Redistribution of Wealth
Tocqueville once stated, “The wealthy have little desire to govern the working people, they simply want to use them.” Social Class is defined as a social stratum whose members share certain economic, social, or cultural characteristics: the higher, middle, and lower-income classes. Redistribution of Wealth is the ‘Robin Hood’ of the real world, where the government “steals” from the rich and gives to the poor. I believe that Redistribution of Wealth can help benefit our country, so that we can all hope for a better tomorrow. I will discuss the pros and give my opinion as to what they can do to help benefit society, and I will discuss the con side and refute the points. Types of Redistribution of Wealth are Welfare, Medicaid and Social Security. I will discuss Social Security. Medicaid, Welfare, and state what they really are, and how they are used as Redistribution of Wealth. There are also many books that have certain views on Redistribution of Wealth, class, and socialism, and I will go more in depth as I progress throughout this paper. One of the main points for the Con side, brought on by the upper class, can be summed up in metaphor’s which state that, “Public Welfare is a type of redistribution of wealth put forth as a ‘safety net’ to catch anyone that’s ‘falling through the cracks”, or a “Tax on the successful to support the unsuccessful (Landaeur, 2001).” There are also many views for the Pro side, which are: it can help prevent premature deaths a year, it can help reduce crime rates in the United States, and more.
Redistribution of Wealth can help better our society in many ways, ways that can help the United States finally be the “perfect” country that everyone would like it to be. Redistribution of Wealth is said to “help eliminate high unemployment rates, which would prevent another 2,500 premature deaths a year.” The government has always tried to get rid of child poverty, and with Redistribution of Wealth we can save the lives of 1,400 children under the age of fifteen every year. “Lowering premature deaths would be concentrated on the most disadvantaged areas. A combination of all three policies would get rid of more than half of the ‘excess’ deaths in constituencies with above average premature mortality rates.” (John Carvel, September 26, 2000)
“A spirit of generosity in a world of not enough.” This is what some people think that Redistribution of Wealth represents. What this is stating is that the United Stated contributes a lot to its people, but not enough. Helping out the “non-wealthy” has always been a problem that the United States has always had to face, because most of the “wealthy” people claim that they are being robbed of their money, and that their money is being given to people who don’t work for themselves. That can be far from the truth, because there are people out that do have low-paying jobs, people that try to contribute as much as they can to society, even though they really can’t, as opposed to people that do have the money to contribute but don’t. (Sara Stratton, 1998)
“Suffice it to say that the U.S. sets itself apart from other western, industrial democracies not only in our outrageous levels of income inequality and poverty but also in our incredibly high incidence of violent crime. This is no strange coincidence or accident. A more equal distribution of wealth would go a long way toward solving one of America’s most stubborn and pressing social problems.” What this statement is offering is that with Redistribution of Wealth, somehow, crime rates will drop. I’m not sure I agree with this, the only time that crime rates will drop is in our dreams. If somehow this does happen, then I will strongly support this even more, and I will try to contribute as much as I can. I believe that this is trying to state, that if the lower class gets money then they will have no incentive for committing crimes. Some people have failed to realize that the ‘poor’ aren’t always the people committing the crimes, but yes, in a way, I do believe that crimes committed by the lower class will decrease. In general, since the ‘poor’ aren’t always the culprit’s I don’t believe that crime will go down that much. It will definitely benefit the United States, because people will learn that the United States is a stable country to be in, if this were ever to happen. (Nathan Foell, February 2, 2002)
Some say that with Redistribution of Wealth you can, “redistribute work through a shorter workweek, longer holidays and additional sabbaticals so that all may share in productive work and also have more time for relaxation, family and friends”. With Redistribution of Wealth you can get more time off to spend time with family and friends, and I am not saying that people should quit their jobs, I am just saying that when given money by the government, people can actually have a social life; meaning not being at their minimum wage paying jobs all day every day. If you are going to have a job to support your family, don’t you think that you should actually consider spending some time with them? (CEJI Web page, 2001)
“The poorest fifth of the world’s population saw their share of global income fall from 2.3% to 1.4% in the past 30 years. Over the same period the share of the richest fifth rose from 75% to 85%.” This has to stop, while the poor are getting poorer; the rich are getting richer. Redistribution of Wealth can prevent this from getting worse than it already is, I am not saying that the rich should get poorer, I am saying that the poor should get some help. Now, I am not saying that I am rich, but I am for sure not “poor”, my home gets a fair amount of income, and my parents contribute a lot to our society. They do as much as they can to help our growing city; my parents want to help our city succeed. Getting rid of poverty will benefit out city and our country in the long run. If the wealthy help out just a little then the poor can get food, clothing, homes, and jobs. Then everyone in our society will contribute evenly and it will succeed. (CEJI Web page, 2001)
Redistribution of Wealth is said to ‘punish’ the rich by taking away some of their wealth, this is a ‘gross exaggeration of the truth’. “Most wealthy people would never have needed the money taken from them for taxes and don’t lose anything tangible in parting with some of their money because there is nothing they would ever have needed that money in order to buy.” I believe that this states that the money that is taken away from them in taxes is not needed, because they usually have so much money they don’t really need the little money that is taken away from them. The bottom middle and the lower class will get the money and they will benefit a great deal from it, and the wealthy class will have less money and they will learn the meaning of a dollar. (Nathan Foell, February 2, 2002)
