Do Americans Want a Redistribution of Wealth?

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posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 01:11 PM
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(I did a search and I found someone had mentioned this study on another thread, but I could find no thread specifically dedicated to the study.)

Michael Norton and Dan Ariely published a study called "Building a Better America - One Wealth Quintile at a Time" in which they surveyed a nationwide group of Americans about perceived wealth inequality as well as their preferred wealth distribution. The results are here:

www.people.hbs.edu...

It is very short and only takes about 10 or 15 minutes to read, so I would suggest reading through it before commenting, but here are some highlights:

First, they had Americans choose between 3 pie-charts of wealth distribution, choosing what they believed would be the most preferable of the three charts. The pie-charts were unlabeled, one representing perfect equality, one representing the current wealth distribution of Sweden, and one representing the wealth distribution of the USA. Americans overwhelmingly (92%) preferred an income wealth distribution that represented that of Sweden rather than that of the US or that of perfect equality.

Also, when Americans were asked to estimate the wealth distribution in the country, they believed that the current wealth distribution involved the top 20% owning about 59% of the wealth, when in actuality the top 20% have about 84% of the wealth. Then, when asked to create their own ideal wealth distribution, Americans created even more equal wealth distributions than what they ESTIMATED was the current inequalities.

As for political parties, the results were mostly that a fairly similar amount of Bush and Kerry voters agreed with each other.

The major things to take away were that Americans across the spectrum prefer there to be some inequality of wealth, but that in general, without regards to political parties, the current system of wealth we have right now is not preferable to the average American.

So, my question is, if without regards to political parties we are all somewhat miffed about the current economic inequalities and we all, without realizing it, want something at least closer to the European standard, why have we not gone there? Is it because, potentially, those who have the most wealth own the media outlets and have planted negative ideas about things like "death taxes" and "class warfare" into our minds, which has led us to actually fight FOR the inequality that in reality we all don't want?

Anyways, food for thought.
edit on 12/31/2011 by spacekc929 because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 01:18 PM
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Some americans want wealth redistribution because they think they will get rich but the wealth never goes to the common man it always goes to the state or super wealthy. Did the people of the soviet union benefit from communism or did the common family suffer? If the test was taken by people who are lured by the promises of socialism it would show in favor of wealth redistribution but that by no means speaks for all americans, many of whom know free market capitalism is the only economic system that has proven to create wealth for the average family.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 01:33 PM
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I want back what was taken away from me in the form of taxes. As I got older...more and more was taken from me. I guess it was redistributed...but I certainly didn't get a vote on who it went to.

I'm one of a whole generation who are getting ****** in the ponzi scheme of income tax. Property tax. You name it tax.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 01:34 PM
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Disagree with this on concept level.....It is not that we want a redistribution of wealth......What the average person wants is to be paid a fair wage to buy a fairly priced product, to be treated by a company being paid for services as an individual......and the list goes on....No the average person does not look to get rich off the redistribution.....It doesn't have to be a redistribution....what we want is to receive a paycheck that is proportional to the prices we are asked to pay....

.When there are a ton of studies that show job pay has gone down over the last 10-20 years, when it should have gone up.....and prices for necessary items have gone up....this creates a fundamental problem.....Just listened to a program on the way home from my new job (making a ton less than I used to, but happy to have it)....NPR followed 6 families looking for work, ought to listen to it, but basics.....6 figured salaried individuals were taking jobs 1/3 of what they were making, and laid off because they cared too much about the customer......Another woman got the same job she had years ago, at a fraction the salary.....

Yet, to get to work, we require fuel......Is fuel the price it was 10 years ago?.....so our cost of living goes up, but our pay is going down....anyone see a problem with were that is leading us? No we DON"T want a 'take a dollar from bob and give to jim'.....we want things to equalize....Back in the day, yeah, I know so long ago....You used to receive standard of living increase on your paycheck (or cost of living, depending on your employer)....SSI used to do that, they haven't...so even the disabled haven't had an adjustment to their checks in YEARS.....

