To hear the president and his acolytes tell it, redistributing the wealth is such an obvious moral superiority that it needs no justification, no explanation. OK, I’ll run with that for the moment. But why should we stop only with the taking of income from some to give to others? There are so many other things of value that could and should be redistributed as well. Let’s start with the president, obviously wealthier and more privileged than I, and the redistribution we can make of his advantages to me:
Redistribute special favors: I would like to buy an equivalent house as his in Chicago (after all, housing is a “right,” right?), but I need the same special deal he got from Mr. Rezko. I did not have the advantage of a special deal on my own so I had to pay full price for my more modest home.
Redistribute income opportunities: I would like to draw the same salary as Michelle Obama got, along with the increase she received when her husband was elected to the Senate, but I want the same workload, level of responsibility, and vulnerability to termination that she had. I am pretty sure I could do the work on this basis, so aren’t I entitled to the same benefit?
Equal exposure to public scrutiny: The president can bypass the Constitution by appointing unvetted czars, withhold full disclosure on his resume, hire tax cheats, and do about-faces on national issues until he practically screws himself into the ground, and the media sees not a thing. If I were to bring a water balloon to the O’Hare Airport parking lot, my entire life would be public knowledge within a few days. We can call this equal access to ass-covering.
These would all be nice, but still far too limited in scope. If we are to adopt a true redistributionist mindset, then we need to cover all the bases. I would ask that when the president takes my income to give to others, he also require them to sign the same personal guarantees I had to sign to secure financing for my business. I would want them to mortgage their homes to support the business in difficult times. That means right now. I would ask that they both make and share responsibility for the decisions I make that affect 64 employees and their families. There ought to be a redistribution of the stresses that come with running a manufacturing business during a largely government-induced recession, including helping with the layoffs and salary reductions.
After all that, if things do not go well and the business closes, I would like the money taken from me to be redistributed again, this time from the recipients of my confiscated income back to me, as I will have far less than they at that point. I am sure they will accept the social justice in that.
Mr. President, fair is fair, right? Even if I become the disadvantaged one? Certainly you wouldn’t deny me the social justice of sharing the wealth of those who are secure, wealthy, and comfortable at my expense? People like you and your majority party members who are so eager to tax, regulate, control, and otherwise distort the economy I find myself coping with. After lifetimes of demonizing others, you can be the demons for a while and accept the retribution you so avidly seek for others.
Or maybe we should stop the nonsense and question the whole concept of redistribution based solely on wealth and the assumption that a general “spreading of the wealth” benefits society as a whole.
We have been sharing the wealth for decades now and with dollars undoubtedly in the trillion range. We redistribute from income earners to the unemployed, middle and upper classes to the poor, young to old, healthy to sick, citizens to illegals, majorities to minorities, men to women. We have redistributed money, opportunity, shelter, and legal rights. In every way imaginable, America has sought to correct inequities and provide for the basic needs of identifiable groups and individuals.
To what end? In cases where the assistance was used to fill an actual need for people who truly had no means to provide for themselves, tax-based transfers have been a great and worthy benefit to all. Millions have been provided for through a variety of safety nets spread from all levels of government and private sources. Those with the greatest ability to pay have always done so in disproportionate amounts, willingly and without complaint in most cases.
The issue becomes very contentious, however, when redistribution strays from being based on pure human need to being justified by other factors. These factors are subject to the whim of those who are in a position to decide which ones warrant transfers. Since the Great Society, redistribution through various means was justified by race, past injustice, guilt, and a variety of other so-called good causes. The cause may have been good, but the risk of dependence and entitlement has proved all too real. Redistribution on this basis is far more likely to produce an unhappy permanent underclass than a “just” society, whatever income level has to do with justice. After all the mega billions of redistribution made under a social justice rationale, does one get a sense of satisfaction, much less gratitude, from so many of the recipients in this “mean” country?
Yet this is exactly what this president wants to do: redistribution on the basis that one person simply exists and has less than someone else. It matters not if the person with less had every opportunity to have done better or if his state is due to his own failings. If he has less, then he is entitled to take from another who has more. If we were all born with a pot of gold and those pots were not equal, then this might make some sense. In the real world, however, the person with more has most likely earned it through years of effort and earned it without constraining the other person in any way. This is not social justice; it is injustice. A theft by government and society that has left and will leave all parties damaged.
I hope the president considers this next time he walks through the front door of his home, the one I can’t afford without taking some part of it from him. He is a person of privilege and wealth now. His social justice philosophy, applied to him as equally as he seeks it for others, would require him to toss me the keys at least a few days a week.