Public Comment

Where Is Robin Hood?

By Winston Burton
Thursday September 03, 2009 - 11:14:00 AM

For many years I thought that the Robin Hood Syndrome—taking from the rich to give to the poor—was a no brainer, so why make such a big deal about it? Why would anyone want to steal from the poor and give to the rich? The wealthy have the resources and the money so who would waste their time robbing people who don’t have anything?  Seems logical, right? Boy was I naïve!  

It seems that the practice of the rich taking from the poor has been the norm worldwide throughout history, crossing through most cultures, governments, and religions. Robin Hood’s crime of taking from the rich was actually compounded because he came from the aristocracy, was actually championing poor people and thereby breaking the good-old-boy tradition of getting all you can get. If people have nothing to take, put them in debt or bondage. That was the way then, and too often it’s still that way now!  

Meanwhile Prince John, I mean Governor Schwarzenegger, is reluctant to raise taxes on the rich, but has chosen to eliminate programs that help our poor, our school children, and the disabled.  

I recently watched a program titled, Untold Wealth: The Rise of the Super Rich. It was striking to learn that the Super Rich are like their own species—and that more people are becoming wealthy faster than ever before. In 1985 there were 13 billionaires in the U.S., and today there are over 1,000 billionaires. Over 49,000 U.S. households are worth between $50 million and $500 million; 125,000 households have a net worth exceeding $25 million to $50 million. The top 400 taxpayers in the U.S. have an average income of $214 million. The breadth and depth of the staggering number of super-rich households has no precedent in the history of the United States. There has never been such an explosion of wealth, extravagance and conspicuous consumption against a backdrop of unemployment and program cuts for the working class and the poor.  

Now we see politicos, especially right-wing conservatives, who have been constantly preaching their moral, religious superiority and authority, while they continue to be exposed for their corrupt and greedy behavior. These people also refuse to take accountability and resign their positions of power. They believe that they are entitled to be our leaders while enriching themselves, all the while blaming the poor for their own poverty and immigration for destroying the American Dream.   

As I watch the haves debate the economy, healthcare, taxes, the environment, and immigration, I see an uneven and deliberate strategy to take as much from the have-nots as possible to save the resources to feed the greed of the wealthy. For some enough is never enough!   

Where’s Robin Hood when you need him?   

Obama could never qualify as the next Robin Hood because he came from a low- income household to begin with and was never a part of the privileged establishment like Sir Robert of Locksley, aka Robin Hood.   

I think the closest person we’ve had in many years to fill Robin’s shoes passed away last week at a time when the folks at the bottom may need help the most. He was someone that came from the wealthy class and devoted himself to helping the poor instead of exploiting them. He was Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy.  

My father used to say, “If money grew on trees we would all be in the woods!”  Right now I’m feeling that many of us need to unite and gather in Sherwood Forest instead.  


Winston Burton is a Berkeley resident.