Why we need a Robin Hood; Why we wouldn't tolerate him

I haven't seen the new Robin Hood flick with Russell Crowe, but from what I've read, it tends to underplay the "robbing the rich and giving to the poor" theme, choosing instead sweeping, large-scale battle scenes - a war paradigm.  I can't speak for what I haven't watched, but if that's true, it's a good thing.  Today, the last thing Americans want is someone robbing from the rich to give to the poor.  Our social value system has been so corrupted by rampant debt under robber baron economics – a matrix dominated by the wealthy few, hidden from equity and social accountability by opaque multinational corporations and government regulations and tax laws skewed to favor the rich and powerful - that most of us don't even realize we have a national case of Stockholm Syndrome (as Derek Webb poignantly sings about in his latest album) - we have fallen in love with the captors who are raping us.  This is the horror of empire. 

So a "hero" like Robin Hood is no hero at all.  He's a wealth-redistributing communist.

His greatest critics are not the wealthiest, from whom he is stealing.   Strangely, today the folks who complain the loudest are often the ones who wish they were wealthy, and want to be able to achieve it "without government interference."  The "have-nots" have bought the lie that if they work hard enough in their forced-part-time shift at Walmart, they can reach the upper echelons of a classless society...

But we are not a classless society. 

And the "equal opportunity" of early American land runs (genocide of native peoples, and regulated opportunity, primarily for whites, notwithstanding...) no longer exists amidst the firmly fixed geographic and economic boundaries of an aristocratic society-in-denial.


So the folks who believe in and pray most for the American Dream are the victims of a cruel myth.  Yes, there are a few exceptions from time to time.  These exceptions become the Results-Not-Typical-Token-Ad-Sweethearts who sadly perpetuate the myth, based on their own atypical success.

Here's the reality:
  • In 1980, the CEO-Worker Pay Gap was 42-to-1
    That means that the Average CEO made 42 times the average worker.
  • In 2009, the CEO-Worker Pay Gap was 344-to-1
  • In 2007 the top 300 thousand Americans collectively earned as much income as the bottom 150 MILLION Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.
  • The top 1 percent received 21.8 percent of all reported income in 2005, more than double the share from 1980. The peak was in 1928, when the top 1 percent reported 23.9 percent of all income.
    These numbers have not radically shifted with the 08-09 downturn. Today the landscape of US wealth looks like the pre-depression boom.
I would argue that no one earns $53,965,418.00. Especially when there are entire families struggling to survive on pennies, and they are working harder than many corporate-celebrity-CEOs, just to get by. In 2010, someone making $11,500 per year is living OVER the poverty line.  In 2007, Lloyd C. Blankfein earned $53,965,418.00 as CEO of Goldman Sachs. That's 54 million dollars in a single year. That's hoarding resources. 
This is nothing less than economic oppression. 

Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O'Neal left his company in 2007 with an exit package valued at $161 million. Washington Mutual CEO Kerry Killinger's golden parachute was valued at $44 million in 2008, while Citigroup CEO Charles Prince left in 2007 year with $105 million in compensation. That's in addition to earned income. It's money for leaving.

Every town
has it's ups and downs
Sometimes ups
Outnumber the downs
But not in Nottingham...

The difference today between mythic Nottingham is that taxes were the fiend in that time.  Today, it is the lack of government regulation that leaves powerless individuals at the mercy of corporations.  Most large companies pay no income tax at all.  They receive breaks for cutting wages, pensions, and health benefits, and for shipping jobs overseas.  This is the tyranny of stock market corporatism: driving short-term gains in stock prices is more important than providing a quality product or service, or sustaining long-term viability.  So call me a Marxist, but we need a Robin Hood today.  Not one who righteously kills everyone who opposes him, but one who gets back to the ornery advocacy of robbing from the rich to give to the poor.


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, Friend, I couldn't disagree with you more. As a Mom in a family living below the poverty line, the last thing I want is the government reaching into the pocket of my husband's potential next employer! The second-to-last thing I want is the government invading my privacy by forcing me to sign-up for "health care" and fining me $600 if I choose to take care of my family's health needs according to how I best see fit.

eyesofhope said...

Very well put and I agree. People need to stop shouting "Socialism" and see that what some of us (like you and me) are advocating isn't an old, failed model, but rather something a little different, and better. It's not as if the only way to live by Christ's sharing model is a way we have failed at in the past. We need to give the human race more credit than that. Keep pressing forward. People are afraid of change, but the oppression of the weak, and perks for the rich, must cease.

Peter said...

I'm sorry anonymous, but this is so very central to the heart of what I'm writing about: you are choosing to avoid receiving benefits now for the sake of hope that someday you'll get them. I'm not saying your choice is wrong, I'm saying it's wrong that anyone should ever have to face that choice at all.

The people most in need are the ones sacrificing so that - maybe - the wealthy will reward them at a later time. This is called "trickle down" economics, and it's kept millions of poor, worldwide, oppressed and marginalized, believing that equal opportunity will prevail.

But the wealthy just keep getting wealthier, and the low and middle classes are simply not benefitting. Not statistically. Not according to any viable economic model functioning today.

I pray your husband finds work, and I am sorry for your hardship. Blessings to you,
Peter

Liz said...

Peter, Great post and I appreciate the research you did. The system we are living under has failed the vast majority of people and I am left bewildered that so many are in favor of maintaining the status quo. Thanks for adding your voice to this sad but very important issue.

Anonymous said...

Peter, thanks for the response. Actually, I'm saying I choose liberty and freedom over and above the government invading my life, over and above financial comforts and conveniences, over and above the loss of the ability to make choices for my family. I believe the Christian community can choose to help each other (e.g., we are members of a health sharing plan, which is cheaper than healthcare, consistent with my values and respective of my privacy), but I do not believe it respects the dignity of the human person to force him to help his brother. In fact, it may very well rob him of his very possibility of doing so!

Also, my husband does have a job, thanks be to God. It just doesn't pay much.

Peace.

Brent said...

What system does work?

Brian Gerald said...

Anonymous,

I am also a member of a health sharing plan (Christian Healthcare Ministries) and I am not at all worried by government-supported healthcare for those who need it and cannot otherwise afford it. CHM works for me but I know it wouldn't work for many of my friends. If they need healthcare, we should be taking care of them.

If we can subsidize repaving the roads, launching astronauts into space, and a military, I'm more than OK subsidizing health care costs to make sure all Americans are provided for.

Peter said...

Brian, great point here: "If we can subsidize repaving the roads, launching astronauts into space, and a military, I'm more than OK subsidizing health care costs to make sure all Americans are provided for."

It's valid to argue from a truly libertarian viewpoint (not my own view) but to somehow say that HEALTHCARE is invalid to our form of government simply isn't true. We pour billions and billions into systems and programs (like the war machine) and yet we cannot care for our sick and dying?

Moreover, there aren't many who would advocate doing away with public education or public safety. How do we differentiate educating children and protecting them from fires and violent criminals, from caring for them when they're ill?

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