A Brief History of (Re)Distribution


Mitt Romney is willing to go straight to the heart of issues that politicians usually avoid. Whether you agree or disagree with him, he’s helping us understand.

Economics is the study of the distribution of scarce resources. (I think that’s a valid statement.)

Isn’t it always about distribution?

Isn’t all of history about distribution? The distribution of scarce resources, of wealth, of power. Who owns what? Who has a right to what?

Aren’t most wars fought to redistribute land, wealth, and power? Land and the resources on or under the land are the fundamental scarce resources.

The Germans, in the World Wars, wanted “room to live” for their growing population. They believed they needed to redistribute some land from Poland, France, and Russia to Germany.

Europeans who settled the Americas wanted land and wealth. The Spanish wanted to redistribute gold from the Americas to Spain. King George wanted to redistribute wealth from the Colonies to England.

After the Revolutionary War, the new American nation wanted room to grow and to farm. European-Americans pushed the American Indians across the Appalachian Mountains, redistributing the land from the Native Americans to the United States. When America ruled all the land on both the East Coast and the West Coast, we continued to want more room to farm. Didn’t we send the U.S. Cavalry to fight the Indian Wars, to redistribute the prairie hunting grounds from Indian hunters to European-style farmers?

English: Nez Perce group known as "Chief ...

“Chief Joseph’s Band” of the Nez Perce Indians, spring, 1877. (Public Doman Photo from Wikipedia)

Didn’t soldiers fight and kill and chase the Indians for more than a 1,000 miles in the Nez Perce War, all the way to Wounded Knee, to secure power and ownership over the West from the Native Americans? You could look it up.

Didn’t America twice invade Iraq to ensure continuing redistribution of oil from the Middle East to the industrialized countries? If it wasn’t about the distribution of oil, then tell me, what was it about?

So how do you really feel about redistribution of the wealth?

— John Hayden

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