….but then incorrectly answers it.
Appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews to discuss the recent uproar over the Obama remarks made at a conference in 1998 in which he stated that he “actually believes redistribution” raises the big question that Americans need to honestly address. Answering Matthew’s question “What is wrong, anyway, with redistribution?”, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) rails off several examples and asks if they are “redistribution”. He asks (starting at 1:25),
- “Is the EITC redistribution?”
- “How about giving a veteran who’s wounded disability insurance”
- (and then the big one) “How about Social Security? Is that redistributionist?”
The answer to these questions is, of course, yes. Yes they are redistributionist. Any program that takes something (tax dollars) from one person/group of people and gives it to another person/group of people is redistribution. The only way a government can accomplish such a task is through the coercive measures of the threat of violence or force against those who resist. Politicians and political pundits can try to compare government redistribution with “what we do every time we help someone” as Chris Matthews attempts to do, but it is and always will be wrong because it lacks central tenet of what charity is: voluntary and compassionate self-giving. What we need to do is call a spade a spade and accept that our society is full of these socialistic program and stop deluding ourselves into thinking that we live in a capitalistic country.
In its very nature, therefore, almost all government action is redistribution because it relies on taxation (that is, the non-voluntary provisions of money we all pay to the government) to achieve its ends. What people must begin to understand is that even beloved government programs that are popular with the general public fit into this category.
The protect of private property is a central (and necessary) tenet of capitalism, as is the abolition of private property essential to communism. Republicans are fighting a losing battle when they try to campaign against some redistributionist programs while simultaneously standing up for others because it shows a lack of consistency on the very principles they claim to espouse.
Regardless of how popular programs like Medicare and Social Security are in this country with those who are receiving the benefits, it does not change the fact that they are generational transfer program, redistributing wealth from the young and working to the old and retired. These popular program are draining the U.S. economy as their debt obligations mount to tens of trillions of dollars.
A courageous and consistent stand in which a politician educates the American people about what these programs actually are is what is needed. If only a politician like that were real.