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In a capitalistic society, success is largely measured by a person's wealth. The more useful to society you are, the more you are allowed to take from society. If you discover a "need" in society and find a way to fill that need, you can count on being rewarded handsomely. On the other hand, if you can't find a way to contribute to society, society will reward you accordingly. People that don't find a way to be useful to society can expect to receive very little in return for their labors, while those who take on greater responsibilities are allowed to reap greater rewards.
Of course, there are those that view this system as vastly unfair. They believe that no one person can possibly be more important than another, and that every person is an integral part of society. We call these people, liberals. The liberal takes the Thomas Jefferson's basic premise of equality to mean that all men are equal. Equal in every possible way - mentally, physically, and most importantly - economically. And if they discover any inequity - no matter how small - they see it as their job to make them equal.
The primary motivation behind liberal economic theology is the basic premise that the poor are too poor and the rich are too rich.
They see a world in which upper class is enriches themselves of the backs of the poor. They see a world in which workingmen are slaves to their capitalistic masters - that is, those lucky enough to have a master. The unfortunate ones are doomed to a life of homelessness, starvation, and criminality. A true free market society is rife with inequity -- Those who can figure out how to get it, get it - and those who don't, don't -- and those who don't get it are mad as hell.
Above all of this chaos they see Government - a knight in shinning armor. They believe that the government - the largest corporation in the country - should step into the capitalistic fray and bring equality to everyone's wealth. In a sense, they work to morph government into a sort of "Robin Hood" - a all-powerful entity that taxes the rich in order to feed the poor.
This is what is commonly referred to as "Redistribution of Wealth".
There are various levels of socialist thought, from the die-hard communists to democratic socialists to progressive liberals. The methods for achieving economic utopia vary from group to group, but they all employ the same basic principles. They all want to use the power of government to take goods and services from the 'haves', and transfer their plunder to the 'have-nots'. They all strive towards the same goal - economic equality. They only differ in the level of government supremacy they believe will be required in order to achieve their goal.
Somebody once noted, that Democracy is akin to "three wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner." That is to say, that in a democratic society, it is the will of the masses which ultimately prevails. And, since the "have-nots" will invariably outnumber the "haves", you can bet that "have-nots" will eventually elect to eat the "haves" for breakfast.
In the United States, we basically have a capitalistic society with a few "safety nets" thrown underneath. The Democrats believe that we need to add more of the welfare programs, and the Republicans believe we have too many. The Republicans complain that some people are using the "safety nets" as hammocks - using them to rest their overweight bodies while they sit around the "projects" all day watching Ricky Lake and Oprah. - While the rest of us a busy working - working to provide the goods and services that these lazy fucks claim to have some "right" to.