Some people state, “Redistribution of wealth by the government, for example Welfare or Social Security, is egalitarianism put into practice at the point of a gun.” This is true in some sense, the government wants to redistribute wealth because they want all the citizens to feel equal, and there is no superior. “At the point of a gun”, I can refute that by saying that everyone is taxed; it’s just that people with more money get taxed more. You are have to pay taxes and that money goes to the government, so that means that the money is the government’s and that they can do what they choose with it. (Jeff Landauer, 2001)
Many rich people didn’t earn their money, some may inherit it and others may get by life with charm, good looks, and intelligence. What this means is that there are some people that don’t agree with Redistribution of Wealth and they say that they wont give money to people who don’t work for it, when they themselves didn’t work for it. I am not claiming that every wealthy person out there didn’t earn their money; I’m just saying that there is a portion of everyone’s income that they didn’t earn. I think that it is fair to take a percentage of their income and give it to people that really need it, the ones who weren’t blessed by the ‘natural luck of the draw’. (Nathan Foell, February 2, 2002)
People that are against Redistribution of Wealth state that the people that are getting the money are lazy people that can’t work for themselves. That is far from the truth, some of the so-called ‘lazy’ people do have jobs, but most are stuck with low-paying jobs. Yet these people with the low-paying jobs have troubles supporting themselves because of how little that they make, but they still try to benefit all that they can to our society. Which is more than what I can say about the people who do have money that think of no one but themselves. (Nathan Foell, February 2, 2002)
Social Welfare is defined as receiving regular assistance from the government or private agencies because of need. The key words for that definition “because of need”, now why would a person use Public Welfare if he didn’t need it? It isn’t possible, the government isn’t dumb, and they know if a person needs the money or if the person doesn’t need the money. There are some people that don’t work because they know that they will get money, that is true, but the government will find out and they will pay, and not with money. I don’t see why the wealthy claim that they are giving money to ‘lazy’ people because that is not what they are at all. Appearance reflects a lot on what a person is, and if a person goes into an office with rags or torn pants, I don’t believe that he will even get the application. If you give them the money that they need, maybe they can buy decent clothing so that if they do have the qualifications for the job, they might have a chance of getting it. If we don’t give them the money that they need then why should they even bother with applying to jobs that they are qualified for, when there are always fast food restaurants that hire anyone. What the wealthy fail to realize is that money isn’t everything, especially for them, they have it all. If I were wealthy I would do everything that I can in order to help someone that isn’t as lucky as me. There are many charities out there that people can contribute to; just twenty dollars from almost every wealthy person can help benefit our society for the good. Public Welfare is said to be a type of Redistribution of Wealth that brings forward a “safety net” to catch anyone “falling through the cracks.” That is true in a sense; Welfare will always be there to help people that lose their jobs or the ones who cant get jobs. Welfare helps out our society because it helps the lower class believe in themselves, because the poor of today can be the rich of tomorrow. If every lower class person can just realize that they can change, then they will get up and work toward something that will benefit them in the long run. (Jeff Landauer, 2001)
If I had to choose between Social Security, Welfare, or Medicaid; I would choose Medicaid. Medicaid is defined as a program in the United States, jointly funded by the states and the federal government, which reimburses hospitals and physicians for providing care to qualifying people who cannot finance their own medical expenses. Medicare is there for people who don’t have insurance or money to pay the hospital in case of emergencies. According to the Medicaid Web page, “Medicaid is a jointly-funded, Federal-State health insurance program for certain low-income and needy people. It covers approximately 36 million individuals including children, the aged, blind, and/or disabled, and people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments.” People in need of help are just that, they are also people that don’t have enough funds to pay. No one is perfect, and there will be happenstances where someone will get hurt, and with Medicaid the lower-income people don’t have to worry about finding the funds that they need to pay for the help. “Medicaid was first enacted in 1965 as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. Today, Medicaid is a major social welfare program and is administered by the Health Care Financing Administration.” According to the Legal Information Institute, “Among the services that Medicaid covers are: in-patient hospital services, out-patient hospital services, laboratory and x-ray services, skilled nursing home services, physicians’ services, physical therapy, hospice care, and rehabilitative services.” Basically Medicaid is a savior, it can help you in your time of need. (Medicaid Web Page, www.hcfa.gov, 1999; Legal Information Institute, www.law.cornell.edu, 2002)
Social Security is defined as A government program that provides economic assistance to persons faced with unemployment, disability, or agedness, financed by assessment of employers and employees. “Social Security revenues are derived virtually exclusively from a payroll tax levied at a flat rate on annual earnings up to a specified limit called the “taxable maximum” or “earning base;” half of the tax is deducted from the employee’s paycheck. The taxable maximum was 37,700 in calendar 1983 and is indexed to rise in the future at the same rate as average earnings rise. Currently, about 90 percent of all earnings in covered employment are subject to taxation, and about 6 percent of the covered work force earns more than the maximum” Social Security goes to your retirement, the keyword is ‘your’, don’t worry about being taxed because of Social Security because in the end all of the money will go back to you. Every person that I know that has retired couldn’t be any happier, they got all the money that they gave, and now they have their happy lives ahead of them. Retirement is supposed to be a time after a person has worked hard throughout their lives, and it is time for them to rest; they deserve all of the money that they work towards too. “Social Security is financed on a ‘current-cost’ or ‘pay as you go’ basis, meaning that the revenues collected in any given year are used mostly to finance the benefit payments that year. The proceeds of the payroll tax are deposited in special treasury accounts – the trust funds; all benefit payments and administrative costs for the program are charged to these accounts.” This is proof that in the end all of the money that you had to pay those years goes directly to you, when the time comes. (Lawrence H. Thompson, Journal of Economic Literature December 1983)
