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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Nynaeve al'Meara on Taxation

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nynaeve al'Meara on Taxation

While rereading Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time Series," in preparation for the release of the final books of the series, I ran across a passage describing Nynaeve al'Meara's opinion about the government taking from the rich to aid the poor.  While waiting to be reintroduced to Masema, who has become the powerful ruler in a large region, Nynaeve witnesses him telling a rich woman that she has too much gold.  The rich women removes her rings, bracelet and necklace and drops them into a bag.  Nynaeve's escorts convincingly inform her that every penny will be used for the poor.  Masema lives in humble home, and even his meals, which are plain, come as gifts.  Jordan gives his character life, describing her feelings.
Nynaeve shook her head.  She supposed it was one way to find money for the poor.  Simply rob anyone who was not poor.  Of course, that would just make everyone poor in the end, but it might work for a time...People who claimed they were collecting money to help others often had a way of letting a good bit stick in their own pockets, or else they liked the power that spreading it about gave them, liked it far too much.  She had better feeling for the man who freely gave one copper from his own purse than for the fellow who wrested a gold crown from someone else's.  And less for fools who abandoned their farms and shops to follow this...this Prophet, with no idea where their next meal would come from.
There are of course similarities with today's political drama.  The biggest difference is that Masema is fictional and President Obama is not.  Other differences should be mentioned.  Masema is insane, President Obama clearly is not.  Masema is an ascetic, a man who would take his wife out for a night on Broadway clearly is not.  Both are willing to take money from the wealthy to aid the poor.

1 comment:

  1. Jacinta Tatman20/6/09 10:01 PM

    I feel that the issue goes a lot deeper than the "robin hood" syndrome, especially in America. When this country was founded, people came here to do things they couldn't do elsewhere. We often hear people say that others immigrate here to live the "American dream." Isn't that being wealthy? We all want the same things, and those who are on the other side of the rope are the ones who complain the most. If you were dirt poor, you would want the government to help you out. At the same time, if you have worked your way up in life and have amassed a fortune, you don't want anyone to take the money from you.

    A the end of the day, this country wasn't set up for there to be such a large gap between the wealthy and the poor, so someone has to give and whomever that is will have much to say abot it.