A Gallup Poll released last week claims that roughly half of Americans believe “the government should enact heavy taxes on the rich to redistribute wealth in the U.S.”This is truly shameful. Could anything be more crass? When I was growing up, government redistribution of wealth was known as “communism.” Everybody laughed at Khrushchev for predicting, “Your grandchildren will live under communism.” (Ironically enough, his grandchildren won’t!) But according to Gallup, “a solid majority of Americans, 57%, believe money and wealth in the U.S. should be more evenly distributed among the people.” Looks like Nikita knew which way the wind was blowing, doesn’t it?
Aside from the poll revealing an abysmal ignorance of how wealth is generated, a more important issue looms larger than that. We call ourselves Christians, most of us: but let us get a whiff of someone else’s money, and we trample God’s Commandments.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor’s.
But half of us believe it’s all right for the government to steal, as long as the politicians share the plunder with us. And we believe such a thing because our exalted leaders—not just the brigands occupying public office, but our so-called educators, our “news” media, and even a great number of our theologically-challenged churchmen—have inflamed us with a spirit of covetousness. How many alarmist ravings has The New York Times published on “income inequality”—as if there were such a thing as “income equality”?
God’s Commandments are not situational. It doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not steal, except from someone who’s richer than you.”
Do you think it’s not stealing, if the government does it on your behalf, through taxation? Do you think it’s “social justice” when one man works and Congress confiscates the fruit of his labor and doles it out to others?
Oh, but what about “fair redistribution”—the kind we hear about from the pulpits of our erring churches?
To believe in “fair redistribution” is an amazing feat of hypocrisy. You have to ignore the question of who gets to redistribute to whom. A Gallup statistic sheds light on this: according to the poll, 71% of Democrats want the government to redistribute wealth.
To put it simply, what we’re talking about is slimy, sleazy politicians—in other words, ordinary fallen, sinful human beings who are a bit more fallen and sinful than most—robbing some citizens so they can “redistribute wealth” to others. What others? Why, members of the Democrat voting base, of course! So where is the “fair redistribution”? The redistributing party in the legislature will always take money from people who don’t vote for them and dole it out to people who do. It’s how they plan to stay in power.
As wicked as this is, the greater shame belongs to the churches, for despising God’s Commandments and trying to curry favor with a culture of covetousness. The “mainline” churches are most to blame, although quite a few “evangelical” churchmen have hopped on the redistribution bandwagon.
Some of these hypocrites have the audacity to call theft “charity.” We must help our fellow man, they say. But where is the charity in helping someone with our neighbor’s money? This smacks of Judas Iscariot exalting himself by griping that the precious ointment poured on Jesus’ head should have been sold, and the money given to the poor. (John 12:4-6) Judas was so high-minded and holy, he was willing to help the poor to the last drop of Mary’s money!
Those who don’t want to be taken for Judas shouldn’t talk like him.
Even if “the rich,” whoever they are, didn’t get rich by working harder than others, or by risking their own capital, or by innovating more creatively than their competitors; even if they only inherited their wealth, which would have been created by their parents or grandparents working hard; even if they magically spun straw into gold, their property is lawfully theirs and it’s still a sin to rob them. Charity and generosity are virtues, but envy and legalized theft pollute a nation’s soul.
Then again, I can think of one form of wealth redistribution that seems both just and honest.
Let the members of Congress redistribute back to us the money that we worked for, that they sucked out of our paychecks, and spent on buying votes, setting up bureaucracies that suck up still more money, treating themselves to all sorts of luxuries, and trying to turn Nikita Khrushchev into a prophet. Let them redistribute all that money back to where it came from, and see how much their loss is America’s gain. Watch how this revives the economy and restores voluntary charity to its rightful place.
Who knows? It might even get them some votes.