What are the moral of Robin Hood

What would Robin Hood say today?

Anyone who, as custodian of the state treasury, wants to counteract its yawning emptiness actually has only two options - besides starting the printing press -: save more or earn more. Technically speaking, saving would be less difficult than increasing income. But apart from the fact that it can always hit the wrong population group - your own voters - the term itself is a bit tricky. Nowadays, a reduction in overspending is already considered to be saving; Anyone who plans only 120 percent for next year instead of 130 percent of this year's expenditure believes that they have saved 10 percent.

That leaves us with the instruments of (additional) taxation. But here, too, the question arises of who or what should be taxed and how much. Should it be consumption or should it be individual population groups? Typically, the treasurer will set the control screw where he expects the least resistance. Or where he most hopes for support from the unaffected population.

Let's take a closer look. In Switzerland, companies and the top 20 percent of the population pay 60 percent of government spending, the remaining 80 percent of the population take on around a third of the budget; In the case of direct federal tax, the top 10 percent contribute a good 70 percent of the income, while the lower half of the income contributes practically nothing. If you take into account that in the current structure of most western societies, on the one hand, a majority of the tax revenue is generated by a minority of the population, on the other hand, the votes are distributed according to heads and not according to tax power, then it is clear why "redistribution" is so is popular: because the majority of voters benefit from the economic weight of a minority without them being able to oppose it with increased voting power.

Arguments that basically refer to Robin Hood are often used to justify this approach. It is remembered: according to legend, a figure named Robin Hood lived with his cronies in Sherwood Forest in the late Middle Ages. His preferred target was the Sheriff of Nottingham, who enslaved the simple rural population and stole the little belongings that they had earned.

However, there is a striking difference between the actions of Robin Hood and the redistribution of today's format: the sheriff of Nottingham blackmailed the peasants, made them serfs by force of arms and obliged them to give him the fruits of their labor. Robin Hood took what the Sheriff of Nottingham had stolen from the working population. In other words, he established "social justice" by returning the disenfranchised their rightful property.

On the other hand, anyone who speaks of redistribution today is targeting the “rich” unspecifically. In contrast to the Sheriff of Nottingham, they inherited their money, speculated on it, maybe even earned it, but in any case hardly stolen it from the "poor" sections of the population. While Robin Hood brought back what someone else had taken away, today's “rich” are supposed to give up what they had previously produced themselves. «Social justice» through productivity compensation - those who produce more should support those who produce less with their income.

How is the distribution of roles today? In reality, doesn't the redistributive state play the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham? And if the analogy is used correctly, shouldn't the state give back to the citizen what it has previously taken from the citizen? We do not want to go that far, but at least we want to note that the "redistribution" is hardly more morally justified than the actions of the Sheriff of Nottingham, even if it takes place under "fairer" conditions (contrary to Luke 8:18, this means: will be taken; whoever does not have will be given) should lead. Because "justice" is established here through the voting relationships and not through a higher-level ethic. If the majority of the minority takes away the fruits of their labor, they act as a majority - but that does not change the fact that they were taken away. And only those who believe that all productivity belongs in principle to the state and that it must be distributed “fairly” by it to the population can subscribe to such an ideology of redistribution. What would Robin Hood say about it?

David Zollinger, born in 1965, studied Sinology, Japanese Studies and Jurisprudence. He is a member of the executive board of Wegelin & Co. Privatbankiers. Published on the topic: René Scheu on apparent lack in issue 970 and Kristian Niemietz on poverty in issue 971.