According to a story at Bloomberg, Americans think the distribution of wealth is far more even than it is. And we want it to be more even.
But then we—at least our more right-wing half—holler about socialism and say things like this: "Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, founder of the Tea Party Caucus, attacked the BP oil spill victims fund as 'a redistribution of wealth,' and Pat Toomey, the Tea Party-backed U.S. Senate front-runner in Pennsylvania, decries all governments for 'confiscating the wealth they choose to transfer.'"
... it might be surprising to learn that Americans are in broad agreement on the need for a more equal distribution of wealth. Yet that's what a forthcoming study by two psychologists, Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School, has concluded. First, Ariely and Norton asked thousands of Americans what they thought the nation's actual wealth distribution looks like: how much is owned by the wealthiest 20 percent of the population, the next-wealthiest 20 percent, and on down. The researchers then asked people what, in an ideal world, they would like the nation's wealth distribution to be.
Ariely and Norton found that Americans think they live in a far more equal country than they in fact do. On average, those surveyed estimated that the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans own 59 percent of the nation's wealth; in reality the top quintile owns around 84 percent. The respondents further estimated that the poorest 20 percent own 3.7 percent, when in reality they own 0.1 percent.
When asked to describe their ideal wealth distribution, respondents described a country that had greater wealth equality than the dreaded Sweden.
The United States, according to this study, is a nation of people who would like to spread the wealth around. They just don't know it...
studies have also shown that voters have an impressive ability to absorb information that contradicts their beliefs without letting it change their minds. People support the abstract goal of equality, it seems, while staunchly opposing specific government measures—whether increasing tax rates or limiting executive pay—designed to impose it.
Help a confused country out. Vote yes on 1098.