09 November 2010

Americans' REAL attitudes towards income inequality

The L.A. Times had a very good article yesterday about the distorted perceptions of Americans as to just how bad income inequality has become, and their attitudes (even among Republicans), free of political propaganda, that it should be much, much better than it is.

As Robert Reich makes the case in his current book Aftershock, citing FDR's Fed Chief Marriner Eccles (a conservative Mormon banker from Utah), grossly disproportionate income inequality was a main cause of the Great Depression, and it's a main cause of the current Great Recession as well.

UPDATE: I tried this myself. (From article: people were asked what percentage of the total wealth pie they thought, respectively, the top 20% and bottom 40% hold; then what they thought those numbers should be; the result is people greatly underestimated inequality and thought the system should be much fairer.

So I asked some colleagues what they thought. Sure enough, most thought it was something like:
Top 20% has 60%. (Correct no. is 85%)
Bottom 40% has 10-20% (Correct number is less than zero... the average person in this group has negative wealth, i.e., debt).

This shocks most people.

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