A Little Redistribution?
by Bill Lockwood
John M. Crisp of Del Mar College of Corpus Christi treats us to a spate of specious arguments that supposedly spell out the benefit, yea, necessity, of a wee bit of socialism and redistribution of wealth. In a 2012 article, What’s Wrong with a Little Redistribution?, he states that we need a little more government, not less. The English professor makes his case for even a Bigger Brother and less freedom—and implies a complete scrapping of the Constitution which was specifically written to prevent overreaching government.
Crisp begins defending socialism: “The term [redistribution, bl] may have acquired a bad reputation, but ‘redistribution’ can be used just as easily to describe what happens when people pool their resources to create the infrastructure of a civilized, secure society. Almost no Americans, including the Democrats, want to bring everyone’s income down or up to the same level. But nearly all of us believe in pooling our money –‘redistributing’ it — for common purposes. Furthermore, most of us believe in some level of progressive taxation to make the process work. This is how we create fire departments, interstate highways and a huge army and navy. It’s how we build dams and safe public water supplies. It’s how we manage to go to the moon.”
First, the very definition of socialism is “an economic principle of the ownership by a community of all the means of production in order to secure to the people collectively an equitable distribution of the produce of their associated labor.” (Encyclopedia Brittanica, 13th edition). Socialism demands big government. Note the reason: “redistribution” of wealth. Less Freedom is the inevitable result and is reason enough to oppose it.
Second, the professor then offers the subterfuge that “redistribution” occurs when people “pool their resources to create” infrastructures in society such as roads, bridges and fire departments. The argument is that since public works already redistributes wealth, opposition to Obama’s “share the wealth” mantra is ill-founded. There is a world of error bound up in those remarks.
By “general welfare” the founders limited the power of taxation to matters which provide for the welfare of the entire Union—such as national defense and the postal system. As Alexander Hamilton put it, “The welfare of the community [of states] is the only legitimate end for which money can be raised from the community.” In other words, does the expenditure benefit all or is it a disbursement that takes from some and rewards others?
Come back to Crisp’s fire and police department example. They are indeed supported by tax dollars, but these are public services that do not benefit one person or group at the expense of another. In other words, all of these services benefit all of us and do not qualify for the socialistic definition of forcible redistribution. Besides, these types of public works are voluntary.
What’s more, forcible redistribution is not only unconstitutional, but immoral–whether ObamaCare or Medicaid. The difference between public services that are available to ALL and private redistribution after the order of The Welfare System is stark. One is an orderly society, the other is THEFT.
Crisp’s second effort is that most Americans benefit from redistributed money, supposedly making hypocrites of all of us.
“And, as it turns out, most of us — about 96 percent — also believe in deriving personal, direct benefits from the redistributed money. This is borne out by the findings of a 2008 national survey by the Cornell Survey Research Institute, as reported in The New York Times on Sept. 24 by Professor Suzanne Mettler of Cornell and Associate Professor John Sides of George Washington University. Ignoring the many government initiatives, like highways and safe food, that benefit everyone, Mettler and Sides explored the extent to which individual Americans use any of 21 social policies — student loans, Medicare, housing — that the federal government provides, including social policies embedded in the tax code.”
What is his conclusion to this?
“First, nearly all of us, even the wealthy, benefit significantly from the redistribution of wealth that creates and supports our society and improves our private lives. Second, there’s nothing disgraceful about this. And third — I hate to say this — we are going to need more government, not less.”
Our government is so proportionately larger than just a generation ago and so far removed from the legal boundaries set upon it by the Constitution, yet the professor calls for even “more government.” This is where the term “totalitarian” comes to mind.
But what of Americans using “public” policy programs such as student loans or Medicare or federal housing? That may be true. But Crisp and his collegiate socialist friends refuse to see the reason for it. Government planners have made it nearly impossible to operate in America without being involved in public policy programs—for as in all totalitarian systems the “public policy programs” become the only game in town.
Witness how government has taken over the student loan program or subsidized health care costs. Recall how the government initially promised that Social Security would never take more than 3 cents on every dollar you earn, only up to $3,000 per year of income. A big lie. So also, intermeddling in the marketplace for a generation by government do-gooders has shrunk the free market until it is practically non-existent today.
Add to that the fact that the government has been forcibly redistributing my earnings for a lifetime and individuals simply see it as a method to “get back” what the government unjustly took to begin with. “I am paying for this service, I might as well use it” does not equal agreement with the basis of the program.
This is precisely the practice of which economist Frederic Bastiat warned long ago. Once socialism becomes interwoven in society, it forces moral people to choose between two distasteful alternatives: either refuse paying taxes, or, silence your own conscientious objections to socialism and participate in order retrieve some of your own stolen goods. Mr. Crisp, because people utilize the welfare system does not mean they believe it is right or even beneficial to the society as a whole.