Billy Bragg announced on twitter this morning his intention not to pay any tax until the disgrace is sorted by the government. On a facebook group called NoBonus4RBS, he writes:
"The estimated £1.5bn that RBS will pay to its investment bankers next month in the form of bonuses will ultimately be drawn from the taxes that you and I are due to pay on 31st January.
"Meanwhile, we are being softened up by the main political parties for painful cuts in public spending after the election.
"I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, to inform him that I am no longer prepared to fund the excessive bonuses of RBS investment bankers. Unless he acts to limit them to £25,000, I shall be withholding my tax payment on 31st January."
Bragg is encouraging people to join the campaign by writing to the Chancellor to inform him of their intention not to pay tax at the end of the month. It's a good idea, and withholding tax is probably one of the few levers we have to influence government, but how many people will realistically be prepared or informed enough to do this in the next two weeks? (Not to mention many people pay tax as they earn).
But maybe it will gather some momentum and heap pressure on Darling who, you never know, may actually pull his finger out of his arse and clampdown on the banks.
Looking to the longer term, Arianna Huffington and friends have come up with a great idea for punishing the banks which are "too big to fail" - move your money to the banks on 'Main St'.
Taking inspiration from the film It's a Wonderful Life the idea revolves around moving money from the big Wall St banks who feed from the taxpayers' pot to small town banks instead. See the video above
We talked about the outrage of big, bailed-out banks turning around and spending millions of dollars on lobbying to gut or kill financial reform -- including "too big to fail" legislation and regulation of the derivatives that played such a huge part in the meltdown. And as we contrasted that with the efforts of local banks to show that you can both be profitable and have a positive impact on the community, an idea took hold: why don't we take our money out of these big banks and put them into community banks? And what, we asked ourselves, would happen if lots of people around America decided to do the same thing? Our money has been used to make the system worse -- what if we used it to make the system better?
"The idea is simple: If enough people who have money in one of the Big Six banks move it into smaller, more local, more traditional community banks, then collectively we, the people, will have taken a big step toward re-rigging the financial system so it becomes again the productive, stable engine for growth it's meant to be. It's neither Left nor Right -- it's populism at its best."
While I don't necessarily agree with the concept of growth, short of revolution we're unlikely to see much far reaching reform of the financial system anytime soon, so why not take things into our own hands and hurt the big banks? The idea only refers to the US but British taxpayers have also had to witness blatant acts of theft in the form of gargantuan bonuses - maybe we could move our money too?
For more information, see www.moveyourmoney.info