The United States has tried redistribution in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. It doesn't work. In fact, according to a 2014 report by the Council of Economic Advisers, the percentage of the population in poverty declined just 16 percent between 1967 and 2012 and, in 2012, "there were 49.7 million Americans grappling with the economic and social hardships of living below the poverty line, including 13.4 million children."
Redistributing America's poor children from their failing public schools to better ones would improve their long-term prospects, but liberal politicians won't let them escape for fear of losing political contributions from teachers' unions.
George Gilder, author of the best seller "Wealth and Poverty," has observed: "As Marxist despots and tribal socialists from Cuba to Greece have discovered to their huge disappointment, governments can neither create wealth nor effectively redistribute it, they can only expropriate it and watch it dissipate. Under capitalism, wealth is less a stock of goods than a flow of ideas and information, the defining characteristic of which is surprise."
In a speech to the heads of major UN agencies meeting in Rome last week, Pope Francis also said about wealth distribution: "Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustices and resisting the economy of exclusion, the throwaway culture and the culture of death which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted."
He's right about that, but removing barriers to the creation of wealth is a better path to elevating the poor than penalizing the wealthy through asset confiscation.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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