When presidents try to play Robin Hood

posted at 11:01 am on December 15, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

I recently published a column expressing my willingness to engage progressives on the subject of “income inequality” in America. It generated a rather surprising amount of hate mail from people who insisted I was living in denial, wedded to partisan talking points and supporting a system “which works against your own interests.” I’ll confess, a lot of these arguments are so outside my sphere of reality that I didn’t know how to begin to address some of them. But this weekend I ran across an opinion piece by Nolan Finley in the Detroit News which may perhaps explain some of the things I was trying to say in an easier to digest form. He describes some of the problems which arise when the President tries to play Robin Hood.

No coincidence the pledge to stamp out inequality comes at the same time Obama’s popularity and performance ratings are plunging due to the Obamacare fiasco. He always pivots to populism when he gets in trouble.

But this is no grand shift. Obama has been playing Robin Hood since Day One. All his major initiatives have been built on soaking the rich.

And what’s happened? Those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder have less disposable income than they did when he took office, and the fat cats are fatter than ever.

Finley goes on at length, making a point which should be obvious, no matter how you happen to feel about the wealthy, the poor and the gap between them. If you want to see less of a chasm between the poorest working Americans and the richest, the ideal situation would be to have those further down the ladder do better, climbing up a few rungs and enjoying the benefits and security which come with increased prosperity. How is that not a better situation than attempting to make the masses feel better by tearing down those who have done better? Finley continues.

The more Obama has tried to help the poor and middle, the worse off they’ve become. That’s a factor of policies that have throttled economic growth and dampened job creation. Obamacare is hurting the middle class in a number of ways, but mostly because employers are wary of adding new workers due to the costly insurance mandates…

It would be better for everyone if the wealthy were gaining by planting their money in job creating enterprises, but unfavorable capital gains rates work against investment.

Try as he might, Obama can’t spread the wealth. History is gorged with populist politicians convinced they can work the levers of government to make the poor richer by making the rich poorer. The poor just always end up getting poorer.

For those who seemed so completely befuddled and angered by my attempts to explain this concept, I hope that a full reading of Finley’s piece helps you to grasp it. There is an old saying in economics circles which goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. For the purposes of this discussion, it may help to consider the premise that sinking all the boats does bring them to the same level. But all of the sailors are still being eaten by crabs.

Think about it.


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When presidents try to play Robin Hood

Who’s playing?!

Shy Guy on December 15, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Men in tight spots

Men in tights sucked..

Now what was the question???/

Electrongod on December 15, 2013 at 11:13 AM

I’ve often compared this regime’s PR (I guess) to that of Mid East dictators: access vs. truth, flipping out I’ve unflattering pic or articles, etc.

But this is getting creepy. Have you seen the photo of the Obama in the US embassy in London?

First thing that comes to mind is Arab tradition of putting a portrait up of the owner of the house, or, portraits of the dictator to remind the peeps who owns the country.

Otherwise, I’m pretty sure using robin “hood” is a dog whistle.

Ben Hur on December 15, 2013 at 11:23 AM

History is gorged with populist politicians convinced they can work the levers of government to make the poor richer by making the rich poorer. The poor just always end up getting poorer.

No matter where this has been tried, the results are always the same. It makes a great argument against the progressive’s plans.

sadatoni on December 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Some time ago there was a piece–in the Wall Street Journal if I’m not mistaken–where the writer broke it down by states and noted that income inequality is higher in states where there are a lot of Mexican immigrants. Thus Illinois has higher income inequality than Indiana or Wisconsin, Georgia has higher income inequality than Alabama or South Carolina, etc. So one of the first orders of business to relieve income inequality is for Mexicans who come to this country to learn to speak, read, and write English. And you know what? Regardless of anything government may try to do, that’s on each individual Spanish speaking Mexican here to apply him or herself to become literate in English.

radjah shelduck on December 15, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Libs will never admit one basic cause of poverty: illegitimacy.

