Monday, January 17, 2011

Actually Existing Capitalism | CEPR Blog

Actually Existing Capitalism CEPR Blog

Key findings:

1. Virtually everyone underestimates the degree to which wealth is unequally distributed, and by a large degree. On average, most Americans believe the distribution of wealth is more equally distributed than it actually is: whereas the top 20% wealthiest in society actually own some 80% of all wealth, Americans believe the top 20% only own [a bit less than] 60% of wealth.

2. Even Bush voters - Republicans, conservatives and fearful independents/moderates - believe that the ideal distribution of wealth is far "flatter: in their ideal, fair distribution, the top 20% would own only 35% of the wealth. [Kerry voters - presumably Democrats, progressives, liberals, and fearless independents/moderates - estimated the top 20% should only own 30% of the wealth.]

These give rise to a key question:
To what extent does ignorance of the actual inequality of wealth contribute to voter unwillingness to address the issue? If voters believe that wealth is more equally distributed than is true, does that not imply that the issue must have lower priority/significance than it otherwise would/should?

... and highlight a key implication:
The difference between a howling American socialist and a fevered American free market fundamentalist is apparently only 5% difference [for the top 20%] in their preferred wealth distribution scheme. Not much. So why all the acrimony?

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