The New Class War by Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward states that the people in the United States didn’t quite agree with social programs, which give money to the needy. In the beginning it talks about how the Regan Administration took a lot of money away from social programs. It states that the Regan Administration declared a New Class War on the unemployed, unemployable, and the working poor. ‘In 1980, voters themselves wanted the social programs to be cut. By the close of the 19th Century in the United States, property rights prevailed over Subsistence Rights.’ It discusses how most working people had become wage laborers, and within the wage-labor relationship, owners were dominant, not because of their economic power, but because of their political power. It also states that in the 20th Century, Capitalism itself contributed to the demystification of ‘laissez-faire’ ideas, for the economy and changed in ways that progressively exposed the reliance of capital on the state. ‘Working people once looked to the market place as the arena for action in their economic grievances and aspirations now look often to the state.’ What I learned from this book is that the United States has gone through a major change since the 19th Century. People’s views have hardly changed though and many people still rely on money. (Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, The New Class War, 1982)
Liberalism and the Limits of Justice written by Michael J. Sandel states that a liberal society seeks not to impose a single way of life, but to leave its citizens as free as possible to choose their own values and ends. Liberalism is defined as A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority. This books thesis states, “ Society, being composed a plurality of persons, each with his own aims, interests, and conceptions of the good, is best arranged when it is governed by principles that do not themselves presuppose and particular conception of the good; what justifies these regulative principles above all is not that they maximize the social welfare or otherwise promote the good, but rather that they confirm to the concept of right, a moral category given prior to the good and independent of it.” Michael Sandel, in this book, is influenced by Kant and John Rawls, in the most important challenge yet to Rawls’ theory of justice, Sandel ‘traces the limits of liberalism to the conception of the person that underlines it.’ (Michael J. Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, 1892)
The American Class System: Divide and Rule written by Paul Kalra “presents a picture that may differ from the conventional one but reveals for the first time the bare reality of American society. The American Class System reveals the various tiers of American Society—- the upper class, a middle class, a working class and an underclass.” What this book states is that people don’t want to see America divided into classes, but it is. In the beginning it starts of by giving quotes by former presidents, which is titled U.S. presidents on the American Class System. Thomas Jefferson stated that, “Money, not morality, is the principle of commercial nations.” John F. Kennedy stated that, “If a free society can not save the many who are poor, it cannot save the few that are rich.” George Bush Sr. stated that, “Class is for European democracies of something else — it isn’t for the United States of America. We are not going to be divided by class.” I have got news for you Bush Sr., I’m sorry to say but America is divided by class, and it will stay like that until we finally get a president that can stand up and say “No More!” I have read many things about presidents wanting to get rid of the class system, and unfortunately we still have them, and this is because our past presidents didn’t stand up. (Paul Kalra, The American Class System: Divide and Rule, 1995)
Money, today, is literally taken for granted. The morals of the United States were high and people always believed in equal rights. Our founding fathers were the ones who believed that this country is worth living in, that this country is worth fighting for, that this country is priceless. Today, this country is worth so much, money I mean. This countries morals, I believe, have went down due to the fact that if you have money you have power. I know that in only my dreams will this country once again care about morals, but we have to face the truth. Money is what makes a country and money is what breaks a country. With Redistribution of Wealth our country could do so much better, in the sense that there will be equal rights throughout America. Poverty throughout America can change, some may say that Redistribution of Wealth leads to socialism, if that’s what it takes for our country to become what it once was, then I say lets do what our founding fathers did and help our country succeed. (Nathan Foell, February 2, 2002)
In conclusion, we all want America to go back to the way it was, and we have to wake up, because the only way this will ever happen is if we all agree with Redistribution of Wealth. I have just brought up the pro views and explained them thoroughly, and brought up the con views and refuted them. I also brought up the views of Redistribution of Wealth, socialism, and class, which were brought up in the books that I have read. I also explained to you the reasons for: Welfare, Medicare and Social Security and how these are parts of Redistribution of Wealth. I believe that Redistribution of Wealth can better our society so we can all hope for a better tomorrow. William Sumner once stated, “In every economy there are dinners without appetites at one end of the table, and appetites without dinners at the other.” Well, I say, with Redistribution of Wealth we can ALL have an enormous feast.
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