Why We Need Wealth Redistribution

by Bill O'Connell on March 14, 2011

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Candidate Barack Obama said to Joe the Plumber, spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody; he also said, I want to give those coming up behind the same chance you had. It sounds altruistic, caring, full of hope. But if Barack Obama turned and looked over his shoulder he might be surprised to see that there are fewer and fewer people coming up from behind. What he might see is the fear of reckoning for one hundred years of progressive policy and programs. Policy and programs that were sold to allay earlier generations’ fears coupled with the promise that the bill was easily paid and a long way off. But the bill collector is now at the door and the next generation is huddled in the corner with no sign of hope and no confidence that Barack Obama will change anything.

 

Destroying Public Schools

 

I had an opportunity to watch the documentary Waiting for Superman that chronicles the hopes of five school children desperately trying to get the education they have a right to from the public school system. Their hopes hinged on winning a lottery for a seat in a charter school.

Ponder these two statistics.

  1. Fully 70 percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in reading, and most of them will never catch up. To parents, if their child is failing in their early teen years, it means failure for life.
  2. Each year, more than 1 million high school seniors fail to graduate. Everyone understands the consequences of education failure, and this number quantifies that failure in black and white – Research from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation

 

Kids fall behind and drop out because the feel they are losing ground, they have no future, they have no hope. It is not necessarily because of individual teachers, but because of the system and the system is welded in place by the teachers’ unions.

One of the key elements is teacher tenure. The concept of tenure started in colleges and universities as a way to protect professors from dismissal for political views or controversial positions. It was that tenure would allow independent research and inquiry without fear and reprisal. It was hard for a professor to get tenure. It required years of teaching and surviving a tough vetting process. Tenure was copied by the teachers unions and in most schools all that it requires is to show up and keep breathing for two to three years to have a job for life.

Michelle Rhee, as superintendent of the Washington DC public schools, tried to offer an alternative. She proposed giving teachers a choice. They could choose to keep tenure and their contract would give them a modest raise. Or, they could forego tenure and be eligible for additional merit pay that could double their salary. The teachers union would not even let the proposal come up for a vote.

So  the first reason we need to redistribute the wealth is that we are rapidly producing an underclass that doesn’t choose not to take care of themselves, but is unable to take care of themselves because the progressive movement and teachers unions care more about keeping incompetent teachers employed and paying union dues ahead of educating the children. It is estimated that 80% of our public schools will fall short of the No Child Left Behind goals targeted for 2014. The Obama administrations answer for this is, naturally, to move the goal posts. The program has changed to Most Children Left Behind the Rest of the World. Billy Joel summed it up in one of his songs No Man’s Land:

 I see these children with their boredom and their vacant stares,

God help us all if we’re to blame for their unanswered prayers.

Minimum Wage

Okay so you can’t graduate high school. Maybe you can get an entry level job and learn the ropes from there. What’s  that you say? What the young adult brings to the table isn’t yet worth $7.25 an hour?  Too bad. That is the least amount of money you can be paid by law. It is called the minimum wage.

Earlier this year, economist David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine, wrote on these pages that the 70-cent-an-hour increase in the minimum wage would cost some 300,000 jobs. Sure enough, the mandated increase to $7.25 took effect in July, and right on cue the August and September jobless numbers confirm the rapid disappearance of jobs for teenagers.

The September teen unemployment rate hit 25.9%, the highest rate since World War II and up from 23.8% in July. Some 330,000 teen jobs have vanished in two months. Hardest hit of all: black male teens, whose unemployment rate shot up to a catastrophic 50.4%. It was merely a terrible 39.2% in July. – Wall Street Journal, Oct. 3, 2009

In the midst of the most prolonged high level of unemployment since the Great Depression a progressive policy is enhanced that costs 330,000 teen jobs, just as predicted. So first we destroy their education and then we tell them they can’t get a job because they are not skilled enough to earn $7.25. But that’s not all. Local bureaucrats join in the fun.

A 575,000 square foot armory in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx in New York City was given to the city by the National Guard who no longer needed the space. The city tried to find developers for the space and finally succeeded, choosing Related Companies as the developer. The project was to develop retail space and other amenities, create 2200 jobs and invest $300 million in the neighborhood. However, because it came with $17 million in tax breaks to attract a developer it also came with the stipulation that no job could be offered in the space that paid less than $10 per hour plus benefits or $11.50 per hour without benefits. When it was clear that the developer couldn’t get any tenants to bite on the higher minimum wage, the project was killed. The progressives crowed that they stopped a developer who wouldn’t commit to paying a living wage but people in the neighborhood had a different view.

“It’s sitting here and it’s wasting space and a lot of people around here definitely need jobs,” said Joel Bekker, a teacher at Kingsbridge International High School. “We keep talking about raising taxes and paying for the poor, but here’s an opportunity for people to earn their own way.” – New York Post, December 12, 2010

 

There is another battle I will call the Wal-Mart Wars. Wal-Mart has tried unsuccessfully to open a store in New York City running up against the progressives and the unions every step of the way. Wal-Mart’s tag line is “Save money, live better.”  With all the hubbub about a living wage, you would think that allowing a company that eats, lives, and breaths low prices would be welcomed as a hero to help those living wages go further. But nothing could be further from the truth. Wal-Mart is non-union. Wal-Mart pays low wages but it also touts opportunities for advancement saying that 70% of its managers started out as hourly workers. But that’s not good enough to fit in the progressive mold despite being able to bring jobs to the city and lower prices to the community.

