Next New Deal: Opinion: Mike Konczal: Given the Myth of Ownership, is the Idea of Redistribution Coherent?
We need to get past the idea of whether or not wealth redistribution is a good or bad thing. And just define it instead and layout exactly what wealth redistribution is. Because if we do that, we’ll all know what it is and what it is for and realize that most of us as Americans are actually in favor of wealth redistribution at least in certain forms. And it would be an issue that could bring most of the country together and leave us with at least one issue. That we are united on and lessen some of the political division in the country.
Here’s an example where Progressive economist, professor and blogger Robert Reich and I actually agree on something. Wealth redistribution is anything that government does for the people through taxation. All the roads it pays for is wealth redistribution, the law enforcement it provides the national security it provides, the hospitals it builds, the social insurance programs, everything that it does to benefit the country as a whole is a form of redistribution of wealth. And to give you an example, the Federal Government taxes Joe and Mary from Buffalo, New York, to build a road in Atlanta, Georgia that benefits Bob and Sally and others in the Atlanta area. Or taxes people in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to expand, renovate and build a new military base in Dallas, Texas. That is wealth redistribution and of course Medicare and Social Security are wealth redistribution programs, because they tax today’s workers to benefit today’s retirees. And these are the two most popular things that government does that any politician risks their careers when they talk about changing those programs.
I just gave you the good versions of wealth redistribution that an overwhelming majority of the country supports. With only factions of the Tea Party movement and the Libertarian movement would oppose. And I’ll give you another popular form of wealth redistribution as well that gets to social insurance. You use taxpayer funds to not only help people in need get by in the short-term who for whatever reasons aren’t able to support and take care of themselves because they are out of work. Or lack the skills necessary to get a good job and you use those taxpayer funds to finance a real social insurance system that empowers people in need to get on their two feet. And be able to take care of themselves through education, job training, job experience and finally job placement into a good job. Sort of like property insurance when your home is hit with a disaster and you need money to repair the home. Or buy a new home and you collect from the insurance in order to do that.
Redistribution is sort of an unpopular term in America because thanks to the right-wing and Social Democrats on the Left-Wing, it tends to be viewed in socialistic terms. “You take money from the successful to give to government to take care of the economically unsuccessful. People in America who aren’t for whatever reasons able to take care of themselves. Encouraging people to be dependent on government, while discouraging people to be successful”. That is how right-wingers have successfully stereotyped wealth redistribution in America. And Social Democrats on the Left who actually believe in this form of wealth redistribution have helped the Right out on this by actually being in favor of this.