Taxing The Rich To Give To The Poor: Redistributing Or Stealing?

Taxing The Rich To Give To The Poor: Redistributing Or Stealing?

A Robin Hood-like government.
Jake VP.
Jake VP.

One of my favorite stories, when I was a kid, was the story of Robin Hood. I'm sure you know the story of the brave, charming, bow-wielding hero who would steal from the rich to give to the poor. Although we don't look quite like the feudalist world of Robin Hood, of serfs, and lords, we are seeing high levels of income and wealth inequality.

So the question arises, what should we do about it? Robin Hood provides one answer, we could take the money from the rich, and give it to people who need money. If we wanted to we could do it till everyone had exactly the same amount of money, and there would be no more wealth inequality.

But should we?

Many people would consider doing this to be stealing, and I can see their argument. The money comes from your bank account, you made it from your job, so isn't it your money? That sounds fair enough, but why is that when one person works they get paid $100,000,000 a year, and another person can get paid $10,000?

You would probably say that it comes down to what each person does for a living, and how much they work. And that is very much how we have decided to distribute money in the United States. But I'll ask again, should we? Should we distribute money and resources based on your job and how much you work? "Well of course" you might be thinking "otherwise you'd be stealing what I worked for."

As it is right now there are already exceptions to our above rule. People with disabilities, people collecting social security, etc, all get money that they didn't work for. So we as a society already agree that some distribution of money needs to be reallocated beyond just who works for it when people need. So since we have income and wealth inequality why not reallocate it to alleviate poverty?

I hear you saying "because it's stealing, even Robin Hood is known for stealing from the rich to give to the poor." But let's look at how we distribute again. We distribute the way we do because most of us agree with it, but in other areas of our lives, our ways of distributing are much more socialistic. Take dinner for example, when you were younger, chances are your parents made dinner for you, they bought the food, cooked it, and served it to you, especially when you were really little, too little to even help with the dishes, they did it all for you, just because they were your parents, and feeding you was their responsibility.

"Okay," you say, "but that's different, that was with my family, you're talking about the whole nation." Fair enough, I am talking about a much bigger scale than just a family unit. But why wouldn't we have the same obligation to help out members of our country, the same way we help out our family?

By participating in our country, just like our country, we enter into a social contract. Without society you are (in theory) free to do anything you would like, even steal, or kill, but other people can do the same to you, and so it makes sense you give up some of your freedoms (like going around stabbing people) for safety (now you won't be stabbed).

This Economist article states that if you were to perfectly redistribute wealth, every household would have $56,540, while the poverty line for a household of 8 in the Contiguous United States is $42,380. Now I am not advocating for this necessarily. But I feel it illustrates my point that when the 1% hold 38.6% of the wealth in the United States perhaps redistribution is something we should consider.

Some might respond saying "I am all for helping people in need, I donate to charity, I volunteer, but this isn't the government's job, the government is for defense, and building roads."

But that is just dependent upon the social contract we agree on. In a democracy, we all (should) get a say in this, and it's worth considering what we feel okay losing (like the chance of being a billionaire) for what we could gain (like no poverty).

I always read Robin Hood knowing that he was the hero, and if you agree, then maybe it's time we looked hard at how we want our economic system set up, and decide if we prefer the chance to be billionaires or the certainty of no poverty.

Cover Image Credit: @joeywaynedickson

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.


I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.


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