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We Have Enough Money to Invest in Children

Florece School, Nayarit, Mexico   © U.R. Romano

Florece School, Nayarit, Mexico   © U.R. Romano

For the past twenty years, I have filmed children all over the world in every conceivable form of poverty and abuse, from global child labor (Stolen Childhoods, 2004) to the struggles of street children (Rescuing Emmanuel, 2009). The Same Heart is the third film in this trilogy, and it confronts one of the central issues of our time: growing inequality and poverty with its impacts on children in the U.S. and abroad. The film offers a plan to raise funding to meet the chronic unmet needs of millions of children through a tiny financial transactions tax, an elegantly simple approach that will call on the global financial sector to do their fair share.

Today one billion children (every second child worldwide) lack one or more of the essentials for a decent life: food, clean water, sanitation, housing, education and basic security and human dignity. In today's world, 168 million children are engaged in child labor, 60 million have never set foot in a school, while almost 15 million American children live in poverty and 2.5 million are homeless in the richest country on earth. 

Six million children die annually from diseases we have cures for, over 16,000 a day.

© U.R. Romano

© U.R. Romano

These numbers are catastrophic. These losses we all bear responsibility for have more to do with money than anything else. Children are dying of starvation because we don't adequately fund the agencies charged with helping them. Children die of diseases because we provide less than a quarter of the funds needed to treat them and save their lives. It's all about money.

The Same Heart offers a plan to address the chronic underfunding and patchwork nature of international development aid, proposing a financial transactions tax that could raise hundreds of billions of dollars to fund sustainable social protection programs for families and children in the U.S. and worldwide.

The film calls upon five Nobel Peace Laureates and two Nobel economists to make the moral and economic case for the tax.

We are working with the D.C. based Child Labor Coalition to urge Congress to pass a financial transactions tax bill and have started an online campaign for this purpose. The United States Congress has so far ignored those bills that have been filed. But times are changing; the presidential campaign has put new focus on inequality as a core issue, The New York Times has endorsed the idea of a financial transactions tax, the U.N. has called for a tax to fund development programs, in the U.K., a million people have signed a petition urging passage of the tax and in 2017, ten EU countries will be implementing the FTT.

© U.R. Romano

© U.R. Romano

A tiny financial transactions tax would produce enough revenue every year to be a game-changer for children trapped in poverty. Ideas can be powerful, and the FTT is a simple idea with the power to change the world. A billion children don't have the luxury of time. Their childhoods are now.


The Same Heart will have its Washington, D.C. premiere on March 31st at the Howard Theatre. Awa Sangho, the “Golden Voice of Mali,” will perform along with other musicians from the film’s soundtrack. The event will launch The Same Heart FTT campaign. Tickets available through Ticketmaster or at the Howard box office at 620 T St., N.W.

 

Len Morris

Media Voices for Children, 110 Daggett Avenue, Vineyard Haven, MA, United States