Monday, May 05, 2008

Gallup poll shows support for re-dstribution

A new Gallup poll shows strong public support for re-distributing incomes,
April 25, 2008

Many Americans OK With Increasing Taxes on Rich
Most say upper-income households pay too little in taxes

by Frank Newport

PRINCETON, NJ -- Slightly over half of Americans believe the government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.

The percentage holding this view, similar to that found in Gallup polling last year, is up from 1998 and in particular is higher than was found in a Roper poll conducted for Fortune Magazine back in 1939. Although the methods and sampling of polling done in the 1930s may differ significantly from those of today, the rough comparison suggests that Americans appear to have become even more "redistributionist" in their views than they were at the tail end of the Depression.Other recent Gallup Poll questions underscore the finding that Americans are generally open to the idea of some type of effort to distribute wealth more evenly.

Asked if the distribution of money and wealth in this country is fair or if they need to be distributed more evenly, about two-thirds of Americans agree with the latter response. This is up slightly from last year and, by two points, is the highest "more evenly distributed" response to this question that Gallup has found over the eight times it has been asked since 1984.

The reference to public opinio in 1939 is intresting. From the 1930s until the mid-1970s, there was a long-term trend for the working- and middle-classes to share in prosperity. Income and wealth became more even distributed. Since the 1980s, there has been an opposite trend towards greater inequality. More and more the benefits of economic growth are going only to the very rich, while the vast majority are stuck on a treadmill or losing ground. The increase in two-earner households and the over-utilization of credit have masked this reality. But apparently, the mask is off.

Changing tax policy is one component of reversing this trend. But there are some other essential parts. Making it easier for workers to form unions and reversing the disastrous trade policies are two other essential tools towards creating economic justice.

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