There’s a common analysis going around the internet: “If you want to understand Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” plan look to Robin Hood.” Robin Hood, say those who want to recreate the story, stole from the rich and gave to the poor. “If you want to understand Cain’s plan,” say those who cite these recreations, “reverse the story.” A proper interpretation of the Robin Hood story shows that Robin Hood stole from the government and gave that money back to the people. The money that Robin Hood gave to the poor was actually money that Robin Hood felt was derived by the King through over-taxation. A proper interpretation shows that Robin Hood was actually taking this money and giving it back to the taxpayers.
As we all know, liberals are not literalists. They seek contextualist views through interpretation. They seek situational ethics, which Joseph Fletcher defined as “casting moral principles aside in certain circumstances if love is best served.” In other words, if it can be defined as wonderful or altruistic, we can redfine it to match our principles. Who knows how or when this redefining Robin Hood occurred, but it has taken hold in our society. Examples of these contextualist views of the original Robin Hood story can best be seen in the modern day Hollywood’s recreations that tend to gloss over the original story’s themes. If we want to take a literal view of the original Robin Hood story, however, we should look at it at its themes:
1) Members of the monarchy are born into positions of power despite having never been elected.
a) Robin Hood was waging a struggle not only against overtaxation but against illegitimate, unconstitutional government. As the characters ridicule “Prince John, the phony king of England,” they are staking their fight on the view that John has overstepped his legal and constitutional bounds.
2) Peasants are born into a life of poverty, with all of their acquisitions being stolen from them by aforementioned monarchy.
a) The central issue (of the original Robin Hood story) was overtaxation, and Robin Hood was most emphatically not on the side of the bureaucracy. The ultimate bad guy was Prince John, the very caricature of greedy, arrogant government; the proximate bad guy was the Sheriff of Nottingham, the ruthless enforcer whose audit strategy was even more intimidating than that of the IRS. The victims were the taxpayers whose property was confiscated to feed John’s insatiable lust for higher revenues. As Robin Hood speeds to its exciting conclusion, Friar Tuck adopts as his battle cry, “Praise the Lord and pass the tax rebate!”
3) Robin Hood sees injustice in hard-workers living in squalor while corrupt government officials “be livin’ likes pimps” – quoted from the original text for authenticity –
a) A study done by the Center for Responsive Politics on 11/17/2010, found that 261 members of Congress are millionaires. 261 of the 435 members of Congress are millionaires. (That’s 60% for those math people who seek quotients.) In their tabulations, the Center for Responsive Politics determines that about 1% of the American public have reached the same lofty fiscal plateau.
4) Robin Hood reaches his breaking point and begins to lead an uprising of the people.
5) The people take back what they’d rightfully earned in the first place.
“Steal from the rich, and give to the poor!” is the rhetoric you’ll undoubtedly hear (from those seeking to redefine Robin Hood). The only problem with that… Is that Robin Hood never “stole from the rich.” He instead stole from an oppressive government that had taxed its citizens into poverty, and he returned the wealth back to its rightful owners. Essentially, Robin Hood put a smackdown on the medieval equivalent of the IRS.
I think it’s fair to say that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) members are calling on government to answer their grievances. They want government intervention to make things “fairer” by giving them what they believe is owed to them after they fulfilled what they fulfilled, be that a college education or some form of accomplishment they accomplished that they believe gives them the right to greater wealth. In essence, they want the government to step in and take from the earners (the rich) and give to them, because they believe that a majority of the rich (the earners) derived their wealth through nefarious means. Some use the modern day interpretation of Robin Hood as a battle cry for this. The question is would the original author of Robin Hood be in their movement and state that his story should be given to modern day interpretations, or would he see all of the government corruption (Solyndra, GE) and say that his original text holds true? In other words, would he agree that this imbalance between the rich and the poor is the source of the problem and a modern day Robin Hood (say a Barack Obama) needs to right these wrongs, or would he be decrying the massive growth of our government (with its millionaires and documented excesses) as the source of the problem in the manner a Tea Party member or a Herman Cain would? If the author were in the streets of America today would his sign have some form of the “Eat the Rich!” OWS type slogan on it, or would it say: “Praise the Lord and pass the tax rebate!”