By Francisco Gonzalez, JMI Development Director
Several weeks ago, I went down to the “Occupy Tallahassee” gathering and saw all kinds of signs from protesters. A few of them included: “I am entitled” and another one, “Robin Hood was right.”You remember the story of Robin Hood? Steal from the rich and give to the poor. Unfortunately, Robin Hood didn’t live in a capitalist culture. During the days of Robin Hood, his society operated in a political and economic system that differed radically from capitalism and the free market.Before I proceed, let me assure you that I’m aware Robin Hood is a fictional character – unlike our friends on the Left, I don’t live in Fantasyland. What I’m referring to is the time period when this story was written, the Middle Ages. Folklore has it that the fictional Robin Hood character lived in 13th or 14th Century England. However, I recently met a few people that wish he would visit modern day Wall Street.In most of human history, as in Robin Hood’s time, wealth enjoyed by the affluent was typically obtained under the ethics of “loot and grab” – through criminal activity, military force, tribal relationships, or the influence of oligarchy to obtain wealth and power. So, it’s not hard to understand why – in that kind of political and economic system – the story of Robin Hood arose. You might say that in a culture of “legal plunder,” the poor just wanted to “rob” the rich back. I might say they just wanted a system that was more just.It’s only under the conditions of free-market capitalism that justice is truly served. It’s only in the free market that people who are not wealthy can use their talents freely and become affluent without being criminals. More than 98% of millionaires in our country today were not born into wealth – they earned their fortune, through their own merit. In fact, meritocracy has been a key element of American Exceptionalism throughout our country’s history.Those who inherit wealth often lose it in one generation because they don’t understand the hard work it took to earn it. So, they spend that money like it grew on trees. I guess you could say they kind of spend it like the federal government.In order for a free market to prosper and for people’s talents to emerge, we must have a limited government, and we must have a culture where we don’t believe we are entitled to anything except to be treated equally under the rule of law. Under this kind of system, not only does wealth increase and poverty decrease, but humans flourish and innovation occurs, allowing us to take giant leaps forward – both individually and collectively.Unfortunately, Robin Hood is the wrong hero for our time. Instead, the hero of our story is James Madison. As the Father of the Constitution, Madison got it right. And in the past few years, Madison and the document that has more of his fingerprints on it than anyone else, the U.S. Constitution, has made a come back, due in large part to the tea party movement.Madison believed in separation of powers – not just between the judicial, legislative, and executive branches – but also between the varying roles of local, state, and federal governments. Madison understood that the number one constant throughout human history is the quest for power. Like many of our Founding Fathers, Madison recognized the fallen nature of human beings.By limiting government and separating power against itself, we allow individual talent and intermediary institutions to flourish. Human beings are innovative. We find a way to create. From the light bulb to the automobile; from the space shuttle to the iPhone.I am very proud to work for an organization that bears the name of one of our nation’s timeless heroes, James Madison. Each of us needs to be a part of changing our “entitlement culture” so that we can once again live in a land where James Madison is viewed as a hero, and where Robin Hood isn’t needed, because everyone is free.