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Is Wealth Redistribution Envy?

DetectableNinja
Posts: 6,043
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4/24/2013 8:03:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Now, before I pose the idea, I'll clarify that I am NOT wealthy (relative within the US). I come from the working class, and we briefly were in the middle class before a divorce and the recession--so, back to the lower class/working class. I by no means have bias toward the wealthy.

That being said, I've also had the question of whether we could consider wanting income/wealth distribution just a manifestation of basic envy. What I mean by this is that championing for economic equality via a strong progressive tax and wealth redistribution just rooted from the basic feeling of "I'm upset that other people have more than me. We should take that stuff for me/us."

Penn and Teller did a good skit about this that you can see at right to kind of illustrate my point.

What do you think? Is income/wealth redistribution really just a way of fulfilling a baser sense of envy? Is it right to ask more from the wealthy simply because they have the money? Do the poor inherently deserve money from the rich?
Think'st thou heaven is such a glorious thing?
I tell thee, 'tis not half so fair as thou
Or any man that breathes on earth.

- Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,242
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4/24/2013 8:05:35 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Not exclusively. I think it's envy coupled with the premise that man is not free, and that his productions are ripe for expropriation to give to those who the government deems worthy.
Wnope
Posts: 6,924
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4/24/2013 9:12:11 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Quite easy to argue this until you talk about distribution concerning non-luxury items. For instance, even without neighbors, if someone can't afford to eat if they're taxed at 10%, then it's not just a matter of fulfilling envy.

You may as well argue the difference in income tax and capital gains tax is a manifestation of investors being envious of non-investors.
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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4/24/2013 9:19:26 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/24/2013 8:03:00 PM, DetectableNinja wrote:

What do you think? Is income/wealth redistribution really just a way of fulfilling a baser sense of envy?
These are two very different things, with different goals.
I think passing it off as envy is difficult, if those that are to penalized are championing their penalty (i.e. the rich want the rich to be taxed).

Income redistribution could be conceived as envy-motivated, but I am not sure if we are talking about the same thing.

Is it right to ask more from the wealthy simply because they have the money?
Depends on the purpose.
Even proponents of a flat/fair tax will still have the rich pay more than the poor.

Do the poor inherently deserve money from the rich?
No.
But it does make good policy for those who can aid the less fortunate to do so, for basic necessities.
My work here is, finally, done.
TheElderScroll
Posts: 643
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4/25/2013 12:48:29 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/24/2013 8:03:00 PM, DetectableNinja wrote:
Now, before I pose the idea, I'll clarify that I am NOT wealthy (relative within the US). I come from the working class, and we briefly were in the middle class before a divorce and the recession--so, back to the lower class/working class. I by no means have bias toward the wealthy.

That being said, I've also had the question of whether we could consider wanting income/wealth distribution just a manifestation of basic envy. What I mean by this is that championing for economic equality via a strong progressive tax and wealth redistribution just rooted from the basic feeling of "I'm upset that other people have more than me. We should take that stuff for me/us."

Penn and Teller did a good skit about this that you can see at right to kind of illustrate my point.

What do you think? Is income/wealth redistribution really just a way of fulfilling a baser sense of envy? Is it right to ask more from the wealthy simply because they have the money? Do the poor inherently deserve money from the rich?

Is income/wealth redistribution really just a way of fulfilling a baser sense of envy?
An intriguing question. Someone would argue that since the affluentials have reaped more benefits from the society than than average people do, they are obligated to contribute more to the society simply because they can. Fulfilling a baser sense of envy may not the only reason for one to advocate income/wealth redistribution.

Is it right to ask more from the wealthy simply because they have the money?
Negative. I don't believe it is right to ask more from the wealth, assuming that those affluentials obtain their fortune via legitimate venue.

Do the poor inherently deserve money from the rich?
Generally, "No."