It is about the bottom line....Companies want to keep increasing prices, yet they continually find cheaper workers to produce, so they are finding ways to increase the profit margin and then rolling more cost on the consumer. Here it is, I honestly think that a government regulation should be enacted...Call it, Fair Market Mark-Up......easy, no sweat, meaning, take the cost of the product to be produced, take the other factors for that individual product, boiled down with other infrastructure costs....and bam you have a percentage that they can charge...I have ZERO problem paying 100% mark up if it is fair.....I know the response, 'that is a huge thing to ask of companies....'......Sorry to tell you, THEY DO IT ALREADY.....They just don't release the numbers.....Walmart knows exactly how much it costs to produce a widget in china and ship it here to sell and the labor costs involved....They don't care, they look at 'what will the market PAY for that item'.....and charge accordingly

The Powers have gone to the Business Model extreme on crack, Optimize costs, and Inflate price to whatever the market can stand. Okay, so now, those same companies in the 80-90s started sending our jobs overseas (some of you remember the effect it had on the US) and now are bringing them back because we got fed up with talking to someone who didn't speak english.....However, NOW, those same companies are saying, you should be happy I am giving you a CSR job at 7.80 an hour to deal with irrate clients pissed with our product because we made it at the cheapest cost, and ignore that you had the same job 5 years ago making 16.75 an hour.....Oh and we aren't paying for your lunch hour anymore...so your 9-5 work schedule is now 8-5, and don't be a minute late, or you will be fired......because, there are plenty of people that want your job. Benefits???? you want health, no problem...but you are a temp employee, technically, for the first 120 days, if the next company 'wants' to hire you, they will offer benefits...but, no, no benefits for you.....This is not made up, I have worked for Uhaul and AT&T over the last year as a CSR, and it is much worse than I have made out.........Thankfully I am now with a company that has ZERO metrics, they say, 'time on call? calls answered?...your only standard, did you take care of the client?'
edit on 31-12-2011 by pointr97 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 01:39 PM
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Originally posted by filosophia
Some americans want wealth redistribution because they think they will get rich but the wealth never goes to the common man it always goes to the state or super wealthy. Did the people of the soviet union benefit from communism or did the common family suffer? If the test was taken by people who are lured by the promises of socialism it would show in favor of wealth redistribution but that by no means speaks for all americans, many of whom know free market capitalism is the only economic system that has proven to create wealth for the average family.


I agree on some levels with this. But what about mixed economies like Sweden, where people are on a much more even footing? I agree that full on communism doesn't work, but I disagree that because full on communism fails that that means all aspects of socialist economies are bad. Wealth in Sweden does not "always go to the state or super wealthy" though I agree that in Soviet Russia this was a problem.

Anyways, in the study, Americans were overwhelmingly in favor of an unequal economic system, not a communist system. I don't think people have been "lured by the promises" of socialism, I think they simply think they live in a country where the rich and the poor are not as polarized as they currently are, and I think that people want to have a thriving middle class, such as in Sweden, as they demonstrated by choosing the Sweden pie-chart with no knowledge of what type of economy (capitalism, socialism, etc) it was representing.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 01:42 PM
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Originally posted by Destinyone
I want back what was taken away from me in the form of taxes. As I got older...more and more was taken from me. I guess it was redistributed...but I certainly didn't get a vote on who it went to.

I'm one of a whole generation who are getting ****** in the ponzi scheme of income tax. Property tax. You name it tax.


I agree on a circumstantial level, ie, I think that our taxes are being mis-used. I don't think that means taxes are bad. But I agree with you that I would also like my parents and I to get back all the misappropriated taxes that have been spent on rich oil companies and weapons manufacturers in these fictional wars we are "fighting" in and also I would like back the money from the bailouts, as well as many other things....



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 01:43 PM
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I think we fall into two camps.. wealth distribution is a bad term for me because it implies that the government would go into my savings and divvy up everything so we all had the same amounts.. and that's not at all what is being suggested by any candidate, I don't think anyone would support THAT..

But we do fall into two camps..

1. Those that support more social programs and a progressive tax ..

Those people believe in programs that benefit those who can't afford it on their own, including medical, housing, food..

2. Those who don't believe social aid should be forced

These are people who generally believe that it's not the government's place to force them to pay for any social programs, if they wish to give to charity then they will do it on their own, if they want to help their neighbor they will do it on their own.. etc.. These same people ironically tend to not mind their tax money going to war efforts and other things but they get huffy if it goes to providing life saving medical.. I don't get that..

