As I was looking over polling data on the economy and the 2012 presidential candidates, I came across a Gallup poll of interest. The poll questioned whether the Government should tax the rich heavily, and redistribute the wealth taken from these people.
Redistributing wealth is a common theme for President Obama, and many Liberals. The concept is in part “that money should be distributed to benefit the poorer members of society, and that the rich have an obligation to assist the poor, thus creating a more financially egalitarian society.”
The concepts are parts of a more socialist government ideal. The overall theme is that the “rich” do not deserve to keep their wealth and can afford to give more, even if the Government must take forcibly from the “rich”. The “poor” would then receive services, and/or funding, as distributed by the Government in its discretion on what is needed or warranted.
The Gallup poll shows that 47% believe that redistribution of wealth is a good idea and favor it. In looking at the more full breakdown of the figures, 71% of Democrats, 63% of those making less than $33,000, and 64% of nonWhites agree with the concept. You can see the chart of the poll below.
Part of the popularity of the concept of redistribution of wealth may be from the Robin Hood imagery that is often associated with it. Another is simple greed, with some always hoping to get what the ‘Jones’ have. Lastly there is the popular manner in which President Obama has framed the ideal.
But one of the things that few ever have considered, at least in the public media, is what a society that is based on redistribution and socialism is truely like. It’s one of the things that is not in the polling data from Gallup and critical to the results.
In my life I have never met an American (naturalized or otherwise), who has lived for an extended time, in foreign countries that have socialism to any degree that agrees with redistribution of wealth or socialism. More to the point, my own experiences in living in the Soviet Union in the early 90’s gave me a very clear picture of the life that Liberals seem to want the nation to embrace.
In the former Soviet Union (now CIS – commonly called Russia in general), I saw 75 years of redistributing wealth. The result was a near identical level of poverty for 99% of the population. Everyone had an apartment, in Moscow, that cost less than 20 Rubles (their dollars) a month. Electricity was pennies. Medical care was readily available. At least that’s how it would seem in broad writing.
Life was drab in Moscow for the regular citizen. When bread arrived you would wait in line to get your Government provided loaf, at 4am lest the supplies ran out and you got nothing. When meat arrived, once a month, and the store was stocked, you would wait on a 2 or sometimes 3 hour line to get your Government approved portion of meat – lest supplies ran out and you got nothing.
Dental care was available and affordable. The hours and days required to be seen was a norm only circumvented by paying for service in dollars. $20 allowed me to cut a line that was 25 people deep as soon as I walked in the door. It got me top service, that included undiluted novicaine. That’s $20 dollars American, versus the normal cut rate service and wait times that came with the universal fee for a visit that equaled about .50 cents American in cost.
The Government provided everyone with a liter of vodka, a pound of salt, a pound of sugar every month, with new shoes – government made (designer styles were not even a concept) – once a year. If you could save up your money you might be able to buy a car, which were known for randomly and consistently bursting into flame.
Everyone was equal, in poverty. Wealth was distributed almost equally, with only a fraction of the upper military leaders, the secret police, and members of Government having more than average.
Could you live like that? Would you want to? Because ultimately, that is where redistribution leads. The “rich” have more and more taken away, the “poor” given what a Government bureaucrat believes is necessary. The minimum standards are all that is required, and all that people get.
In such a world, the introduction of a McDonald’s invariably led families to take an annual savings for a family trip – across a country bigger than the US on a train out of 1930 – to wait in a 6 or more hour line, to buy a hamburger (maybe even a cheeseburger), fries, and a shake for everyone in the family. Then they get back on the train and go home. Imagine that as your family vacation. [By the way, the cost of feeding a family of 5 at the time I was there was less than $5 in American dollars.]
Redistribution of wealth, and socialism, are fantastic ideas – on paper. They are beautiful, equal, fair, and efficient – in a book or the mind of a believer. But the real world reality is nothing like this. Which explains the millions of people that are desperate to leave these countries every year for more than 50 years and continuing.
I am unaware of any American politician that supports redistribution of wealth and/or socialism that has lived in a socialist nation – for 3 months or more, with an income exactly equal to the general population in that nation – that supports that kind of life. I know of no national figure that supports such views, that has lived such a life, without benefit of the luxury of American dollars and Rights and the ability to leave such a nation.
In fact, I suggest we consider the number of people – Liberal, Democrat, or otherwise – that give up their US citizenship each year. How many Liberals are willing to give up the supposed horrors and inequality of this nation, to accept the already existing socialism in say Cuba or China. The proof of the greatness of the capitalist democratic society that is America can be found in that number alone.
The honest conclusion of the Gallup poll on redistribution of wealth is that people want free stuff, just like crack addicts want crack. Given the option, most people would want to get something, for the least effort possible. For some this “free” money and support is a generationally taught lesson – a reward for failing to achieve or even try.
Of course there is one other thing the average person needs to realize about redistribution of wealth. Americans, even poor Americans are “rich” compared to the overwhelming majority of the world. The fruition of a socially just and economically fair world means that more than 60% – 70% of the wealth of every single American should be taken, by tax or other means, by the Government and given to the truely poor in other nations. Somehow I don’t think that people making under $33,000 would like that kind of redistribution – again reinforcing the greed motivation.
Sadly, the people who promote all these ideas and “free” money and services tend to be little more than political equivalents of drug pushers. Some knowingly, others out of true ignorance and/or misguided belief that they have a better way. They have never sampled the goods they are pushing, and never intend to. But as the Gallup poll shows, addicts just can’t get enough.
Redistribution is a great theory, and works best in classrooms. But no matter how well it is sold, it ultimately fails.
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