Robin Hood in Reverse
Date: Saturday, June 20 @ 17:10:16 EDT
Topic: Politics

The gap between the rich and the rest is growing partly because we keep electing politicians who promise nothing less.

By Donald Kaul

One of the biggest questions of the day is: Why do the rich keep getting richer and the middle class keep getting poorer?

This also ranks as the dumbest question of the day, week, month, or year. To anyone whoís been paying attention, itís obvious why economic inequality in our land is growing:

Thatís what we asked for.

For at least 35 years, since the reign of King Ronald the Reagan, our democratic society has waged relentless economic war on the middle class and the poor, giving their share of the pie to the rich and the well-to-do.

It didnít happen in secret. The Republican Party is built on the reverse Robin Hood principle of taking from the less affluent so the rich can have what they think they need ó a word that not coincidentally rhymes with ďgreed.Ē

Democrats follow the same principle too, but not as openly. Only they throw more scraps to the ďdisadvantagedĒ every once in a while than the GOP. ...

Look at the evidence: Unions have been demonized and rendered virtually impotent as a countervailing force against corporate power. Lower wages for working stiffs have been the result.

Executive pay, on the other hand, has gone through the roof, while taxes on the rich have been slashed. Meanwhile, middle-class income has remained stagnant or even fallen.

Higher education, traditionally the key that unlocks the door to success for the lower middle class, has become prohibitively expensive. Societyís answer to this has been to saddle students with back-breaking debt in hopes that their new skills will allow them to dig themselves out, eventually.

In any case, the banks make a bundle.

Consider the way the nation responded to the Great Recession.

Red states reacted by slashing the size and cost of government. Workers lost their jobs, benefits were reduced, projects canceled, school budgets decimated. Oh yes, and taxes, particularly those aimed at the rich, were cut.

This, proponents said, would stimulate the economy and create jobs. Happy days would be here again.

In case you havenít noticed, the plan failed. Kansas, which was especially aggressive in cutting taxes, now faces a $400 million deficit.

The story isnít much different in Louisiana, a Republican state where the budget shortfall is $1.6 billion.

You might think that having tried a solution that doesnít work, Republicans might try something new. But they donít.

They go on, as optimistic as children on Christmas Eve who have no doubt that against all odds Santa just might bring them a pony, with the ragged hope that the best way to create jobs and revive the economy is to cut taxes for the better off. When they can contemplate raising taxes at all, itís consumption taxes that fall most heavily on the middle and lower classes.

The poster child for this thinking is Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin. To conservatives heís the St. George who slew the uniondragon in his state and is preparing to fight the progressive virus in the nation.

Walker last year signed into law a $541 million tax cut thatís produced a budget deficit of $280 million. But never fear, he has an answer to that.

Heís proposed decreased funding for public schools and the stateís highly regarded university system. The Wisconsin governor also wants to cut public workersí health benefits and mangle the state parks budget. The proposal is expected to become law next month.

Is it any wonder heís the golden boy of the Republican hard right and is something of a favorite to become the next GOP nominee for president?

Itís all part of the bill of goods the American public has been sold. It will last until we stop seeing ourselves mainly as consumers. Things could change if we saw ourselves more as workers.

Until that happens, weíll just be suckers.


OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Distributed via


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative 3.0 License, and distributed by, a project of Institute for Policy Studies, IPS


[20 June 2015]

This article comes from AlienLove

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