Saturday, March 30, 2013

Who cares about the deficit?

Pretty porky putti! From Christopher at ReptileMind.
The answer could be a lot simpler than you think: rich people are overwhelmingly terribly, terribly concerned about our burgeoning annual budget deficits—and nobody else is.

That's the indication of an ongoing study conducted by Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University, a survey of "Economically Successful Americans and the Common Good". [jump]
Working with a systematic sample of one-percenters from the greater Chicago area (most population samples just don't have enough people that rich to draw inferences from), he finds that the very rich are different from you and me, in their views on social policy I mean:
  • 87% of the very wealthy call deficits a "very important problem"
  • 32% call deficits/excess government spending the most important problem (versus 7% of the general population)
  • 11% list unemployment or education as America's top problem (versus 53% of the general population for jobs/the economy)
  • they oppose setting minimum wage above the poverty line
  • they oppose providing a decent standard of living for the unemployed
  • they oppose increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • they oppose having the government provide jobs for those who cannot find them
  • they oppose tax-funded health insurance
  • they oppose spending to ensure that all children can attend good public schools
  • they oppose ensuring that everyone has a chance to go to college
  • they oppose worker retraining in the face of economic change
  • they oppose more regulation of big corporations (the general public favors it)
  • they oppose corporate tax increases to fund government programs (a majority of the general public is OK with that too)
  • they oppose using tax policy to redistribute income from rich to poor (most of the general public wouldn't mind in the slightest)
The very rich also are more attentive, if that's not too delicate a way of putting it, to the needs and feelings of our elected officials:
  • two thirds had contributed money (average $4,633) in the last presidential elections
  • more than 20% had helped to bundle contributions in the same campaign
  • about half had initiated contact with at least one senator or House member in the last 6 months
  • 44% of their contacts with officials concerned their own narrow economic interests
I have a funny feeling you're not surprised to hear about any of this. But it's pretty startling to see it supported by actual research, don't you think?
Left, the Dives refuses Lazarus crumbs from his sumptuous table, and the dog licks his sores; right,  Lazarus in the Bosom of Abraham, while the Dives looks on from the torments of Hell. From Fisheaters.

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