The Quote on Robbing Peter to Pay Paul:
“A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, an always count on the support of Paul.” – George Bernard Shaw
Analysis: To Rob Peter to Pay Paul is Evil
I stumbled across this quotation about robbing Peter to pay Paul earlier today and knew I had to write about it. It summarizes the welfare and Social Security problem so well and succinctly. It is a more polite way of bringing up the “47%” that Mitt Romney mentioned– the part of the electorate that is on welfare, and thus won’t vote for conservatives.
And, unfortunately, it is true. Normally, I don’t like to say anything nice about Romney because he is the perfect embodiment of the cowardly Republican that would rather be praised by the fake news media than stand up for conservative principles. But, he was right in his remark on the 47%.
The fact is, robbing Peter to pay Paul has created a dangerous and unjust dynamic in America. A certain segment of the population, called “Peter” by George Bernard Shaw has been consistently robbed by the professional looters in our government and their money has been redistributed to the moochers, those who suck up government dollars and contribute nothing to society in return.
But, the problem is not just that robbing Peter to pay Paul is unjust. It is that it creates a dangerous trap for the country.
This quote shows why socialism is such a popular force that it is hard for intelligent or wealthy people to stop- their money is the money being looted and redistributed, not the money of socialism’s adherents. Similarly, it shows why Republicans can’t ever win the welfare and Social Security debate. The people they are arguing with are on the receiving end of the welfare teat, not the giving end. If they want to win the debate, they need to capitalize on fiscal responsibility and why it is important. Economics show that the current welfare and Social Security model is unsustainable. We have to make sure others know that.
That is why our Founding Fathers warned against welfare and redistribution of wealth. Benjamin Franklin famously remarked that:
When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the Republic.
Similarly, famed Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville remarked that:
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s own money.
The problem, as both de Tocqueville and Franklin so eloquently point out, is that America cannot survive if one segment of the population has the ability to vote to confiscate the wealth of the smaller but richer segment. We are a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy. That was intentional. Our Founding Fathers understood that a pure democracy would be able to vote to rob Peter to pay Paul and created a system of checks and balances that would prevent that.
Now, most of those have been done away with because Woodrow Wilson created the income tax and, in so doing, condemned America’s Peter to forever be robbed to pay for the life of Paul.
The evidence of that is in our tax code and how it affects the wealthy. The most successful members of society have to pay the overwhelming majority of income taxes, whereas those that earn less pay a tiny fraction of the overall tax burden. The rich pay far more than their “fair share” in taxes.
That was only allowed to happen because we forgot the advice of the Founding Fathers and George Bernard Shaw on robbing Peter to pay Paul. Or, to be more clear, we non-socialist citizens forgot it and stopped fighting government revenue gathering and redistribution attempts. Our politicians, on the other hand, remember those words quite well, hence why they are in favor of such ridiculously high taxes and absurdly inefficient wealth redistribution schemes.
Now, after Woodrow Wilson’s income tax, FDR’s payroll tax, and LBJ’s war on poverty taxes, we are in the situation where robbing Peter to pay Paul has been normalized.
As a result, exactly what Shaw predicted would happen has happened. Because the government has committed to robbing Peter to pay Paul, we are left with one segment of the population, the welfare-receiving side, that will do whatever it takes to keep taxes high and welfare programs well-funded. On the other hand, there is another segment of the population that is perpetually ground under the heel of the tax collectors as its earnings are confiscated to pay for those welfare programs. But, because, as Shaw says, the Pauls will always vote to do that to the Peters, that tax burden is rarely lifted to any real degree.
Even worse for the republic, that schism between Peters and Pauls breaks down on essentially party lines. Republicans support cutting taxes because they are generally the Peters that are earning money. On the other hand, Romney’s 47% are always on the side of the Democrats because the Democrats are the ones who support welfare programs. That has led to increasing partisanship and mutual animosity, which has, in turn, made our political process increasingly acrimonious.
What is the solution? We need to stop robbing Peter to pay Paul. Abolish welfare. Abolish Social Security. Stop government-sanctioned robbing of the successful members of society merely because they are successful and force everyone to work so that there is no longer a near-majority of the population that wants to rob the other half of society.
If we don’t do that, then America will continue to struggle and fights between the Peters and Pauls will grow ever more common. Half the population will not submit to being taxed into misery and poverty by the other half for much longer; robbing Peter to pay Paul needs to stop. Otherwise, America will unravel. And lest you think that I am being hyperbolic, just remember that what started the American Revolution was, essentially, a debate over the power and right to tax. And those taxes in 1770 were far lower than the taxes with which we have to contend today. We need to stop robbing Peter to pay Paul as soon as possible.
Conclusion: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul is a Very Bad Idea
When it comes to welfare and paying for it, the government is simply “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Once Peter figures that out and shrugs, the whole system will collapse. The magic formula of economic success is low taxes and little regulation. Those are the ingredients behind the free-market revolution that has unleashed capitalism, which has made the world unbelievably more prosperous than it otherwise would have been.
That can’t happen with the current welfare system in place. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is a horrible idea because it means draining money from a productive part of the population (in this case Peter) and then sending that money to the unsuccessful and unproductive members of society (in this case Paul).
That is a horrible idea. What makes our system work is the idea that if you work hard, you will earn more money and thus be more successful. That requires both investments and knowledge that there will be a pay off if you work hard that won’t be confiscated by the government. Robbing Peter to pay Paul makes that impossible because the productive members of society will see that the harder they work, the more they will have to pay in taxes that go straight to the lazy, unproductive members. Additionally, the money taken from Peter could have been invested and made the economy stronger; instead, it is given to someone who has shown his inability to manage money wisely.
Republicans will have to find a way to get rid of the still confiscatory tax rates so that the economy will boom. When it does, both Peter and Paul will be better off because of the rising tide of capitalism. Let’s hope that day comes sooner rather than later.
What it looks like when Atlas is shrugging: https://genzconservative.com/was-atlas-shrugging/