Monday, November 15, 2004

An "anti-misery" tax?

A recent essay in Le Monde called for a solidarity tax on petroleum. Olivier Giscard d'Estaing, president of the Action Committee for a World Parliament (and I'd guess son of the former president of the French Republic), called for a one dollar tax per barrel of oil "against misery."

The author estimates that such a tax would the 50 billion dollars ($50,000,000,000) annually necessary to reach the Millenium Goals against poverty. He calls on OPEC to institute this initiative, which he likens to the Marshall Plan.

This is a wonderful and noble idea.

But how will it reduce poverty?

In many oil-producing countries, like Venezuela, Angola and Nigeria, the problem is not lack of money. Those countries are rolling in oil revenues. The problems are corruption and lack of transparency. The money's there. It's just not reaching the citizens. It's not having any effect on the lives of ordinary people.

An "anti-misery tax" would only increase the amount of money for the leeches to siphon off.

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