Stealing from the poor, to give to the rich

We all grew up admiring Robin Hood, the man who took from the rich to give to the poor. Little did we know of the subtle pro-redistribution messages Disney’s socialist agenda was trying to brainwash us with. Such ideas of redistributionââ?¬â??dressed up as welfare, social security, and universal healthcareââ?¬â??are pervasive in our society today. But California ballot initiative Proposition 10 adds a 21st century twist on the redistributive idea. Prop. 10 will give cash payments (from bonds) to those who buy “high fuel economy vehicles,” “very high fuel economy vehicles,” or “dedicated clean alternative fuel vehicles.” While you don’t have to be a millionaire or even in Obama’s arbitrary $250,000 annual salary range to buy a top-notch hybrid, these cars don’t come cheap. Its safe to say that, at least by government definitions, these cars are going to “the rich” (read: the “not poor”). The painful irony is that the government feels it is necessary to put the state deeper in debt in order to give to “the rich.” On top of that, the $5 billion bond would develop $4.5 billion in interest over 30 years, paid for by an increase in the state sales tax. The sales tax would affect everyone in California, including “the poor” (read: the “those who don’t have enough money to buy a hybrid car”). Ultimately, the government is taking money from your wallet and handing it out to others to reward their personal tastes and preferences–whether or not to the rich or poor. So in effect, this proposal takes (via taxes) from the poor, to give to the rich. Robin Hood would roll over in his grave. To be fair, the proposition uses portions of that $5 billion to provide financial incentives for firms, cities, and research institutions to develop better fuel technology. There is an argument for government providing incentives to spur innovation in general. But in this case you come back to the fact that California is struggling with an increasing budget deficit that will be harder to close with interest payments on this bond in the future. And in addition, the incentives are targeted at very specific innovations that restrict the true creativity of developers. Look for Reason’s upcoming voter’s guide to the California ballot initiatives, and check out our analysis from 2006’s general election bond initiatives.

Anthony Randazzo

Anthony Randazzo is a senior fellow at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.