Government 1B Week 3 Wealth Redistribution

Prompt: In your opinion, does the state have the right to redistribute wealth from some people to others? Why or why not?

What this question is really asking is: what is my opinion on socialism? Should the government have control over peoples earnings/the free market? Should we do our best to make everyone financially equal regardless of how much effort they personally have expended? I should start out by playing devils advocate and explaining the argument in favor of this overly empathetic commerce system. Imagine life as a lottery, you don’t know what your gender, skill set, genealogy, or social status shall be before this lottery. You could be born into a rich well-off family, or you could be born into the poorest hovel out there. Now imagine how much your opinion about this question would change depending on what social status you’re randomly assigned. If you’re born into the rich family your thought process would be: “No way do I want the government redistributing my assets, my family has worked hard for this and deserves to keep it.” But on the flip side if you’re born to a poor family your thought process would be: “Don’t we all deserve to live a well-off life? Don’t we deserve just one little slice of that enormous pie on that rich fellows table? He certainly can’t eat it all himself, and it’ll be going to waste just sitting there waiting to be eaten by him alone. Wouldn’t the fair answer be that he can share whatever he doesn’t need?”

The initial stance I would take hearing this dilemma would be: yes, he should share what he doesn’t need so that less fortunate people may be better off. But imagine that its not only one family asking for a slice of his pie, imagine its one hundred families. So the man is now forced to give up 40%, or 60%, or 80% of his pie. The people receiving the pie are much better off than they were prior, but the man who made the pie is significantly worse off. So the next dinner comes around and the man, knowing he must share his pie, doesn’t put as much effort into it. So the pies quality decreases, and the next dinner comes around and the quality decreases even more. Eventually the man is likely to say: “Screw it, I’m not making pie. Why should I put the effort in if I don’t get to reap the benefits of my labor? The people can make their own pie, I’m staying out of it.” And so the people depending on the pie go hungry.

The pie in this scenario is obviously representing money, the man is the worker, and the ones forcing the redistribution is the government. Lets use another scenario. Say there is a man planning to become a doctor, though his true dream is to become a dancer. He is ignoring this dream strictly because becoming a doctor will make him much more financially successful, although it is also a much more rigorous career choice. Now lets say a tax is introduced that will take half of this doctors income in order to fund the financially stifled dancers of the community. Would the doctor really continue his rigorous occupation if there was no financial benefit? My guess would be he’d change his ways and follow his dream of becoming a dancer, because if he’s not going to get a financial incentive he may as well get a emotional incentive. Now there are no doctors to give money to the dancers, and too many dancers depending on the doctors to pay their rent. So everyone loses. Depending on the government to provide financial support seems at first glance like a Robin Hood scenario, when in reality its the Sheriff of Nottingham wearing a mask.

The only way to truly make everyone equal is to bring down the guy on top. Perhaps this vanquishes greed, but then again perhaps this vanquishes our planets best effort. Perhaps we should be striving to climb the ladder of evolution, and bringing down the guy on top actually hinders our collective efforts to better ourselves. Though, its equally as likely that the one we think of as the most righteous is actually a snake. Perhaps cutting them all down to the everyman level is the only way to be sure the evil is destroyed. But is that worth taking the chance of killing the angel along with the demon?

But of course life isn’t as simple as a black and white metaphor, and like anything taxes and government redistribution really come down to a battle of avarice vs charity. People want to help each other out, they want to give a leg up to the little guy. People also want to hoard their wealth, and will look for any loophole they can to keep from giving it away. So the most slippery of the rich will always do the same thing: use the things we want against us. Use charity as a ploy to fuel avarice. Make the ant poison look as delicious as possible so we’ll unknowingly bring it to our queen and wipe out our colony. Its a game of wits, ethics, deception and ambition. A living chess board, where the winner gets the riches and the loser wallows in financial and/or physical despair. Charity needs to be consensual, but when that charity becomes overly self aware it can start riding the system for its own benefits. It can hide its theft and sadism behind a veil of helpfulness and compassion, and in todays world that sort of disease seems to be infesting more than you’d think. But I’m only sixteen, and this sort of filth is much bigger than I am. Give me a few more years to fully wrap my head around it. I can figure out some scrap of a solution to improve the darkest and most complicated parts of our economics, but let me get all the way through puberty first. Haha.

To properly answer the question: theres not a black and white solution yet. There are flaws behind any answer I could give, and so many real world points to drive home that I  could write ten thousand more words on top of this one thousand. The best I can give at the moment is: there does need to be some limit on how much income somebody can hoard. Once one reaches this limit they should be required to give some of their wealth back into the commerce system. But people should also have differing wages and taxes depending on their occupation, and the amount of time and effort required to get into that occupation. It shouldn’t be seen as a rich vs poor scenario, because at the end of the day we’re only human and we all contain bits of greed. Instead of rich vs poor it should be seen as consensual charity vs avarice, but even in that world we need to keep a strict eye on charity to be sure avarice doesn’t infect it. Its certainly a conundrum, as everything to do with government procedure seems to be. But as long as all of us who are on the side of liberty, prosperity, and freedom keep on fighting the good fight and don’t get swayed by the seduction of sin I know we’ll be able to vanquish the tyrants.

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