This is from talking with a ton of friends and having in depth debate (arguments) over each .. but they generally seem to fall into 1 and 2 .. I personally have no problem with #2 but I unfortunately think that most would actually NOT donate to charity.. it's a lovely idea but I think we'd see the situation deteriorate for those in need if we did it that way.

I think that we are a society, a community, a group .. and that part of being involved in that community is helping to insure that it thrives.. I personally have absolutely no issue paying a higher tax if I know that it's going where it is needed.. if you want to call that wealth distribution, then so be it .. I look at it as just paying into my community because I never know, one day I may need it myself.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 01:57 PM
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Originally posted by spacekc929
Anyways, in the study, Americans were overwhelmingly in favor of an unequal economic system, not a communist system. I don't think people have been "lured by the promises" of socialism, I think they simply think they live in a country where the rich and the poor are not as polarized as they currently are, and I think that people want to have a thriving middle class, such as in Sweden, as they demonstrated by choosing the Sweden pie-chart with no knowledge of what type of economy (capitalism, socialism, etc) it was representing.


I tend to agree with the idea that some want this redistribution because they envision an outcome which will never happen. The Utopia concept of everyone living roughly equal, with little to want and nothing left to need is a magical one. Star Trek sure looks like a happy world....but then reality intrudes and the point about Communist Russia or other examples forces itself into the discussion.

Sweden seems to work, true..but I've heard more than one from those effective Socialist systems come right out and point blank say it works for them on their population scale and it works well, however, 300 million in America would be an unmitigated disaster. Yes.. It would be..and it HAS been.

The Rich and Poor hating each other and being pushed to near violence against each other isn't about Communism or Capitalism, it's about class warfare. Obama is finding it as useful as Stalin did. System doesn't matter when the political leadership is working off their own agendas and neither 'system' has anything to do with it, IMO.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 02:17 PM
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Rather silly, comments that imply a sky is falling mentality. Distribution of wealth is always an underlying cause of unrest in the political body of any group. The greater the perception of the inequality of wealth, the greater the pressure to redistribute the wealth. Unfortunately, as proven by the French Revolution, the Bolshevik hijacking of the Russian Revolution, and numerous other similar events, the pressure allowed to build for too long, tends to create worst situations for everyone. The sky is not falling because people perceive that the wealth and power are being accumulated by one group.
Yes, many Americans and other Nations, believe that wealth and power are unfairly going to a small group, that does not have the best interests of the majority in mind. Interestingly enough, a careful study of the era of "Robber Barons" in America can produce a thought. Remember, these men left behind institutions and foundations that have enriched America and all people for over a century. People envied the wealth (who wouldn't, John D. Rockefeller was estimated to be worth a very large part of the Gross Domestic Product of the era.) but the people clearly believed there was opportunity to get on the wagon. It is when the large number of people begin believing that not only does a small percentage of the population benefit and grow wealth, but the majority do not really have a chance to become part of that small percentage, that problems develop.
Let it be assumed that the question of wealth redistribution was a symptom of unrest in the country. What is really bothering people is the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieving wealth, and the concept that those with wealth and power are cutting off any and all attempts of individuals to join them.
You don't want your child to be king, but achieving knighthood seems a nice beginning. But, if the knights forbid the average man to own a horse, and the King does not countermand. You envy can become something much worse and more powerful.
edit on 31-12-2011 by Brandyjack because: Forgot something. There are only two types of political thought, the names, parties, et al are just costume and disguise. The one group wants to control you and the other has no such intention.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 02:22 PM
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I'm not so sure that wealth redistribution is what is exactly wanted or necessary, not from Joe to Jim.

I think that what most people want is rather opportunity redistribution: the chance to work for and earn an amount that affords a decent, worry-free life.

The numbers in the study cited are far out of date, as the inequality has exacerbated over the past few years as the economy has worsened.

We are now at levels exceeding the inequalities of the Roman Empire:


Over the last 30 years, wealth in the United States has been steadily concentrating in the upper economic echelons. Whereas the top 1 percent used to control a little over 30 percent of the wealth, they now control 40 percent. It’s a trend that was for decades brushed under the rug but is now on the tops of minds and at the tips of tongues.

