Throughout the ages, Robin Hood has carried a very positive image: a dashing hero who steals from a corrupt kingdom and distributes the loot to the poor. Errol Flynn was among the first to bring Robin to life in the movies and, recently, Russell Crowe advanced the legend.
President Obama, I believe, sees himself as the noble Robin. Certainly, his “tax the rich” mantra and health care giveaways demonstrate a strong desire to redistribute income from the affluent to the poor in America. So how is that playing in Peoria?
Well, a new Gallup poll tells us. The question was simple: “Do you think our government should or should not redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich?” Most Americans said no. 49% do not support President Obama’s vision, including 69% of Republicans and 53% of independents. But 47% of Americans do want to be shown the money, including a whopping 71% of Democrats.
The demographic breakdown is instructive: 52% of women, but just 42% of men, support wealth redistribution. But the real gap is white/non-white. Here, 64% of non-white Americans want federal money given to those who have not, while just 41% of whites do.
Gallup concludes that most Americans do support the wealthy paying more in order to solve specific problems (like Social Security), but Americans are not “anti-rich,” the majority believing the USA does not have “too many” rich folks.
For President Obama, the call is easy. His core constituency fervently believes that a “just society” takes from the rich and gives to the poor. The problem is that the founding fathers did not believe that, so to institute legislation mandating the redistribution of private wealth runs up against a variety of Constitutional issues. That’s why the Supreme Court will have to decide on Obama-care.
Madison, Jefferson, Franklin and the boys did not want a strong federal government meddling in economic affairs, or much else, for that matter. They did not impose a federal income tax (that first arrived during the Civil War), and they did not support government intrusion on the free marketplace. In the latter part of the 18th century, the colonists were absolutely fed up with King George intruding upon their economic lives. That anger drove the revolution. Those of us who actually studied history remember the war cry, “No taxation without representation!”
But today, the founding fathers are considered obsolete by some on the left who want to join Western Europe in the cradle-to-grave entitlement zone. Never mind that countries like Greece and Spain are going under economically because of their nanny state spending; liberal doctrine requires “sharing the wealth,” consequences be damned.
With the country almost evenly divided over wealth redistribution, the next presidential election really becomes a referendum on that concept. Things were never this complicated in Sherwood Forest.