If you want to avoid being poor, these three rules should greatly help (although not gurantee)

1. Don’t have kids until you’re married.

2. Don’t get married until you finish high school.

3. Finish high school.

Look at poverty, dropout rates, crimes, illiteracy, and you’ll find the violation of these rules at the base.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned that expansive federal programs like LBJ’s “war on poverty” would destroy minority families.

He was scoffed at by others in the LBJ adminsitration, because any lib knows a big government program with lots of taxpayers’ money can solve any problem, and besides, welfare wouldn’t lead to men not supporting their children…

Wethal on December 15, 2013 at 11:36 AM

* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

These are 5 of ten of economic axioms from 1916 attributed to the Rev. William John Henry Boetcker, a Presbyterian minister and notable public speaker, who served as director of the pro-employer Citizens’ Industrial Alliance.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

These quotes are often mis-attributed to Pres. Lincoln.

locomotivebreath1901 on December 15, 2013 at 11:41 AM

This current administration is striking similar to the Juan Peron years in Argentina. The big difference is Moochelle is no Evita.

celtic warrior on December 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM

http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/overview.php?type=W&year=2010

“It is difficult to gauge what a lawmaker is worth based on what they file because the disclosure forms do not require exact values.”

wytshus on December 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM

John Stossel did an episode of his show where he tried to open a business in NYC. With the paperwork, red tape, and bureaucracy, it took him weeks to get approved. He then flew to Taipei to do the same thing and was in and out in a matter of hours.

Perhaps if we didn’t have so many laws and regulations, some people on the bottom rungs would be able to climb up a few by taking a chance and starting their own business.

Naaah, let’s just tax the rich instead. It’s much easier.

Kafir on December 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned that expansive federal programs like LBJ’s “war on poverty” would destroy minority families.

He was scoffed at by others in the LBJ adminsitration, because any lib knows a big government program with lots of taxpayers’ money can solve any problem, and besides, welfare wouldn’t lead to men not supporting their children…

Wethal on December 15, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Moynihan was one of the few at the time who really knew that LBJ’s ‘Great Society’ was little more than a charade, an illusion of help. LBJ launched it to expand and solidify government power and reach, create a cycle of dependency to feed the expansion of government power and control, and in his own words, ensure the African-American vote for the next 200 years would be owned by the Democrats.

This is also where the entire factual narrative of the discrimination against African-Americans by Democrats, Jim Crow, Eugenics, etc was changed…all with the connivance of the sympathetic progressives in the press and academia.

One of the most unique traits of this country is around the traditional focus on individual accountability and responsibility. This goes hand in hand with the goal of equality of opportunity. One is responsible for their situation – and history has shown that they can move from class to class based on their own actions and own initiative. It involves risk – risk of failure or setbacks that must be overcome – but with that risk comes reward. The false seduction of the progressives is to ensure rewards without risk.

Athos on December 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Add to this the fact that when Robin Hood was robbing from the ‘rich’ in ye olden days, the ‘rich’ included the government of the time and its collection of taxes for their own personal benefit that were keeping people poor.

Think of the Sheriff of Nottingham as the IRS of the 13th Century and Obama comes across not as Robin Hood, but as King John, using whatever the MSNBC equivalent of the day was, to claim he’s Robin Hood, and he and the sheriff are taking money from everyone for their own good.

jon1979 on December 15, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Obama may be dedicated to taking from the rich and giving it to the poor but the rich are just as dedicated to keeping their wealth and passing it on to their heirs. Obama could have left a great legacy by choosing issues to unite the country but instead he chose to “reward our friends and punish our enemies”———-remember???

Herb on December 15, 2013 at 11:59 AM

“But this is no grand shift. Obama has been playing Robin Hood since Day One. All his major initiatives have been built on soaking the rich. *snip*
The poor just always end up getting poorer.” – Nolan Finley, Detroit News

And Mr. Finley would know all about that, having covered Michigan/Detroit politics for many years. Fortunately, I am able to hear him interviewed regularly on mega-blaster WJR Radio out of (the former) “MoTown”.
BTW – What about all of those many Leftist 1%ers? Oh ya, they donate 1/2% of 1/2 percent of their (sometimes ill-gotten) gains to charity thanks to their Leftist pals in power. Soros, Buffett, Gates, etc. could help a lot of people if they so desired.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on December 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM

” when the President tries to play Robin Hood.”

