General Question

gooch's avatar

Would you consider Robin Hood a hero or a thief?

Asked by gooch (5734points) September 5th, 2008

He steals from the rich to give to the poor. Think politics and taxation for just a minute then answer the question.

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26 Answers

JackAdams's avatar


September 5, 2008, 12:27 PM EDT

Harp's avatar

Both, under his (supposed) historical circumstances. One way to decide the matter definitively would be to get the people to agree to honor the will of the majority, then get them to vote for whomever best represents their will. If Robin gets elected on his redistribution platform, he’s no longer a thief. If he doesn’t get elected but continues to take from the rich, then he’s a thief.

Allie's avatar

He’s both since he’s stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. I’m sure the rich would say thief and the poor would say hero.

aidje's avatar

Here are two options (and I have thought about this before):

Option 1: He’s a sort of socialist hero, redistributing wealth from the rich few to the poor masses, for the greater good of the whole of society.
Option 2: He’s an anti-taxation hero, reversing the government’s legal theft and returning the funds to the rightful owners.

edit: As Harp said, whether this made him a thief or not would depend entirely on the ruling government.

Bri_L's avatar

In the line of the story I believe him to be a hero. He was undoing a wrong in that the person in charge was not the true leader.

dalepetrie's avatar

Good motives, bad methods.

It could be argued that this is what government does, I get that point.

Personally however I think the government’s chief role should be to look out for its citizens and to provide them with the things they can not provide for themselves. Not like you or I could build our own roads or schools.

Essentially, in a fair and just economic world as I see it, if you are willing to work, you should be able to work, and that work, no matter how menial it may be, should allow you to support yourself. This is why we have a minimum wage, which I think is too low because minimum wage, even with 2 people making it 40 hours a week just doesn’t cover the cost of living. It’s only fair that if you are willing to work, you should be able to get by.

That doesn’t mean that greater skill shouldn’t get great pay. A janitor should not make as much as a CEO.

As for taxation, money that you NEED to survive (anything up to a living wage), really should not be taxed in any way. Consumables, food, shelter, things of that nature should not be taxed. Only excess, things you don’t need to get by…entertainment, cost of housing, food, clothes over and above what the generics would cost (i.e. you should be able to get a pair of pants for $20, if you spend $100 on them, $80 of that should be taxed…or it costs $100k for a decent home, if you have a $500k home, pay property taxes on $400k of that, etc.). If we say you need $20k a year to survive in this country, then minimum wage should work out to $20k a year @ 40 hrs/week, and if you make $50k a year, you pay taxes on $30k of it. That’s how it ought to be in my estimation. And those taxes should go to provide the services and infrastructure people need, it should provide a social safety net for vulnerable members of our society…there are certain quality of life things we should be able to provide for everyone. Basically I think in a fair system, we’d tax only excess consumption and income over necessity. If we did that, then everyone who could pay would pay a relatively similar share. Everyone who needed help would get it.

A rich person could look at that and see money being taken out of his pocket and being given to a poor person. But to do anything else is what we have now…Social/Economic Darwinism. But I suppose an all for one and one for all approach makes me a Communist.

JackAdams's avatar

One better serves the poor, by helping them to BECOME wealthy.

Perhaps he could have suggested AMWAY to them?

September 5, 2008, 12:40 PM EDT

dingus108's avatar

since it seems that dalepetrie spent that much time crafting a response, he deserves a “great answer” submission… :)

JackAdams's avatar



I gave him one.

September 5, 2008, 1:02 PM EDT

MissAnthrope's avatar

Based on the class issues and the great divide of wealth at the time, I’d say he was a hero. I know stealing is wrong, but the rich at that time were constantly stepping on everyone below them to do what they wanted. If they overspent, either by funding armies or by indulging in many luxuries, what did they do? They raised taxes on the poor and middle classes. The middle classes were somewhat wealthy in their own right and much more able to absorb the impact of these taxes, however. The poor at that time were in some ways worse off than those today. They had very few rights, usually worked dawn to dusk, and lived in pitiable conditions.

I find it unfair and wrong that the wealthy should have everything, especially when they were often knocking around the peasant class for their own gains. So, because of this, I don’t see what harm really comes of taking some of it back to help ease the suffering of people who hardly had anything to begin with.

The rebellious side of me gets a kick out of Robin Hood sticking it to these pompous, extravagant rich people. :)

syz's avatar

It’s funny to me that practically every society has some form of the Robin Hood myth.

I tend to think of Robin Hood as a thief, if for no other reason than so many who follow use the same excuse and are clearly not doing what they do for altruistic reasons.

Bri_L's avatar

I just can’t get past the idea that in the story there is an individual who is not supposed to be in charge taking money for himself.

