An old video surfaced recently in which Obama stated he believed in redistribution. At the Alfred E. Smith dinner last week Romney made a quip that Obama, looking at the rich and powerful might have thought "so little time, so much to redistribute." It was a funny line.
But redistribution is serious as a heart attack. Obama's discussion at Loyola University focused on helping the working poor ... "how do we restructure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution ..."
In that year, 1998, the federal government redistributed $580 billion (2011 dollars.) This included core government functions and what William Voegeli calls human resource outlays. Voegeli notes that the welfare state expenditure since 1943 has been growing (adjusted for population growth) at 4.14 percent per year (Never Enough, America's Limitless Welfare State 2010.)
Redistribution is a fact of life. The question is: who, how, how much? Governments don't have money, they redistribute by first appropriating citizens monies they tax. Diametrically opposed, Individuals freely redistribute some of their money to social, spiritual, intellectual interests and goals.
The old English word tithe means roughly one tenth, and, with huge variances, it still functions as a rule-of-thumb for charitable giving. (Who Really Cares, Arthur C. Brooks, 2006.)
Government taxing vs. individuals tithing? For a 40-hour work week, tithing (10 percent) to our favorite church, charity, organization would require four hours of work. Using the Tax Foundation Center's data, the last time government tax also equaled four hours a week was Feb. 4, 1925. Those citizens would have kicked in eight hours salary per week. Four hours to their favorite charity/church/non-for-profit, and four hours to government.
That was before Woodrow Wilson, Roosevelt, two World Wars, the War on Poverty, and subsequent utopian failures.
By 1960 Tax Freedom Day had climbed up to April 12. By 2000, it had climbed up to April 23, and for this year, Tax Freedom Day was May 14.
In one lifetime, 87 years, the government's appropriation of our income (labor) quadrupled, from 4 hours to 16 hours per week. Two full days every week of our working lives, for government taxing and redistribution.
Is tithing 10 percent to government redistributors really too low? Why? What level of taxation is too high; three days a week? Redistribution did not come up during the presidential debates; sure wish it had.