Since too much inequality can foment revolt and instability, the CIA regularly updates statistics on income distribution for countries around the world, including the U.S. Between 1997 and 2007, inequality in the U.S. grew by almost 10 percent, making it more unequal than Russia, infamous for its powerful oligarchs. The U.S. is not faring well historically, either. Even the Roman Empire, a society built on conquest and slave labor, had a more equitable income distribution.

To determine the size of the Roman economy and the distribution of income, historians Walter Schiedel and Steven Friesen pored over papyri ledgers, previous scholarly estimates, imperial edicts, and Biblical passages. Their target was the state of the economy when the empire was at its population zenith, around 150 C.E. Schiedel and Friesen estimate that the top 1 percent of Roman society controlled 16 percent of the wealth, less than half of what America’s top 1 percent control.


persquaremile.com... ire/

Even the CIA's figures show a dangerous level of inequality, as shown by the Gini index:


This index measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in a country. The index is calculated from the Lorenz curve, in which cumulative family income is plotted against the number of families arranged from the poorest to the richest. The index is the ratio of (a) the area between a country's Lorenz curve and the 45 degree helping line to (b) the entire triangular area under the 45 degree line. The more nearly equal a country's income distribution, the closer its Lorenz curve to the 45 degree line and the lower its Gini index, e.g., a Scandinavian country with an index of 25. The more unequal a country's income distribution, the farther its Lorenz curve from the 45 degree line and the higher its Gini index, e.g., a Sub-Saharan country with an index of 50. If income were distributed with perfect equality, the Lorenz curve would coincide with the 45 degree line and the index would be zero; if income were distributed with perfect inequality, the Lorenz curve would coincide with the horizontal axis and the right vertical axis and the index would be 100.


The US Gini index for 2007 was 45, pretty much the worst of any developed nation, on a par with dictatorships and mismanaged African and Central American countries.

The European Union, Sweden, the UK, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Russia and even China beat the US with Gini numbers of 30.4, 23, 34, 31.4, 30.5, 37.6, 42.2, and 41.5 respectively. We keep company with the likes of Argentina 45.8, Bulgaria 45.3, Cambodia 44.4, Cameroon 44.6, El Salvador 46.9, Iran 44.5, Mozambique 45.6, Peru 48, and Singapore 47.8.

The worst were Nambibia 70.7, Seychelles 65.8, South Africa 65, Lesotho 63.2, Botswana 63, and Sierra Leone 62.9.

There are far more countries with better numbers than ours, and these were from 2007. Pretty much every indicator shows the inequality has worsened considerably since then.

www.cia.gov... 172.html

And remember, those figures relate to income distribution, not overall wealth, which is even more skewed.

A wealth cap has been under discussion in this thread, and the discussion is interesting, to say the least:

One person should only be so rich

I personally believe that a wealth cap of $1 billion should be globally implemented, with those over cap allowed four years to bring themselves into compliance by donating their excess tax-free to nonprofits, reducing the national debts, and otherwise giving it away to reshape economies and the world.
edit on 31-12-2011 by apacheman because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 02:31 PM
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Intent, it is all about intent, if the system is set up to put the population first.....Oh, kinda what the US was founded on...Then a social system works, the problem lies with organizations like the USSR.....Yes, Communism and Socialism are TWO different concepts......Sorry, but the republicans have done a wonderful job at making them the same thing. A corrupt Social system will fail, it is the job of the population to keep it straight and narrow......Yet, that falls on us, and we have done a pathetic job keeping the politicians in check.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 02:33 PM
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I think most of us just want real capitalism where the deck isn't stacked in favor of the rich already and a meritocracy where you get paid by your contributions and hard work.
As it stands now those who work hardest usually make the least, get the least benefits and those making the most are doing pretty much the least (think Goldman-Sachs).
They still have to keep trying to sell us on the American dream - available to all who are willing to work hard BS. Everyone else just plays the lottery and hopes their ship will come in.
Me? I never wanted to leave the land in the first place.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 02:40 PM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 


Wonderful point, Your dead on.....Years ago, a company would value it's clients for their base value....That is that the client was what kept them in business......Now, it is not the client, groups like ADT look at volume brought in, combined with lost accounts, added to the small percentage that will retaliate....blah blah blah.....You get what I am saying....A company that produces a widget, the widget is designed wrong and hurts someone. Instead of fixing the widget, they say, well, we sell this many, and to fix it would cost this, but for that small number that will sue it will be this.....Okay, got it, so continue making said widget as is....we will get good lawyers.....

