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New Survey on Income Gap Shows Interesting Results

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Crossposted on Tikkun Daily.

by Claire Snyder-Hall
According to an article in the Washington Post, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals some interesting data on what people think about changes in wealth distribution. As most readers probably know, "income disparities between the highest earners and other Americans have reached levels not seen since the Great Depression." The good news is that 61% of all adults know that the income gap is larger than in the past, and 60% want the federal government to enact policies that will lessen that disparity - and consequently, help rebuild the middle class.

Now if we can only figure out a way to hold politicians accountable to the people - which is, you know, one of the key principles of self-government.

It will come as no surprise that almost 75% of liberals recognize the growing income gap and favor government policies to shrink it.

What I found very strange, however, is that less than 50% of conservatives acknowledge that the widening gap exists. Why is that, I wonder? Would their politics change if they became aware of the increasing gap between rich and poor that has created a gaping chasm in our society? Or is it just willful ignorance, as with climate change?

I also found it surprising that 41% of conservatives actually think the federal government ought to act to shrink the gap. Perhaps they are the ones who recognize the existence of the gap.

Occupy Wall Street sign 2011

Comparing the Occupy movement to the Tea Party, the data show that while almost 75% of Occupy supporters recognize the widening gap between rich and poor, and almost 80% of them want the federal government to enact policies to remedy the situation, a majority of Tea Party supporters also recognize the gap, although fewer than half support government intervention. So Tea Partiers are more likely than conservatives to recognize the growing income gap.

Tea Party sign 2009

There was another interesting finding as well. While the Occupy movement and the Tea Party each receive support from 40% of the adult population, there are 15% who actually support both movements! Hopefully, they are not just confused in their support of two movements that are diametrically opposed in their expressed goals, and the overlap indicates the potential for a growing populist movement -- one that recognizes the need to put constraints not only on large concentrations of political power, but also on large concentrations of economic power.

Hopefully, ordinary Americans will finally come together to create a progressive populist movement that will hold both governments and corporations accountable to the people.

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