A major part of the debate in America over the past several years has been whether or not America is on the verge of Socialism or not … BOO. Conservatives clamor and beat the warning bells over the impending redistribution of wealth that is about to overtake our country …. leaving nothing but a hollowed out carcass and an America will never be the same. You have been warned disbelievers! That’s the gist of their argument anyway.
When one uses the word “redistribution of wealth” – it invokes a whole spectrum of responses from various people. Some might decry the existing redistribution of wealth from the middle class and poor to the wealthiest. Others foresee a socialist style economy in the works where janitors make just as much as CEO’s … because that’s really going to happen. Any. Day. Now. They say, “It could happen”. So – instead of talking in generalities about a highly charged phrase that most have an opinion on … let’s talk specifics.
Medicare. If you support Medicare then you support the redistribution of wealth. Some people get more out of the system than others. Some people are unable to get as much out of the system as they paid. Medicare is an insurance policy and insurance policies work by expanding the pool, reducing the risk and lowering the costs for all. You know – socialism.
Social Security. If you support Social Security then you support the redistribution of wealth. It works like an annuity. You pay into the system and once you turn your effective age to qualify … you are guaranteed a payment every month until you die. You could live to be 110 years old and you’ll still get paid. That’s an annuity and it’s a financial product that financial services companies sell to their customers. The success of this program relies on some people getting more in benefits than others and others to pay more than others. You know – socialism.
Public Schools. If you support public schools then you support the redistribution of wealth. Thomas Jefferson proposed 3 years of publicly funded schools for children in 1785 (source). Poor children’s families would not be able to afford paying for school for their children and often times those children would work on behalf of the family so the family doesn’t starve … at the expense of future opportunities for the child. You know – socialism.
Free Lunch Programs. If you support children getting free lunches at school who can’t afford it then you support the redistribution of wealth. When I was a kid – I was on the free lunch program. As Romney would say behind closed doors – I felt entitled to food. In America we have come to the consensus that every child deserves a hot meal and a full tummy even if they can’t pay for it. You know – socialism.
Unemployment Benefits. If you support laid off workers receiving unemployment benefits then you support the redistribution of wealth. In 1911 – Wisconsin was the first state to make unemployment benefits required under state law (source). If someone were injured on the job … then they were to be compensated by the employer for time not worked. Companies would have to redistribute their wealth to pay for services not rendered by employees thus placing the burden on the employer. You know – socialism.
Firemen and Police. If you believe we should fund fire stations and police stations then you support the redistribution of wealth. Before publicly funded fire and police departments existed – only the wealthy had access to those services. Some people would pay for these services despite not really requiring or needing or wanting these services as they were paid for by taxes. People pool their resources together in a public pool of money to finance these institutions. You know – socialism.
Minimum wage. If you support having a minimum wage for workers then you support the redistribution of wealth. In 1923 – the Supreme Court ruled minimum wage laws were unconstitutional as it prevented a worker’s right to set their own rate of pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938 under F.D.R. implementing a .25 per hour minimum and a 44 hour workweek maximum. You know – socialism.
Tax Rates. If you think America should go back to a better time … like it used to be … then you probably support the redistribution of wealth. Personal income tax rates are at their lowest since Eisenhower. After the Great Depression …. it wasn’t until the presidency of Ronald Reagan that America that marginal rates for the wealthy were reduced below 70%. For 40 years – marginal tax rates were over 70% for the wealthiest Americans. Under Kennedy, Nixon, Johnson, Eisenhower, FDR, Truman, Ford and Carter …. tax rates were all at 70% or more. You know socialism.
America has a long history of redistributing wealth and it is precisely this progressive form of taxation that has prevented the United States from becoming a banana republic. For one to say they’re against the redistribution of wealth and be factually correct – they’d have to denounce all of the programs and services that I have already shared above and MANY, MANY more.
Here is what we know … over the past few decades – the redistribution of wealth has gone from the poor and middle class to the wealthy …. not the other way around. That needs to change.
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