Liberals Are Not About Spreading The Wealth

Liberals do not fall within the “spread the wealth” framework that conservatives have constructed.

In response to spreading the wealth you may hear the Right state their argument of government “spreading the grades”. The crux of the argument is that you earn both wealth and grades. If you don’t think that government should spread the grades then why should government spread the wealth? To frame it this way displays a complete lack of understanding of what liberals stand for.

What Republicans and conservatives fail to realize is that liberals are not about “spreading the wealth” as framed by the conservative mindset. Some liberals have indeed used this phrase including Barack Obama during the 2008 election.  I suggest that this phrase is both inadequate and misleading – particularly considering the toxic response from the right – and it falls short of explaining what liberals stand for.

The liberal priority is civil and human rights. The conservative priority is property rights, which includes money and wealth. Liberals understand that for modern society to work and for our country to be strong it requires a robust middle class. Liberals also understand that society depends on the labor of many who put in long, hard hours at very little pay. While liberals strive to improve the working conditions and the pay of these hard-working Americans, liberals also recognize that there isn’t a good paying job for every American that wants one no matter how hard they work. Liberals understand that many people who work hard all their lives may find themselves in financial hardship through no fault of their own. Liberals believe it is the responsibility of a government of the people, by the people, for the people to do what it can to help citizens that are in need to promote the general welfare and form a more perfect union.

I do not believe raising a tax bracket a few percentage points is socialism or punishing the rich. I do not believe it is spreading the wealth to care about the plight of fellow Americans. Our government is “we the people”. Why should it only be the job of a church, charity or local community group to do a job that we the people are capable of doing through the framework of our democracy?

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  • You have made a very important distinction here. Liberals want what is right and just for all of society, not only for the dominant wealthy. If caring about those who are elderly, or those trapped in poverty (often through no fault of their own), or about parity in education and taxation, is deemed “spreading the wealth” then it is a misnomer. Perhaps Obama needs to consider better terminology. You and I know what he means, but the Right will twist it like so many twist scripture to suit their own agendas. Think about Teavangelicals.

  • The foundation of Republican and conservative derision towards spreading the wealth is their belief that liberals are for taking money from the rich and giving it to the undeserving. They assume that liberals are not concerned with personal responsibility and hard work. But their focus is on a potential side effect of liberal policies and not what liberals are actually about. It is indeed possible when you have programs to help those in need that a certain segment of the population will take advantage of those programs for personal gain or to avoid being a contributing member of society. But that is a side effect and it doesn’t represent the majority of citizens. It is quite the leap to assume that everyone that could use assistance is doing so because they choose not to take responsibility and to work hard.

  • “Side effect” is the best description of this issue I have heard. I was Investigator of Welfare fraud for a government agency. I do not condone this fraud, and when I found it, cases went to court for prosecution. But I can honestly tell you that the vast majority of cases I investigated for eight years were people who were desperate to get medical coverage (Medicaid) for their families. Many were self-employed or the working poor. I often thought of that old saying, “Desperate people do desperate deeds.” The Right does not want to give “hand-outs,” but they have no idea how people are struggling for basic survival day to day.

  • And that is the solution to the side effect. Deal with it when it happens. Don’t deny assistance to all that need it in order to serve justice to a few. It’s too easy to judge people when in a position of relative financial comfort.