Reason number two for redistribution of wealth is a large number of unemployed, not because they don’t want to work, but because progressives have decided for them the parameters by which they can be hired. You can’t eat, but at least no one’s exploiting you. The progressives have made sure of that.

Crime and Drugs

If you drop out of school uneducated and can’t get a job what do you do? If your morals went the way of your dreams and aspirations you can always turn to crime. Go into the drug business, the money is good while it lasts if you stay one step ahead of the odds. You can walk around flush with cash and if you die young, so what. What else were your prospects?  If you go to jail, at least you get “three hots and a cot,” that is, meals and a bed and free medical care

If a life of crime is not for you, perhaps you can use some drugs as sort of a cheap mini-vacation from your dismal life. That is, of course, until you reach the point where you become addicted to your escape, and then you can check into a new hell hotel.

Reason number three for the distribution of the wealth. If you sign up with the government to redistribute your wealth you may have some level of control over how much that turns out to be. Otherwise you may be negotiating with people who have little regard for your life but a lot of lust for your belongings.

The Forgotten Man

While these and other progressive programs and union initiatives were put in place, who is left with the bill. For those pulling the wagon they are finding it harder because more and more people are riding on the wagon. The forgotten man is handed the bill but has little say in the negotiations. So, should the forgotten man accept this fate or should he fight back?

Education

One of the bargains the forgotten man did agree to was to provide tax dollars in return for a public school system. It benefits all of us if we have an educated work force not predicated on the ability to pay for a private education. But what the forgotten man did not agree to was to provide lifetime employment to teachers without regard to the quality of the education provided to the children in their charge.  

“Every morning in Africa a gazelle awakens knowing it must today run faster than the fastest lion or it will be eaten. Every morning a lion awakens knowing it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It matters not whether you are a gazelle or a lion, when the sun rises you had better be running. – African proverb

 

The forgotten man wants the teachers to wake up each morning running, not sauntering to the schoolhouse to put in their time.

Right to Work

Everyone should have a right to work and not have to be forced to join a union to hold a job or be told he can’t work for a wage less than some bureaucrat says is fair. It is called individual responsibility. The employer and employee should be able to negotiate over the terms and conditions of employment freely without government interference.

Crime

One of the striking examples illustrated in the documentary Waiting for Superman, was that for the cost of incarcerating a prisoner for four years, you could pay for twelve years of private school and still have money left over for college. It is not about money. It is about freedom. But freedom has a cost and to the unions that cost is stark. They stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in union dues. Here it is in their own words:

Educating our children before giving teachers a comfortable and unchallenged lifetime position is anathema to the teachers unions.

The issue is clear. Either surrender the wealth you have accumulated for your family through your hard work to the progressives, or turn the tide to make our future generations self sufficient and productive. Make no mistake it will be a battle. Are you ready for the fight? If so, let’s get to work.

That’s my opinion; I’d like to know yours.  Please comment below.

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  • Kevin

    The union members must know what their union’s actions are doing to America. It is they who need to stand up to their own union bosses and say, “Enough is enough, this is wrong.” Throughout history what seems so starkly amazing is the silence of those closest to a historically wrong thing. Generally it comes down to a combination of fear and benefit, and I would not be surprised if those are the same drivers here.

    • http://libertyslifeline.com William O’Connell

      I think you are right. No one wants to be the sole voice or even the first voice. I have had dialogues with teachers who attack my position but later say, “I hate my union.” They know they are good teachers and know that in a truly free marketplace their talents would bring them more income than the can get shackled to the incompetent ones.

  • Woodman

    Which came first? The push for socialism or the secularization of the society? I’d posit that the muddled fiscal mess we’re in is a byproduct of the loss of our spiritual compass. When man rather than our Creator is at the center as this power hungry NEA fellow affirms we will reap what we sow. The accelerated exclusion of God by the progressive establishment has had an extremely destructive effect on the society….including the power grabs by unions and the Federal beaurocracy. After all the freedoms we’re losing are bestowed by God himself.

    • http://libertyslifeline.com William O’Connell

      I have often thought about a way to express this. The First Amendment prohibits the establshment of a state religion, and yet the progressives are trying to establish a state religion I call secularism. Those things that used to be the purview of the churches, temples, etc., are now being taken over by the state (welfare, food stamps, social security, medicare, housing, etc.) while organized religion falls into the trap by asking their members to lobby the government to make sure programs for the needy are not cut. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s; render unto God that which is God’s.

      • Woodman

        Good twist on the religion of secularism.

        I agree that that’s the trap although many faith groups see through it. They still seek to feed the poor and clothe the sick….and vote based on principles and values. The next step will be removal of the tax exemption should houses of worship not agree with the states interpretation of marriage.

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