Throughout the ages, Robin Hood has carried a very positive image: a dashing hero who steals from a corrupt kingdom and distributes the loot to the poor. Errol Flynn was among the first to bring Robin to life in the movies, and more recently, Russell Crowe advanced the legend.
President Barack Obama, I believe, sees himself as the noble Robin. Certainly, his tax-the-rich mantra and health care giveaways demonstrate a strong desire to redistribute income from the affluent to the poor in America.
How is that playing in Peoria? A new Gallup poll tells us.
The question was simple: ‘‘Do you think our government should or should not redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich?’’ Most Americans said no. Forty-nine percent do not support Obama’s vision, including 69 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of independents. But 47 percent of Americans do want to be shown the money, including a whopping 71 percent of Democrats.
The demographic breakdown is instructive: Fifty-two percent of women but just 42 percent of men support wealth redistribution. But the real gap is between whites and nonwhites. Here, 64 percent of nonwhite Americans want federal money given to those who have not, while just 41 percent of whites want the same.
Gallup concludes that most Americans do support the wealthy paying more in order to solve specific problems (like Social Security), but Americans are not ‘‘anti-rich.’’ A majority believes the U.S. does not have ‘‘too many’’ rich folks.
For Obama, the call is easy. His core constituency fervently believes that a ‘‘just society’’ takes from the rich and gives to the poor. The problem is that the Founding Fathers did not believe that. So instituting legislation mandating the redistribution of private wealth runs up against a variety of constitutional issues. That’s why the Supreme Court will have to decide on Obamacare.
Madison, Jefferson, Franklin and the boys did not want a strong federal government meddling in economic affairs or much else for that matter. They did not impose a federal income tax — that first arrived during the Civil War — and they did not support government intrusion on the free marketplace. In the latter part of the 18th century, the colonists were absolutely fed up with King George intruding upon their economic lives. That anger drove the revolution. Those of us who actually studied history remember the war cry: ‘‘No taxation without representation!’’
But today the Founding Fathers are considered obsolete by some on the left who want to join Western Europe in the cradle-to-grave entitlement zone. Never mind that countries like Greece and Spain are going under economically because of their nanny state spending. Liberal doctrine requires ‘‘sharing the wealth,’’ consequences be damned.
With the country almost evenly divided over wealth redistribution, the next presidential election really becomes a referendum on that concept. Things were never this complicated in Sherwood Forest.
Veteran TV news anchor Bill O’Reilly is host of the Fox News show ‘‘The O’Reilly Factor.’’ Visit his website at www.billoreilly.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/billoreilly.