Americans Say, “Soak the Rich”

After six years of income redistribution, Americans are hungry for more, according to the latest Gallup poll:


Despite the growing focus on inequality inrecent years, the 63% of Americans who say that money and wealth should be more evenly distributed among a larger percentage of the people is almost the same as the 60% who said this in 1984.

Americans’ agreement that money and wealth need to be more evenly distributed reached a high point of 68% in April 2008, in the last year of the George W. Bush administration, and just before the full effects of the Great Recession began to take hold. Americans became slightly less likely to agree with the idea later that year and in surveys conducted in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

But doesn’t that invite the question of how to equalize the distribution?

More than 75 years ago, at the tail end of the Great Depression, the Roper research organization and Fortune magazine asked Americans about “heavy taxes on the rich” as one method of redistributing wealth, and found one-third (35%) agreeing that the government should do this. Gallup began asking this question again in 1998, and found Americans’ agreement at 45%. Since then, Americans’ support for this idea has fluctuated, but has reached a high point of 52% in Gallup’s most recent two surveys, conducted in April 2013 and April of this year.

Comments (3)

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  1. Joe Barnett says:

    Public opinion is influenced by the claim that this is a problem, when the real problem is government policies that discourage economic progress and block opportunities for economic advancement — e.g., through high effective marginal tax rates as income-linked benefits phase out.

  2. Floccina says:

    I bet if you ask them what the top tax rate should be, they say something lower than what it is now, and if you ask them if government should give more money to those with below median income that they say no.