Robin Hood took back from the government to return the money to the people. Little barry is no Robin Hood.

rjh on December 15, 2013 at 12:02 PM

It should be obvious to everyone that the truly wealthy have the assets, intelligence, advisors and will to evade essentially any scheme the govenrment devises to take their assets, thus any burden falls on those of lesser means than the exhorbitantly wealthy. There is no scheme that Obama can invent that Warren Buffett and Donald Trump can’t evade.

talkingpoints on December 15, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Obama is not playing Robin Hood.

Robin Hood was a yeoman who stole from the rick (aka the taxing cronies of King John) and gave to the poor (other yeomen being unfairly taxed).

Robin Hood was the original Tea Party guy.

Mr. Joe on December 15, 2013 at 12:05 PM

“rich” in the Robin Hood story were the taxing cronies of King John Obama, BTW, perhaps it is time for a new Magna Carta.

Mr. Joe on December 15, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Along related lines, apparently his new plan is to force exchange health insurers to provide free insurance or get kicked off the exchange next year.

Wouldn’t this lead to all the insurers leaving the exchange and just selling direct to public?

talkingpoints on December 15, 2013 at 12:07 PM

But all of the sailors are still being eaten by crabs.

Think about it.

Ok! I’ve thought about it and I say, don’t give them any shore leave!

Vince on December 15, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Nolan Finley in the Detroit News

he’s the reason I get the Detoit News!

KOOLAID2 on December 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM

The problem is that a kernel of truth does exist in the position of the left. Upper management in major corporations do earn far in excess of what any objective analysis would indicate they are worth to their business. I place the blame on a few factors:

1. Management at the level is a cartel. The titans of industry sit on each others’ boards of directors and otherwise exert influence on compensation each other. Even when it is not direct influence, a CEO invariably overestimates his own worth and so awards others who perform similar duties with similar results.

2. Crony capitalism. Managers of major corporations social/professional networks extend in to government in ways that are beneficial to their corporations but harmful to the public. They use their influence to get sweetheart deals the directly go to their interests or that stifle their competition.

3. The Fed and monetary policy. The expansion of money supply has produced an expansion of stock prices. Bonds and other fixed interest investments have near zero return and so investors feel forced in to buying stocks. This hurts savers (the middle) and rewards investors (the rich).

I’m sure that there are other causes, but these are the ones most obvious to me. Much of the problem is of course caused by the policies of those who cry the loudest about it.

With all of that said, while pernicious and unjust, income inequality is not what is keep poor people poor, rich people rich or hindering social mobility. It is a minor problem that is being used as a scapegoat for much more serious and harmful problems in our economy and government.

MJBrutus on December 15, 2013 at 12:19 PM

What a person makes of their life is their business. To paint this reality as unjust and a reason for statist intervention is just more collectivist rationalizing claptrap. From day one the communists have rationalized their rule with variations on “Society has solved the problem of production, now we have to solve the problem of fair distribution.”

“Society” did no such thing. Individuals did and do.

Kevin R on December 15, 2013 at 12:19 PM

John Stossel did an episode of his show where he tried to open a business in NYC. With the paperwork, red tape, and bureaucracy, it took him weeks to get approved. He then flew to Taipei to do the same thing and was in and out in a matter of hours.

Perhaps if we didn’t have so many laws and regulations, some people on the bottom rungs would be able to climb up a few by taking a chance and starting their own business.

Naaah, let’s just tax the rich instead. It’s much easier.

