Income redistribution

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Income redistribution can be either the act of an individual's voluntary charitable giving or government mandated compulsory transfer of assets and income from one group of citizens to another group.

Background

Most conservatives accept and advocate voluntary charitable giving as necessary to alleviate social problems, but believe the government should not interfere, but rather should encourage personal involvement and personal giving to the underprivileged, elderly, disabled, and other hardship cases. Also, many conservatives view some forms of government redistribution as an impingement on personal rights, leading to unjust expropriation of property, fostering irresponsible social conduct and acting as a disincentive for personal involvement to alleviate social problems. Also, mandatory giving may create jobs for bureaucrats and dependent constituencies as electoral bases. By contrast better off liberals like professors are more likely to vote for political parties that favor income redistribution. Income redistribution will increase the taxation they personally pay. They show altruism by the way they vote.

Liberals generally support income redistribution based on their belief that individual charitable giving cannot be relied upon and tends to advocate some degree of compulsory redistribution of resources as necessary. Charitable institutions are sometimes bureaucratic and inefficient.

Examples of government programs performing compulsory income redistribution include welfare and progressive taxation. Socialists believe that increased redistribution and consequent reductions in inequality lead to better outcomes for individual welfare and freedom. Likewise, Professor Richard Layard has argued that "in societies where income differences between rich and poor are smaller, the statistics show not only that community life is stronger and people are much more likely to trust each other; but also there is less violence – including substantially lower homicide rates – health is better and life expectancy several years longer, prison populations are smaller; birth rates among teenagers are lower, levels of educational attainment among school children tend to be higher; and there is more social mobility. In all cases, where income differences are narrower, outcomes are better."

History

Progressives try to sell ideas of egalitarianism as new, however historically the concept of wealth redistribution is very old, having its roots in the Palace economies of early city-states. Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention mentioned how the Pharoahs engaged in it.[1]

Benjamin Franklin was not the only one who noticed. Another Founding Father, James Madison made multiple observations regarding the theft of income or assets, "levelling", from one person to another. On June 26th, 1787, he said:

In framing a system which we wish to last for ages, we should not lose sight of the changes which ages will produce. An increase of population will of necessity increase the proportion of those who will labour under all the hardships of life, and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings. These may in time outnumber those who are placed above the feelings of indigence. According to the equal laws of suffrage, the power will slide into the hands of the former. No agrarian attempts have yet been made in in this Country, but symptoms, of a leveling spirit, as we have understood, have sufficiently appeared in a certain quarters to give notice of the future danger. How is this danger to be guarded against on republican principles? How is the danger in all cases of interested coalitions to oppress the minority to be guarded against? Among other means by the establishment of a body in the Government sufficiently respectable for its wisdom and virtue, to aid on such emergencies, the preponderance of justice by throwing its weight into that scale. Such being the objects of the second branch in the proposed Government.[2]

Again, on August 7th, he observed:

"As the holders of property have at stake all the other rights common to those without property, they may be the more restrained from infringing, as well as the less tempted to infringe the rights of the latter. It is nevertheless certain, that there are various ways in which the rich may oppress the poor; in which property may oppress liberty; and that the world is filled with examples. It is necessary that the poor should have a defence against the danger. "On the other hand, the danger to the holders of property cannot be disguised, if they be undefended against a majority without property. Bodies of men are not less swayed by interest than individuals, and are less controlled by the dread of reproach and the other motives felt by individuals. Hence the liability of the rights of property, and of the impartiality of laws affecting it, to be violated by Legislative majorities having an interest real or supposed in the injustice: Hence agrarian laws, and other leveling schemes: Hence the cancelling or evading of debts, and other violations of contracts. We must not shut our eyes to the nature of man, nor to the light of experience. Who would rely on a fair decision from three individuals if two had an interest in the case opposed to the rights of the third? Make the number as great as you please, the impartiality will not be increased; nor any further security against injustice be obtained, than what may result from the greater difficulty of uniting the wills of a greater number.[3]

Outside of the Convention, other Founding Fathers such as Samuel Adams have written:

It is observable, that though many have disregarded life, and contemned liberty, yet there are few men who do not agree that property is a valuable acquisition, which ought to be held sacred. Many have fought, and bled, and died for this, who have been insensible to all other obligations. Those who ridicule the ideas of right and justice, faith and truth among men, will put a high value upon money. Property is admitted to have an existence, even in the savage state of nature. The bow, the arrow, and the tomahawk; the hunting and the fishing ground, are species of property, as important to an American savage, as pearls, rubies, and diamonds are to the Mogul, or a Nabob in the East, or the lands, tenements, hereditaments, messuages, gold and silver of the Europeans. And if property is necessary for the support of savage life, it is by no means less so in civil society. The Utopian schemes of levelling, and a community of goods, are as visionary and impracticable, as those which vest all property in the Crown, are arbitrary, despotic, and in our government unconstitutional. Now, what property can the colonists be conceived to have, if their money may be granted away by others, without their consent? This most certainly is the present case; for they were in no sense represented in Parliament, when this act for raising a revenue in America was made. The stamp act was grievously complained of by all the colonies ; and is there any real difference between this act and the stamp act? They were both designed to raise a revenue in America, and in the same manner, viz. by duties on certain commodities. The payment of the duties imposed by the stamp act, might have been eluded by a total disuse of the stamped paper; and so may the payment of these duties, by the total disuse of the articles on which they are laid; but in neither case, without difficulty. Therefore, the subjects here, are reduced to the hard alternative, either of being obliged totally to disuse articles of the greatest necessity, in common life, or to pay a tax without their consent.[4]

Samuel Adams has long been established as the author of this.

