In Medieval England it was a crime to take from the rich to help poor. What has changed?


Without going into the details, the wealthy and the super-wealthy have always been able to hold on to their wealth by vilifying and criminalizing those who would narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. Robin Hood has been a wonderful image of primitive socialism, and as long as he remained a Disney character, even the Koch brothers and the corrupt world leaders and possessing classes could enjoy the show.

As soon as anyone made a serious attempt to do something for the needy, that person felt the full sanctions of the state and of the police. Take the case of a certain Middle Eastern president, who was not really particularly upset at religious dissent but who went bonkers when evidence was revealed pointing to an accumulation of billions of dollars in his coffers and that of his cronies.

Socialists, when they got over their revolutionary frenzy, favored wealth and income taxes. This hardly made them popular in the country clubs in America or the yacht harbors of southern Europe. But in fact, these measures, if rightly applied, could avert disaster.

Meanwhile, in most "advanced" countries the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. The word powder keg comes to mind. A home-grown American terrorist group took the words from Bob Dylan's song as their mantra: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." Unfortunately few politicians sense the direction of this wind and take measures that will heal the breach between the classes. It is a different sort of global warming that leaders in most countries are denying exists.

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