I just finished reading Claude Polin’s “The Quintessential Democratic Politician” (Vital Signs, November), and it was a gem. Yet even in this brilliant analysis of politics in a democracy the author brings up the Robin Hood chestnut, that in a democracy the numerous poor can rob the wealth that the rich have worked so hard to accumulate, by taxing the rich and then having the state redistribute this wealth to the poor in the form of welfare payments.
This can and does happen in a democracy. But while the thought of this evidently keeps some from sleeping soundly during the night, the odd thing is that in democracies we often find that over time the rich gain a greater share of the national wealth produced in the country, and the poor become worse off. Take the United States, for example: In the past 30 years the assets of the richest one percent have grown spectacularly while the average wage has remained flat, and the middle class and the poor are worse off.
It was recently reported that 43 people here own as much of the national wealth as half of Americans. The Koch brothers and the Waltons took $6.6 billion of the national wealth—in less than two months. It doesn’t appear the Robin Hood effect has bothered them much.