One of the false strawmen that Republicans like to throw out there is that “Liiiiibrals” want to take away money from those who have worked hard for it and give to those who don’t deserve it (makers and takers). Now one could question the implicit assumption that those who have it (money), deserve it. Some do, some don’t. But it is the whole argument that is false.
We liberals are not looking for some communist utopia and the only thing we really want to redistribute is opportunity. Republicans like to claim “class warfare” as we suggest ways to even out the tax burden and ensure that the players in the success game are not limited to just the wealthy. If you are born wealthy you live in a good neighborhood and if the schools aren’t good enough, well off to private schools and tutoring. If you are poor you are born into a bad neighborhood with gangs and marginal schools systems. The conservatives tell you to pull yourself up by your boot straps, but where do those $100,000 boot straps that pay your tuition to go to college come from?
Conservatives love to rail at Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, but they don’t need it. They hate unemployment insurance, but then they don’t need it, and they assume you wouldn’t need it either if you had worked hard and saved. Problem is, most of them did gain their wealth that way either, and by luck of birth and genes they had advantages many don’t. They hate the idea of an inheritance tax, but as wealth becomes more and more accumulated in the few, and that is the fact, it really is a zero sum game with less for the rest of us. The old flow down thing is a myth.
But Progressives like me don’t want to take your money and spread it around evenly, we want to take some of it and redistribute it in investing in tomorrow. We would like to invest in jobs and infrastructure. We would like to level the playing field and make sure poor kids get good schooling and healthcare. We want to make sure they can afford college for those who can. We don’t think you shouldn’t be able to get rich, but some of those riches have to be spent on the kind of country where if you can, you will.
Conservatives have a neat little theory that allows them to deny that it is not an equal world and many who work hard don’t have a chance. See they earned theirs and you are upsetting the natural order of things if you give some of it to those who are poor, well, because they deserve to be poor. They really do live in a world of us and them. The Tea Party, the bearing arms, the tossing out of the kids at the border, are the most blatant displays of that selfishness. And in their defense there are some real ignoramuses out there who will waste everything you do for them. But for every one of those, there are thousands who will jump at the chance in a level playing field.
So it is not about redistribution of wealth, it is about the redistribution of opportunity so that more of us have a chance to be wealthy, just not as extremely wealthy as we have today. And if after you have leveled the playing field and some still slide off, well that is okay with most of us Progressives, because then and only then is it fair to hold them accountable for their failures. When they have a fair chance to avoid them.
Oh, and one last thing about the hypocrisy of conservatives as they rail against social programs that “give their money to the poor.” Our system of the market place has evolved over many decades of subtle handouts and give aways to the wealthly in the form of tax breaks and subsidies. The list is endless from the farm program to energy, to capital gains taxes to trade policy. It is redistributing your tax dollar from the poor to the wealthy. There is a class war, but it is being waged by the wealthy on the poor. I would caution them. It did not work out so well in France around the time of our Constitution.