I saw a news clip where a panel on MSNBC were baffled as to why anyone would think this a bad idea, and that there must be some focus group that has indicted that American’s are confused by this and Candidate Romney is using it to further their confusion. They go on to detail how all government spending is redistribution in some form so clearly there was not some devious intent when President Obama said it back in 1998.
I know those well informed and articulate talking heads will not see my humble views, but I feel compelled to share them anyway.
Let’s start with a simple premise… mankind started out equal (and by the way, I am not sure this is even a good premise). We all lived in caves, trees, or simple huts. Why is it that now, all these years later, we aren’t still there and aren’t all equally rich or poor? Is it all pure environmental based circumstance, victimization, or perhaps we are not all equal, and there is an inevitable and unavoidable class structure in the nature of man? I challenge anyone to show me where in history, or the modern world, this has not been, or is not the case. To idealize the perfect classless society can be achieved through some grand government design is foolish. This dream will only be realized when all the humans in it are actually equal in terms of intelligence and independence, and through some magical formula decide to intertwine their skills and abilities into an interdependent but universally supported social structure that does not require a single group of leaders -- perhaps, something akin to the democracy of ancient Athens.
Throughout history we see societies rise and fall, but the successful ones share a common trait; there are always classes within them. The principle difference is how those class differences were defined and structured. In many, religion or religious worship is the class separator. The priests and some sovereign gained control, and the people were unified under that government. They maintained control and legitimized the rule as something sanctioned by God. Egypt is a prime example of how the priests and monarch collaborated to raise the Pharaoh to god status. Attaining god status seems to be a good way for a monarch to keep control of the governed.
In other societies physical abilities were/are a great class separator. Sparta in Greek antiquity and the Zulu people are examples of how societies are separated or built around the physical differences. Today, professional sports seem to be creating a unique class within our own society. We see the athletes idolized and worshipped for their physical talents to a point we are willing to pay them millions and millions of dollars to perform in our great arenas.
If I am to believe my teachers, America was founded on a principle that all men were created with certain unalienable rights, it was the government’s job to protect them, but it was the individual’s right to succeed and prosper based on their unique ability. Of course if the individual has a right to succeed, it must also hold true that there is an equal right to fail. That last sentence is critical to understanding why I think redistribution as a government policy is fatally flawed and can only lead to a society that will collapse on itself.
Historically, we have taken pride in the fact what separates us from the rest of the world was not that we were a classless society, but our classes were based on individual achievement, and not some preordained position we were born to. I will grant that there are a few, for example the Vanderbilt’s and Rockefeller’s, whose founders achieved such vast wealth that the family grew and prospered as perhaps a unique class, but historically if a founder achieves great success we see succeeding generations squander it until they are little more than a recognized name. For example, Joseph Kennedy made a fortune as a bootlegger, his son’s rose to great political power, but the next generation?
When we take away the incentives for great achievement, and through the government, distribute them to those who have neither the ability nor desire to achieve success on their own, do we create a stronger society? I am hard pressed to find a successful model in history that suggests it does, but I am certainly open to someone showing me how this would all work.