Earth to Politicians: Americans Support Taxing the Rich

Editor's note: this is a guest post by Amy Traub.

Last month, I discussed a new poll by the Pew Center for People and the Press which found growing public support for progressive policy. This week another public opinion survey, the April Gallup Poll, lends support to the findings as they relate to wealth, inequality, and taxation.

Their headline for these Gallup poll results? "Americans More in Favor of Heavily Taxing Rich Now Than in 1939" The poll found:

* growing support for progressive taxation

* two-thirds of Americans believe wealth should be more evenly distributed

* a significant majority of Americans feel the wealthy currently pay too little in taxes

These results also complement the conclusions of DMI's own, more local survey of 101 New York City leaders, which revealed strong support for progressive taxation.

The accumulation of findings like these should continue to chip away at the conventional wisdom in politics which still insists that raising taxes -- including taxes on the wealthy -- is always unpopular and politically risky.

Nor is this just government-by-opinion poll. We already know that progressive taxation is good policy.

A recent article by economist Robert H. Frank reinforced the point: we can afford such vital public services as universal health coverage only if top income earners pay more taxes. What's more, both economic theory and empircal evidence demonstrate that trickle-down economics, the archaic argument against taxing the wealthy, is unsound and "ripe for abandonment."

Politicians take note.
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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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