial transaction, including trades of stocks, bonds, and dividends.

Time Magazine reports that the thousands of nurses that showed up for the march wore red shirts and green felt hats to reflect this call for a new taxation on financial transactions. The NNU claims that this tax could raise up to $350 billion a year for social services. National Nurses United were backed by at least 100 other environmental, health and labor groups who also converged on the Chicago streets to demand this financial transaction tax.

Why are nurses the ones leading this tax reform movement at the beginning of the G8 summit? NNU’s slogan for the meeting on Daley Center Plaza is “Heal America, Tax Wall Street.” Citing the ill health of the economy and watching the suffering of the millions of Americans who cannot afford reliable health care, the nurses converged to demand an overhaul of a system that favors the wealthy and aims to strip nurses and other hard workers of their pensions and social services.

As Sarah Anderson May puts in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Nurses have been on the front lines of the crisis, seeing firsthand the health impacts of skyrocketing poverty and record high rates of uninsured Americans.”

Police and city officials were concerned about the size and energy of the rally in Chicago before it began. According to MSNBC, officials assigned at least 3,100 law enforcement officers on the scene of the march. The Associated Press reports that while there was a large police presence at the rally, the overall tone of the march was peaceful with very little conflict, although police were filming much of the march. There were only two arrests made as the rally wound through city streets and which started to disperse after about 90 minutes.

A few groups broke away from the nurses’ group to protest other Occupy Wall Street issues, such as the bank bailouts, in other city streets. More demonstrations from a variety of Occupy Wall Street groups are expected for the weekend of the 19th and 20th as rising tensions continue over debates on the war in Afghanistan and other global economic issues.

Related Stories:

May Day: Occupy Wall Street Gears Up for Nationwide Strike

OWS Sustainability to Host May Day Teach-Ins

If We Pay You, Will You Like Health Care Reform More?

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Samantha Richardson

Bless them. No doubt these nurses are the ones that had no place to voice their discontent with the rising poverty and worsening circumstances, until the Occupy movement started. I am so glad to see they now have a platform to voice their very real concerns, and their first hand experience will mean more to society than any idiot on Fox News wanting to take a run at them.

Donald T.
Donald T.3 years ago

The wealthy always have been wealthy; the difference is they used to be a part of society, taking care of their businesses, their employees and customers, so they did well. No longer. It is the immediacy of the bottom line NOW, TODAY, NOW. Reagan through Bush has been 30 years of exponential growth for them going up, while the majority of the people have been sliding downhill rapidly. I think most people would be happy just to make a living, pay bills, have security, and to be able to raise children well with an education, be have safe living conditions, learning and good health for the family. But no, not in the cards for the rich. They want and they take more and more and consider themselves entitled to everything without any responsibility to anyone. They Democrats ask for fairness and equity, while the new Republicans could care less about giving anyone a decent break. They use the infrastructure, but want no part of maintenance. They give new and ugly meaning to the expression 'Greedy Bastards'.

Laurie A.
Laurie A.3 years ago

I feel grateful for the Florence Nightingales of OWS. I love the Robinhood tax label, but because of religion-infused verbal onslaught upon reproductive choice, I experienced an internal cringe in response to the label "sin tax." How about calling it like it is, i.e. "greed tax?" A need and call for nursing our country back to health and healing the wounds are the operative metaphors for the areas of financial, political and social dis-ease in our country.

Joy Leftow
Joy Leftow3 years ago

Nurses and social workers are some of the most underpaid traditionally and perhaps because traditionally they are women and only a minority of men are in these positions. It seems too that there are not enough social workers anymore during times when people need their services and voices more than ever.

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W.3 years ago

David r. - I went and looked it up and don't really see any relevance. I wasn't trying to censor you (please see my post to JHM).

And please do not write me anymore to tell me that the jury is still out and you're guessing I'm the idiot. I didn't send you any private mail and didn't solicit any from you.

" Hi Kimberlee,

david randell has sent you the following introduction. This system allows only brief introductions. If you would like to respond to this person, simply reply to this message.

the jury is out on which one of us is the idiot. i think its you. "

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W.3 years ago

JHM - I generally don't go after people in that manner for that reason. I simply considered his reason ill-informed by his own peculiar media choices and that didn't concern me much was evidenced by the lack of people in agreement with him.

No, what I perceived was the general contempt he appeared to have towards the site and its members in general. THAT I could not abide.

As I said, I LIKE the vast majority of the people here and I don't care for someone talking about the majority of us as in ". . . all we hear is this innane babbling on care2, and some sad hippies camping in parks."

Like I said, if he doesn't like the folks here, he should leave.

Stele Ely
Stele Ely3 years ago

Singalong with my *Speculator Tax* song if you want to
an itsy bitsy, you banker cats
the point zero 5 percent speculator tax (.05%)
to help the people now we ask
please pay the speculator tax

stock and currency exchange markets
trade trillions every day
untaxed transactions to wit
the speculators (are) free to play

don’t winy tiny you wall street cats
about the point zero 5 percent speculator tax
to help our planet now get jazzed
to pay the speculator tax

this micro tax to be fair
on the big exchange trades
would raise billions every year
to make the world better place

a teeny weeny you banker cats
the point zero 5 percent speculator tax
so tell your congress person yes yes
I want to pay the speculator tax

Eugene Patrick D.

The Wall Street tax cure may be worse than the disease. A nurse should focus on the patient and in this case it is the middle class that desperately needs tax reform.

In 2010 the Simpson Bowles Commission questioned income tax expenditures and some spending programs but were not permitted to explore a value added tax (VAT) or net wealth tax due to the constraints of the Executive Order that set up the commission. Research has been done on the FairTax-a proposed national 23-30% sales tax (thanks to $20 million in private contributions) but congress has not studied all tax reform alternatives. Even the Peter G. Peterson Foundation (-sponsors research into long term fiscal solutions) seems afraid to consider wealth rather than capital gains and estate assets as part of a broader tax base. John Boehner announced he will schedule major tax reform milestones in December and let congress work on them in 2013 (setting the stage for short term comprimise on tax extenders and the next debt cieling).

The US is the only developed country without a VAT and that is why our business tax rates are so high. It is political arrogance and economic suicide not to add a small VAT to the tax blend and reduce the 35% corporate tax rate. The only rational reason for eschewing a net wealth tax is the sacred cow of avoiding “double taxation”. This common knee jerk reaction fails to appreciate the potential benefits of very low rates and delayed taxes (i.e. much better to tax 8% of inco

Mary Mattarelli
Mary Mattarelli3 years ago


Simon B.
Simon B.3 years ago

Let's have it, says I. Anything to get money out of the hands of the Privileged few and back into the hands of the rest of us Poor schlubs is good!