THAT IS THE WRONG ATTITUDE......a business should never put anything above the client/consumer....period, ever.....If a business is actually putting the consumer first, they will NEVER have to worry....It is when they start to make the profit margin an issue above the consumer.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 02:49 PM
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There has already been a massive redistribution of wealth and excessively leveraged debt in this country. Businesses that once populated our Main Streets have been bought up by Multi national corporations who feel and demonstrate little, if any, rreinvestment back into the communities they profit from. Our banks, newspapers and groceries are no longer operated for the betterment of their own industries or the customers these used to serve. Nearly every business has been consolidated down to its smallest operating model to maximize its leverage value. We no longer grow industries. The wealth has been siphoned out of the pockets of people, communities and forced out those who operated for long-term sustainability and with community conscious.

Some of us believe the human race is capable of more noble aspirations. John Galt's glitch is Greed. Wealth HAS ALREADY been redistributed.

Peace.
edit on 31-12-2011 by DancedWithWolves because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 02:55 PM
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reply to post by spacekc929
 



Proponents of the ‘‘estate tax,’’ for example, argue that the
wealth that parents bequeath to their children should be taxed
more heavily than those who refer to this policy as a burdensome
‘‘death tax.’’


I think this tax sucks, unless you inherit over billions of dollars, most inheritances are so small and meagre this really only damages responsible parents' children, most are in the middle to upper middle class. Bad form!



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 02:58 PM
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We ensured that all respondents had the same working definition
of wealth by requiring them to read the following before
beginning the survey: ‘‘Wealth, also known as net worth, is
defined as the total value of everything someone owns minus
any debt that he or she owes. A person’s net worth includes his
or her bank account savings plus the value of other things such
as property, stocks, bonds, art, collections, etc., minus the value
of things like loans and mortgages.’’


Holy
....that puts me somewhere in the negative end....which they never show in these consensuses.


I am really poor.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 03:05 PM
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reply to post by spacekc929
 


I guess my problem with the study was the idea of choice for a wealth distribution pattern.

Wealth (or lack thereof) should be an individual accomplishment, and putting it in context of an entire population actually limits the size and scope of an individuals achievement.

If a category has reachd its limit based on a percentage, then what does that do for an indivdual who wants to achieve at that level as well?



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 03:13 PM
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Just to add; imposition of any pattrn or structure to design wealth "distribution" creates built-in parmeters that designate class levels.
It should be an individual focus, not a societal one.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 03:17 PM
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reply to post by miniatus
 



But we do fall into two camps..

1. Those that support more social programs and a progressive tax ..

Those people believe in programs that benefit those who can't afford it on their own, including medical, housing, food..

2. Those who don't believe social aid should be forced

These are people who generally believe that it's not the government's place to force them to pay for any social programs, if they wish to give to charity then they will do it on their own, if they want to help their neighbor they will do it on their own.. etc.. These same people ironically tend to not mind their tax money going to war efforts and other things but they get huffy if it goes to providing life saving medical.. I don't get that..


I am in the thought that we should either make distribution of those social funds either more Equal or do the hell away with it. I am not happy at all with my taxes going to wars either. If you needed the help, you'd soon find out you would not get it unless you lied cheated and fought for it for sometimes many damn years (I know I have done it) It took me three years and over a hundred times applying to get an ounce of help that I really needed simply cause I am white. So make it more fair and equal or do away with it...I am simply had it up to the forehead with paying out for illegals and welfare ghetto queens and when I need the stuff I gotta fight tooth and nail for it, even native americans have a hard time getting the help. To me it seems the country only want to help the blacks and illegals with my money, well too bad, I think it's time to overhaul it or end it. I personally WOULD and DO help my neighbors and would give to charity, except I would not even ask for their ethnicity/family history. Welfare is very intrusive into every aspect of the person's lives and finances!!!! It's basically intrusive in it's nature why should it even matter what your ethnic background is? What the hell does that have to do with your finances? Absolutely NOTHING!



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 03:22 PM
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....the world needs ditch diggers too! Just because you are a ditch digger though shouldn't limit your ability to earn and prosper.

So few controlling so much is an imbalance that needs to be corrected.

One way or another, it will correct itself.





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