Likewise, William Bradford wrote in his book (p. 135) History of the Plymouth Plantation:

The experience that was had in this comone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos & other ancients, applauded by some of later times; – that ye taking away of propertie, and bringing in comunitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion & discontent, and retard much imploymet that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For ye yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour & service did repine that they should spend their time & streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, without any recompence. The string, or man of parts, had no more in devission of victails & cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter ye other could; this was thought injuestice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and [97] equalised in labours, and victails, cloaths, &c., with ye meaner & yonger sorte, thought it some indignite & disrespect unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, &c., they deemd it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands well brooke it.[5]

After a few years of strife, deaths, and other calamity, Bradford wrote (p. 136) that he was thankful to God for showing the colonists the error of 'comunitie' of 'propertie' and 'comone wealth', saying "God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them."[5]

Generally speaking, early Americans and the Founders in particular considered wealth redistribution to be an injustice, a danger, and a form of slavery, and they said so. Either saying so directly, or indirectly with comparisons to well known historical tyrants.

Wealth redistribution was called "levelling" back then.

Vote Buying

Wealth redistribution has the net-effect of consolidating power for rulers by, in effect, rewarding certain groups for their support while punishing others. In a discussion regarding public debtors, Oliver Ellsworth made the following observation:

Mr Elseworth was for disagreeing to the remainder of the clause disqualifying Public debtors; and for leaving to the wisdom of the Legislature and the virtue of the Citizens, the task of providing against such evils. Is the smallest as well as the largest debtor to be excluded? Then every arrear of taxes will disqualify. Besides how is it to be known to the people when they elect who are or are not public debtors. The exclusion of pensioners and placemen in England is founded on a consideration not existing here. As persons of that sort are dependent on the Crown, they tend to increase its influence.[6][7]

During the 2016 presidential election, then candidate Ben Carson discussed the role of welfare and the buying of votes.[8] He said: "You can’t take care of yourself and I’m going to give you food stamps, a housing subsidy and free health care, and all the things you need so you can stay dependent and vote for me."[9]

Influence Peddling

Preying on those with limited economic means for support does extend outside of government. Actor Sean Penn conducted an interview with notorious drug lord Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, commonly referred to as El Chapo, in an interview for Rolling Stone magazine.[10] In the article, Penn notes how in the process of establishing the Sinaloa cartel, El Chapo established himself as a mythical, "Robin Hood-like figure who provided much-needed services in the Sinaloa mountains" such as food,road building, and also medical relief. All of this support that El Chapo received was mainly because he purchased it, using the largess of his drug funding.

Liberal Attempts to Redefine the Term

Liberals have attempted to redefine the terms "income redistribution" and "redistribution of wealth" to demonize free market capitalism and small government. They claim that trickle down economics, deregulation, and tax cuts have redistributed income from the poor and middle class to the rich.[11] As evidence they point to income data, such as data in the report released by the Congressional Budget Office in October 2011.[12] However, the lamestream media and liberal politicians have heavily exaggerated this fact recently.

Robin Hood Upside Down

For a more detailed treatment, see Robin Hood.
In the original stories, the people of England suffered under the oppression of a high tax regime created by the King and enforced by the Sheriff. Robin Hood's unsanctioned tax cuts worked against this system. The new Robin Hood as a hero of redistributive purposes did not appear until the late 1700s, through the work of Joseph Ritson. This transformation is quite destructive of everything that Robin Hood fought for, considering that the King was imposing excessive taxes, and redistribution requires the same kind of high tax imposition.

A Biblical Warning against forced Redistribution

For a more detailed treatment, see First Book of Samuel (Translated).
In 1 Samuel 8, as the Israelites turned away from God and toward the necessity of a Monarch, as other nations at the time were doing, Samuel warned them solemnly about the dangers of a King. Here is what he said:[13]

Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."

Quotes

  • "Attempts to redistribute wealth repeatedly led to the redistribution of poverty." -- Thomas Sowell [1]
  • "Hence as all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed: the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more. The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes; the greater need the prince has of money to distribute among his partizans and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure. There is scarce a king in a hundred who would not, if he could, follow the example of Pharoah, get first all the peoples money, then all their lands, and then make them and their children servants for ever." -- Benjamin Franklin[1]
  • "[Obama's] policies, like those of FDR, seek to destroy America from within as a pretext to comprehensively remake the republic into a servile, Marxist welfare state." -- Ellis Washington, in reference to Obama's policies on income distribution[14]

References

See Also

External Links