Kafir on December 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Maybe if he’d shave that mustache he could have done it quicker.

nazo311 on December 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Obama’s simplicity and uneducated babble are beyond parody, much less reason.

pat on December 15, 2013 at 12:22 PM

For those who seemed so completely befuddled and angered by my attempts to explain this concept, I hope that a full reading of Finley’s piece helps you to grasp it. There is an old saying in economics circles which goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

I agree with your post, Jazz, and thanks for you link to Finley’s column; Finley does a good job explaining the problem.

The one complaint. if you’d call it that, is in using Obama as a take off point for it, because Obama is not trying to pay Robin Hood. As can be seen in just about every action Obama has taken since elected, what he says has no direct bearing on what he does, and, in fact, it is more likely that what he says means a) he won’t actually do anything, or b) he’ll do the opposite. Just look at the most recent revelation from the Headline Thread: Surprise: White House delayed enacting rules before 2012 election to avoid controversy
. And here is this point in stark relief:

The Obama administration has repeatedly said that any delays until after the election were coincidental and that such decisions were made without regard to politics. But seven current and former administration officials told The Washington Post that the motives behind many of the delays were clearly political, as Obama’s top aides focused on avoiding controversy before his reelection.

So, Obama work on income inequality means either he’ll do nothing really, or he’s planning on sending another wave of dumptrucks full of money to his cronies in the not too distant future.

He’s no Robin Hood but he uses that frame of reference to hide his real intentions. So, it’s wrong to continue to characterize Obama as a poorly informed or misguided individual whose intentions are otherwise noble because they are not.

Dusty on December 15, 2013 at 12:31 PM

So when are we going to stop redistributing wealth from poor to rich via Social Security and Medicare?

NukeRidingCowboy on December 15, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Athos on December 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM

And JFK permitted government workers to unionize (something FDR would never do), to lock up more workers in the union faction.

With Dems, it’s always about acquiring and keeping power.

Wethal on December 15, 2013 at 12:48 PM

So when are we going to stop redistributing wealth from poor to rich via Social Security and Medicare?

NukeRidingCowboy on December 15, 2013 at 12:37 PM

I agree. Lets cancel both programs.

BobMbx on December 15, 2013 at 12:49 PM

It generated a rather surprising amount of hate mail from people who insisted I was living in denial, wedded to partisan talking points and supporting a system “which works against your own interests.”

I’m curious, Jazz; did it generate any logical, fact based responses?

RDuke on December 15, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Socialism and the socialist who rule over it have never truly been concerned about equally. They only care about power and control.

bgibbs1000 on December 15, 2013 at 1:03 PM

This current administration is striking similar to the Juan Peron years in Argentina. The big difference is Moochelle is no Evita.

celtic warrior on December 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Evita, being a former prostitute, actually worked a day or two in her life.

steebo77 on December 15, 2013 at 1:06 PM

The difference is that Robin Hood stole the money back from the Sheriff!

gullxn on December 15, 2013 at 2:09 PM

The One has no interest in “helping the poor”. Rather, he wants more poor people, on the government dole, as captive voters.

This is why his policies are so catastrophic for the middle class. The more who are driven out of jobs and into poverty, the more voters who will be forced to vote “D” so they and their families can survive.

Also, do not overlook his anti-Western, anti-technology bias. He believes our civilization is evil and must be destroyed to create his “post-modern” Utopia. As such, destroying the economy is a necessary prerequisite to the final crash.

He thinks he will create a bucolic Paradise on Earth, with “enlightened” people like himself ruling as philosopher-kings, forever and ever, Praise Gaia.

King John probably thought the same thing. Right up to Runnymede.

And please Note Bene that it was the barons who put him in his place- not Robin of Locksley and his little guerrilla band. They could barely cope with one semi-competent shire reeve and his crew of third-raters. (The real pros were on the Continent at the time, fighting the initial phase of the Hundred Years’ War- that actually lasted 113 years.)

The most recent BBC iteration of Robin Hood is probably a more accurate portrayal of the whole affair than any previous version, except that as far as I know, Nottingham’s reeve did not have a whip-wielding hottie sister who habitually dressed in skintight leather. More’s the pity.

clear ether

eon

eon on December 15, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Material equality, considered by itself, has no intrinsic value. The poor, when given a chance to migrate, always prefer moving to more prosperous lands where they are initially closer to the bottom of the economic latter but where opportunity upward mobility are greater.

