Dan Ariely and his colleagues at Duke have done a study, using the results of a survey.
We asked thousands of people to describe their ideal distribution of wealth, from top to bottom. The vast majority -- rich, poor, GOP and Democrat -- imagined a far more equal nation. ...The Atlantic
The results of the research is a very well articulated study. The whole thing structure of the survey is fascinating. But let's cut to the chase.
What do we want America to look like? On the left is the US as it is today. On the right is what we think it should be. "We," as you will see, includes a full sample -- political right to political left and in between.
Red representing the bottom (most modest incomes) and blue representing the top of the income ladder.
We discovered that 92% of Americans preferred the distribution of "Equalden" to America's. And if one were to assume that the 8% who preferred America's distribution was made up of wealthy Republican men, he or she would be mistaken. The preference for "Equalden" was slightly different for Republicans and Democrats, and in the expected direction, but the magnitude was very small: 93.5% of Democrats and 90.2% of Republicans preferred the more equal distribution. While this 3.3% difference is substantial when we think about the economy of an entire country, if we look at it from the perspective of the gap between Equalden and the U.S., it's clear that the similarity across the political spectrum is far more substantial than the differences. And once again, participant's gender and income level did not produce any appreciable difference in this preference. ...The Atlantic
"Equalden" (the pie on the right) is based on Sweden but "modified to make it substantially more equal." It's interesting how "socialistic" we want America to be. Interesting but hardly astounding. But it does show that Karl Rove, the Kochs, Dick Armey and their dupes on the right are indeed extremists. Turns out Equalden isn't the fantasy of some liberals but what a wide cross-section of Americans want. Including, presumably, a bunch of tea partyers -- the most notable dupes of corporatocracy.
Social justice and optimal wealth distribution are highly complex topics, and it's hard to imagine that any study could dramatically change opinions about education, welfare, or tax reform. But consider this. When we ran the same basic experiment in Australia, we found Australians did not differ much from Americans in their views of the ideal distribution. When we ran another version of it with NPR listeners, and then readers of Forbes Magazine, the results were still basically the same. And most likely, if you participated in one of our tests, your response too would have fallen in line with these findings.
So whatever you think the current state of wealth distribution is, and whatever you believe the ideal level of wealth distribution to be under the veil of ignorance, there probably is a gap, and a large one, between the two. Awareness of the disparity between what we have and what we want implies that, ultimately, we as a society need to face the problem and find a solution. ...The Atlantic