The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Robin and the Sheriff

The legend of Robin Hook is a staple in Western culture. The legendary hero steals from the rich and gives to the poor. The evil Sheriff of Nottingham, a tool of the powerful, works to thwart Robin.

Who would have thought that the legend migrated to Southeast Asia? But more on that in a moment.

I’m currently in Vietnam, a fascinating country with a young, striving population. The economy is booming-construction cranes everywhere, Asian and Western investors streaming in, and a population that still has a way to go, but has an emerging middle class.

I had a chance to have a conversation with Phuc (in Vietnamese, the final “c” is very soft), a young resident of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The conversation eventually got around to the "American War" and the aftermath. Phuc was not born until long after the war had ended, so his knowledge came from his father and uncles, along with history lessons at school. He was remarkably sanguine about the war, holding no discernible animosity toward Americans whatsoever.

"My father was young, during the war. We were from the south, so he wasn't part of Ho Chi Minh's guys," said Phuc matter-of-factly. "My father said the Americans just left and that screwed a lot of Vietnamese people who helped them, but otherwise, they tried to do the right thing."

I asked what happened after the communists took over.

"They were very severe socialists," Phuc said. "They believed in their cause and were unforgiving toward anyone who didn't."

He continued, "My dad told me that times got very bad very fast. They [the communists] took the property of the rich, shut down businesses of 'capitalists,' and the economy crashed. My dad said that a doctor, a carpenter, and a street sweeper were all paid the same."

When the Americans left in the 1970s, The country was unified under a communist regime. The state controlled everything including the economy, medical care (for all) and education (for all). The rich were demonized, their possessions redistributed to loyal communist party members. It was supposed to be a socialist utopia.

It took eleven years for.the Vietnamese economy to crash—hard. Inflation was rampant, shortages abounded, a government services were corrupt, inefficient and generally incompetent. Medical care was abysmal, education was spotty. Think modern day Venezuela with an atonal language overlay.

I asked what Phuc thought of the communists who still control the country.

He smiled. "Yeah, the government still owns everything. But we’re as capitalist as they come. It's still hard, and a lot of my friends want to leave for better opportunity in America but ..." he shrugged.

He continued. "My dad wasn't educated, but he read a lot. He used to tell us the story of Robin Hood when we were kids. Whenever he referred to the socialists who were our leaders during the later 1970s and into the 1980s, he used to say,

‘They wanted to be Robin Hood, but they quickly became the sheriff.’
That says it all.

Bernie Sanders thinks he's Robin Hood. His friar tuck, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, thinks she's fighting the good fight. His band of merry men (Liz, Kamilla, and Cory, to name only a few) think they're operating on a higher moral plane than the rest of us. In reality they're a band of thieves who will impoverish a nation if given the chance. And in the end, they'll brook no resistance—they'll become the sheriff.

Since they’re such strong proponents of multiculturalism, maybe this generation of Democratic Socialists should spend some time in a Vietnamese neighborhood in their locale. People like Phuc will disabuse them of the notion that they're heroic Robin Hood figures. They aren't. Not even a little.