Curbing inequality is unpopular. Will Occupy Wall Street change that?

This is an interesting, short little article.  It’s good for remembering that the issue of redistribution will always be framed by who is talking, and how much they make; not everyone is a middle-class American (an important reminder for my accountability as a writer).  That redistribution should receive a negative connotation is against the grain in terms of popular media & news right now, but it may not be necessarily inappropriate.

Remember ya’ll; #THINK.  Step outside your circumstances; empathy is your greatest tool, against even the strongest of enemies.


Ezra Klein’s WonkBlog
Posted by  at 09:14 AM ET, 10/24/2011
“Support for redistribution, surprisingly enough, has plummeted during the recession.” That’s the counterintuitive finding from Ilyana Kuziemko and Michael Norton, who take to Scientific American to argue that the Occupy Wall Street protests have popped up at at an odd time. Between 2008 and 2010, the General Social Survey found that the number of Americans who agree with the statement that “government should reduce income differences between the rich and poor” has plummeted. Curbing inequality seems to be becoming less and less popular.
The researchers attribute this to a phenomenon called “last-place aversion.” As it turns out, wealthy CEOs aren’t driving the drop. Americans with below-average income are. Kuziemko and Norton’s theory is that, during rickety economic periods, people at lower income levels worry that redistribution will allow the people doing even worse than them to catch up. The researchers have found, for instance, that the people most opposed to boosting the minimum wage are those who make just slightly more than the minimum wage.But there may be a simple explanation for all of this.
After all, even if Kuziemko and Norton are right and the idea of income redistribution is becoming less appealing, it’s still the case the specific policies to curb inequality garner very broad support. Polls have found that Americans support increased taxes on the wealthy by a two-to-one margin. The millionaire tax, in fact, is especially popular among those making at least $100,000. When people’s attentions are directed up the income ladder rather than down it, they seem to become more interested in government policies to curb inequality. It remains to be seen if the Occupy Wall Street protests — with their relentless focus on the 1 percent — will shift attitudes on redistribution at all.

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