Skip to comments.Robin Hood vs. the Occupiers
Posted on 10/21/2011 5:06:48 AM PDT by Kaslin
We have entered a new phase of the endless Occupy Wall Street sleepover. Not working is hard work. After a month of tying up the police, generating mounds of trash, railing against Jews while holding up "Nazi Bankers" signs, grappling with pervs, rapists and thieves in their ranks, communing with avowed communists, and hobnobbing with 1 percenter celebrities donning 99 percenter costumes (phew!), the Occupiers are rallying around a new mascot:
The crime-plagued Carnival of 1,001 Demands is now focused on one unified agenda item: a soak-the-rich tax on financial transactions worldwide. The corporate-bashing Canadian magazine "Adbusters" (funded by left-wing Wall Street trader Robert Halper) initiated the Occupy Wall Street siege last summer and published a new online manifesto this week explaining the call for an October 29 "Robin Hood march":
"Across the globe the 99 percent are marching! ... It's now time to amp up the edgy theatrics ... deviant pranks, subversive performances and playful detournements of all kinds." There's been no shortage of deviance, unfortunately, what with protesters defecating on police cars, urinating on each other's tents, stealing food and phones, and exposing themselves to children. But I digress. As the movement "matures," the leaders overseeing an unruly mob in Guido Fawkes masks exhorted the masses to "occupy the core of our global system."
October 29 is the eve of the G20 Leaders Summit in France, you see, and that's the date on which Adbusters wants its followers to "rise up and demand that our G20 leaders immediately impose a 1 percent ROBIN HOOD tax on all financial transactions and currency trades." The money, say longtime champions of the tax, would go to "fund crucial action against climate change." The Occupiers' message? "We want you to slow down some of that $1.3 trillion easy money that's sloshing around the global casino each day -- enough cash to fund every social program and environmental initiative in the world."
Say what? Panicked governments forked over trillions to rescue politically connected, basket-case banks, and the solution is ... punishing individual investors, creating less efficient capital markets, and spreading the wealth around to global-warming zealots and welfare-state overlords?
Rest assured, the text of the Robin Hood tax manifesto will be chanted in ignorant zombie unison -- using the "human microphone" method of call and drone -- in dingy occupier camps from NYC to San Francisco and every blue dot in between. Showcasing their economic illiteracy, the Occupiers remain clueless about the real-world consequences of their redistributionist claptrap. And they're ridiculously oblivious to the irony of adopting anti-tax crusader "Robin Hood" as their hero.
The ostensible intent of the anti-"greed" mob may be to reduce volatility in the market by punishing rapacious "banksters." But the ultimate outcome would be less economic growth, bigger government and more punitive costs imposed on the decidedly non-rich. A European Union commission report on the impact of such a tax shows that it would reduce GDP by 0.5 percent. U.S. economist Kenneth Rogoff explained further in a recent analysis that "the declining volume of trades would shrink the tax base precipitously. As a result, the ultimate revenue gains are likely to prove disappointing, as Sweden discovered when it attempted to tax financial transactions two decades ago."
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe found that 60 percent of trading volume in Sweden escaped to London after Sweden temporarily raised equity tax rates in the 1980s, and that the country experienced an 85 percent drop in bond trading volume, according to Financial News. The outcome was not simply less volatile trading. It was less trading, period.
The demon millionaires and billionaires whom the Occupiers seek to punish would not be the only ones to bear the costs. Over time, the burden of the Robin Hood tax would shift. Rogoff observed: "Higher transactions taxes increase the cost of capital, ultimately lowering investment. With a lower capital stock, output would trend downward, reducing government revenues and substantially offsetting the direct gain from the tax. In the long run, wages would fall, and ordinary workers would end up bearing a significant share of the cost."
The original Robin Hood tales of the Middle Ages celebrated a renegade who rose up against property rights violations and taxation abuses. His archenemies were not private traders or bankers, but the local government tax collector, the Sheriff of Nottingham and the power-grabbing ruler, Prince John. Robin Hood, in other words, was far more tea party than flea party.
In any case, if the Occupiers insist on celebrating outright theft from the haves in the name of the have-nots, perhaps they should stop complaining about the pickpockets and looters infesting their camps. Live by "social justice" nursery rhymes. Die by "social justice" crimes.
Brothers of the hood in the White House.
Free speech is one thing, living for 5 weeks at someone else's expense is not free speech, it is free loading.