Taxes are supposed to be taken for the betterment of the country and individual.

cheebdragon's avatar

are we talking about “punishing excellence and rewarding blood sucking”?

dalepetrie's avatar

How many rich people (read: CEOs and captains of industry) would be as wealthy as they were if it weren’t for the labor of the poor running the day to day operations of their companies for a fraction of the pay. I’ve been on a continuous climb up the income scale and one thing is clear to me…the more you get paid, the less work you actually have to do. The wealthiest make their money from investment…that’s hardly excellence in my book…it’s good gambling skills.

Bri_L's avatar

@ cheebdragon – excellance and bloodsucking are pretty extreme terms.

Enron was full of “excellent” people.

wundayatta's avatar

I guess a hero. Although I’m unclear as to the analogy with taxation and politics. Since, at least in the US, tax policy takes from the poor and subsidizes the rich. Are you suggesting we need a Robin Hood politician? Yes, That would be nice.

What I don’t understand is how supply siders have a leg to stand on. This is a consumption driven economy, not a capital driven economy. People make investment choices considering what they think they can sell, not because they happen to have a whole bunch of capital sitting around, and just want a place to invest it.

Robin Hood did more to stimulate the economy in his time and place than 100 Sheriffs of Nottingham could.

JackAdams's avatar

Excuse me if I appear to be picking nits, but are we talking here about a real person, or a fictional character?

I don’t believe that Sir Robin of Loxley ever existed, except in folklore.

September 5, 2008, 3:06 PM EDT

Babo's avatar

Sure he did! He’s my hero!!!

scamp's avatar

Allie took the words right out of my mouth!

cheebdragon's avatar

I thought we were talking about Obama…

marinelife's avatar

He was a thief. He was also a sort of revolutionary and guerrilla fighter. When evil is done in the name of the law, it is still evil. We have a duty not to go along with it. I, for one, would hope always to do that non-violently.

wundayatta's avatar

@marina, what about when good is done, despite the law against it? Civil disobedience, in other words. Is that evil?

dalepetrie's avatar

Funny Cheeb, and here I thought this was Obama’s tax plan:

Provide Middle Class Americans Tax Relief

Obama will cut income taxes by $1,000 for working families to offset the payroll tax they pay.

Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Obama will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax relief they need. Obama will create a new “Making Work Pay” tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. The “Making Work Pay” tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans.

Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less than $50,000: Barack Obama will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This proposal will eliminate income taxes for 7 million seniors and provide these seniors with an average savings of $1,400 each year. Under the Obama plan, 27 million American seniors will also not need to file an income tax return.

Simplify Tax Filings for Middle Class Americans: Obama will dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes. Obama will ensure that the IRS uses the information it already gets from banks and employers to give taxpayers the option of pre-filled tax forms to verify, sign and return. Experts estimate that the Obama proposal will save Americans up to 200 million total hours of work and aggravation and up to $2 billion in tax preparer fees.

Restore Fiscal Discipline to Washington

Reinstate PAYGO Rules: Obama believes that a critical step in restoring fiscal discipline is enforcing pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budgeting rules which require new spending commitments or tax changes to be paid for by cuts to other programs or new revenue.

Reverse Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy: Obama will protect tax cuts for poor and middle class families, but he will reverse most of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers.

Cut Pork Barrel Spending: Obama introduced and passed bipartisan legislation that would require more disclosure and transparency for special-interest earmarks. Obama believes that spending that cannot withstand public scrutiny cannot be justified. Obama will slash earmarks to no greater than year 2001 levels and ensure all spending decisions are open to the public.

Make Government Spending More Accountable and Efficient: Obama will ensure that federal contracts over $25,000 are competitively bid. Obama will also increase the efficiency of government programs through better use of technology, stronger management that demands accountability and by leveraging the government’s high-volume purchasing power to get lower prices.

End Wasteful Government Spending: Obama will stop funding wasteful, obsolete federal government programs that make no financial sense. Obama has called for an end to subsidies for oil and gas companies that are enjoying record profits, as well as the elimination of subsidies to the private student loan industry which has repeatedly used unethical business practices. Obama will also tackle wasteful spending in the Medicare program.

Make the Tax System More Fair and Efficient

End Tax Haven Abuse: Building on his bipartisan work in the Senate, Obama will give the Treasury Department the tools it needs to stop the abuse of tax shelters and offshore tax havens and help close the $350 billion tax gap between taxes owed and taxes paid.

Close Special Interest Corporate Loopholes: Obama will level the playing field for all businesses by eliminating special-interest loopholes and deductions, such as those for the oil and gas industry.

Sounds like he’s for less stealing of money than we do now if you ask me. Of course if you like McCain’s Robin Hood in Reverse plan that has destroyed our nation over the last 28 years, that’s your prerogative.

loser's avatar

Eh, just another guy in tights…

PeterM's avatar

He’s a Rogue, specialist archer class, and very high level.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Robin Hood was a hero.
Anyone else who does we he did is either a thief…

…or Jesse Jackson

Next question.

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