“That’s not fair,” is the plaintive cry of
every toddler ever born, though my own son quickly memorized my
constant response: “Not getting your way isn’t the same as
‘unfair.’” I may need five minutes alone with the American public,
however, since many of my countrymen apparently think it’s “unfair”
that other people have more money than them — and they want the
government to give them some of what the other guy has.
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans say wealth is distributed unfairly in
the United States, and a majority want the federal government to
play Robin Hood to fix the problem, according to a poll released
Only 33 percent of Americans think the current distribution of
wealth in this country is fair, according to the Gallup Poll, while
59 percent say it is not. Fifty-two percent said the United States
should redistribute wealth through heavy taxes on the rich, while
45 percent disagreed.
While the percent of Americans who said the current distribution
of wealth is unfair is down from 68 percent in 2008, the number of
Americans who favor federal redistribution is at an all-time
For what it’s worth, at 59 percent, the number of Americans
insisting that the distribution of wealth is unfair is far from a
high, and closer to the low end of recorded opinion on the matter.
Gallup’s Frank Newport:
The range in the percentage saying wealth should be “more evenly
distributed” has been relatively narrow over time, from a low of
56% in 2000 to a high of 68% in April 2008.
But if the propotion of Americans screaming “unfair” is
relatively low, compared to where it has been, the percentage
demanding redistributionist taxes has crept up. Says Newport,
“Responses to this question have varied within a fairly small range
since Gallup began to ask it in 1998, from a low of 45% favoring
tax-based redistribution that year to today’s 52%, which by one
percentage point is the highest measured.”
That’s not a huge surge in support for swiping other
people’s stuff, but it is a move in the wrong direction for anybody
who values a free and dynamic society in which people who innovate
and work hard get to enjoy the fruit of their labors. Then again,
if the United States becomes a country that punishes success, and
so drives the ambitious elsewhere, or underground, perhaps the
resulting leveling downward will be perceived as more … fair.
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