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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