Where's Robin Hood!?
It's a story we're all familiar with. There are a number of versions. Sometimes the details change. But in the essentials, the story is the same. It's the story of Robin Hood.
In the story, Robin comes home to an England much changed from the jolly old one he, Good King Richard, and (presumably) the other good, just, and honorable gentry left behind while they were off to the Crusades. Never mind the fact that if Good King Richard had been all that good a king, he probably would have stayed home and ruled his volatile kingdom in the first place. For while the good guys were away, the bad guys did play - and boy did they make a bloody mess of things! For they (represented by the Evil Usurper King John and his lackey, the Sheriff of Nottingham) took full advantage of the time the good guys were away, and used it to squeeze every farthing they could out of the hands of the common folk, thus systematically driving the medieval middle class into poverty, and the poor into starvation and despair. So, the England Robin found when he got home was one where the already rich and powerful, motivated by nothing but greed, had used their power to redistribute the wealth of the nation in a ceaseless, bottom to top, trickling sort of flow, until so much of the wealth was in the hands of the rich that the remaining subjects of the kingdom were feebly struggling just to survive. Thank God Robin Hood, finally coming home - and just in time! - was able to lead the people in a revolt to take back what they had earned in the first place, otherwise known as "robbing from the rich to feed the poor," and thus was England saved from the greed of evil men.
Yep, that's the basic story of Robin Hood. It's just a story. It didn't really happen. It couldn't happen in real life. Or could it?
Actually, although loosely, the story of Robin Hood is based on at least some historical facts and personages. King Richard, known as the lion-hearted, did exist and did go off to the Crusades (although, in fact, never returned from them). His brother, John, did have himself crowned king in Richard's place, and did overstep the customary boundaries of the king's authority, which in fact did lead to a rebellion. Unfortunately, Robin himself remains a legendary figure, but sort of represents the nobility of the time who did rise up against King John's tyranny. Of course, few of these nobles - if any - cared about the common folk; their motives were probably what you might guess them to be. Even so, in winning the rebellion against King John, they did force him to sign a document called the Magna Carta, which basically is a legal document ensuring the rights of the nobility while limiting the powers of the king. This document does contain wording, however (probably unintended) that, along with other future events, did eventually lead to establishing greater rights and freedoms for the common citizens as well.
As for the story itself, the events are more representational than factual and have been repeated time and again throughout history and the world. The rich and powerful, whenever they are allowed, do tend to gather an ever greater percentage of a nation's wealth to themselves. Often this upward movement of wealth has been brought about in part by an unfair or unequal tax system; in fact, in some civilizations, the wealthy few weren't required to pay any taxes at all. Often this upward movement of wealth is exacerbated or brought about by the fact that the rich, by owning all or most of the revenue generating assets (businesses, corporations, lands, banks, etc.), naturally receive the profits from those assets. Also, as owners of the assets, they have often been allowed to set whatever prices they want on the products produced (or services rendered) while simultaneosly paying the lowest wages they can to the workers who do the actual producing of the goods (or do the actual performing of the servies). Of course, all of the instances in which these and other factors have led to a critical imbalance in the wealth distribution of a nation (and its often slow and painful downfall) have occured when - as already mentioned - they have been ALLOWED!
Which brings us to the question (and to the name and purpose of this website): Where's Robin Hood!? Because we, living right now in the year 2011 in the United States (and the entire world, for that matter), need Robin Hood. We need him because our nation is, and has been for the past several decades, going the way of England under the rule of King John. Our nation's wealth is ever more rapidly accumulating in the control of only a handful of citizens. Our middle classes are eroding, with more and more sinking below the poverty line. And our poor are living in a country in which they cannot even imagine the American Dream, much less aspire to live it.
And, so, where can Robin Hood be found? Who is he?
I think Robin Hood is anyone, male or female, white, red, brown, black, or yellow, rich, middle class, or poor who does anything, anything at all, to support and promote fair, just, sane, and (dare I say it?) humane economic and social policies, even if it's simply through excercising his or her right to vote. I think Robin Hood is you and Robin Hood is me. This website, therefore, is my effort to do my small part as Robin Hood.
And, so, who am I to be writing and publishing articles about this? Am I some kind of authority? Nope (just a concerned citizen).
Am I an historian? No (although I've probably read as many history books, of all conceivable political perspectives and covering as wide a range of history, as many people who hold a degree in that field).
Am I an economist? No (although I have the common sense to know that a nation that promotes the economic welfare of its lower classes benefits, long term, the citizens of all classes).
Am I a hardcore Democrat? No (I'm actually an Independent, although I freely admit I lean, most of the time, toward the economic and social philosophies of the Democratic Party).
Am I a socialist? No (being concerned about other people, and wanting to help them, does not make a person a socialist).
So, who and what am I? Basically, I am an American citizen of middle age, male, who - as a young man - served six years aboard Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines in the United States Navy during the Cold War. I am a husband and a father. I also have a life-threatening disease that, if I did not receive medical care through the Veterans' Administration, would have killed me several years ago. As a profession, I work for myself (since my age and physical condition, caused by my disease, allow me few options) as a graphic designer, creating designs for t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other items that are then sold, online, through several print-on-demand companies; it's a lot of hours, with a lot of competition, and not much pay. Finally, I am a man who loves not what his country is or has become, but what his country is supposed to be, and am determined to do what I can to see my country become THAT country. For my wife, my children, their children. And yours.
Thus begins my quest for Robin Hood. The opinions here are my own and, if I get any facts wrong (in this introduction or in future articles), then I apologize in advance. As I've already said, I'm not an economic, historical, political, or any other kind of expert, so I have as much right to incorrect facts as any of them do; unlike many of the experts, however, not to mention politicians, I will not purposely call a fact a fact when I know it is not. So, if you disagree with anything I write, or have an opinion different from mine, that's your right. I even hope you'll express it, either here or elsewhere.
-Greg, October 2011