Demagogue Tries to Wear Robin Hood’s Tights, But They Don’t Fit

April 4, 2008

Rarely do we see such a blatant example of demagoguery as this from the Illinois state legislature.

SPRINGFIELD — A state lawmaker wants voters to decide if people making more than $250,000 a year should have their Illinois income tax doubled, with the billions of new dollars paying for education, roads and tax breaks for everyone else.
If successful in Springfield, the question would be put to voters in November. If voters endorse it, the current 3 percent state income tax rate would double to 6 percent for individuals and joint tax filers making more than a quarter-million dollars.
Colleagues have already dubbed downstate Democrat Rep. Mike Smith’s plan the “Robin Hood referendum.” State tax data shows 107,000 people in the state made more than $250,000. That’s roughly 5 percent of all tax filers.
“Let’s take from the rich and give to the poor,” said state Rep. Joseph Lyons, a Chicago Democrat.
Supporters hope the other 95 percent — who’d pay nothing more and could see upward of $300 in state tax breaks — would swamp polling places to vote for this.
“I’m not sure who would campaign against this other than those 107,000,” Smith said. Full story: http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=165770

Of course, Robin Hood was an outlaw because he had stolen from the government—shooting the king’s deer—and this crime of poaching was punishable by death, an early example of how barbarously unjust the death penalty can be. And while Robin Hood and his band lived in Sherwood Forest, they stole from tax collectors who in those days were cronies of the king travelling about the land to extort money from the people. For more on the legend: http://www.robinhood.ltd.uk/

Clearly, then, Mr. Smith is no Robin Hood. He’s trying to fill the government’s coffers, not empty them. He and his colleague Mr. Lyons are just populist demogogues willing to scrap one of the state constitution’s most economically and politically wise provisions—the same one in the Massachusetts constitution—so that they can paint themselves as Men in Tights.

If his bill and referendum do become law, it probably won’t take long for the $250,000 threshold to start dropping.


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