Redistribution and the Republican Party; Politics; GOP Has to Decide Whether to Accept Governments Role as Redistributor of Income

By Ashby, Blake | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

Redistribution and the Republican Party; Politics; GOP Has to Decide Whether to Accept Governments Role as Redistributor of Income


Ashby, Blake, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Three leading Republican senators have now indicated that they would be open to additional tax revenue to help balance the budget, even if it means violating their 20-year-old pledge to never increase revenues for the federal government. Could it be that the Republican Party is again moving toward accepting that some redistribution is a necessary part of our modern economy?

The word redistribution has a bad reputation in Republican circles and certainly is something of which to be cautious. But it has also been a key to creating the society we have. We tend not to think about it, but the government redistributes in many different ways. Public education is a form of redistribution, ensuring that even the children of poor parents have access to a quality education. Interstate highways are a form of redistribution, as is federal disaster relief.

Numerous government laws promote income redistribution. The 40- hour work week means more workers are needed for any business. Minimum wage laws put a floor on what must be paid. The right to unionize gives workers leverage to secure better wages. All of these laws combine to cause business owners to pay higher wages than they would have in an unfettered free market all force a redistribution of the benefits of capitalism.

Government redistribution is a result of a compromise our country reached in the 1930s. While parts of the world were turning to socialism, the United States chose democratic capitalism and redistribution instead. This compromise, redistribution, gave our workers the money to buy things and the time to enjoy life. Clever entrepreneurs responded by creating things for people to buy, vacuum cleaners and radios and vacation packages. Yes, the entrepreneurs were a little less wealthy than they would have been because they had to share some of the benefits of their cleverness with their workers, but a virtuous circle was created more money in the hands of workers created markets for more consumer goods, which led to demand for more workers to build the consumer goods.

This compromise, redistribution, helped us to grow to be one of the most prosperous nations. Its easy to forget, but just 12 years ago we had a thriving economy and a federal government that was able to fulfill its obligations within a balanced budget.

Historically, the Republican Party has accepted this compromise as a necessary part of our modern world (and as a necessary part of getting elected there are far more employees than business owners). …

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