On the other hand, true economic equality will arrive when we are all dead. Who wants to hasten that outcome?

Rich H on December 15, 2013 at 2:39 PM

You shall not covet … Anything that is your neighbor’s.

tmitsss on December 15, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Wethal on December 15, 2013 at 11:36 AM

I dunno.

You’re presenting quite a few radical and complicated steps.

Can you simplify you’re proposal?

Bruno Strozek on December 15, 2013 at 3:29 PM

I agree. Lets cancel both programs.

BobMbx on December 15, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Personally, I’d gradually phase them out and replace them with individual accounts.

NukeRidingCowboy on December 15, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Obama’s simplicity and uneducated babble are beyond parody, much less reason.

pat on December 15, 2013 at 12:22 PM

That’s because they are based on psychiatric disease rather than a rational thought process.
He is a narcissistic, hate filled, envious racist with no moral foundation. He is also not very intelligent and has very little self insight.

justltl on December 15, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Fortunately, he’s also lazy, which keeps him from doing even more destruction.

justltl on December 15, 2013 at 4:18 PM

When Presidents play Robin Hood they become King John.

ajacksonian on December 15, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Speaking of “a rising tide lifts all boats” here’s a great video illustrating this concept. My favorite:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo

valentine on December 15, 2013 at 6:09 PM

The leftist argument always hinges on relative wealth, when the only thing that matters to me is absolute wealth. As paltry as my income may be in relative terms, I enjoy many material advantages that the richest people of decades past could not even imagine. These improvements were created by people who were trying to get rich, and if they did, I bless them for it.

Tyrone Slothrop on December 15, 2013 at 9:15 PM

Upper management in major corporations do earn far in excess of what any objective analysis…

Yes, yes, any analysis done by a true scottsman, right?

/rolleyes

Private enterprise, not your business. You don’t get to claim to be for liberty, unless it is something YOU don’t like.

Irritable Pundit on December 15, 2013 at 9:43 PM

I recently published a column expressing my willingness to engage progressives on the subject of “income inequality” in America. It generated a rather surprising amount of hate mail from people who insisted I was living in denial, wedded to partisan talking points and supporting a system “which works against your own interests.”

Jazz Shaw on December 15, 2013 at 11:01 AM

.
? ! ? ! ? ! ? ! ? ! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Seriously … no way that should have been a surprise to you, Jazz.

You struck at the single, most crucial part of their core beliefs.
.
Try telling them that that Obama and company (all progressive socialists in general) represent ‘Little John’, and the ‘Sheriff Of Nottingham’ in the story of Robin Hood.
.

When Presidents play Robin Hood they become King John.

ajacksonian on December 15, 2013 at 4:51 PM

.
ajacksonian gets it !

listens2glenn on December 15, 2013 at 10:23 PM

This current administration is striking similar to the Juan Peron years in Argentina. The big difference is Moochelle is no Evita.

celtic warrior on December 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM

.
Evita, being a former prostitute, actually worked a day or two in her life.

steebo77 on December 15, 2013 at 1:06 PM

.
Yes . . . : )

listens2glenn on December 15, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Robin Hood did NOT steal from the rich and give to the poor. He took back from the government what had been confiscated from the peasants and gave it back to the peasants. Obama is the polar opposite of Robin Hood.

Doug Piranha on December 16, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Good clarification, Jazz. Reaction to your initial post was based on a reading that said you would seriously debate income inequality as a nationl issue to be solved, and many conservatives know where that goes – as Finley’s article points out.

The worry politically was letting Democrats off the hook they created with Obamacare to talk about an issue that will be easier for them.

But Finley points out that Obamacare has made inequality worse, so maybe this is the right way to respond to “let’s change the subject” – see how the new issue is linked to demonstrated liberal incompetence and political overreach.

virgo on December 16, 2013 at 12:05 PM