I’ll redistribute my wealth

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The politician said during his campaign, “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

He didn’t ask the one from whom he was taking. He might have gotten a different impression.

There is a lot of talk these days about the redistribution of wealth. That talk is usually begun by someone wanting to take somebody else’s wealth and spread it around to those who would be all too willing to accept something for nothing.

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I am disappointed at the divisions in America today. They are played upon and abused by so many who would selfishly gain by emphasizing them. There are many divisions, but the one that has been on my mind for a while is that one that would pit the haves against the have-nots.

Let me quickly say that I do not support cheaters, deceivers or thieves. If someone has gained their estates or bank accounts by illegal means, by taking advantage of unsuspecting and innocent people, or by merciless greed, I would hope that the full force of the law would come down upon them. Surely, they will answer to a higher authority than even an earthly government.

I also do not believe that the CEOs of major corporations should be making tens of millions of dollars. Neither should Hollywood producers and actors, hip-hop and other kinds of singers, professional athletes of all kinds, or anyone, for that matter. Some people make crazy and obscene amounts of money. But those salaries and the markets that pay them have nothing to do with me.

Just because I don’t believe that they are worth all those high amounts of money (no one is) does not mean that I have the right to deny them what other people want to pay them. It’s called a free country, or it is supposed to be, and I don’t begrudge them or envy them. I guess I am saying that I don’t like the class warfare that seems to be growing in our country.

I don’t like it for many reasons, one of which is that it is a slippery slope down, which I would rather not travel. Right now, the threshold seems to be $250,000 and higher. Although that might seem like a great annual salary, and it is, who is to say that the threshold will not diminish.

Who is to say that next year the target is lowered to, say, $150,000 or even less?

Once we commit to an attitude that is defined by “those rich people owe us,” we’ve crossed a line that is easily abused. Plus, the American Taxpayers Union says that the top 5 percent of American earners already pay more than 60 percent of federal income taxes.

If our financial problems were fairly exposed, we would see that our problem is not that the richest people in America are not paying their share, but that we spend too much and the lower 50 percent of American earners pay hardly nothing.

Another reason I don’t like to hear this political declaration of war on the rich is, not because I think they are swell people, but that, many times, they are the ones who have used their noggins, their sweat, and their good habits to benefit all of us with goods and services that provide jobs for us all. If they are relentlessly called the “bad guys,” they may just take their ball and go home.

Ralph Duncan was the owner/operator of a tobacco warehouse in Thomasville. When my brother and I reached a certain age and, after the summer work on the farm slowed down some, we got to work for Mr. Ralph. He drove a Cadillac and wore what looked like, to me, fancy clothes. At least when the day started his clothes looked fancy. As the day advanced, I noticed that the sweat poured off him just like it did off us.

It was clear that he was the owner and we were the workers. I am not certain that he would have been called rich, but he was definitely in a different class than we were. I’m not saying better, just different. After working for $4 a day, we were truly excited to think that Mr. Ralph would pay an hourly wage of $1.25.

We never thought that Mr. Ralph owed us anything other than $1.25 for every hour we worked. It never occurred to us that, just because he drove a Cadillac and wore fancy clothes, he should carry a heavier load for the well-being of our country than we or our family did. There was no “us against them” then and I don’t like that attitude today.

In fact, there was an incentive that, one day, I might drive a Cadillac and wear fancy clothes. Incentive is important to success and, with this class warfare that politicians like to treat with demagoguery, that desire to move on up to the East Side, as George Jefferson might say, is in danger of slipping away. This country was built by people who, instead of tearing down the wealthy, wanted to become the wealthy. Hard work, discipline, good ideas, saving and other habits like those are a part of a healthy economy and country.

A final observation about this redistribution of wealth that the politician talked about hits close to home. I am not a wealthy person and was not raised with anything approaching a silver spoon in my mouth. But, what I have and what my parents have earned by the sweat of their brow and their good habits are blessings. God has given them and I’d like to distribute them according to my desires, not to what some Washington bureaucrat or politician might want.

I’ve seen what Uncle Sam does with the wealth of this country. Uncle Sam is wasteful. If a child were given, proportionately, all that Washington is given through our taxes and used it accordingly, that child would not be given any more allowance. For all that Uncle Sam does, he might as well dig a big hole and throw the money in it.

So let’s stop this talk of redistribution of wealth. Take your fair share Uncle Sam, but no more. If I want my wealth redistributed, I’ll do it myself, thank you.