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Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men were famous for robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. Almost everyone knows this story and has seen a movie or TV show about Robin Hood. I have been playing with the idea that the current crop of Republicans are really Robin Hood in Reverse: stealing from the poor to give to the rich.

So far I have tested this as a sticky message at bridge groups, the recycling center and the local diner. I have gotten responses ranging from affirmative nods to chuckles to puzzlement.

It is a fun conversation with Fred, even if it doesn’t immediately sink in. The reddest of Freds goes “What do you mean?” I then follow up with the idea of giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while laying off teachers and police is really just Robin Hood in Reverse. I can mention how the Governor of Wisconsin created a budget “crisis” by giving tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations and then asked for back-breaking concessions from public servants – Robin Hood in Reverse. I can point out that the tax breaks that President Bush gave to the wealthiest did NOT create any jobs. I can throw in the income gap and how no matter how much the Republicans give to the corporations and the wealthy, nothing trickles down to working Americans whose wages have been stagnant. Robin Hood in Reverse.

I am not a fountain of facts. I am just planting the seed that the Republicans are using power to “steal from the poor to give to the rich.” Using a folk tale and turning it inside out has so far been an easy sell. It is memorable. The notion of class warfare is embedded in the tale and my comment perhaps awakens that but not in a direct or confrontational way. It just subtly raises the idea that perhaps Republicans as Robin Hoods in Reverse don’t have the best interests of the average person in mind.

Here’s a summary of a conversation with a skeptical Fred;

Fred: “But Robin Hood is a heroic figure, isn’t he?”

Me: “How heroic do you think he would be if he’d been stealing from the poor to give to the rich? Think songs would have been written about him and movies made about him?”

Fred: “You really think they are stealing from me?”

Me: “Nope they aren’t stealing. But by voting for the Republicans, we’ve authorized them to take from us and give to the rich and the corporations. Has your earning power gone up significantly in the last ten years? Did you see a big bump in your paycheck after Bush implemented his tax cuts?”

Fred: “But Bush said I should get to keep more of my money.”

Me: “Yup and the millionaires and billionaires pay less in taxes than their secretaries. Remember Warren Buffet talking about that? What happened is some rich person got to keep more of your money. That is Robin Hood in Reverse.”

Fred: “And the Merry Men, who are they?”

Me: “Look up the Koch brothers. Their father started the John Birch Society. And look up Dick Armey while you’re at it.”

If this phrase just sticks in people’s minds, it may cause them to see things in a different light.

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