The Robin Hood Analogy

When discussing redistribution of wealth, the Robin Hood analogy is often used erroneously to refer to any effort to tax the rich. It’s commonplace to say that Robin Hood “robbed from the rich to give to the poor.” But who in medieval England held the bulk of the wealth? It was the nobility and the church. In those days, what little government existed was largely corrupt. The Sheriff of Nottingham and his ilk spent their time protecting the de-facto leaders, the nobility, who derived their wealth from the down-trodden peasants who worked their fields, and the church who misappropriated the tithes made by parishioners from their meager earnings. Then, of course, there was King John who usurped his brother’s throne and taxed the dickens out of his subjects. Robin Hood is famed for driving the Sheriff nuts and stealing from the dishonest Earls and Abbots who were otherwise calling the shots.

The correct use of the Robin Hood analogy would be to liken him to anyone who manages to pry money away from the government to give it back to the people who earned it. This is usually, though all too rarely, accomplished by lowering tax rates. It was JFK, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush most recently who were the real “Robin Hoods” of our time.

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