Very well said
A little old, but well worth reading the details for refuting this ‘Robin Hood’ syndrom.
Liberals Have Robin Hood All Wrong
by: Andrew E. Busch
Tax day has come and gone again, leaving millions of Americans scratching their heads at the complexity and irrationality of the federal tax code in an annual ritual of frustration. To add to the mix of the absurd, Americans are increasingly hearing calls from congressional Democrats and their political base for a postponement or outright cancellation of the tax cut enacted last year. Democrats have thus re-confirmed that they are now the party of Herbert Hoovers fiscal policy; a tax cut that passed when the economy seemed stronger is now under fire when the economy is staggering out of a recession, exactly when a tax cut is needed most.
Of course, liberals prefer to see themselves as moral descendents of Robin Hood, rather than intellectual heirs of Hooverism. Democrats are frequently heard making the Robin Hood analogy in reverse, claiming that the Bush administrations budget, including tax cuts and social spending restraint, would take from the poor and give to the rich. Leaving aside the detail that a tax cut allowing someone to keep more of his earnings is not “giving” him anything that is not already his, the adoption of Robin Hood as the patron saint of liberalism cries out for correction. To the contrary, it is conservatives who should extol Mr. Hood as one of their own. All one has to do is to consult the Disney films animated version of Robin Hoodas I did with my two small children last weekendto find at least four reasons why one would not find Robin Hood voting for Al Gore or John Kerry if his feathered hat depended on it.
1. As one wag perceptively pointed out some time ago, Robin Hoods claim to fame was not that he took from the rich to give to the poor, but that he took from the tax collector and gave back to the people their own money. The central issue was overtaxation, and Robin Hood was most emphatically not on the side of the bureaucracy. The ultimate bad guy was Prince John, the very caricature of greedy, arrogant government; the proximate bad guy was the Sheriff of Nottingham, the ruthless enforcer whose audit strategy was even more intimidating than that of the IRS. The victims were the taxpayers whose property was confiscated to feed Johns insatiable lust for higher revenues. As Robin Hood speeds to its exciting conclusion, Friar Tuck adopts as his battle cry, “Praise the Lord and pass the tax rebate!”
2. Robin Hood was waging a struggle not only against overtaxation but against illegitimate, unconstitutional government. As the characters ridicule “Prince John, the phony king of England,” they are staking their fight on the view that John has overstepped his legal and constitutional bounds. He had, in other words, gone beyond the exercise of powers rightfully his. Unimpressed with Prince Johns living constitution, which bore a disturbing resemblance to a regime of raw, unconstrained power, Robin Hood and his merry band seem to prefer a stricter construction.
3. At the same time, they are emboldened to resist Johns usurpation by a sense that acts of government must be tested not only against the written law but against natural law. John has violated not only the law of England, he has waged war against the law of God. The disrespect held by John and his minions for the law of Godor, to put it another way, their attempt to elevate his rule above any sort of limit, human or divineis epitomized when the Sheriff of Nottingham robs even Friar Tucks church to pad the revenues. The idea of natural law can, of course, be put to a variety of uses, not all of which conservatives find agreeable, but one of the most distinct features of the modern left is a moral nihilism which denies the possibility of higher objective truth, and consequently denies the possibility of inherent limits on the ambitions of the state. To the extent that Robin Hood sought to hold Johns regime to an unwritten standard of limitation and accountability, modern liberals can hardly claim him as one of their own.
4. Not least, Robin Hood and his band remained loyal to the duly constituted authority, King Richard the Lionhearted. And what was King Richard off doing while John was playing at home? Fighting Saracens in a crusade to save the Christian holy sites in the Middle East from Muslim conquest. Not much one for the aggressive secularism and the multicultural platitudes that serve as the de facto religion of American liberalism, that Richard.
So what do we make of Robin Hood, properly interpreted? A supporter of low taxes, a government limited by strict constitutional construction and natural law, and offensive military expeditions against the Saddam Husseins of his time. The next time Ted Kennedy takes the floor of the U.S. Senate to demand higher taxes in the name of Robin Hood, let a prize go to the first to respond: “Praise the Lord and pass the tax rebate!”
Andrew E. Busch is an Adjunct Fellow of the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs and an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Denver, where he specializes in American government and politics. Dr. Busch is the author of Ronald Reagan and the Politics of Freedom.