On November 3, 2011, four KILN scholars senior Anya Diane, junior Sandra Dickson, and sophomores Andrea Lopez and Chenille Morrison along with fellow nursing student Sarah Webber and members from the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) lobbied in Washington, DC for a Financial Transaction Tax.  As part of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, nurses wanted to call on Congress and the White House to tax the big banks and other Wall Street speculators who gambled with middle class mortgages and pensions, and use the revenue for national recovery and for the rebuilding of communities.

Left to right: KILN Scholars Anya Diané, Andrea Lopez, Chenille Morrison, Sandra Dickson (Photo by Sarah Webber, ’14)

The MNA wanted to be a part of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement because nurses believe that they are the only voices that stand between the most vulnerable members of society and the government.  At the height of the economic recession, middle class Americans continue to pay high fees on ATM withdrawals,  and high taxes on food and gas.  Meanwhile, corporations pay no taxes on transactions involving stocks, bonds, foreign currency bets and derivatives.  The recession has also been accompanied with great job loss for the middle class,  which has resulted in many losing their health benefits.  Nurses want Congress to take immediate action to help American middle class families who are affected by job loss, un-payable medical bills, poor nutrition, and other problems linked to the ongoing economic crisis.  Nurses are deeply worried about patients who cannot afford needed medical care or prescription medications because of high co-pays and deductibles and other deterioration in health and living standards.  Despite many families being in jeopardy, Wall Street wants to propose more cuts in programs that help people, such as Medicare and Medicaid.  Nurses are demanding commissions that will focus on priorities such as making more jobs available at a decent wage and providing healthcare for all, quality education, and freedom from hunger and homelessness.

The Financial Transaction Tax would be a small tax of Wall Street trading of 0.5% on transactions like stocks, bonds, foreign currency bets and derivatives.  This tiny tax would generate $350 billion a year in revenue for the United States that would help to jump start our failing economy and would be a stepping stone in providing low-cost health care for all.  With the tax, there would be a decrease in financial speculation and automated trading which would open up jobs for many American families.  In recent years, transaction taxes have been implemented very effectively in more than forty countries around the world, and with the United States being the world’s economic giant, such influx of revenue would only serve to keep our country and economy competitive in the world market.

Witnessing the passion that nurses have for their patients makes me look forward to my career as a nurse.  The “Occupy Wall Street” movement reinforced that fact that health should be a right and not just a privilege for the rich.  I am grateful to the MNA for affording me the opportunity to be in the company of health care professionals.  It made me realize that nursing is a rewarding career because it is through advocating for my future patients that I will ensure rights are granted to the most vulnerable members of society.