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Sucker Words – Wealth Redistribution

In the grand tradition of famed propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, talking heads in pulpits across the nation corral the great American sheep with their invisible staffs of fear. Preachers like Limbaugh and his clones cart their millions to the banks with glee on their faces and profits in their hearts. They delight every time they see Americans react to their rhetoric like a school of lemming turning in unison to every little source of fear, real or imagined.

American propagandists constantly take otherwise innocent, benign words and phrases and paint them with dark, insidious overtones and watch as society’s shallow thinkers, such as members of the Tea Party, turn them into weapons and unwittingly do the bidding of the propagandists themselves. Is it any wonder Limbaugh, Hannity, Palin and others of their ilk are often seen with the smirk of a prankster? Consider these evil terms, “liberal”, “socialist”, “gay”, “atheist”, and “illegal immigrant”. The list is lengthy, but you get the point. All are words or terms that have been vilified by the talking heads. Reactionaries reflexively recoil in horror when they hear them.

My sucker phrase of the day is “Wealth Redistribution”. Time and time again I’ve heard people’s voices slowly lowered as they say, “I don’t know about that; it’s reeks of wealth redistribution and socialism or communism.” They say it in a tone you’d expect to hear when they’ve just discovered they have all the symptoms of terminal cancer. Thanks to the brain washing by Fox News and the other “fair and balanced” corporate news outlets, we all know that wealth redistribution only happens in countries like Cuba, Venuzuela, Russia and North Korea. You know, just in the evil countries. “This is America, damn it! We’ll have no wealth redistribution here unless the government is taken over by those socialist bastards and their comrades from Kenya and at ACORN.”

I actually attended “The Tea Party Patriots National Policy Summit” and this was the attitude that was manifest throughout the enlightened halls of the Phoenix Convention Center. In-depth thinking was nearly as discouraged as was [voice lowered and with dramatic pause] . . . weeallthhh redistribuuuution. Contrary to the principals of the Tea Party (of which I am now an official member), I decided to contemplate the matter. Was wealth redistribution the diabolical malady it is billed as? Is it such a blight on society that we should muster our forces and fight it in all quarters? Here are a couple random musings on the topic.

Isn’t “wealth redistribution” the entire basis upon which a capitalistic (a Fox “good word”) society is built? Doesn’t Yukon Bill Jones’s motto sum it up? “It is immoral to leave a sucker with his money.” Within a few miles of where I sit, a casino routinely separates suckers from their money. Casinos actually advertise that they will give patrons 97% of their money back if they put it in their slot machines. People take their retirement checks and welfare checks and flock to take advantage of this great opportunity to give someone else 3% of all the money they can pour into the machines. In this case, wealth is being redistributed between arithmetically challenged suckers and wealthy casino operators. What could be more beautiful? This is good, so sayeth Fox. It is capitalism. It is America.

We’re redistributing wealth every day when we go to the shopping centers, the grocery stores, the theater, the ball game. We’re redistributing wealth when we have a slice of Mom’s Apple Pie, when we buy Old Glory and the flag pole on which we’ll proudly fly her. In this sense, there’s nothing more American than wealth redistribution.

So what’s the problem?

Having now cavorted with actually Tea Party Patriots, I can tell you the problem. That’s not wealth redistribution; it “wealth distribution”. It’s only evil when it’s redistributed. Wealth distribution is great. It doesn’t matter if it is accumulated by fleecing unsuspecting working stiffs. Who cares if some Wall Street wizard robs his clients? If you head up the Fiesta Bowl committee, knock yourself out. It doesn’t matter how you get it or how you spend it or for that matter, who’s money you’re spending. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a mugger in a dark alley. That’s capitalism at its finest. And it is good – yea, so sayeth Fox.

It’s only a problem when it’s a redistribution of wealth. It turns out it’s only redistribution when it’s done by the government. Ah ha, now the pieces are falling into place. How fortunate indeed that I have access to the Tea Party Patriots’ research resource, at least when someone else isn’t using the book. It has now been explained to me that redistribution of wealth occurs when the government imposes a tax and then uses that money to do something that might help someone other than the person (remember – a corporation is a “person”) that paid the tax in the first place.

What I learned from the Tea Party gurus is that wealth redistribution is a vector, i.e., it has a magnitude and a direction associated with it. When their tax dollars go away from them, regardless of the amount, it is evil wealth redistribution. When benefits come toward them as a result of the taxes someone else paid, that is nothing more than wealth distribution. Tea Party people also refer to this as “getting what they deserve” from the government. For example, if they pay taxes and some fraction of those dollars goes toward feeding the unemployed and keeping them from rising up and burning the neighborhoods of those with jobs, it’s called wealth redistribution and is bad. If tax dollars provide medical care for indigents and thereby increase public health in general, that’s wealth redistribution and it is bad – so sayeth Fox.

On the other hand, if someone else’s tax dollars help fund the Medicare of one of the thousands of retired Tea Partiers, that’s only fair. “Hands of my social security,” cry Tea Partiers. When tax dollars go to building prisons to incarcerate the “bad guys”, that’s OK. The fact that the heads of private prison companies are getting rich at the expense of the taxpaying Tea Partiers doesn’t matter; that’s not wealth redistribution.

The truth is that wealth redistribution is a normal function of government if not its primary purpose. Without wealth redistribution, society ultimately collapses. The game ends. It gets ugly. Didn’t anyone in the Tea Party ever play the game “Monopoly”? Remember the object? Remember how it ended? Only one player survived. And in the overwhelming majority of the games, family feuds [read: warfare] resulted. What a great American learning tool, but either Tea Partier never played the game or the lesson was wasted on them.

When the über-rich make money hand over fist utilizing the roads, airports and other infrastructure build with the tax dollars of the middle class while they remain relatively untaxed, that is wealth redistribution. When the “free” markets shift wealth from the middle class to the rich, that is wealth redistribution. When currencies fluctuate, you have wealth redistribution. Wealth is being redistributed every day through changes in the value of the dollar on the world markets, via changes in the prime interest rate and as a result of inflation and deflation. The actions of the Tea Party itself result in wealth redistribution.

Wealth redistribution is a simple fact of life. It happens. It cannot not happen. Regardless of how it is used by the propagandists to convince you the communists are coming, it is not a naughty word or phrase. The next time you hear from term, don’t crawl under your desk in the fetal position and cover your head. There is not a mushroom cloud on the horizon. It is not bad (sorry Fox). It is natural and unavoidable. Although the Tea Party doesn’t seem to get it, even William Shakespeare knew the trick when, in Hamlet, he said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

But then, it was also Shakespeare that wrote, “Shall we their fond pageant see? Lord, what fools these mortals be!”


2 Responses

  1. This all smacks of “Class Warfare.”


  2. “Class Warfare”! Another one of my favorite sucker phrases.


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