Veronica Roberts

Can a 0.5 percent tax on Wall Street and the wealthy narrow the deep poverty divide in NYC and other parts of America?

As Occupy Wall Street gather Tuesday on their second anniversary, rallies were held at Zuccotti Park in New York City where it all started. A later rally is also scheduled for 5 p.m. at the United Nations.

One of their chief battle cries is poverty and the growing income disparity in NYC and nowhere is deep inequality more highlighted than in areas affected by Superstorm Sandy.

On Oct. 29, 2012, Sandy raged through the northeast, leaving parts of the Far Rockaways in Queens, deeply devastated.

It is almost a year later and the residents of this community say they were treated like an afterthought following the storm and are still dealing with the financial toll caused by the destruction.

But many will tell you that the ferocious storm did not cause all of their pain, just exacerbated it. The stunning inequality which exists had already crippled many communities in that peninsula and other parts of the city, including Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx.

Hospitals continue to close; resources are limited, joblessness, poor performing schools collide with all the other neglect that are usually present when neighborhoods are treated as unimportant and resources funneled elsewhere.

Residents in the Rockaways will tell you how they were left without electrical power for more than a month, some longer, while Wall Street went without power for only one day. They will tell you how many are still homeless since the storm destroyed their homes. How the only hospital in the area was closed.

This kind of abandonment, which leads to crushing poverty, doesn’t have to be and one group is fighting hard to remedy this.

To bridge the inequality chasm, they propose a 0.5 percent “Robin Hood” tax on Wall Street trades, which they say will net $350 billion annually. The benefit of such a small tax will be hugely significant. [Click on video above for more].

For the revenue garnered from a mere half a percent tax can rebuild communities, re-open hospitals, improve schools, and provide jobs and health care. And not just in Far Rockaway but all across America, for growing inequality is a national problem.

We have to think long term and a truly successful, rich productive country takes care of all of its citizenry, not just a few. A healthy population is a productive population and a productive population leads to increased revenue.

It’s not rocket science but simple logic. Wasn’t it Winston Churchill who said the most important asset of any nation is its healthy citizens?

So while we currently debate whether to flex our military might over Syria to show the world how dominate we are, a large portion of the American population lives in poverty; children go hungry because their parents are jobless or paid wages that are impossibly low and cannot sustain them.

Many of our public schools simply warehouse our children and turn them loose with a substandard education. This in turn can lead to neighborhoods infested with crime, robberies and murders, as gun violence dominate entire communities across America.

Before we invade Syria our leaders should a take a look in our backyard and count the number of deaths from gun violence. Sarin gas is lethal and a horrific way to die and so are our children and youths dying in inner cities across this nation. How can we propose to fix another country when we ignore the plight of ours?

Contrary to what some may loudly spew on television and talk radio, we are all interconnected and to neglect large sections of the population, while a few horde most of the money and resources, will have catastrophic results—that is if we do not deal with the gaping problem.

It is not “those lazy, lawless people’s” problem, for society is growing more interconnected. The way we travel is a testament to that as urban cities’ modes of transport throw us all together.

How your neighbor lives will impact your life sooner or later and for those who believe that living in the “rich zip codes” far removed from the madding crowd, insulates them from the ills of those communities; think again. See how long you remain “insulated” if a pandemic breaks out from lack of health care or hospitals for those who may be sick.

The plight of your maid, nanny or gardener who may have no health coverage and take the subway to and from pruning your hedges, cleaning your house and looking after your children, will certainly matter then, wouldn’t it?

For more information on the “Robin Hood Tax” and to attend the rally on Sept. 17 at 5 p.m. at New York City’s United Nations, click here.